State Profile

School Leader Certification and Preparation Programs

State Profile - Iowa

April 2018


The data included in this 50-state comparison is specific to school leader preparation program and certification requirements. There may be additional requirements that are not indicated. For additional information, questions or comments, please contact Deven Scott at

Has the state adopted leadership standards? Yes. Iowa has adopted the Iowa Standards for School Leaders. Source
Which state entity approves traditional school leader preparation programs? Iowa State Board of Education IAC 281—79.5(256)
Does state policy require school leader preparation programs to align with adopted standards? Yes. Educational administrator preparation programs must align with current Iowa Standards for School Leaders and embed them in coursework and clinical experiences. Iowa Admin. Code r. 281-79.17(256)
Does state policy require field experience as part of school leader preparation programs? Yes. Educational administrator preparation programs must provide a clinical experience of at least 400 hours throughout the program. State policy provides additional requirements.  Iowa Admin. Code r. 281-79.16(256)
Does state policy allow for innovative or experimental preparation programs? No state policy found.
Certification and Licensure
What are the initial school leader certification requirements? To qualify for an Initial Administrator License, a candidate who has completed a teacher preparation program must:
  • Complete a state-approved P-12 principal and P-12 supervisor of special education program
  • Complete an evaluator approval program
  • Receive institutional recommendation for the specific license and administrator endorsement
  • Meet the experience requirement for the desired administrator endorsement
  • Not be subject to any pending disciplinary proceedings in any state.

Note: Different requirements exist for candidates prepared in a professional service endorsement preparation program.

Additional qualifications required to receive a P-12 Principal Endorsement:
  • Hold a master's degree
  • Complete a sequence of courses and experiences related to specified content and coursework
  • Have three years of teaching experience at the P-12 level while holding a valid license or have had six years of teaching and administrative experience while holding a valid license, provided that at least two years are teaching experience.
Iowa Admin. Code r. 282-18.4(272)

Iowa Admin. Code r. 282-18.9(272)
What are the requirements for school leaders licensed out-of-state? Out-of-state applicants holding a valid or expired comparable certificate issued by another state must verify all licensure requirements are satisfied through an approved preparation program and transcript review. However, an applicant may be issued a non-renewable Administrator Exchange License while completing necessary requirements. Iowa Admin. Code r. 282-18.6(272)
Is there an alternative route to initial certification? No state policy found. However, at an employer's request, a non-renewable class B license may be issued to a candidate if he/she holds a valid Iowa teaching license, has completed at least 75 percent of the endorsement requirements and meets work experience requirements. Iowa Admin. Code r. 282-18.8(272)

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