Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

We've ranked the top online master's in educational leadership programs. Compare schools by cost, flexibility, and academic quality.

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Published on March 9, 2022 · Updated on March 10, 2022

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A master's in educational leadership provides the training required for high-level administrative positions in both K-12 and higher education settings. These programs usually last about two years. Tuition costs an average of $9,000 annually at a public school and $29,670 at a private institution in 2021-2022. Some online students can enroll in a public school outside their state and pay the same tuition rate as resident learners.

The career outlook for graduates of an online master's in educational leadership is positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for both elementary, middle, and high school principals and higher education administrators to grow by 8% between 2020-2030. Many of these professionals earn salaries just below six figures. Experienced leaders can earn over $100,000.

When looking at top online schools and deciding whether to go to graduate school, students often have many questions. Keep reading to get answers about common coursework, available jobs after graduation, and what to look for in a top-tier program.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Educational Leadership Program?

Prospective students preparing for graduate school and considering an online master's in educational leadership typically possess some education experience. Professionals in the field enjoy working with many personality types, thinking critically to solve problems, and having difficult conversations when needed. They also work well with others as part of a team.

These programs tend to comprise 30-40 credits and take about two years to complete. Part-time options can take around three years. An accelerated program may allow learners to graduate in as few as 18 months with summer and winter sessions.

In addition to core coursework, many programs provide concentrations so degree-seekers can focus their knowledge and skills in a particular area. Concentrations vary by program, but common options include:

Learners who choose the principal licensure path may need to participate in a principalship internship or practicum to complete required hours. Other programs may require students to write a full-length thesis or conduct action research.

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Popular Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Educational Leadership Program?

School Finance

This course introduces students to the financial and economic methodologies for funding both public and private elementary and secondary schools. Students consider questions about revenue sources, fiscal structures, and financial operations. They also learn about grants and other funding sources.

Educational Leadership Theory

Students learn about the theories and methodologies of leadership strategies for both students and staff. They also consider how to address organizational behaviors and create collaborative working environments for faculty and staff. Coursework may also cover creating conducive learning environments for students.

Curriculum Development and Data Analysis

Educational leaders create more effective, dynamic curricula for elementary and secondary schools. This course builds the skills needed to analyze student achievement through data and make fact-driven decisions to produce better outcomes.

Current Trends in Education

This course examines contemporary trends in K-12 education, including political, economic, and social forces at play. Students learn about educational reform and how to bring more diversity into classrooms.

Technology Leadership

With a focus on how technology integration can produce better student outcomes, this course familiarizes learners with proven emerging educational technology. Students discuss how to implement these tools effectively.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Financial Aid Guide for Graduate Students Scholarships for Education Majors The Student's Guide to Financial Aid and the FAFSA

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Educational Leadership Program?

Students should review graduate admission guides for online master's in educational leadership programs before applying. Most programs require candidates to hold at least 2-3 years of classroom experience. This requirement applies for both campus-based and online programs. Additionally, some programs may also require learners to participate in an interview.

Application

College applications are the entry point in the admissions process and help program directors gather basic information about candidates. Applicants can fill these out online or on paper and mailed. They typically ask for a candidate's full name, mailing address, and date of birth. Students also supply educational history and citizenship status.

Test Scores

If a program requires test scores for entrance, it will likely ask for MAT or GRE scores. However, some schools dropped this requirement entirely. Others may provide a waiver for students with high undergraduate GPAs and/or extensive classroom experience.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants typically ask for letters of recommendation from academic and professional references who can speak to their experience and preparedness for the rigors of a master's program. Common examples of references include current or former professors, supervisors, internship managers, or colleagues.

Resume and Work Experience

Most master's in educational leadership programs look for candidates with at least a couple years of classroom experience. So, creating a resume that demonstrates adequate post-baccalaureate work is essential to a top college application resume.

Essays

For candidates wondering how to write a grad school essay, these 500- to 750-word documents (also sometimes called personal statements) provide a space for students to set themselves apart from other applicants. Applicants may answer questions about why they chose this degree and how they plan to use it after graduating. They may also discuss what interests them in a specific program.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts help admissions officers confirm candidates have taken all required prerequisite courses. They also allow admissions officers to check the GPA the student provided on their application. In the case of learners transferring from one program to another, transcripts help determine which credits will transfer over.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Educational Leadership Degree?

Career Outlook

Pursuing an online master's degree in educational leadership can lead to several in-demand and well-paying administrative roles. Elementary, middle, and high school principals earned median salaries of $98,490 in May 2020, with the BLS projecting an 8% growth in jobs between 2020-2030.

Meanwhile, postsecondary education administrators earned median salaries of $97,500 in May 2020. The BLS projects these jobs to grow by 8% from 2020-2030 as well. Whether working in public or private schools or in corporate training, an online master's in educational leadership offers space for growth and opportunities for management experience.

Career Paths

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

These professionals oversee K-12 schools and work at the head of the leadership team. They develop class schedules, handle disciplinary actions for students and staff, and review curricular requirements. They also liaise with instructional coordinators and meet with parents and teachers to address student progress.

Median Annual Salary: $98,490

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators can work in various settings as admissions directors, deans of students, registrars, or provosts. Their responsibilities vary based on their job title. They often oversee staff, set departmental budgets, and provide support to both students and faculty members.

Median Annual Salary: $97,000

Human Resources Managers

Professionals working as human resources managers oversee their organization or department's administrative functions. They oversee recruitment and hiring processes and disciplinary actions. They also create employee benefit programs and address needs for temporary or support staff when needed.

Median Annual Salary: $121,220

Administrative Services and Facilities Managers

These professionals function similarly to school leaders and HR managers, but their work can span outside education. They manage all administrative and clerical staff and create ways of improving operational efficiency without sacrificing quality. They also ensure the spaces in their control remain safe and secure.

Median Annual Salary: $98,890

Training and Development Managers

Whether working for a corporation, nonprofit, or governmental agency, training and development managers coordinate the education and continuing education of professionals. They organize training programs, evaluate training program effectiveness, and hire training professionals to provide instruction to employees.

Median Annual Salary: $115,640

Educational Leadership Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

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Continuing Education

After working in the field for several years, some master's in educational leadership graduates may decide they want to earn a doctorate. Whether hoping to advance in their current role or move into a position focused more on research or teaching at the postgraduate level, doctorates can help learners achieve this goal.

Some common paths worth considering include a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, a doctorate in education, or a doctorate in organizational leadership.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Educational Leadership Program?

Cost

One of the most important considerations for any online master's in educational leadership is cost. To understand the true program cost, students must consider factors such as additional fees and compare whether studying online or in-person is cheaper. In general, attending a public school as a state resident offers the cheapest education path.

Program Format

Recognizing that many students work while completing their online master's in educational leadership, many programs provide flexibility. Students commonly find programs taught in both asynchronous and synchronous formats, as well as those offering part-time and full-time schedules. Some may even offer an accelerated pathway.

Location

Students planning to attend a hybrid or campus-based master's in educational leadership typically must select a school within driving distance. Those who decide to pursue an online degree can often widen their search radius to schools farther away.

Accreditation

When looking at online college accreditation, students should prioritize options that hold both institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation. Within the education world, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation is the most well-known and respected accrediting group.

Student Support

The best master's in educational leadership programs offer student support services that help degree-seekers stand out from others. Many top schools feature a mentorship matching program and an internship coordinator. Distance learners should ask about online-specific student services available.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs

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Best Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs

  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $11313

    A public university based in Gainesville, UF offers a two-year online master of education in educational leadership with an option to earn the Florida principal certification.

    Students must complete 36 credits of courses, including administration of school personnel, public school law, technology leadership, and public school finance. While the program does not require a thesis, those seeking Florida principal certification must complete a three-credit English to speakers of other languages requirement. Students typically take six credits per semester.

    UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $734 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 36-39 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum required on upper-division undergraduate coursework
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about the program.

  2. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $13016

    A public university in Orlando, UCF offers a master of arts in educational leadership. The program is suitable for students seeking administrative and leadership roles in school settings that do not require teaching certification, such as instructional coordinator and college provost.

    The two-year program requires all students to complete 30 credits, with nine credits dedicated to research and measurement classes and 21 credits dedicated to administration coursework. Course topics include fundamentals of graduate research in education, leadership in educational organizations, and issues in education. All students must also complete a research report.

    UCF holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $327 per credit (in-state); $1,152 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 30 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about the program.

  3. Texas A & M University
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $19118

    A public university situated in College Station, Texas A&M offers an online master of education in educational administration with a concentration on PK-12 educational leadership. Students must attend one on-campus training weekend during their second spring semester.

    The 36-credit program includes courses such as administration of special populations and special programs, K-12 school financing and budgeting, and instructional leadership development training. All students must also complete two semesters of internships to complete the program. Graduates may sit for the state principal examination.

    Texas A&M is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Administration
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $493 per credit (in-state); $1,022 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online, with one weekend on campus

    Admission Requirements:


    GPA: No minimum requirement
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about the program.

  4. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    Based in University Park, Penn State World Campus provides an online master of education in educational leadership.

    The 30-credit program provides three concentration options: teacher leader, school leader, and school leader without principal certification. With the teacher leader emphasis, participants take classes such as introduction to teacher leadership, how schools work, and principles of instructional leadership. Learners in this track must also complete a capstone during the final semester.

    The school leader emphasis includes courses on leadership for equity and diversity, the law and education for educational leaders, and data informed leadership. Students can also complete an internship to receive their principal certificate from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

    Penn State World Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $924 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 30 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about the program.

  5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $15829

    A public university in Champaign, Illinois offers a master of education in education policy, organization, and leadership. Students can choose from 12 different concentrations, including bilingual-bicultural education, digital learning, social sciences and education policy, and global studies in education.

    The program includes 32 credits of coursework. Class topics include psychology of learning in education, history of American education, racial and ethnic families, and economics of education. The program does not require an internship or thesis.

    Illinois is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Master of Education in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $490 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 32 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum required over last two years of undergraduate study
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about the program.

  6. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Located in Washington D.C., GW offers a master of arts in educational leadership and administration.

    Core courses in the 30-credit program include foundations of K-12 educational leadership; school law and policy; administrative issues in education; and school, family, and community engagement. The program concludes with an administration internship.

    Students graduating from the two-year program can sit for administrative certification in the District of Columbia and other qualifying states. To qualify for admission, applicants should have at least one year of teaching experience.

    GW holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and its School of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $1,045 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 30 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.3 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about the program.

  7. Clemson University
    Location

    Clemson, SC

    Tuition

    $19508

    Located in South Carolina, Clemson offers an online master of education in educational leadership. Students can choose from three degree options: an M.Ed. without certification, an M.Ed. with South Carolina building-level certification, and an M.Ed. with the potential for out-of-state building-level certification.

    Course topics include an introduction to school leadership, school personnel development, law and ethics for school leaders, and program evaluation for school leaders. For those seeking certifications, the program also requires students to complete two internships.

    Clemson is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $633 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 2 years
    Format: Online
    Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 3.0 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: GRE optional

    Contact the School

    Request more information about the program.

  8. Mississippi College
    Location

    Clinton, MS

    Based in Clinton, MC offers an online master of science in higher education administration and an online master of education in educational leadership for educators.

    The 31-credit higher education administration program requires students to complete two practica. Participants also take classes like law and higher education, basic effective leadership, and finance in higher education.

    For the educational leadership track, students must complete 36 credits, including three credits dedicated to an internship and five credits dedicated to a clinical experience. Courses cover topics like information management, school law, and interpersonal leadership.

    MC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Master of Science in Higher Education Administration; Master of Education in Educational Leadership
    School Status: Private
    Tuition: $276 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 31 or 36 credits
    Program Length: 1 year
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.5 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: GRE or equivalent required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about the program.

  9. Texas Tech University
    Location

    Lubbock, TX

    Tuition

    $15531

    Based in Lubbock, TTU offers an online master of education in educational leadership with an emphasis in educational policy. The 36-credit program prepares students for positions in education, government, policy institutes, and the private sector.

    The curriculum covers subjects such as education policy, communication for school leaders, decision-making in educational leadership, and educational policy analysis. Although this two-year program does not require an internship or thesis, students are encouraged to complete some sort of practical experience.

    TTU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $438 per credit (in-state); $847 per credit (out-of-state)
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: No minimum requirement
    Standardized Tests: GRE or equivalent required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about the program.

  10. Georgia College & State University
    Location

    Milledgeville, GA

    Tuition

    $20478

    A public university located in Milledgeville, Georgia College offers an online master of education in educational leadership for certified teachers.

    Students can complete the 36-credit program in one academic year. The curriculum includes courses such as management and compliance, stakeholder relationships, equity and differentiation, and continuous improvement. Students must also complete a capstone as a part of the curriculum.

    To qualify for graduation, students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and complete 250 hours of residency requirements. Georgia College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Program Snapshot

    Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
    School Status: Public
    Tuition: $288 per credit
    Credit Requirements: 36 credits
    Program Length: 1 year
    Format: Online

    Admission Requirements

    GPA: 2.75 minimum required
    Standardized Tests: Not required

    Contact the School

    Request more information about the program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Educational Leadership Programs

Is a master's in educational leadership worth it? true

When deciding whether an online degree is worth it, students must decide if their goals align with common educational leadership degree outcomes. People looking to take on leadership roles and earn higher salaries often find these programs valuable.While jobs for classroom teachers typically offer median salaries around $60,000, educational administration wages sit just under $100,000. Master's in educational leadership programs also provide the training needed to move from the classroom to the administrative side of education.

What can I do with a master's in educational leadership? true

Students who graduate with a master's in educational leadership can use their training and qualifications in many ways. The most traditional path includes working in K-12 settings as a principal, district supervisor, or other administrative leadership role. Others may transition into higher education and work as registrars, deans of students, or department chairs.

Some graduates work in less formal educational settings, such as corporations, nonprofits, or government agencies with in-house training or continuing education departments.

Are educational leadership graduates in demand? true

The BLS projects average growth rates for many educational leadership roles between 2020-2030. According to BLS projections, jobs for elementary, middle, and high school principals will grow by 8%, leading to more than 21,000 new positions. Meanwhile, the BLS projects postsecondary education administrator roles to also grow by 8% and produce 13,400 new positions.Growth rates also look strong outside of traditional educational circles. BLS projections show positions for training and development managers could grow by 11%, which is faster than the average for all U.S. occupations.

How much money can I make with a master's in educational leadership?

With a master's in educational leadership, professionals can earn salaries near or above $100,000 each year. K-12 principals earned a median pay of $98,490 in May 2020, while postsecondary education administrators earned a median pay of $97,500 during the same time.

The specific setting an educational leader works in can also affect their pay. Principals working in public elementary and secondary schools made a median pay of $99,690. Principals working in private schools made only $89,350.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in educational leadership?

After working in the field for many years, educational leaders earn more than people starting out. K-12 principals in the top 10% of earners made salaries over $152,500 in May 2020. Postsecondary education administrators earned wages of nearly $200,000.

However, some roles start out paying higher wages. Training and development managers' median pay in May 2020 reached $115,640. The top 10% of earners made over $200,210.

Feature Image: Yellow Dog Productions, Getty Images

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