Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs of 2021

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Earning a master's in educational leadership can prepare graduates for a variety of exciting and rewarding careers. Our guide below outlines what learners can expect from this advanced degree. Read on to learn more about the best educational leadership programs of 2020, common coursework options, concentration opportunities, and admission requirements. Additionally, we highlight common career paths in the educational leadership field, as well as other resources relevant to professionals in the educational leadership discipline.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
#2 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
#3 Texas A & M University College Station, TX
#4 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
#5 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#6 George Washington University Washington, DC
#7 Clemson University Clemson, SC
#8 Mississippi College Clinton, MS
#9 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
#10 Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, GA

Earning a master's in educational leadership online prepares learners for a variety of careers, including elementary, middle, and high school principals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median wage for these occupations was $95,310 in 2018. Additionally, the field is projected to grow by 4% from 2018-2028, which is about as fast as the average growth rate for all occupations in the United States. The states with the highest salary opportunities for this profession include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and Washington.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

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

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Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs

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University of Florida View School Profile Gainesville, FL

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

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Request more information about the program.

University of Central Florida View School Profile Orlando, FL

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.

Texas A & M University View School Profile College Station, TX

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.

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus View School Profile University Park, PA

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.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign View School Profile Champaign, IL

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.

George Washington University View School Profile 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.

Clemson University View School Profile Clemson, SC

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.

Mississippi College View School Profile 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.

Texas Tech University View School Profile Lubbock, TX

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.

Georgia College & State University View School Profile Milledgeville, GA

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.

Indiana University-Bloomington View School Profile Bloomington, IN

Based in Bloomington, IU offers an online master of science in education in educational leadership to teaching professionals seeking licensure as a building-level administrator, superintendent, or director.

All students must complete 27 core course credits and nine elective credits. Course topics include school community relations, legal perspectives on education, public school budgeting and accounting, and instruction in context of curriculum. The program requires students to complete a three-credit practicum experience in educational leadership to qualify for graduation.

IU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership
School Status: Public
Tuition: $438 per credit (in-state); $525 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.7 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about the program.

University of Louisiana at Monroe View School Profile Monroe, LA

Located in Monroe, ULM offers an online master of education in educational leadership. Career opportunities for graduates include school principal, district administrator, instructional coordinator, and dean of students.

Students can finish the 36-credit program within 15 months. The curriculum covers course topics like educational research, multicultural education perspectives, and instructional supervision to leadership theory and practice. Participants also complete two leadership internships.

ULM holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and its School of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
School Status: Public
Tuition: $300 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 15 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about the program.

The University of West Florida View School Profile Pensacola, FL

Based in Pensacola, UWF offers an online master of education in educational leadership to teaching professionals looking to advance their careers in school settings.

Students complete 30 credits, learning about topics like the administration of school personnel, introduction to school finance, foundations of measurement, and human relations and communication in education. The curriculum prepares students for the Florida educational leadership exam. Students must receive a passing score on the exam to qualify for graduation.

UWF holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and its School of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Education In Educational Leadership
School Status: Public
Tuition: $417 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 18 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT requirement waived through summer 2021

Contact the School

Request more information about the program.

Webster University View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

A private university located in Webster Groves, Missouri, Webster offers a master of arts in educational leadership and administration.

Course topics include foundations of educational leadership and administration, ethics for leaders, educating for equity and cultural competence, and practical statistics and data-driven decision-making for educators. The program also includes an internship and a capstone seminar.

Graduating students can apply for Missouri initial principal certification or Missouri special education director certification as add-on certificates by completing additional requirements. Webster holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Arts In Educational Leadership and Administration
School Status: Private
Tuition: $780 per credit
Credit Requirements: 32 credits
Program Length: 16 months
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about the program.

University of North Carolina Wilmington View School Profile Wilmington, NC

Based in Wilmington, UNCW offers an online master of education with a specialization in educational leadership, policy, and advocacy. The online program covers topics related to family and child advocacy, enabling students to pursue roles that focus on development, growth, and education.

Participants can complete the 36-credit program in two years. The curriculum covers subjects such as historical and contemporary issues in early childhood education, leadership theory and behavior, and diverse families and children in communities. Students must also complete a three-credit internship as well as an action research project that focuses on family and child advocacy in their final term.

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

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Education With a Specialization in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Advocacy
School Status: Public
Tuition: $4,164 per semester (in-state); $16,366 per semester (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum preferred
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about the program.

Online Master's in Educational Leadership Program Overview

The exact curriculum of an online master's in educational leadership program can vary depending on the college or university. However, most programs include education courses, educational leadership courses, and a capstone project.

Core courses in master's in educational leadership programs explore topics such as educational inquiry, data literacy and evidence-based practices, and cultural competency and social-emotional learning. Educational leadership coursework focuses on topics such as school law, systems management and school operations, leadership foundations and ethics, and school financial leadership.

Many graduate programs also require a capstone project, in which degree-seekers apply theoretical knowledge to solve practical problems. Many institutions let learners pursue their educational leadership degree online, allowing them to take advantage of flexible and convenient delivery methods.

Common Master's in Educational Leadership Degree Courses

Character and Ethics of Leadership

In this type of course, degree-seekers explore models for ethical organizational leadership. Coursework allows students to identify their personal values, character, and workplace ethics. Learners also explore leadership values and assumptions, with a special focus on practical experiences.

Case Studies in Law and Ethics

Learners examine the legal and ethical issues related to the practical matters that educators encounter in their daily responsibilities. Topics include day-to-day issues in education, such as emphasizing the dimensions of ethics relative to leadership and teaching.

Organizational Change

Degree-seekers in this course review the sociological and theoretical foundations of organizational change. Coursework allows students to explore the processes, sources, and outcomes of educational change and the impacts for both administrators and teachers. Course topics allow students to review the roles of lead teachers and concepts of educational administration.

School and Community Partnerships

Students examine the principles of administering and planning a program to build a relationship between schools and their environment. Learners can focus on developing the skills and strategies needed to link schools with parents, special interest groups, and citizens.

Strategies for Enhancing Student Achievement

This course explores strategies for helping students at all levels of study. Coursework emphasizes practical classroom applications.

Related Master's in Educational Leadership Degree Concentrations

Teacher Leader

The teacher leader concentration prepares graduates to pursue additional roles outside the classroom, including department head, lead teacher, and mentor teacher. Coursework focuses on topics such as teacher leadership, curriculum design, learning theory, and teacher inquiry.

School Leader

Students pursuing the school leader concentration graduate with the requirements needed to obtain certification as a school principal. This concentration includes an internship component that lasts a full calendar year, allowing students to integrate their specialized coursework and knowledge at an approved site and gain valuable field experience.

K-12 School Principal Leadership

The K-12 school principal leadership concentration prepares graduate students for leadership roles as principals. Upon completion of this concentration, graduates are recommended for certification as K-12 administrators. During their program, learners focus on topics such as school law and ethics; school business management; curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and educational leadership, systems, and change.

Educational and Global Leadership

Learners in this concentration focus on global education to support educational leadership practice. Students explore governmental and international organizations, nonprofit and non-governmental organizations, and other agencies with international components.

Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership

The higher education and student affairs leadership concentration focuses on broad-based student development and leadership. It incorporates field experiences with coursework. This concentration emphasizes diversity and inclusivity in higher education. It also promotes innovative discovery, learning, and service by focusing on professional development and scholarly research and practice.

Online Master's in Educational Leadership Admission Requirements

Master's in educational leadership programs may require applicants to submit a leadership essay. This document outlines an applicant's professional and personal goals related to the program, specifically detailing how a master's in educational leadership would contribute to their overall development.

Applicants interested in a master's degree in educational leadership may be required to submit a building principal supervisor verification. This certifies that they are practicing as a current administrator with a minimum of three years of experience under licensure.

Many colleges and universities require graduate-level applicants to submit GRE scores from within the last five years. Higher learning institutions that require GRE scores usually outline the minimum required scores to help applicants understand the expectations.

To gain admission into a master's degree in educational leadership program, applicants must submit their official undergraduate transcripts. Most master's programs require applicants to meet a minimum GPA requirement, denoted on their transcripts. Depending on the program, a specific undergraduate degree may not be required.

At the master's level, applicants are often required to submit letters of recommendation with their application. Letters should be professional in nature and come from academic and/or professional references, rather than a personal contact. Institutions that require letters of recommendation typically outline how many letters are required; this number is usually 1-3.


Online Master's in Educational Leadership Career Paths

Graduates of a master's degree in educational leadership program are prepared for a variety of opportunities, including careers as principals, assistant principals, university registrants, college provosts, instructional coordinators, district administrators, deans of students or faculty, and directors or supervisors.

Many graduates consider careers as education administrators at the elementary and secondary levels. The highest-paying industry for these professionals is management of companies and enterprises. Additionally, the highest-paying states for education administrators include Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, California, and Washington.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What job can I get with a master's in educational leadership?

Earning a master's degree in educational leadership allows professionals to qualify for administrative and teaching positions at the elementary, middle, secondary, and postsecondary school levels. Specific job opportunities include high school teachers, headmasters, assistant principals, and principals. This master's degree prepares individuals for teaching and executive roles in private and public schools.

How long does it take to get a master's in educational leadership?

The length of time needed to earn a master's degree in educational leadership can vary depending on the college or university's specific requirements and a student's enrollment status. Typically, master's students who pursue full-time enrollment complete their degree within two years, while learners who enroll in their program part time take closer to three years to graduate.

How much can you earn with a master's in educational leadership?

The salary of a worker with a master's degree in educational leadership depends on their chosen career. Positions such as education directors, elementary school teachers, high school principals, middle school teachers, high school teachers, elementary school principals, and assistant principals typically receive salaries that range from $52,000-$85,000 per year.

How do you abbreviate master's in educational leadership?

The abbreviation for a master's in educational leadership is MEDL. In addition to the MEDL program option, degree-seekers can consider pursuing a master of arts in teaching, a master of arts in educational leadership, or a master of education in literacy. Each program type features its own structure and requirements, and students should confer with an advisor to determine the right fit for them.

What are the different types of education leadership?

The different types of educational leadership include emotional leadership, servant leadership, transactional leadership, and transformational leadership. Servant leadership focuses on selfless leadership, guidance, and empowerment, while transactional leadership emphasizes a give-and-take structure. Emotional leadership focuses on emotions to provide guidance, while transformational leadership combines other types of leadership to motivate subordinates.

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