Master of Secondary School Leadership

The Master of Secondary School Leadership programme focuses on the specific leadership needs of secondary schools. The goal of the programme is to prepare experienced teachers with leadership responsibilities and middle and senior managers with the skills and knowledge to lead and manage large secondary schools in New Zealand and overseas in ways that lead to raised student achievement.

Recognising that a modern secondary school is a highly specialised organisation the MSSL combines the research and teaching strengths of Victoria University's Faculty of Education and Victoria Business School with the expertise and input of experienced senior secondary principals.

This course is suitable for teachers or middle/senior managers in secondary schools who aspire to be secondary school principals and who wish to gain a Master’s-level qualification through mentoring guidance, placement observation and investigations and project work.

Entry requirements

The MSSL is open to highly capable middle and senior managers in secondary schools who aspire to leadership of secondary schools and have:

  • completed a Bachelor’s degree with a B average or have completed a postgraduate qualification, and hold a middle or senior management position in a secondary school;
  • been nominated by and have the support of the principal of the school in which they work;
  • been endorsed by an interview panel of principals and academic staff of the University who are convinced that they have the intellectual and interpersonal capabilities and potential to excel in a demanding role.

This qualification, for aspiring secondary school principals, aims to build specific skills in leadership, school management, curriculum analysis and research-based decision making.

The programme will emphasise the effective use of sophisticated data-analysis techniques that allow principals to make evidence-based decisions about effective and ineffective practices, school organisation and management systems. Students will be mentored and tutored by experienced and successful principals and will undertake placements in secondary schools to observe and carry out investigations and projects as part of the programme.

Study options

As the programme is designed for those who will maintain their jobs as middle and senior managers in secondary schools, the courses will be delivered face-to-face in weekends and in block courses (during school vacations).

Students will undertake four placements of five days each during term-time in schools (not in the candidate’s own school) to observe and to carry out investigations and projects as part of the programme. Each candidate will have access to an experienced principal as a mentor.

Online conferencing will be extensively used throughout the programme.


The programme melds educational and business thinking within a framework of mentoring by experienced principals, placements in secondary schools, and collaborations with peers to develop innovative solutions to issues in secondary school leadership and management.

The Master's qualification will involve successful completion of a research project or implementation project in addition to the eight completed courses.

This 180-point Master’s qualification would normally be taken part time and completed within two years. The PGDipSSL is a 120-point diploma that is nested within the MSSL; the PGCertSSL is a 60-point certificate that is nested within the PGDipSSL.

The PGDipSSL would be abandoned on attainment of the MSSL:

  • Seven 15-point courses from the schedule of MSSL plus one elective 15-point course from MBA or PGDipEdPD schedules.
  • 60-point research or implementation project.


One paper from another discipline plus:


Part time: up to four years.

MSSL courses 2017-2018

Download information on MSSL courses for 2017-2018pdf418KB

Contact information

Admission and enrolment

To enrol for MSSL:

  • Email Valerie Dowd expressing an interest in the MSSL
  • An electronic application form will be sent. This form asks for more details such as reasons for applying for the programme and details of previous leadership experience.
  • Submit an online enrolment and provide documentation
  • The next step is an interview with academic staff and/or a member of the advisory panel- face to face or via Skype.
  • Applicants’ principals will be contacted to clarify their level of support for the applicant.
  • Successful applicants will be sent an offer of study.

Download Programme Flyerpdf442KB