Principal Leadership

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Principal Leadership Cohort • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership (M.A.)

Preparing a new generation of educators for the changing role of the principal in today's new school leadership paradigm.

A New Generation of School Leaders

Principals are the essential link between school leadership and student achievement

Offered by Rider University's respected and NCATE/CAEP-accredited College of Education and Human Services, the Principal Leadership Cohort focuses on equipping educators with the leadership qualities and skills needed to respond to the challenges - and opportunities - facing schools today. Focusing on transformational leadership and instructional improvement, the program aligns with the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders and the Standards of the National Policy Board for Educational Administration.

The Role of Principal Leaders in Shaping a Great Education

Based on a dozen years of research and field experience, the prestigious Wallace Foundation identifies five key practices linking effective school leadership and student achievement:

Shaping a vision of academic success for all students based on high standards

Creating a climate hospitable to education so that safety, a cooperative spirit and other foundations of fruitful interaction prevail

Cultivating leadership in others so that teachers and others assume their part in realizing the school vision

Improving instruction to enable teachers to teach at their best and students to learn at their utmost

Managing people, data and processes to foster school improvement

Student and professor working together

Preparing Principals for New Emerging Needs

Rider University’s Principal Leadership program recognizes that it is principals who are best positioned to lead the effort in their schools to ensure that teaching and learning are as excellent as possible. Principals who have a school-wide focus on better teaching and learning, who know how to create a vision and share authority, and who are prepared to be accountable for achieving the school’s educational goals, are vital to ensuring the quality of our children’s education.

The professionals in our College of Education and Human Services work with our participants to develop and evaluate curricula, use data to diagnose student needs, coach teachers, plan professional development in their schools, and establish school-wide norms that support high quality teaching and learning.

A Flexible Executive Format Program

Leading to an M.A. in Educational Leadership, the Principal Leadership program’s cohort-based, executive-style format brings educational peers together to study, network and learn as a unit throughout the program. Participants engage in online classes during the school year, and attend two residencies on Rider University’s Lawrenceville Campus each summer.

The program’s flexible blended learning format recognizes the demands of the teaching profession while maintaining the rigors of a quality leadership training program. Participants pursue their graduate studies without interrupting their professional and personal responsibilities.

Candidates complete their graduate studies in two years, and are eligible to apply for both New Jersey’s Principal and Supervisor Certificates.

Group Discount Rate

School districts with multiple participants in the Principal Leadership program may qualify for a group discount rate.

Details are available from the Office of Graduate Admission at 609-896-5036.

Principal Leadership Highlights

The 36-credit program of study consists of 12 courses that focus on three areas of leadership:

  • Personal Leadership
  • Instructional Leadership
  • School Culture Leadership

An accomplished and distinguished faculty whose members bring deep practical and theoretical knowledge to their disciplines leads the program. There is close integration of coursework and fieldwork, using techniques such as case studies, problem-based learning and journaling to encourage continuous reflection about the connections between theory and practice. The curriculum heavily emphasizes teaching and learning, school redesign and collaborative decision-making.

Relevant field-based experiences (Leadership Growth Projects) are also integrated throughout the program of study, beginning with the very first course, including:

Planned internship experiences: This year-long aspect of the program emphasizes both the management and instructional facets of leadership for increased student performance. Coordinated by the program director at Rider University and a school-based mentor, participants develop the skills needed to strategically transform public schools that prepare students for college and career success.

Summer residencies: Summer residencies will be conducted in July on Rider University’s Lawrenceville Campus. During the residency programs, candidates will have the opportunity to meet and interact with their cohort colleagues, professors and other experts in the field.

Qualifications for Admission

In addition to completing Rider University’s Application for Graduate Admission, students applying to the MA in Educational Leadership Principal Cohort are required to provide the following:

  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended with a minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Copies of most recent teacher evaluations for last two years
  • Three letters of recommendation (one from supervisor, principal, colleague)
  • A current professional résumé
  • Essay on outlook of school leadership (250–500 words)

Ready to apply to one of Rider's graduate programs?
Start the Graduate Application today.

If you are interested in the Principal Leadership Cohort of Rider’s M.A. in Educational Leadership, please contact:

Headshot of Judith Stegmaier-Nappi
Associate Professor
Bierenbaum Fisher Hall 218C

Academic Background

EdD., Administrative Policy and Urban Education, Fordham University, 1997    

M.A.  Administration and Supervision, Montclair State University, 1992

B.A.  Psychology and Social Studies, Montclair State University, 1982

Recipient of the Montclair State University William A. Cuff Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Education, 2006


Teacher of Psychology – New Jersey

Teacher of Social Studies – New Jersey

Supervisor – New Jersey

Jamie Mitchell
Director of Graduate and Continuing Studies Admission
Ciambelli Hall