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Educational Leadership, MSE - K–12 Principal Option

School Principal (K–12) Master’s Degree

Schools are facing unprecedented change and need a new generation of strong leaders to guide and direct them. Step into a leadership role with the University of Central Missouri’s Educational Leadership MSE, K–12 Principal option. 

UCM has prepared generations of education leaders in the Kansas City area and throughout Missouri. We understand the challenges that elementary, middle and high school principals face, and our expert faculty provide the tools and skills you need to meet those challenges and deliver effective leadership at your school.

With more than 200 UCM graduates in educational leadership roles in the state of Missouri, you may have already witnessed what a UCM Educational Leadership degree looks like in action — we value caring, service and excellence above all. If you’re ready to take on a leadership role, we’ll help you get there with the quality principal education requirements you need.

Flexibility is a top priority

We know that work-life balance is important, so we make it easy to earn a graduate degree on your schedule. Our MSE courses are available at our Warrensburg and Lee's Summit campuses — just 30-45 minutes from Kansas City — so you won’t have to drive far to attend class. Classes are also offered online and you can take your summers off for added flexibility. Most students complete the program in 18 to 24 months.

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Dr. Bryan McDonald 
Associate Professor and Educational Leadership Program Coordinator
Lovinger 4110
Warrensburg, MO
Tel: 660-543-8996

College of Education

Department of Counseling and Educational Leadership

Educational Leadership Program Brochure

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Flexible degree to fit your schedule

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Many classes available online

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CAEP-accredited Advanced Program

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Leader in principal education

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Qualify for MO Principal Certification

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Complete your master’s degree in 2 years

What you will study

At the University of Central Missouri, we ensure you’re ready to lead your school and gain principal education requirements for the state of Missouri. As a graduate student in UCM’s Educational Leadership master’s program, you’ll learn how to set a vision for your school that promotes student learning and continuous school improvement while creating a positive culture and an equitable learning environment. You’ll also learn how to supervise school personnel and strategically allocate school resources.

To support this learning, our graduate program curriculum includes courses on finance, law, data analysis and curriculum development and assessment. Then you’ll choose an elective focused on a leadership experience to customize your master’s degree.

You’ll also work alongside a mentor throughout the program to observe, participate and facilitate school management and improvement roles while maintaining your current teaching status.


Excellence in Educational Leadership

  • Top 15%: Most Focused Colleges for Education (College Factual, 2022)
  • Top 6%: Most Popular Colleges for Education (College Factual, 2022)


Unique learning opportunities in educational leadership for principals

At the University of Central Missouri, we offer multiple opportunities for hands-on experiences designed to strengthen your expertise and apply it in a practical and meaningful way. Because most of our MSE students are already full-time teachers, we ensure these opportunities work around your teaching schedule. Most are available within your current school, so you can address real challenges that directly impact your school and students:

  • Practicum: Lead change during an administrative practicum at your school or another location of your choice. You’ll have the opportunity to tie together everything you’ve learned throughout your courses in real-world scenarios while interacting with local administrators. Practicums are also designed to support those completing the DESE Performance Tasks required for elementary, middle or high school principal certification, so you meet principal education requirements.
  • Collaborative Principals Preparation Program (CPPP): We partner with 14 Kansas City area school districts to offer classes close to home. You’ll benefit from the guidance and support of an administrative mentor from your school district and interactions with teachers at other schools in the area.


What can you do with a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from UCM?

As an MSE graduate, you’ll fulfill principal education requirements to advance in a leadership role at your school or elsewhere — and enjoy the salary boost that comes with earning a master’s degree. Our master’s program supports leadership roles such as:

  • School leader, grades K–12
  • Elementary, middle or high school principal
  • Dean of students
  • Teacher-leader
  • Department chair
  • Athletic director
  • Team leader
  • Instructional coach 
  • Activities director

If your career goals include getting a doctorate, our MSE will prepare you for advanced education and the pursuit of the highest levels of educational leadership.

Careers related to educational leadership

Use the tool below to explore career possibilities, including salary potential, employment trends and other data.




Financial assistance options for your Educational Leadership master’s degree for Principals

A master’s degree in K–12 Educational Leadership for Principals is an investment in your future and in the future of your school and students. At the University of Central Missouri, we’re proud to support your investment by offering low tuition in addition to numerous scholarships and grants to keep your UCM education affordable. In fact, we’re a top-ranked university for low student debt by LendEDU and we offer multiple resources to finance your college education.

In addition to the scholarships available through the university, our MSE students in K–12 Educational Leadership for Principals can apply for three program-specific scholarships:

  • Cliff and Patty Mohn CPPP Scholarship
  • School Administration Scholarship
  • Dr. John Paul Mees Scholarship
  • James L. & Judith A. Cockrell Middle School Leadership Scholarship
  • Mary E. Warren Elgeva Waller Education Administration Scholarship
  • Sandra and Charles Braithwait School Administration Scholarship

Learn more about program-specific scholarships by using the UCM Scholarship Finder.


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Take your degree further.

If you’re looking to pursue even higher levels of educational leadership and advancement, further hone the specific skills you need to succeed in your career at UCM: 

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Explore programs related to educational leadership for principals.

Our College of Education offers numerous master’s degrees to help teachers advance in their careers. You may also be interested in:

Entrance Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • 2.75 or higher cumulative GPA
  • Teaching or student services (special education) certification
  • Experiences as a teacher or student services (special education) provider

Course Sequencing

Courses are offered on a rotating basis at both the Warrensburg and Lee’s Summit campuses. Several courses are offered online. Students have flexibility with their schedules and time of completion. EDAD 5110 Foundations of Educational Administration should be taken within the first six hours. The Principal Internships (EDAD 6969 and 6971) are to be taken toward the end of the program of study.


At the end of the program you’ll complete an advanced practicum at your own school or another location of your choice. This gives you the opportunity to tie together everything you learned throughout your courses with local administrators and real life scenarios. The Internships are also designed to provide support for those completing the DESE Performance Tasks required for certification.



UCM is the longest continuously CAEP accredited public institution in Missouri


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