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Perceptions of online credentials for school principals

Jayson W. Richardson (Department of Educational Leadership Studies, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA)
Scott McLeod (Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA)
Amy Garrett Dikkers (Department of Educational Leadership, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 5 July 2011




The purpose of this study is to investigate the perceptions of human resource directors in the USA about online credentials earned by K‐12 school principals and principal candidates.


In this mixed methods study, a survey was sent to a random sample of 500 human resource directors in K‐12 school districts across the USA. Analysis was conducted on 105 surveys.


In contrast to a traditional face‐to‐face format, the majority of respondents reported beliefs that online courses and online degrees aimed at school principals required less work, were of lower quality, and could not adequately prepare leaders to tackle state‐specific issues. Human resource directors in rural districts had a more negative perception of online learning, in comparison to their counterparts in suburban or urban districts. All preparatory courses, except technology leadership, were reported to be easier taught face‐to‐face, than online.

Research limitations/implications

Further research should be conducted to determine if and how these perceptions are shifting. Further research should also be conducted to determine the influence of location on perceptions of online credentials for school leaders. Comparing perceptions about online credentials cross‐nationally may provide interesting insights and new areas of research.

Practical implications

Implications are for school administration programs, both traditional and online, that desire to create and build more accepted school administration programs that include online components.

Social implications

Students increasingly opt for online coursework; students in the field of school leadership and administration in the USA are no different. This shift to online learning must be juxtaposed with efforts to maintain quality, improve efficiency, and address the concerns of those persons who hire these candidates.


To date, no research has been published on the perceived acceptability of online degrees and online coursework for school principals in the USA.



Richardson, J.W., McLeod, S. and Garrett Dikkers, A. (2011), "Perceptions of online credentials for school principals", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 49 No. 4, pp. 378-395.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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