Principal Preparation

All-in price:
View Tuition Details
Application due date for January 9, 2023 term:
January 6
Estimated time to completion:
12 months
All-in price:
View Tuition Details
Application due date for January 9, 2023 term:
January 6
Estimated time to completion:
12 months

Earn your administrative certification

Designed for aspiring principals, directors or administrators, our fully online Certificate in Principal Preparation prepares you to become an education leader and earn your administrative or principal certification. You’ll engage with current scientific research, pedagogy and instructional technology while improving your supervision and leadership skills. Understand how to create an effective school-wide vision and use data to inform decision-making in P-12 school settings. Advance your career while maximizing your impact in the field of education.


ranked online college in America*

Thinking of starting your journey?

Connect with an ACE enrollment counselor who can help you get started.

How you'll get there.

  1. Start with a five-week course on equity-centered leadership, which places emphasis on how to support teachers and accommodate students with diverse learning needs and backgrounds.
  2. Move through the remaining six courses of the certificate (seven in total) at your own pace. You can complete the program in as little as 12 months.
  3. At the end of your program, complete an internship experience to demonstrate your mastery of the responsibilities required of school leader or principal.

What you can expect along the way.

  • Maximize Your Return on Investment We’re committed to being a solution to the student debt crisis, not a contributor. With a total cost of just $5,925, you’ll have what you need to obtain leadership roles and elevate your career. Most ACE students are able to pay out-of-pocket per course and graduate with no student debt. Explore our payment options to find the right plan for you.
  • Accelerated Path to Principal Licensure This online certificate is designed for those who already have a master’s degree and need a program focused on preparing them for administrative or principal certification. You can complete this certificate in as little as one year. If you are looking for a program that prepares you for principal licensure while you earn a master’s degree, explore our M.Ed. in Educational Leadership.
  • Flexible Class Format Our asynchronous online classes enable you to plan your coursework around your life. Each course is five weeks and most follow the same structure, so you always know what to expect.
  • Principal licensure approval This program is approved for principal licensure in Arizona, Indiana, and Ohio. If you are seeking licensure in another state, you are still welcome to apply to the program but you also may need to satisfy other requirements set by your state for licensure, such as years of service or internship hours.
  • Support Every Step of the Way A virtual classroom means we can provide accessible ways to access support 24/7. All ACE students have a Student Success Coach who is available to help from enrollment to completion. They’ll answer questions, offer support and point you in the right direction on your student journey. All ACE students also have free access to 7.5 hours of tutoring each month through Tutor.com and a wealth of digital resources designed to facilitate a meaningful student experience.
  • No Textbooks to Buy Say goodbye to pricey textbooks. Our robust online library provides access to your course readings, Harvard Business Cases, journals, periodicals and other resources – all included in the program’s cost. Like everything else we do, there’s built-in support as well. Our librarians are available through live chat, email, text or phone to assist in your research and obtaining non-digital documents you may need for assignments.

What it costs

Our tuition and fees have nothing to hide. The total cost you see is your all-in price, without hidden fees, add-ons, and even textbooks. See if you can say the same about other institutions. Go ahead — we’ll wait.

Total Tuition

21 semester credits
x $235 per credit



$50 Application Fee

$840 Technology & Library Fee
($40 per credit)

$100 Program Conferral Fee


Total Program Cost1


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Meet your department chair.

Jason Cohen, Ed.D.

Jason Cohen, Ed.D.

Chair, Leadership and Administration,
Department of Leadership and Administration

Read Bio

A degree you can count on.

American College of Education is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission— a federally-recognized accrediting agency. The College’s accreditation includes approval to offer degree programs, in education, healthcare, nursing and business and leadership through distance education via the Internet. Accreditation ensures that an institution’s academic program meets or exceeds acceptable levels of quality and is the most recognized accreditation status for higher education entities. To receive and maintain HLC accreditation and affiliation approval, we must continuously undergo routine peer review cycles and provide proof that our programs meet or exceed HLC accreditation criteria and expectations of quality.


Certificate in Principal Preparation

Explore the classes you'll take to fulfill this program's 21 semester credit requirement. For more information, a complete list of requirements, and course options, see the College Catalog.

Leadership Courses (21 semester credits)

3 semester credits

This course centers on the intersection of curriculum, instruction, and assessment strategies in improving learner outcomes through data-informed decision making. Specific emphasis is placed on collecting and analyzing different types of data, aligning instructional and assessment practices, leveraging high impact instructional strategies, leading professional learning, and auditing curriculum to ensure relevance to diverse learners.  

3 semester credits

This course focuses on diversity and inclusiveness as a guiding factor in the effectiveness of school leadership and instructional outcomes. Specific emphasis is placed on how to support teachers in using evidence-based instructional design models to assess and instruct students with diverse learning needs, including students at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels; students from varied demographic and socio-economic groups; and, students participating in needs-based programs such as special education, bilingual/ESL, gifted and talented, and career and technical education.

3 semester credits

This course provides students with resource management strategies to identify the organizational needs of a school, leverage the unique strengths and talents of competent teachers, and build the instructional and leadership capacity of teams. Students also learn how to develop and implement assessment and evaluation strategies to document teacher performance and to guide decisions relevant to professional development and employment termination options.

3 semester credits

This course prepares students to promote and influence change in their schools with a goal of improving instruction and school and student outcomes. Students explore research on school improvement strategies, structures, and processes, analyze leadership decisions and behaviors, and examine the implications of research, technology, and commonly used practices for managing organizational change. Students also use existing research and literature to uncover underlying assumptions about school reform efforts, to improve the accuracy of problem identification, issues of human and social capital, the need for professional learning, and the challenges of overcoming bureaucratic and cultural norms.

3 semester credits

This course identifies local, state, and federal sources for school funding and provides students with familiarity with state funding formulas and local budget guidelines. An emphasis is also placed on ensuring that aspiring leaders develop competencies essential to the allocation of resources toward teaching, learning, and school improvement priorities rather than simply monitoring facilities and accounts. Students will also have the opportunity to explore non-traditional funding sources such as grants, foundations, and community partnerships.

3 semester credits

This course focuses on legal and ethical dimensions of school leadership with an emphasis on resolving conflicts in the school community. Students analyze legal cases and ethical dilemmas that relate to the role and responsibilities of the leader tasked with creating and maintaining an educational environment that protects and nurtures equity, fairness, tolerance, and respect, particularly balancing the needs of special populations, families, and underserved students.

3 semester credits

This course provides candidates the opportunity to synthesize their completed internship experiences to demonstrate mastery of the responsibilities required of building-level leaders to promote the success and well-being of each student and adult in their school. Candidates will reflect on their growth and development as leaders and on how internship experiences enriched their professional skills and knowledge. Candidates will document their mastery of professional standards by demonstrating how they applied academic learning to practice in the internship to meet requirements for principal licensure.

Admission Requirements

Certificate in Principal Preparation

ACE General Admission Requirements

  • Complete and submit all application components including the admission application, the enrollment agreement, and the payment agreement.
  • Submit the nonrefundable application fee.*
  • Provide official transcripts from a regionally accredited institution indicating successful completion of the level of education required for entry to the program.**

*The application fee is valid for one year from date of submission.
**Additional evidence may be required to fulfill state requirements, including but not limited to verification of professional experience, test scores, or an interview.

Program Admission Requirements

  • Master's degree

  • Minimum Grade Point Average 2.50 on a 4.0 Scale for full admission

  • Provisional Admission is not permitted

  • Applicants for the Principal Preparation Certificate must provide documentation of at least an initial teaching license, school service personnel license, or a school services certificate. If applicants to the Educational Leadership programs do not have a state recognized certificate, the student may provide evidence of full-time PK-12 teaching or school service personnel assignment, where applicable, from an individual in a supervisory capacity or from a human resource official of the school at their current employment.

  • Additional evidence may be required to fulfill state requirements, including but not limited to verification of credentials, professional experience, test scores, or an interview.

State Specific Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for the Principal Preparation Certificate, the following are required:

  • Submit an essay that describes desire to lead and leadership potential.
  • Submit two (2) letters of professional recommendation
  • Acknowledge the requirement of having three years successful teaching experience to be eligible for Arizona principal licensure.

In addition to the general requirements for the Principal Preparation Certificate, the following are required:

  • Must hold a valid Illinois Professional Educator License and
  • Submit proof of at least two years of teaching experience under a valid and current license in a public or non-public school recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education, or in a regionally accredited and state recognized out-of-state public school or out-of-state nonpublic school; or
  • Two years of Support Personnel experience in one of the following capacities in a public or non-public school recognized by the Illinois Board of 
    • Education or in a regionally accredited and state recognized out-of-state public school or out-of-state nonpublic school:
      • School Counselor
      • School Psychologist
      • Speech Language Pathologist
      • School Nurse
      • School Social Worker
      • School Marriage and Family Counselor 

In addition to the general requirements for the Principal Preparation Certificate, the following are required:

  • Ohio standard or professional teaching license or professional pupil services license
  • Submit an Education Leadership essay
  • Submit two (2) letters of professional recommendation
  • If the applicant does not have 3 semester credits in a master's level research course, completed with a B or better, RES5173 must be taken as part of the program.

  • Acknowledge the requirement of two years of successful teaching experience under a standard or professional teaching license or work experience under a professional pupil services license for the ages and grade levels for which the principal license is sought. 

A Note About Licensure:

Students who complete certificates that are approved to lead to licensure, endorsement, or certification may be subject to additional requirements for the receipt of initial licensure, endorsement, or certification in the state in which they intend to teach or administrate.

Students are strongly encouraged to check licensure requirements in the state in which they intend to teach or administrate to determine whether they are eligible for licensure, endorsement, or certification. It is vitally important that students know and be continually aware of the requirements for licensure in their state. State licensing requirements and licensing agency information may be found here

1This is an estimated value of the cost for tuition and fees. Amounts may vary depending on the number of transfer credits applied to the selected program hours, the pace and satisfactory completion of the selected program credit hours, the receipt of, or eligibility for, institutional or non-institutional scholarship and/or grant amounts, and adjustments to tuition or fees as described in the Catalog Right to Modify Tuition section.

*Ranking information based on Newsweek

State of California Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF)

It is a state of California requirement that a student who pays his or her tuition is required to pay a state-imposed assessment two dollars and fifty cents ($2.50) per one thousand dollars ($1,000) of institutional charges, rounded to the nearest thousand dollars, for the California Student Tuition Recovery Fund. For more information and to see if you must pay the state-imposed assessment for Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) click here.

For information on international transcript requirements, see the Admissions Information section of the College Catalog.

For English as a second language applicant information, see the Admissions Information section of the College Catalog.

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