Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Anthony Colella, Ph.D.,

Committee Member

Kathleen Pecoraro Ed.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Strobert, Ed.D.


principalship, retaining principals, assistant principals


The importance of attracting, selecting, and retaining effective principals is essential. Due to the negative perceptions of the principalship, there are concerns about who will fill these vacancies. Therefore, this study focused on perceptions of second and third year assistant principals toward the principalship and their career aspirations. The following research questions guided this study: (a) How do assistant principals perceive the role of the principal? (b) What are the factors that influence assistant principals’ motivation to seek or not to seek a position as a school principal? The research design used a qualitative approach to ascertain in-depth information to describe assistant principals’ perceptions and motivations. One focus group session was held and nine in-depth phone interviews were conducted. The participants consisted of second year assistant principals in the “New Jersey Leaders To Leaders” program (L2L) and assistant principals who had just completed the L2L program requirements. The findings of this study indicated that 83% of the participants had aspirations of pursuing a principalship. The principalship was described as being a difficult job due to time requirements and responsibilities of dealing with difficult parents, personnel decisions, politics and discipline, while keeping constant communication and managing the day-to-day operations. Taking the next step, having positive experiences as an assistant principal, having leadership aspirations to make a difference, financial incentives and growing as an administrator were described as motivating factors for pursuing a principalship. Due to the finding that 91.6% of the assistant principals who participated in this study were from one of the top three DFG classifications in New Jersey, it is recommended that a research study be done to analyze and compare school district philosophy based on DFG. The experiences assistant principals have due to the school and/or their principal’s leadership style were indicated as impacting motivations for career advancement. It is recommended that a large-scale quantitative study be done to describe the effects on assistant principals’ aspirations to pursue a principalship due to their experiences working as assistant principals.