Online Principal Certification

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You’re on your way. You’ve already completed a graduate degree, a thesis, and the teaching experience you need to empathize with those you’ll be leading. Earn your credentials with Cairn’s one-year Principal Certification program.

Principal certification coursework is based on a cohort model and is designed to be completed in one year if the internship is also completed within that year. The cohort model provides professionals the opportunity for support and collaboration, along with face-to-face guidance of a University professor during the first semester of coursework. Online coursework is combined with extensive hands-on access to the life of PK-12 schools. Field work allows students to gain experience in data management, budget development, daily operating procedures, and human interactions. Students will be able to complete academic requirements while still attending to their professional responsibilities at their own school site.

Program Highlights

  • Courses are offered as seven-week online modules with at least 15 hours of field placement required for each course. If candidates can document current work experience meeting the field placement objectives for a particular course, hours may be deducted from this requirement.
  • At the discretion of the program advisor, three to six credits for prior learning (“CPL”) can be awarded for students with extensive background in areas addressed by specific courses.
  • Advance standing may be granted for Bible or theology credits earned at an accredited Bible college, Christian liberal arts college or university, or seminary.
  • The K-12 internship takes students out of their current grade level or discipline and places them in alternate environments where they will be involved in board meetings, after-school student activities, curriculum development, mentoring programs, school improvement committees, advancement/donor visits, parent-administrator conferences, and more.
  • In addition to PA and/or ACSI Principal Certification, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Administration degree can be earned with the completion of an additional 18 credits of online coursework as long as these credits do not duplicate coursework taken for the original master’s degree in Education.
  • Educators working in Christian schools will receive a 50% tuition discount.
  • Routes leading to PA certification (for U.S. citizens) and/or ACSI certification are available, making this an attractive option for professionals working nationally or internationally.
  • If all coursework necessary for state certification is completed, students may qualify to meet their state’s principal certification requirements, but are advised to check with their state’s Department of Education for specific details and reciprocity potential.
  • Additional certification program entry and exit requirements can be obtained by contacting the chair of Graduate Education Programs, Dr. Laura McCollum, at
Online Principal Certification student


To begin taking courses leading to principal certification, the candidate will:

  • Apply and and be accepted to Cairn University’s Graduate Programs
  • Hold a master’s degree in Education and submit proof in the form of official transcripts from an accredited college or university
  • Provide an electronic copy of his/her master’s degree project or thesis. NOTE: A project or thesis meeting the following requirements (as determined by the program advisor) exempts the candidate from an additional 90 hours of fieldwork:
    • is in the field of education
    • Evidences at least 90 hours of field experience
    • Evidences that a study was undertaken or an intervention was conducted leading to school improvement
  • Submit a copy of a state or Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) teaching certification
  • Document five years of professional experience in education including school name(s); supervisor(s) name and contact information; length of employment; nature of duties
  • Provide a chief school administrator’s verification of the completion of three years of teaching experience.

To complete the requirements for principal certification, the student will:

  • Successfully complete all required coursework including 270 hours of field experiences
  • Complete the PK-12 internship under the supervision of a state or ACSI certified principal(s). (NOTE: PA requires that all supervising principals be certified by any state; ACSI K-12 Principal Certification candidates may serve under ACSI-certified administrators.)
  • Document field experience in supervision at all educational levels (Elementary, Middle, and Secondary)
  • Take and pass the Praxis II exam for Educational Leadership
  • Apply for the PA School Principal PK-12 Certificate; additionally, candidates will receive ACSI Principal Certification (All Levels) upon request.

Program Curriculum

Semester Course
Fall* EDL 741 Principalship PK-12
EDL 745 Organizational Theory and Team Building
Spring EDL 742 Data Management and Technology Integration for School Leaders PK-12
EDL 743 Financial and Business Management
Summer EDL 744 School Law
SPE 664 Issues in Special Education for School Leaders

EDL 784 PK-12 Internship

NOTE: EDL 791 (Action Research Project) or additional coursework may be required if the Master’s project/thesis does not meet the guidelines given.

For more information about the online MS in Education degree program, contact Kristina O’Connell, Admissions Counselor, at

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