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Degree Options / Ed.S. and M.A.

Program for the Preparation of School Principals and Supervisors



The Virginia Tech Program for the Preparation of School Principals and Supervisors began in Fall 1989 following an eighteen-month study of school leadership conducted by VT university faculty, state DOE officials, and local practicing school administrators. The program – which is revised annually to meet the changing needs of school leaders – is learning-centered, field-sensitive, team-taught, technologically rich, performance-driven, and problem-oriented. Students may attend the Principal Preparation Program in Abingdon, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, Richmond, Roanoke, or at other graduate extension sites throughout Virginia

Degrees Offered

The Principal Preparation Program awards two degrees: an M.A. and an Ed.S. (Educational Specialist) in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. The M.A. is intended for students who have not yet earned a master’s degree, while the Ed.S. is intended for students who have already earned a master’s in an education-related discipline. Both the M.A. and Ed.S. degree tracks prepare students to meet the requirements of the School Leadership Licensure Assessment and obtain endorsement as Virginia school administrators.

A Practical Knowledge Base

The Principal Preparation Program is designed to meet the standards of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) as well as those of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). In addition to these standards, the curriculum also incorporates over 200 knowledge- and skill-based objectives identified by practicing school administrators. Courses place a heavy emphasis on student learning, collaborative leadership, productive culture, shared decision-making, and planned change.

Course topics include school law, finance and budgeting, instructional supervision, special education administration, leadership and change, research and evaluation, and personnel administration. All Principal Preparation students (M.A. or Ed.S.) complete 39 hours of coursework on a part-time basis, over a period of five semesters or approximately two years. These 39 credit hours include two 6-credit internships, one focused on building-level school leadership and the other focused on division-level, agency, or special school leadership. Students conduct each internship on-site at a local educational institution, under the mentorship of a practicing principal or supervisor. To pass these internships, students must demonstrate competency in a range of standards-based skills.

Students select their primary and secondary internship sites, as well as their mentors, in the first semester of the program. They complete their internships year-round in short blocks during planning periods, after school, before school, or during the summer – whenever they have a break from regularly-assigned work duties. Most students complete their primary internship at the school at which they’re currently employed.

Instructional Technology
Principal Preparation courses are conducted in-person or via blended learning, and all courses incorporate some form of instructional technology. Two-way interactive video connects cohorts across sites, and online resources supplement on-site teaching. Students learn to evaluate instructional and managerial software, and develop the skills to meet Virginia’s technology standards for teachers and administrators.
Admission Requirements

To enroll in the Principal Preparation Program, an applicant must have:

• A bachelor’s (or, for the Ed.S., master’s) degree from an accredited institution

• At least a 3.2 GPA on one’s most recent two years of university coursework

• Some K-12 teaching experience, with at least three years of experience preferred

Selection Procedures

The Principal Preparation Program is conducted on a cohort basis: please see this page for a schedule of upcoming cohorts and this page for application instructions.

Applicants are evaluated on the basis of their academic and leadership potential, communication and interpersonal skills, technological competence, teaching experience, favorable recommendations, motives for becoming a leader, and commitment to completing the program.

Qualified applicants will be asked to attend an candidate interview: program faculty members, practicing school leaders, and sometimes teachers may serve on the interview committee. Members of the interview committee score each candidate on the above-mentioned criteria, and candidates with the highest scores are invited to join the program.