North Dakota has long been a state that’s valued consistency in its public school system – and it’s paid off. A 2022 report by WalletHub found that North Dakota ranked among the top public school systems in the U.S.
You won’t find this state playing a game of catch-up when it comes to its public education; instead, a longstanding commitment to its PreK-12 students has allowed it to rank among the top states for everything from academic performance to funding to safety to instructor credentials, without fail. It lands among the best for its median SAT scores and, as of late, has received accolades for its digital learning plan. According to WalletHub, North Dakota’s digital learning plan, much of which was born out of the COVID pandemic, is ranked first in the nation.
Sure, as a North Dakota educator, this isn’t news to you. After all, you’ve played an integral part in the state’s success. But it solidifies your plans to take your career from the classroom and into administration. Your dedication to your craft is commendable, and you’re excited to take what you’ve learned and begin applying it in new and exciting ways. Leadership is where you’re headed, so now it’s time to consider the degree that will get you where you want to be.
In North Dakota, a graduate degree in educational administration and leadership should be next on your to-do list. Whether a master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degree is what you seek, you’ll find a nice selection of programs, both in North Dakota and across the country, that are expertly designed to prepare you for this next phase of your career.
How to Become a Principal in North Dakota – School-level Educational Leadership
To become a school principal in North Carolina, you must earn a Principal Credential (K-8, 5-12, or K-12) through the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI).
But first you’ll need at least three years of teaching or administrative experience at the applicable grade levels. Once you meet this requirement, you can begin taking the steps necessary to become a school principal in North Dakota.
Step 1. Earn a Minimum of a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration or a Similar Field
To become a principal in North Dakota, you must earn a minimum of a master’s degree in educational administration or a similar field. The degree program must be certifiable by the Education Standards and Practices Board and include course preparation aligned with the following standards:
The program you choose must also include an internship that aligns with the grade levels (elementary, secondary, or K-12) for the credential you’re applying for. To qualify for the K-12 credential, you must complete an internship at both the elementary and secondary grade levels.
These programs are often designed as:
The NDDPI has partnered with North Dakota colleges and universities to provide students with an overview of the coursework that must be completed to align with the Principal Credential. You can review coursework requirements here.
If you’ve already earned a master’s degree, you may also meet the requirements for North Dakota’s Principal Credential by completing a post-master’s certificate program. These programs include all of the coursework and practical experiences necessary for licensure.
Step 2. Apply for and Maintain a Level I Principal Credential
You’ll need to apply for the appropriate Level I Principal Credential (elementary, secondary, or K-12) through the NDDPI Office of School Approval & Opportunity. You can access the application through NDTeach.
Your Level I Principal Credential must be renewed every five years, so you’ll renew you teaching license and Principal Credential at the same time. The first renewal of the Principal Credential may be prorated to align with the renewal of your teaching license. You’ll complete a renewal application through NDTeach once you complete at least eight semester credits of study or six semester credits of study and six education-based workshops or conferences.
School Principal Salary and Jobs in North Dakota
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), principals in North Dakota earned a median salary of $101,190 as of May 2022. The top earners in the field earned about $127,750 during this time.
The Fargo and Bismarck metro areas reported the highest salaries among school principals in North Dakota as of May 2022. The Fargo metro area reported a median salary of $104,640 and a top salary of $134,670, while the Bismarck metro area reported a median salary of $101,790 and a top salary of $130,540.
How to Become a Superintendent in North Dakota – District-Level Educational Leadership
To become a superintendent in North Dakota, you’ll need to earn a Superintendent Credential through the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI).
Before you can become a superintendent, you must meet all the requirements of the Elementary or Secondary Principal Credential (see above, How to Become a Principal) and have at least two years of administrative experience.
Administrative experience must be at least half-time as an elementary or secondary principal, central office administrator, or an administrator of an approved school with a twelve-year program.
Once you meet North Dakota’s Principal Credential requirements, you can begin taking the steps to become a superintendent in North Dakota.
Step 1. Complete a Superintendent Credential Program
You must complete a total of eight additional credits beyond your Principal Credential program to become a superintendent in North Dakota. A few North Dakota colleges and universities offer Educational Leadership programs that include the necessary coursework and field-based experience to satisfy the requirements for the Superintendent Credential.
These programs include study in the following content areas:
Step 2. Apply for and Maintain a Superintendent Credential
You’ll need to apply for the Superintendent Credential through the NDDPI Office of School Approval & Opportunity. You can access the application through NDTeach.
The Superintendent Credential is renewed every five years upon the completion of:
Acceptable conferences and workshops include:
Superintendent Salary and Jobs in North Dakota
According to the BLS, superintendents in North Dakota earned an average salary of $134,670 as of May 2022.
The Bismarck metro area reported the highest average salary for superintendents in the state, at $143,980, followed by the Fargo metro area, at $134,670.
Educational Leadership Degree Options in North Dakota: Doctorate and Master’s in Educational Leadership
Job growth among North Dakota’s educational administrators and leaders in the coming years is expected to be nothing short of impressive. In the ten years leading up to 2030, jobs in this field are projected to increase by 13.7 percent. During this time, the state should see about 60 annual job openings for principals and superintendents due to a blend of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.
Meteoric job growth projections for North Dakota’s principals and superintendents is outstanding news for aspiring educational administrators like you. Whether you have plans to pursue a master’s, educational specialist, or doctoral degree, you’ll find plenty of programs that match your professional goals while meeting state requirements.
And because many of these educational administration and leadership graduate degrees are offered in convenient and flexible online formats, earning the degree that will advance your career in education is easier and more accessible than ever.
University of Mary
Liffrig Family School of Education and Behavioral Sciences
Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Administration
M.Ed in Teacher Leadership
2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for education administrators, kindergarten through secondary. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed May 2023.