A foundation for growth

When educators are ready to transition into administrative roles, the flexible online UNI principalship program leading to a master’s in education and/or an advanced studies certificate (ASC) provides the necessary foundation. 

This primarily online program attracts 40 to 60 students per cohort. Upon completion, graduates are prepared for licensure for roles such as dean of students, a head principal, assistant principal, a curriculum director, a special education director or director of education. 

“Our role is to support and to equip these aspiring administrators to be able to do the job well,” says Kenneth Hayes, principalship program coordinator and instructor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations and Leadership Studies. “We know that if we don't have connections with our students, they're not going to be as successful in our program, but also in leadership positions. So we work hard at developing relationships with our students.” 

The faculty focus on being accessible, being empathetic to the world of the adult learner, ensuring a rich experience and staying in contact with educational leaders across Iowa–and bringing those connections to the classroom, whether online or on campus. 

While the trend is toward asynchronous learning, where you have little face-to-face-interaction with professors, Hayes says the blended approach which UNI applies sets this program apart. Instruction includes both asynchronous and synchronous elements, where students and professors interact online, as well as some face-to-face sessions during summer classes. 

The summer offerings, which Hayes considers a unique part of the programs, brings students on campus between the first and second year for six days for a seminar and law class. 

Principalship summer 2023“Both cohorts come together and they get to interact with our professors face-to-face. We also bring in a lot of experts in the field for guest lecturing and provide resources around leadership in general. The highlight of our summer course is Day in the Office, where we do role playing,” he adds. 

This primarily online approach yields results for educational leadership studies at UNI, which also includes a superintendency ASC and master’s in international teacher leader education. About 4 in 10 school leaders across Iowa are UNI alumni. 

“If you really just want to be a dynamic leader, no matter where you’re at, our program prepares you,” Hayes says. “Whether that’s in a classroom or in a building or in a district, you’re going to get a quality experience with UNI.”