School Principal, K–12 Certification

Educators who wish to explore the possibilities of school leadership and administration will find PSU’s school principal certification program rich in opportunities for collaboration, research and practical experience. From curriculum development and assessment to school law, school budgets, and community partnerships, candidates will master the knowledge, skills, and understandings they need to successfully practice effective leadership in their learning organizations.

Admissions Note: Graduates of this degree program who possess at least five years of K–12 teaching experience are eligible for certification as a school principal in the state of New Hampshire. Reciprocity through interstate compacts may extend this certification to additional states.

Certification-only Option: Please contact an advisor for more information.

Use the Course Planning Matrix to see when Educational Leadership courses will be offered.

    • Prerequisite Coursework (from master’s or post-master’s)
    • 3
      AD 5700 School Law
      Federal and state laws that apply to school systems, educational programs, and personnel will be discussed. Also covered will be the legal prerogatives available to the administrator and local boards of education. Consideration of constitutional, statutory, and case-law foundations of education systems, and the school administrator's role will be discussed.
    • – OR –
    • 3
      This three-credit course will give participants a greater understanding of both federal and New Hampshire special education law. Time will be spent on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This course is designed and intended for teachers and special education administrators. You do not need to be a law student to succeed in this class. There is a heavy emphasis in this course on theory to practice, "practical news you can use" the next day in your profession. Students will review the most current cases and trends in special education law, analyze cases, and learn how to research both statutory and case law.
    • 3
      This course is designed to provide teachers with increased understanding of the needs of children who display maladaptive behaviors associated with conduct disorders in school settings. Students will investigate specific causes, diagnosis, assessment methods, interventions, etiology, co-morbidity, subtypes, pharmacotherapy, the role of the classroom teacher, and possible resources.
  • Educational Leadership Component – 18 credits
  • 3
    In this course, students will explore major concepts related to developing partnerships and communities of learners. Course topics include the change process, forms of school and community governance, school culture, the concept of collaboration, and agencies and organizations involved in community programs and initiatives. Special attention is focused on planning and implementing system-wide and building-level networks. Students will develop and evaluate a framework for collaboration and demonstrate systems thinking. Typically the first course completed in the CAGS program.
  • 3
    This course focuses on the development of a self-renewing capability inherent in professionals and organizations. Students will discuss the notion of transformation in the context of knowledge base, self-reflection, and the socio-professional processes in educational change. Students will explore the integration of ecological perspectives within a changing society and the demand for greater tolerance of human behavior in the context of learning. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the need to keep student learning and development as the central core of educational change. Prerequisites: EP 7020 and EP 7040.
  • 3
    The purpose of this course is to develop effective collaborative planners. This course presents the major stages in the process of developing a strategic plan, including forming a mission statement, crafting and implementing the plan, and evaluating plan performance. It provides a theoretical and practical overview of the skills, strategies, and resources required through each stage of the systemic planning process. (Prerequisite: EP 7020).
  • 3
    This course addresses mixed research design methodologies with a particular emphasis on constructing a proposal for a mixed methods study. The course includes theory and practice related to initiating an inquiry; gathering, recording, and analyzing data; and evaluating a study. (Prerequisites: Eligibility for CAGS level coursework, and a graduate level course in research design.)
  • 3
    This course presents a discussion of ways institutions and their communities must deal with the legal and political environment in which they exist. Topics include current legal issues and how the stakeholders in society can use the law as a tool for social change. Institutions must advocate for positive change through the development of thoughtful legal policies and practices. Prerequisite: AD 5700 or SE 5300.
  • 3
    Contemporary social, economical, political, and educational issues are the core of the course. They are identified in a forum that provides opportunities for the students to research current methodology together to address problems that relate to the specific roles of the course participants in their work inside or outside of the educational field. Working collaboratively, course candidates explore short-range and long range problem-solving strategies directed toward increasing their awareness of community perception and expectations, techniques for facilitating institutional change, and responding to the nature and culture of internal and external political systems and environments as they apply to their work sites. Prerequsite: EP 7020.
  • School Principal Component – 9 credits
  • 3
    Major functions concerning the supervision of staff in a school setting including the selection, orientation, and development of staff members will be covered. Theories and techniques for promoting a positive school climate will be explored and applied. Alternative approaches to assessing and enhancing a staff's instructional competence will be examined. Prerequisites: AD 5010 or EP 7020, and AD 5830 or EP 7040.
  • 3
    The development of school budgets that support the planning processes within a school setting will be covered. Other relevant topics will include cost effectiveness, revenue sources, communication with the public, capital projects, state and federal programs, using the budget to promote excellence in the schools, and principles and practices in collective bargaining.
  • 3
    Leading the participatory process for developing curricula in schools will be addressed. The relationship of philosophy, a school's identity, and mission to curricula is emphasized. Included are strategies for developing, assessing, and revising curricula as well as a review of recent research and trends. The course is intended for experienced educators who currently fill or aspire to the roles of school principal, team leader, or department chair.
  • Capstone Experience – 6 credits
  • 6
    The purpose of the practicum is to provide students with meaningful field-based experiences that focus on the role of a school administrator. This is a collaborative, 300-hour supervised experience intended to support students in applying the knowledge, skills, and understandings they have gained throughout their principal certification program. Supervision of the practicum is the responsibility of two individuals: the university instructor, a Plymouth State University faculty member; and the site supervisor (or mentor), a school administrator currently holding principal certification. Attendance at three seminar sessions is required during the practicum. The seminars, combined with the field experience, focus on current issues in the students' practicum sites and specifically on issues of the principalship. Pre-requisites: admission to the Principal certification program and AD 5010 or EP 7020, AD 5020, AD 5700 or EP 7060, AD 5300, AD 5330 or EP 7210, AD 5830 or EP 7040.
  • Total for CAGS in Educational Leadership, School Principal K-12 Certification Concentration – 33 credits

Requirements for certification may change, subject to changes made by the New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE). Teacher candidates can find the latest NHDOE standards at

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