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How Do You Become a Public School Administrator in North Carolina?

School administrators are critical professionals in the education space. According to Indeed, they have a number of responsibilities that include setting and carrying out a school budget, supporting faculty, maintaining academic records, evaluating teacher performance, managing school technology and infrastructure, organizing educational or social activities and more.

Becoming a school administrator, particularly a principal, in North Carolina involves blending academic achievement with practical experience. These requirements ensure individuals are ready to lead schools successfully. Those interested in pursuing the role of school administrator must earn a bachelor’s degree, obtain a teaching certificate in North Carolina, earn a master’s degree in educational leadership or administration — such as the online Master of School Administration program at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) — and fulfill state-specific licensing requirements.

What Are the Requirements to Become a School Administrator in North Carolina?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics outlines the general requirements for becoming a school principal, which align with North Carolina’s standards. After completing a bachelor’s degree program, aspiring school administrators usually pursue a teaching certificate in North Carolina. Getting a teaching certificate often involves completing a teacher preparation program, which includes coursework in education theory, instructional methods and classroom management.

After obtaining a teaching certificate, individuals interested in school administration typically earn a master’s degree in educational administration or a related field. The UNCP online Master of School Administration program allows educators to enhance their leadership skills while still working. Prospective principals need a master’s degree in educational leadership or administration. This advanced degree provides candidates with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary to excel in leadership roles in schools.

To become a licensed school administrator in North Carolina, applicants must meet the state’s specific requirements, depending on the role:

  • Assistant school principal: At least three years of teaching experience, an SP2 Educator’s License and an advanced degree in school administration
  • School principal: At least three years of teaching experience, SP2 Educator’s License and a master’s degree or above in school administration
  • Superintendent: A North Carolina principal’s and superintendent’s license, advanced graduate-level or doctorate degree in school administration, one year as a school administrator, or a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and five years of managerial or leadership experience (the State Board of Education verifies eligible candidates)

Candidates may need to participate in professional development activities to maintain their licensure and stay current with all requirements. Applicants must check the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction website for the most accurate and up-to-date information on state-specific licensure requirements.

Timeline and Benefits of Earning an Online Master’s Degree in School Administration

The timeline for obtaining a license to become a school administrator can vary depending on how long it takes an applicant to complete their degree and the program’s specific requirements. On average, completing a master’s degree program in school administration can take two to three years for full-time students. Part-time students may take longer to complete their degree, extending the timeline to three or four years.

The online Master of School Administration degree from UNC Pembroke fulfills the requirement for licensure in North Carolina. Given the program’s flexible, online format, students can complete UNCP’s program in as few as 14 months, depending on their schedule and class enrollment. As noted, this is faster than the average for other similar master’s degree programs.

Getting a degree in school administration has various benefits for new students and current teachers. For aspiring school administrators, earning a master’s degree can open doors to leadership opportunities and career advancement in education. A graduate degree can also help to effectively manage school operations, develop instructional strategies and foster a positive learning environment.

For current teachers, pursuing a master’s degree in school administration can enhance their expertise and qualify them for leadership roles as a principal, department chairperson or curriculum specialist. Earning a master’s degree can also lead to higher earning potential and opportunities for professional growth.

Becoming a school administrator in North Carolina involves a comprehensive journey that combines earning an advanced degree with practical experience and state-specific licensure requirements. By taking the necessary steps, aspiring school administrators can position themselves for success as leaders in education.

Learn more about The University of North Carolina Pembroke’s online Master of School Administration program.

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