Add-on Licensure (Post-Master's)
School Administration

Program Description


The School Administration Add-on Licensure Program is a post-master’s program that is designed to prepare a select group of experienced educators for positions of school executive leadership in K-12 settings. The resulting earned license as a K-12 School Administrator is available as “add-on” licensure only to well-qualified candidates who already possess a master’s degree, a teaching license, and have minimum school experiences as noted below.

Though graduates of the licensure program will be eligible for licensure as a K-12 school principal, the add-on program is intended for those who aspire, at least initially, to serve in public school assistant principal positions.

The program requires 27 credit hours: 21 hours of coursework and 6 hours in a part-time, year-long internship at a K-12 school site that is deeply committed to the candidate’s success and is willing to provide substantive mentorship support and accommodations to the candidate.

To receive the School Administrator add-on license, candidates who are admitted to the program must successfully:

  • Complete seven (7) courses (21 credits) that are specifically aligned to the NC Department of Public Instruction Standards for School Executives. Courses must be taken on-campus and may be taken in any order. A maximum of four courses may be taken in any given semester. The 7 required courses are:
  • Complete a minimum of two semesters (3 credits each semester, for a minimum of 6 internship  credits) of part-time internship. A candidate who does not successfully complete the required artifacts (see below) will be required to continue to register for internship credits each semester until the artifacts/portfolio are successfully completed. It is possible that successful completion of this program may require in excess of the 27-credit minimum. The student’s advisor will provide appropriate course registration information for internship sections [EDUC 736 / EDUC 738]. The internship may begin ONLY in the fall semester.
  • Complete seven (7) required artifacts that collectively form a portfolio. The artifacts are formally developed during coursework, in internship semesters and scheduled work sessions. This portfolio product carries with it highly structured, non-negotiable activities, components, and other work products.
  • Pass all courses, including internship credits. One grade of “F” or three grades of “L” will result in dismissal from the program.
  • Complete the program within 5 years of his/her term of admission.

At the end of a candidate’s program:

  1. The Educational Leadership faculty and other assessors will formally review the candidate’s portfolio. If the portfolio is deemed proficient according to the NC School Executive Preservice standards, the assessors will notify the candidate and submit their recommendation for licensure to the UNC licensure office;
  2. The candidate is responsible for applying for licensure through the UNC licensure office. Licensure is not automatic and is not processed automatically.
  3. Upon successful completion of all licensure application forms by the candidate, the UNC licensure office will communicate the licensure recommendation to the NC Department of Public Instruction, which will then formally assess the portfolio according to established criteria;
  4. Upon determination of candidate proficiency, the NC Department of Public Instruction will issue the desired license.


The K-12 School Administrator add-on license is available only to candidates who:

  • Are currently licensed by NC DPI; or, if applying with out-of-state credentials, have a current license that would otherwise qualify for NC licensure.
  • Hold a master's degree in an education-related field from an accredited institution;
  • Have a minimum of three years of teaching experience; or three years of experience in an educational support position (e.g. counselor, media specialist, etc.); or a combination of these experiences that total a minimum of three years; or, hold an appointment or appointment contract as an assistant principal.

Candidates who already hold a master’s degree in an education related field may pursue the Add-on license by applying through the MSA Flex admissions cycle.

We recommend that candidates who do not possess a master’s degree, or whose master’s degree is not in an education-related field, apply instead for the Master of School Administration program (see School Administration M.S.A.).

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is the add-on licensure program a “degree?”

    No. Successful completion of the program leads to an “add-on” license to your current teaching license. Ths add-on licensure program is not a degree program. UNC makes no representation that the add-on license will provide eligibility for K-12 Principal positions in any state other than North Carolina. Candidates who foresee the possibility of exploring or seeking school executive positions outside of North Carolina should consult with the licensure office in each state that the candidate is considering and/or explore applying to the MSA degree program, where reciprocity with other states is expansive.

  2. How many credits/courses are required?

    The program requires 27 credits for successful completion. This is broken down as 7 formal courses (21 credits), plus two semesters of a part-time, full year internship (6 credits.)

  3. How does the add-on licensure program compare to the MSA degree program?

    Many candidates find that UNC’s Master of School Administration (MSA) degree program (2 years, full-time on-campus studies; or part-time, off-campus studies) is a more suitable pursuit given the relatively modest additional required coursework. Admission to the MSA program also provides for eligibility for a full-time, paid internship in the candidate’s final two semesters. Additionally, many Human Resource directors and hiring committees prefer to see the actual degree.

  4. Can I take some or all of these courses online?

    No. All courses are offered on the campus of UNC. While some courses have online components, all require the candidate’s physical presence on campus.

  5. Can I transfer in courses from other universities?

    No. All courses must be taken in exact accordance with the Program of Studies. Only those courses in the Program of Studies and taken at UNC are applicable to the add-on licensure program. The nature of the add-on program is such that admitted students’ past graduate work is, by implication, already “transferred.” Further, each course aligns specifically to the revised NC School Executive Standards and requires the development of an artifact that aligns to these standards. When combined, these artifacts and associated materials represent the required electronic portfolio that the candidate will submit to DPI.

  6. Can I take the courses in any order?

    Yes. You may take the required courses in any order.

  7. Is there a minimum/maximum number of courses that I can take in a semester?

    You must take at least one course each semester beginning with the term in which you have been admitted. You may take up to four courses in a semester.

  8. How long do I have to complete the program?

    You must complete the program (coursework and internship) within five years of the term of your initial admission.

  9. Can I start the program before I am formally admitted?

    You may take one course early, but only from among those that are listed on the Add-On Licensure Program of Studies. To do so, you must register through UNC Continuing Education.

    Please note: Taking courses through UNC Continuing Education will still require that you complete an official application for admission for the ensuing term. Also note that there is no guarantee that you will be admitted. Taking a course early, therefore, represents a risk on your part. If you are interested in pursuing this option, you may find further information on UNC Continuing Education at The Friday Center for Continuing Education.

  10. When can I begin my internship?

    The required, part-time internship can begin only after the candidate has completed 5 courses/15 credits. The internship can begin only in the fall semester, no matter when the candidate began his/her coursework. Candidates will need to plan their Program of Studies carefully with their advisor in order to ensure that their program completion timeline is met.
    The internship must be for one full year. It is not possible to compress or “double up” hours.

  11. I am currently enrolled in the MSA program at UNC Chapel Hill. Can I “roll out” of that degree program and into this alternative?

    Yes. Such candidates should recognize that they will not attain their MSA degree and will need to comply with all add-on program requirements, including possession of an education-related master’s degree. Also note that courses taken prior to the Fall 2010 do not qualify for transfer to the add-on licensure program because the MSA was reconfigured and revised effective in the Fall 2010 term.

  12. Can someone in the School Administrator Add-on Licensure Program convert to the full-time M.S.A. Program?

    School Administrator Add-on candidates are free to apply for the MSA degree program in the same candidate pool as other MSA applicants. They would be required to meet all of the admissions requirements for the full-time program in existence at the time of the application. If accepted into the MSA program, the candidate and advisor would develop a program of study that would incorporate as much of the coursework previously completed in the Add-on Program as possible. Because MSA courses and requirements have changed as a result of significant program reconfiguration in the Fall 2010, the candidate needs to understand that his/her revised program of studies would not necessarily incorporate all previous courses. See your advisor for further information.

  13. I am currently enrolled in the Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) program at UNC, but I do not hold a Principal’s license. Should I apply to the add-on licensure program?

    If you are a current student admitted whose term of admission was prior to Fall 2010 and are taking additional MSA courses for purposes of Principal licensure prior to earning your Ed.S., you should continue your Program of Studies as originally developed with your advisor.
    If you are a current student whose term of admission is Fall 2010 or beyond, completion of the Ed.S. program typically provides either North Carolina Level I (Entry-level Principal) or North Carolina Level II (Advanced Principal) licensure in addition to your Superintendent’s Concentration/Licensure. Because of the increased requirements associated with add-on licensure, it is now impractical for you to seek Principal licensure earlier than you will receive it through your Ed.S. program.