Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Make a difference in education without being in the classroom. Explore popular master's in educational leadership online programs, what they cost and what to expect.
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Updated on June 20, 2024
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The saying goes: Before you can lead, you must grow yourself. With a master's in educational leadership, you can pursue a career as a consultant, corporate trainer, principal, administrator, or instructional designer. Leadership roles provide opportunities for you to create macro-level impact, have improved career prospects, and command a higher salary.

Educational leaders often have extensive classroom experience. Explore popular online master's in educational leadership degrees and learn about admission criteria, tuition costs, and potential career outcomes.

Benefits of a Master's in Educational Leadership

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    Pursue education careers beyond the classroom.
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    Enjoy greater job security with the ability to fill school staff roles at all levels.
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    Help your community at a more macro level.
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    Grow your professional network during and after your program.
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    Apply the degree to other industries, like social and community service.

Featured Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs

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

Popular Master's in Educational Leadership Programs Online

We chose to highlight the following schools based on several factors, including top position in organic or paid search results (as of March 2024), relevancy of program offerings, and categorization as a nonprofit. These programs are listed alphabetically by school and not weighed against each other in our methodology.

Popular Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs
School Degree Offered Cost per Credit Credits Required Months to Complete GRE Required Licensure Track Option
Arizona State University M.Ed. in educational leadership — principalship $692 36 24 No Yes
Indiana University Online MS.Ed. in educational leadership $491 (in-state); $589 (out-of-state) 36 Varies Only if applicant does not hold a U.S. bachelor's degree Yes
University of Nebraska Omaha MS in educational leadership $383 (in-state); $820 (out-of-state) 36 Varies (10 years maximum) No Yes
University of North Texas M.Ed. $464 30 12 No Yes
Western Governors University MS in educational leadership $3,975 per term N/A 21 No Yes

Arizona State University Online (ASU)

  • Public university in Arizona
  • M.Ed. in educational leadership — principalship
  • 36 credits; $692/credit

The online M.Ed. in educational leadership — principalship at Arizona State University is designed to prepare you to transition from teacher to school principal. The program includes courses like school law, leadership in curriculum and assessment, and more, as well as a final project. You will also have the option to pursue state certification as a principal in Arizona or elsewhere through the program.

Indiana University Online (IU)

  • Public university in Indiana
  • MS.Ed. in Educational Leadership
  • 36 credits; $491/credit (in-state), $589/credit (out-of-state)

The online MS.Ed. in educational leadership at Indiana University is a 36-credit program, nine credits of which will be your elective "strand" requirements, chosen with the help of your advisor. You will also earn an Indiana principal's license during this program, although this can only be granted if you have two years of school teaching or counseling experience.

University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO)

  • Public university in Nebraska
  • MS in educational leadership
  • 36 credits; $383/credit (in-state), $820/credit (out-of-state)

The University of Nebraska at Omaha's online MS in educational leadership is a self-paced online degree program designed for experienced teachers living in or near Nebraska. You will be earning relevant administrative licensure over the course of your degree. You will choose a concentration in addition to your core degree courses. If you're interested in applying for this program, you must have a relevant bachelor's degree and a valid teaching license.

University of North Texas (UNT)

  • Public university in Texas
  • M.Ed. in educational leadership
  • 30 credits | $464 /credit

The goal of the University of North Texas' M.Ed. in educational leadership is to train school-level administrators. The online program offers a Texas principal as instructional leader certification track. You complete the M.Ed.'s core curriculum by examining concepts such as instructional leadership, management of school resources, and administration of the K-12 curriculum.

Western Governors University (WGU)

  • Public university in Michigan
  • MS in educational leadership
  • $3,975 / term

Western Governors University's M.S. in educational leadership prepares you for certification as a principal or educational administrator. Your eligibility for licensure will depend on your state's requirements. WGU specializes in competency-based education that awards credit for what you already know through education and work experience.

Sixty percent of enrollees complete the degree in 21 months. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, professional licensure, and at least three years of K-12 experience.

Reasons to Get Your Master's in Educational Leadership Online

  • Reduce the cost of college by saving money on transportation and living expenses.
  • Balance work and school with greater flexibility.
  • Have more options for pacing, including accelerated programs, asynchronous courses, and part-time degree tracks that accommodate different schedules.
  • Attend a program outside of your city/state without having to relocate.

How Much Does an Online Master's in Educational Leadership Cost?

A graduate degree costs an average of $20,513 in annual tuition and fees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Tuition and fees for an online master's in educational leadership program vary by school. Fees also depend on your state residency status.

Online Master's in Educational Leadership Program Costs
School Annual Tuition and Fees
ASU $24,912
IU $17,661.60 (in-state); $21,191.76 (out-of-state)
UNO $13,788 (in-state); $29,520 (out-of-state)
UNT $13,920
WGU $15,900

Do Online Master's Degrees in Educational Leadership Lead to Licensure?

Not every educational leadership master's degree equips students for the same career path. For instance, many lead to a principal or superintendent license or certification in your state. These programs don't typically lead to teaching licensure and often require that you already hold this credential.

Non-licensure programs may not lead to or prepare you for a state-issued license or certification but may still allow you to specialize in curriculum development, policy and advocacy, or special education.

Programs that lead to certification or licensure often require an internship or practicum. Otherwise, you may need to write a thesis or complete a capstone.

Does Accreditation Matter for Online Educational Leadership Master's Programs?

Independent accrediting agencies, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation, evaluate colleges and universities that opt for the voluntary process.

Institutional accreditation offers credibility that colleges meet academic criteria, which impacts transfer credits and even future employability — some employers are leery of hiring graduates from unaccredited schools. Accreditation also makes schools eligible to receive federal financial aid.

Programmatic accreditation validates that specific programs meet industry standards. Online master's in educational leadership programs that lead to licensure or certification can hold accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and/or the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP).

Accreditation of Popular Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs
School Institutional Accreditation Programmatic Accreditation
ASU Higher Learning Commission None
IU Higher Learning Commission None
UNO Higher Learning Commission None
UNT Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges None
WGU Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities CAEP

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

Expect to find different admission criteria for each online master's degree in educational leadership. Common prerequisites and required application materials include:

  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited college
  • Minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA
  • Application with a fee
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Official transcripts
  • Personal statement
  • Teaching licensure and 2-3 years of experience (for admin licensure/certification tracks)
  • Sometimes, GRE scores

What Can I Do With a Master's in Educational Leadership?

A master's degree in educational leadership can open doors to a variety of administrative careers at the primary through postsecondary level, such as principal or dean. You could also work behind the scenes as a consultant. Education consultants assist administrators and teachers in improving a school's operations and shape important educational tools, like the curriculum.

Note that some careers, namely those in K-12 public schools, may require a state-issued license or certification.

Potential Careers for Master's in Educational Leadership Graduates
Job Median Salary (May 2023) Outlook (2022-2032)
Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal $103,460 +1%
Postsecondary Education Administrator $102,610 +4%
Education Consultant $66,970 (as of May 2024) unavailable
Instructional Coordinator $74,620 +2%
Training and Development Manager $125,040 +6%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale

Is a Master's in Educational Leadership Worth It?

A master's in educational leadership can be worth it. The advanced degree offers increased job prospects in an industry that has considerable job security. Earning a master's degree in educational leadership can provide a high return on investment and training to seasoned teachers needing to advance into a leadership or administrative position.

The BLS reports that kindergarten and elementary school teachers make a median annual pay of $63,670. On the other hand, K-12 principals earn a median annual salary of $103,460.

Depending on your state's requirements, the degree's coursework and practicum may also meet the prerequisites to get credentialed as a superintendent or principal.


Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed April 2, 2024.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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