US News Best Online Programs Grad Education 2023This master of education (MEd) degree program is a hybrid online/face-to-face principal preparation program specifically designed for practicing teachers. In this program, students examine best practices, build strong professional networks and get ready to transform schools.

For additional information about exact required courses and the typical semesters they are offered, please visit Mizzou Online.

A Serious Mission

Our overall focus is on developing engaged leaders, policy makers, and scholars who demonstrate excellence in leading educational institutions, implementing and analyzing policy, and enacting social justice. As an aspiring leader in our principal preparation program, learning from Mizzou’s expert practitioners and scholars, you will:

  • Continue your full-time work in PK12 schools
  • Attend graduate classes that fit your work schedule on weekends through fully online instruction.
  • This 4 semester cohort based-program starts each June and students will graduate 14 months later.
  • Synchronus online instruction occurs on 5 Saturdays during the fall and spring semesters and on 6 weekends during June and July. This allows students to interact with faculty and colleagues in real time adding to a more personalized experience.
  • Receive individual advising from faculty who have worked as principals and/or superintendents.
  • Complete a series of internships that prepare you to apply for certification to lead elementary and secondary schools.
  • Prepare to take the Missouri Initial Principal Certification exams.
  • Become a critical, reflective leader ready to meet schools’ greatest challenges.
  • Graduate from a nationally-recognized and ranked educational leadership program in only 14 months!

Learning Objectives

Through the program, students will gain the knowledge to:

  • Recognize the characteristics of a fiscally efficient learning setting
  • Appreciate diversity in students, teachers, parents and communities
  • Articulate a vision of academic and personal success for all students
  • Understand various types of data and translate them into useable information
  • Demonstrate the importance of building and sustaining sincere and respectful relationships with teachers and fellow administrators

Through the program, students will have the skills to:

  • Create and sustain a positive climate and culture based on high expectations for student and adult achievement
  • Manage a building to ensure safety and promote pride, and make fiscal and legal decisions consistent with Missouri and Federal policies
  • Model and promote social justice
  • Foster a disposition of continuous learning and personal improvement
Certification Candidate Perfomance Data

Degree Requirements

Students in this program spend 14 months working with a cohort of peers to complete purposeful course work and field-based inquiry in a variety of education contexts. The program starts in June and finishes in July of the following year; students are enrolled in six to nine credit hours each semester (two summers, one fall, one spring). Completion of the degree leads to Missouri Initial Principal Certification at the elementary and secondary levels.

Focused topics include:

  • Data-driven and evidence-based decision-making
  • School improvement
  • Ethics and policymaking
  • Provision of professional development
  • Finance and law in schools
  • Politics of school leadership

Cohort courses begin in June each year. First-year students should reserve Thursdays (5-9 pm), Fridays (8:30 am-5 pm), and Saturdays (8:30 am-5 pm) during June and July. (Classes will not occur during the weekend around July 4.)

Learn more about individual courses in ELPA.

Required Internships and State Assessments

Field-based, internships must be completed throughout the duration of the program (ED_LPA 9481). Students will be eligible for certification at both the elementary and secondary levels. The internships will be completed over 3 semesters, 2 semesters at the level at which you believe you will seek a principal position and the third at the other level.

Students must pass a “capstone” exam at the completion of their graduation semester. In addition, students must pass two assessments for state certification. First, students must register for the state-required Educational Testing Service (ETS) Performance-Based Assessment during their fall and spring semesters of internship. Although the actual assessment is not covered or scored during coursework, it is necessary to complete it during the internship included in the master’s program. Second, students will take a multiple-choice, constructed-response content assessment developed by Pearson at the completion of the program.

The ELPA department will cover the cost for students to take the Pearson constructed-response content assessment within 6 months of their program completion. In order to qualify for the cost to be covered, you must notify the department of your intention to take the examination at the start of the academic semester in which you plan to complete the assessment. Prior to registering for the examination using the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments portal, you will contact the department to request a voucher number that you will use to defray the examination cost.


Admission Requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from a regionally accredited institution
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 (A = 4.0) in the last 60 hours of undergraduate education
  • Minimum scores accepted by the MU Graduate School for TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or the Cambridge C1 Advanced exams for non-native English speakers
  • Three letters of recommendation (at least 2 of which should be from faculty who instructed or academically advised the applicant)
  • GRE scores are not required

Application Deadlines

Applications for each cohort (beginning each June), are reviewed starting on February 1st and continues through May 1st, or until the cohort reaches capacity.

How to Apply

To apply, please visit the Office of Graduate Studies online application system.

For questions about how to apply, please contact us:

Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis


In rare instances, a minimal number of departmental research teaching assistantships are available for qualified students who are not working full time. Priority is given to doctoral students; however, interested master’s students are encouraged to apply.