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How to Become a Principal in Illinois

If you love education and are thinking about moving into administration, here are the steps you'll need to take to become a principal in Illinois.

First, research the educational degrees needed to become a principal. For example, National Louis University offers Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) and Educational Specialist programs, which fulfill the requirements.

Principal Requirements

1. You must hold a valid and current Illinois teaching certificate, such as early childhood, elementary, secondary, special K-12, or special preschool-age 21.

2. You must provide proof of two years of teaching experience on a valid and current teaching certificate, either in Illinois or another state. You will need proof of four years of teaching experience by the time your degree program is completed, in order to earn the principal’s endorsement on your Professional Educators License.

3. You must have taken and passed the Illinois Test of Academic Proficiency if you were not required to pass it to obtain your teaching certificate.

4. To be admitted to a graduate program in educational leadership, many universities require you to pass an interview with full-time faculty members. At National Louis University, for example, faculty use the interview to assess four competencies: facilitation, problem-solving, group dynamics and standards-based content knowledge.

5. On the same day as the interview, you may be asked to work individually on a written response to a scenario, so that faculty may assess your understanding of the nature of the task, application of relevant theory and leadership concepts, writing skills and standards-based content knowledge.

6. You may be asked to submit a teaching and leadership portfolio showing evidence of student growth and learning, as well as significant leadership roles.

7. You must also complete the Miller Analogies Test or GRE unless you have taken them in the past five years. This requirement is waived if you hold a graduate degree.

8. Complete the courses and degree requirements for your degree program.

9. Graduate with your M.Ed. or Ed.S. degree.

10. Take and pass the Principal Content Exam in Illinois, well in advance of completing all your classes, and preferably prior to your last term. Registration and Study Guides can be found at the ICTS website:

11. Complete the Growth Through Learning Teacher Evaluation modules.

12. Receive the principal endorsement on your Professional Educator’s License (PEL). This license replaces the Type 75 General Administrative License in Illinois.


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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