Principal Fellows Program

Online MSA and the Principal Fellows Program

Appalachian State University (Appstate) offers its online Master of School Administration (MSA) degree in conjunction with the merit-based North Carolina Principal Fellows Program (PFP). PFP students receive extensive financial assistance from the state in the form of a loan or scholarship. By successfully completing a two-year MSA program (like ours) and serving four years as a North Carolina public school administrator, Fellows satisfy their PFP obligation and thereby receive their MSA degree without cost, in the form of a full scholarship. (Those persons not fulfilling all PFP requirements must repay funds received as Fellows.) PFP Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree, at least a 3.2 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 hours of study and be unconditionally admitted to an eligible school administration program. They must also have completed no more than two courses toward an MSA degree and have had a minimum of four years of successful teaching or other relevant experience. More information about the PFP and its requirements are available here.

Why Appalachian?

Appstate is one of a limited number of North Carolina universities offering the PFP-based MSA degree entirely online, affording students maximum flexibility.  The Online MSA program is a rigorous and relevant course of study provided via synchronous (real-time audio/video sessions) and asynchronous courses taught by full-time faculty who are experienced educational and legal professionals. We focus on entry-level, site-based school leadership preparation, leading to eligibility for initial North Carolina licensure in school administration. The program is also characterized by:

  • a balance of educational  leadership theory and practical skills
  • two semesters in a supervised school-based internship study
  • data-based analysis of real school issues and solutions
  • varied pedagogies, including:
    • practical, goal-oriented projects to help students develop, articulate, and implement a school vision that aligns with local and state priorities
    • purpose-oriented, ethics-based, critical thinking and interaction to clarify educational and organizational purposes in relation to values, priorities, and best practices

More information about Appstate’s MSA Program is available here.


  • JANUARY 7, 2020: Appstate MSA applications due  -- Apply here via our MSA Program page . (Note that PFP MSA applicants must apply sooner than non-PFP applicants because of PFP application deadlines.)

FEBRUARY 1, 2020: PFP applications due – Apply here (Requires acceptance into an MSA program).