Educational leaders are found at public and private learning institutions across the country. Principals, vice principals, and deans of students oversee elementary and secondary schools, while superintendents and their supportive personnel manage entire school districts. Leadership titles at the collegiate level include deans, department chairs, and administrators. Other roles in educational leadership are found behind the scenes. Curriculum directors and instructional coordinators, for example, design and implement lesson plans for learners at different grade levels.

A master's degree is considered the minimum academic requirement for most educational leadership positions. Online master's in educational leadership programs allow students to advance their career standing and earn a fully accredited graduate degree from the comfort of their home computer. The online master's curriculum is largely dedicated to topics like educational law, learning technology, school administration, and leadership methods. Many educational leadership master's programs require students to complete a set number of internship or practicum hours. Other programs culminate in a master's thesis or capstone project, which allow students to showcase the knowledge and skills they have gained.

Learn more about what you can do with an online master's in educational leadership and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

WHAT CAN I DO WITH A MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP?

Graduates with a master's in educational leadership are prepared for many positions, such as academic dean, curriculum developer, and high school principal. Read more here..

WHAT IS A MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP?

A master's in educational leadership prepares students to lead at all academic levels. Graduates are prepared for positions as college deans, high school principals, and more. Read more here..

HOW MUCH DOES A MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP COST?

The tuition for a master's in education leadership will vary between schools, but will commonly be between $700 and $1,000 per credit. Students should contact their prospective institutions for more accurate information. Read more here..

IS A MASTER'S DEGREE IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP WORTH IT?

The unemployment rate for professionals with a master's in educational leadership is lower than for those with a bachelor's. Many positions are also beginning to require applicants to hold a master's, so depending on your goals, earning this degree can be worthwhile. Read more here..

Choosing a Program

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Students who graduate with a master's in educational leadership are prepared to be effective school administrators. The comprehensive coursework of master's programs will cover the various tasks associated with educational leadership roles, such as developing a curriculum, managing budgets, and measuring student performance. Internships or practicum courses will also give students the opportunity to gain supervised, hands-on training from established professionals. Many programs also allow students to concentrate their studies on specific age groups (such as elementary, secondary, or postsecondary) in order to further boost their standing in the job market. Master's programs are also a crucial stepping-stone for college deans, school superintendents, and other educational leadership careers that are usually reserved for candidates with a doctoral degree or PhD.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online master's degree programs offer a flexible format that is ideal for students who must balance their schoolwork with other obligations, such as employment or childcare. Most programs utilize user-friendly software that allows students to access course materials, submit written assignments, take exams, and contact their professors at any time of day. Current technology also allows them to study away from home using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other portable device with Wi-Fi capabilities. If students reside far from their campus, they can often arrange internships and/or practicum courses that are close to their home for added convenience.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP?

A master's degree is considered the prerequisite for most educational leadership positions. Depending on their specialization, students who leave school with a master's degree in educational leadership will be qualified for a wide range of positions. Certain positions -- such as principals and instructional coordinators working at public schools in some states -- will be required to earn an official license. The best programs will prepare students to sit for licensure exams and earn the certification required for their field.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master's in educational leadership programs in the United States. If you are considering an online master's in education, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific master's in educational leadership degree requirements and offerings.

Accredited Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs

Rank School Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 88%

The online M.Ed. program at UF prepares experienced teachers and recent college graduates for careers as vice principals, principals, and other education leaders. With all courses capped at 15 students, learners receive individualized attention from professors. Although UF designed this program for Florida educators, students from around the U.S. may apply. However, out-of-state students should check with their state's department of education to determine whether a Florida principal certification is accepted in their state. Full-time students typically graduate in two years.

The 36-credit, 13-course curriculum covers topics in educational leadership, working with the local community, and leading change within schools. Florida students take one additional course that leads to an in-state principal certification; in this class, students must work in a school setting. Students take two courses each semester.

Prospective students can apply in the spring, summer, or fall semester. Each entry point uses a different admission deadline. Admission requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and GRE scores. The university also requires all applicants to submit a 3-5-page scholarly paper on an education topic. All distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate, and online graduate students avoid many fees charged to on-campus students.

UF holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The master's in educational leadership online program boasts accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Tuition: $734/credit
Credit Requirements: 36-39 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (352) 392-0726
Email: coe@ufl.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 92%

U-M's master of arts in educational studies degree offers a certification track for Michigan students and a noncertification track for out-of-state and international learners. This online master's in educational leadership stresses the leadership and policy skills that prepare education administrators to support schools in poorer areas. Graduates are equipped to analyze problems, strategize solutions, and lead teams. Besides working as principals and vice principals, graduates can pursue careers as evaluation specialists, program developers, and instructional coaches.

Both the certification and noncertification tracks use a synchronous curriculum. Students join a cohort to facilitate collaborative learning and professional relationships. Together, they complete five foundational courses in areas like foundational perspectives on educational reform, research and educational practice, and instructional leadership in schools. Upon completion of these foundational courses.

Students seeking certification take two courses in leadership and legal policies, while noncertification students select three courses from a list of nine electives. The program includes an internship that students complete at their job sites.

Prospective students must submit an application portfolio that includes recommendation letters and GRE scores. As the program includes an internship component, applicants must be current teachers. Michigan residents save more than 50% on tuition compared to out-of-state and international students. U-M's school of education offers five departmental scholarships, and online graduate students may also apply for other institutional awards.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Educational Studies
Tuition: $11,789/term in-state; $23,812/term out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 3 terms

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (734) 764-9470
Email: soegradcoordinators@umich.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 86%

Graduate students at Lehigh can choose a completely online or hybrid master of education in educational leadership and principal certification program. Students who select the hybrid option take some courses at Lehigh's Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, campus during the summer session. The optional principal certification qualifies in-state students to work as administrators in Pennsylvania public schools; however, this certification may not transfer to some other states. Full-time students can earn this online master's in educational leadership in two years.

The basic program requires 30 credits, while the master's plus certification track features 43 credits. All students take foundational coursework in research, diversity, and organizational leadership and then select five leadership and management skills electives. This allows students to tailor their education to their school's and district's needs. Learners in the certification program take four courses in principalship, two of which feature internships at a student's job site and at another school in the same community.

Prospective students must possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit two recommendation letters. Lehigh uses rolling admissions for the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Applicants pursuing principal certification must hold U.S. citizenship, teacher certification, and at least three years of experience.

A private university, Lehigh charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all online students. The university also awards need-based grants and merit-based scholarships to incoming learners; however, these opportunities require separate applications.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Principal Certification
Tuition: $575/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-43 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (610) 758-3225
Email: incoe@lehigh.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

Stony Brook features three pathways for experienced educators looking for master's in educational leadership online programming. Through the higher education administration program, students can select to earn a full, 36-credit master's degree; an 18-credit advanced graduate certificate; or nine-credit digital badges. Learners can earn digital badges in either higher education management and operations or student advising and counseling. Full-time students in the standard master's program can graduate in as few as 16 months. Graduates can work as department heads or deans at colleges and universities.

Students can complete their course of study either entirely online or in a hybrid format. The master's track includes core coursework covering a survey of college student development theory, leadership in higher education, and diversity. After completing core courses, students select six electives from nearly 20 options.

Prospective students can attend an online information session to learn more about each option. Application requirements include two recommendation letters, a personal statement, and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Stony Brook accepts applicants for the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

New York state residents save approximately 50% on tuition compared to out-of-state students. Full-time learners (i.e., those who take 12-18 credits per semester) pay a flat tuition rate. Stony Brook does not award university- or department-funded scholarships or grants to online graduate students.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Higher Education Administration
Tuition: $577/credit in-state; $1,059/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 16 months

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (631) 632-7378
Email: hea@stonybrook.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 70%

The online master's in educational leadership at UCF prepares graduates for leadership careers at the primary, secondary, and college levels. Students develop their evaluation practices and leadership, and full-time learners can graduate in two years. This program also provides students with the flexibility to explore less traditional careers, such as human resources administrator and instructional coordinator.

The 30-credit, synchronous curriculum features both research and administration courses, covering topics like the fundamentals of graduate research, legal aspects of school operation, and contemporary issues in educational leadership. At the end of the program, students complete an extended research report. This degree track fulfills the requirements for principal certification in states that belong to the Interstate School Licensure Consortium. UCF also provides significant support for students unfamiliar with online learning; before applying, future students can learn to use the university's online learning system.

Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. UCF does not require applicants to submit standardized test scores. International students are welcome to apply, although UCF sets an earlier application deadline for these learners. The school charges the same per-credit tuition to all master's in education leadership and management online students. Additionally, distance learners avoid several fees applicable to their on-campus counterparts. The university does not award need- or merit-based financial aid to online graduate students at this time.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Educational Leadership
Tuition: $327/credit in-state; $695/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT

Contact
Phone: (855) 903-8576
Email: gradadmissions@ucf.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

San Diego State University

San Diego, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 74%

SDSU's department of educational leadership offers an online MA in education with a technology focus that prepares educators to work as technology leaders at the school or district level. This program uses a cohort learning model where small groups of students move through the program together. California graduates who already possess teacher certification qualify for an educational leadership credential and can earn their degree in just 12 months. SDSU graduates go on to work as curriculum directors, program managers, and assistant superintendents.

The three-semester, 12-course synchronous program features coursework in methods of inquiry, professional learning and growth leadership, and a master's project seminar that acts as a capstone. Students complete coursework through the Blackboard learning management system and must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to stay in good academic standing. An accelerated program, SDSU recommends that students do not work full time while completing their degrees.

Prospective students can apply for the fall or spring semester. Application requirements include a statement of leadership philosophy, two recommendation letters from former professors or current work supervisors, and GRE test results. San Diego County residents may not apply to this online master's in educational leadership program. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of their state of residency. SDSU boasts a centralized scholarship resource that connects incoming learners to university-funded and private scholarship opportunities.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Education
Available Concentrations: Educational Leadership with a Specialization in PK-12
Tuition: $17,940
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (619) 594-6320
Email: edl@sdsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Twitter

7

Boston University

Boston, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 87%

BU offers education leaders a flexible, part-time master's in educational leadership online program. The school's online master's in higher education administration features sessions that allow students to continue working while they earn their degrees. Most learners graduate in five semesters, and BU graduates can go on to work as college deans and other higher education administrators.

This 36-credit, asynchronous program features seven-week courses. Students typically take one course at a time. Curriculum highlights include perspectives on higher education, strategic planning and administration, and student affairs in higher education. Although learners can take courses in any order, BU does suggest a recommended course sequence. The program does not include a thesis or final capstone project.

Prospective students can apply for the fall, spring, or summer semester. Applicants must submit a statement of qualification and two letters of recommendations. However, BU does not require standardized test scores. BU uses rolling admissions and applicants should receive an admission decision within 21 days of applying.

A private university, BU charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all online students. The college of education and human development at BU awards multiple scholarships to incoming online graduate students. The university holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: Online Master's in Higher Education Administration
Tuition: $855/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (617) 358-3127
Email: lpohl@bu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

Colorado State University Global

Greenwood Village, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Colorado educators can earn their principal certification by earning a master's degree in teaching and learning with an education leadership concentration from CSU Global. Prospective students who already possess a master's degree can complete an abridged program that fulfills Colorado's requirements for principal certification. The program develops students' instructional leadership, community collaboration, and management skills.

The full, 39-credit master's program includes coursework in technology and innovation, instructional leadership, and external development leadership. However, students seeking principal certification only need to complete 24 credits. Throughout the program, students intern for 6-8 hours per week at their job sites. During these internships, students work alongside a principal or vice principal to apply classroom knowledge and skills on the job. Students also use their internship experience to perform action research and use their results to write an extended essay.

Applicants must possess an active teaching license, submit a vision statement, and provide a recommendation letter from a current work supervisor. Also, due to the program's internship requirements, applicants must work in public or private schools. All CSU Global students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, and active duty service members automatically receive a 50% tuition discount. CSU Global holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master's in Teaching and Learning
Available Concentrations: Education leadership
Tuition: $500/credit
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Work Experience: 2 years

Contact
Phone: (800) 920-6723
Email: admissions@csulobal.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

Texas A&M University

College Station, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

Texas A&M's master of education in educational administration with an emphasis in PK-12 educational leadership provides Texas educators in-state principal endorsement. This program uses a cohort learning model, helping learners forge strong professional bonds. Students can complete this five-semester program within two years.

The 36-credit, fully online program features coursework in public school laws, school-community partnerships, and administration of change in educational organizations. In their fourth and fifth semesters, students complete internships at their job sites while working under an experienced administrator's guidance. After earning their degrees, Texas graduates can sit for the TExES state principal examination.

Prospective students can apply for the summer, fall, or spring semester. Each start date uses a different admission deadline. Applicants must possess a teaching license, work full time at a public school, and have at least two years of teaching experience. Although Texas A&M designed this master's program for in-state students, out-of-state learners may also apply. However, before doing so, out-of-state applicants should check with their state's department of education to determine whether Texas principal certification will transfer.

All applicants must submit GRE scores and three reference letters. In-state students save approximately 50% on tuition compared to out-of-state students. Incoming online students can apply for both need-based grants and merit-based scholarships.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Administration
Available Concentrations: PK-12 Educational Leadership
Tuition: $975/credit in-state; $1,475/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE
Work Experience: 2 years

Contact
Phone: (979) 845-2716
Email: eahradvisor@tamu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

George Washington University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 81%

Students in GW's master's in educational leadership and administration program can earn their degree entirely online. The program leads to principal certification in some states. Students living near the school's Alexandria, Virginia, campus also have the option of completing their degree in a hybrid format. Full-time learners can graduate in just two years. The university also offers a shorter certificate program for students who already hold a master's or doctoral degree. GW graduates can go on to work as education advisers, program directors, and principals.

The 30-credit, 10-course curriculum includes courses in the foundations of K-12 educational leadership, leadership for equity and social justice, and administrative issues in education. Current teachers can intern at their job sites, while other students can intern at schools in their communities. The program does not require a traditional master's thesis. In all courses, students develop their supervision, leadership, and analytical skills.

Students can apply in the spring, summer, or fall semester. Prospective students must submit a statement of purpose and two recommendation letters, one of which should come from a current work supervisor. All applicants must possess at least one year of teaching experience. Although not a requirement, GW strongly recommends that applicants work as primary or secondary school teachers.

GW holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The school's master's in educational leadership online program boasts accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master's in Educational Leadership and Administration
Tuition: $1,025/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
Work Experience: 1 year

Contact
Phone: (844) 386-7323
Email: gsehdadm@gwu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

11

Mississippi College

Clinton, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Learners in the master of education in educational leadership program at MC receive a distinctly Christian-centered education. This cohort-based, master's in educational leadership online program stresses problem-based learning and portfolio development. Cohorts graduate in two years, and Mississippi residents qualify for state principal certification.

The 36-credit curriculum stresses technology skills, student and teacher assessment methodologies, and leadership fundamentals. The program's nine courses include an introduction to administrator preparation, instructional dimension of leadership, and school law. The curriculum does not include any courses on the Bible or Christianity; however, each course at MC incorporates faith-based teachings.

Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing. Most participants must pass a comprehensive exam to conclude the program, although students with a 3.75 GPA or higher are exempted from this requirement. Students who fail the test can take it one additional time the following semester.

New cohorts start every six weeks. Prospective students must possess an active teaching license, at least three years of teaching experience, and undergraduate transcripts that reflect a minimum 3.0 GPA. MC also requires applicants to submit GRE scores. All online students pay the same tuition rate, and the university awards need-based grants and merit-based scholarships to eligible online graduate students.

MC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and its school of education is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Tuition: $255/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 7 weeks

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (601) 925-7617
Email: mdavis@mc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

12

Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, UT Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 38%

WGU's master of science in educational leadership degree is available to teachers in 42 states. Students in the program analyze school law, cultural competency, and many facets of leadership. They are fully prepared to add a principal endorsement to their active teaching licenses. In this individually paced, online master's in educational leadership program, full-time students can earn their degrees in just 12 months.

The 13-course curriculum includes three components: educational leadership; education; and a graduate core that features coursework in data literacy, cultural competency, and educational inquiry. All students complete two practica -- one at their job site and one at another school in their community. Students can view lectures and complete work at any time, providing teachers the flexibility to continue working while they earn their degree.

The program relies on competency-based learning, which can allow experienced teachers to prove their mastery of certain topics and progress through the program rapidly. This master's track concludes with an education leadership capstone where students complete an action research project.

With start dates every month, applicants can begin working toward a degree at their convenience. Prospective students must work as teachers in a school setting and submit a recommendation letter from a principal or vice principal. All students pay semester-based tuition, which lets full-time and accelerated students save money compared to their part-time peers. WGU awards scholarships up to $2,500 to eligible students. The university holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Educational Leadership
Tuition: $3,240/term
Credit Requirements: 45 credits
Program Length: 12-22 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (866) 225-5948
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 80%

FSU offers an online MS in educational leadership and administration program to students throughout the country. Florida educators can receive their state principal certification, while out-of-state students complete a modified program that may lead to principal certification in their home state. FSU designed this educational leadership online program for practicing teachers, and all students attend classes on a part-time basis. Participants usually graduate in six semesters, preparing to pursue careers as principals and college lecturers.

The 33-credit, asynchronous program includes core courses in teacher leadership development, planning effective instruction, and resource management for educational leadership. Students also select two electives from five options, which helps out-of-state students fine-tune their education to meet their state's principal certification standards. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to stay in good academic standing.

Instead of a thesis, the program concludes with a comprehensive exam. In-state students must also pass the Florida Educational Leadership Examination. Especially ambitious graduate students can combine their master's with a graduate certificate in institutional research or online instructional development.

FSU accepts new master's in educational leadership online students in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Prospective students must possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and at least two years of teaching experience. They must also submit GRE scores. In-state graduate students save approximately 60% on tuition compared to out-of-state students.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Educational Leadership and Administration
Tuition: $444/credit in-state; $1,076/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 6 semesters

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE
Work Experience: 2 years

Contact
Phone: (850) 644-8166
Email: kcaster@fsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

14

University of St Thomas

Houston, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

Students can pursue their master's degree in education (M.Ed.) at the University of St. Thomas either completely online or through a hybrid program that requires some class meetings on the university's campus in Houston, TX. Six concentrations are available in this master's in educational leadership online program, including one in educational leadership. Texas residents can augment their degrees with a professional or supplemental certificate. Additionally, online courses take place on evenings and weekends to accommodate practicing teachers' busy schedules. Full-time students graduate in two years.

The 36-credit synchronous curriculum includes two core courses common to all M.Ed. concentrations: scholarship writing and educational research design. Students then take 10 educational administration courses that feature diverse topics such as multicultural leadership, school law, and the principalship. Most students take three courses -- equivalent to nine credits -- each semester. The program concludes with two, 15-week administrative internships at a student's job site and another school in the same community. Students must earn a minimum B grade in all courses.

Prospective students need two years of teaching experience and an active teaching license or certificate. Applicants submit an application essay and undergraduate transcripts that reflect a minimum 3.0 GPA.

All online graduate students pay the same per-credit tuition rate and save 40% compared to their on-campus peers. UST awards merit-based scholarships to students earning a master's with an educational leadership concentration. UST holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education
Available Concentrations: Educational leadership
Tuition: $598/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-48 credits

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (713) 525-3500
Email: education@stthom.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

15

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 85%

The University of Illinois offers experienced primary and secondary school teachers in the state an educational administration and leadership - principal specialization master's degree. The program conveys an Illinois Principal's License, and ambitious students can earn a master's with a certificate of advanced study. Graduates go on to work as principals, vice principals, and in other administrative positions in Illinois public schools.

This 36-credit affordable online master's in educational leadership program features nine core courses in topics such as supervision of learning environments, public school finance, and educational law. The core curriculum also includes two internships. To personalize their degrees, students select a single educational psychology elective from 10 options including personality and social development, developments in educational psychology, and global issues in learning. The advanced certification program requires an additional eight credits and a thesis.

All online master's students at the University of Illinois receive extensive virtual textbook, library, and IT resources. Near graduation, students interested in doctoral programs can apply to UI's doctor of education or doctor of philosophy program.

Prospective students must possess at least two years of teaching experience and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Although the program accepts out-of-state applicants, it may not satisfy other states' principal certification requirements. However, the school charges in-state and out-of-state online students the same per-credit tuition rate, making the university an attractive option for all students regardless of residency. In-state students who are children of service members may qualify for a tuition reduction or waiver. UI also awards scholarships to eligible online graduate students. UI holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: Educational Administration and Leadership
Available Concentrations: Principal preparation
Tuition: $482/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 2 years

Contact
Phone: (217) 333-0807
Email: gradservices@education.illinois.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

16

San Jose State University

San Jose, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

Practicing California teachers can advance their careers through San Jose State University's MA in educational administration and credential programs. Incoming students can elect one of two options to complete their degrees: a traditional online master's in educational leadership or the master's degree and a credential program. Due to the program's hybrid components, only California residents may apply. Full-time students can earn their degree in just two years.

The 54-credit asynchronous master's program gives students the flexibility to work full-time while they complete their education. Learners in the credentialing program take an additional three research courses and write a master's thesis, which can add another year to their degree. However, earning a credential increases a graduate's future salaries and career prospects, especially if they continue working in California after graduation.

SJSU recently put the MA in educational administration program on hiatus, but applications are being accepted for the spring 2020 term. Application requirements include a California teaching credential, three years of experience, and a recommendation letter from a school administrator that evaluates applicants' work performance. Applicants to the credential program need five years of experience. Students also submit a 750-word essay on one of two in-depth prompts. Full- and part-time students pay the same for their degrees. Students interested in scholarships should submit the university's standard scholarship application.

SJSU holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The Connie L. Lurie College of Education boasts accreditation from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Educational Administration
Available Concentrations: Preliminary administrative services credential; administrative intern credential
Tuition: $4,400/semester
Credit Requirements: 54 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters

Delivery
Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 5 years

Contact
Phone: (408) 924-3600
Email: luriecollege@sjsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

17

Brandman University

Irvine, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

Educators looking to work in administrative positions can earn an MA in education, educational leadership degree at Brandman University. Available entirely online or in a hybrid format at one of Brandman's eight participating campuses, this program emphasizes leadership, research, and decision-making skills that successful administrators need. Full-time students typically graduate in two years.

Brandman's master's in education program offers two tracks: the standard master's and a master's with an educational leadership emphasis. The latter requires an additional 12 credits on top of the 30-credit master's program. All students complete a rigorous curriculum that emphasizes learning theories, comparative education, and curriculum studies. Both tracks also include at least 12 elective credits for students to personalize their educations according to their career aspirations.

Brandman hosts information sessions at many of its California campuses each month. Prospective students applying to this master's in educational leadership online program submit two recommendation letters, GRE scores, and undergraduate transcripts that reflect a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program accepts some applicants with lower GPAs in certain circumstances. Brandman does not require applicants to possess teaching experience or an active teaching license. A private university, Brandman charges all students the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency or full- or part-time status.

Brandman holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The School of Education boasts accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Education
Available Concentrations: Educational leadership
Tuition: $650/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (800) 632-0058
Email: apply@brandman.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

18

The University of West Florida

Pensacola, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

The University of West Florida offers Florida educators an educational leadership, M.Ed. program. Students learn to monitor student success, foster talented teachers, and apply leadership skills in decision-making. Full-time students graduate in two years, and graduates go on to administrative positions at public and private schools.

The 30-credit synchronous curriculum features coursework in administration of school personnel, foundations of measurement, and data-driven decisions using standardized students achievement data. The program does not require an internship or thesis. At the end of the program, all students take the Florida Educational Leadership Exam regardless of residency. To stay in good academic standing, students must pass all courses with a minimum C grade or better. UWF holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Prospective students submit proof of teacher licensure, undergraduate transcripts that show a minimum 3.0 GPA, and GRE or MAT scores. All applicants must also possess three years of teaching experience. Although UWF accepts out-of-state students, students whose states are not members of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement cannot apply to this master of arts in educational leadership online program. This restriction does not apply to international applicants. A public university, UWF charges the lowest tuition rates to Florida and Alabama residents. The UWF Graduate Grant provides additional funding to students with financial need.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Tuition: $417/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT
Work Experience: 3 years

Contact
Phone: (850) 474-2893
Email: dted@uwf.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

19

University of Denver

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 75%

The Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver prepares Colorado teachers for administrative positions with a master of arts in educational leadership and policy studies degree. Graduates of this rigorous program earn Colorado Principal Licensure, which qualifies them to work as administrators in the state's public schools. This master of arts in educational leadership online program uses a cohort learning model to forge professional bonds among students. DU places students into cohorts that match their geographic location within Colorado. Cohorts graduate every two years.

The 45-credit hybrid program requires 1-3, on-campus sessions each academic quarter. As a result, all students should live within driving distance of DU's Denver campus. The core curriculum includes four foundational courses: seminar in multicultural issues, educational research and measurement, business design and innovation for school leaders, and action research for school leaders. Students complete action research during a 300-hour internship at their job sites. Instead of a master's thesis, students produce an action research capstone project.

Before applying, prospective students select a cohort that matches the county or school district where they work. Applicants who do not work in one of the listed counties or school districts can select a non-district cohort option. All applicants must possess an active teaching license and submit two letters of recommendation. New cohorts start in the summer, fall, and spring semesters. As only Colorado teachers enter this program, all students pay the in-state tuition rate. DU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Tuition: $1,426/credit
Credit Requirements: 45 credits
Program Length: 1.75 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (303) 871-2509
Email: mce@du.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

20

Gonzaga University

Spokane, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 87%

Students in Gonzaga's M.Ed. in educational leadership online program receive individualized attention from professors. The university caps cohorts at 18 students so that each course mirrors an on-campus seminar. These small course sizes mean that students can develop professional relationships with their peers, and cohorts graduate after only four semesters.

The 30-credit synchronous curriculum includes coursework in the art and science of teaching, assessment and learning, and continuing education. All students complete an internship in the third and fourth semesters. Students take the majority of courses in the program's two summer semesters, which gives them the ability to continue working as teachers in the fall and spring semesters. Although the rigorous curriculum and internships satisfy many states' requirements for principal certification, prospective students should contact their state's departments of education for more information.

Although not a requirement, prospective students should possess at least three years of teaching experience. Applicants submit two recommendation letters, a resume, transcripts, and the university's graduate application for admission. International applications from non-English-speaking countries submit TOEFL scores. Transfer students may apply up to six outside credits toward their master's degrees at Gonzaga.

A private university, Gonzaga charges the same per-credit tuition rate to all master's in educational leadership online students. Gonzaga does not award merit-based scholarships or need-based grants to graduate students at this time.

Gonzaga holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Schools. The School of Education boasts accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Tuition: $535/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
Work Experience: 3 years

Contact
Phone: (509) 313-3481
Email: soegrad@gonzaga.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

21

Fordham University

New York, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

The master's in educational leadership online program at Fordham University blends leadership best practices with the Catholic faith. In the university's master of science in education - Catholic educational leadership online program, students apply a Catholic worldview to their future careers as primary and secondary school administrators. Full-time students graduate in two years, and part-time students graduate in 3-4 years.

Although the 30-credit curriculum uses a cohort learning model, students can customize their educations. Optional electives feature instructional leadership, professional development, and strategic planning and change. All students complete two internships to qualify for principal certification. Fordham's religiously aligned courses include a seminar on the spirituality of leadership and critical issues in Catholic and nonpublic education. New students can start their educations in the spring, summer, or fall semesters.

Fordham requires applicants to possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Application materials include a personal statement, two recommendation letters, and GRE or MAT scores. Each term uses a separate application deadline. New students who teach at Catholic schools may qualify for up to a 40% reduction in tuition. Students interested in this financial aid opportunity submit a separate application. Fordham does not offer any additional financial aid for students in its master's in education program.

Fordman holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Graduate School of Education holds accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Education
Available Concentrations: Catholic educational leadership
Tuition: $1,404/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact
Phone: (212) 636-6400
Email: gse_admiss@fordham.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

22

Columbia International University

Columbia, SC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

Columbia International University offers a master's in education program for Christian educators to advance their educations and careers. An available concentration in educational leadership provides an excellent option for students planning to work as administrators in Christian private schools. This master of the arts in educational leadership online program stresses biblical theories, Christian educational research, and lifelong learning. Full-time students graduate in two years, and part-time students graduate in four years.

The 30-credit asynchronous curriculum includes foundation, core, and concentration courses. Foundational courses provide students religious instruction, while core and concentration courses focus on the knowledge and skills all education administrators need. The program features courses such as biblical foundations for curriculum, understanding the learner, and law and personnel. Full-time students can follow the university's suggested course sequence. At CIU, master's in education students earn a degree that fully aligns with the standards set forth by the Association of Christian Schools International.

Application requirements include a minimum 2.7 undergraduate GPA, two years of teaching experience, and two reference letters. CIU accepts applicants who do not meet these requirements in limited circumstances. In these cases, applicants possess other exemplary academic or personal qualities. All students pay the same tuition rate, and South Carolina residents may qualify for a state tuition grant. Incoming graduate students with excellent undergraduate scholarships may receive a university-funded Donor, Servant, Dean, or Presidential Merit Scholarship. CIU also awards alumni and trust grants to eligible students with financial need.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education
Available Concentrations: Educational administration; instruction and learning
Tuition: $550/credit
Program Length: 2-4 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.7 minimum
Work Experience: 2 years

Contact
Phone: (803) 200-2570
Email: onlinedegrees@ciu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

23

Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 52%

Nova Southeastern University's master of science in education with a specialization in educational leadership prepares Florida educators to earn their Florida state principal certification. Although this program accepts out-of-state students, it may not fulfill principal certification requirements in all states. Full-time students graduate in two years, and the majority of NSU graduates go on to work as K-12 principals and vice principals in Florida.

The 36-credit, 12-course curriculum features coursework in educational research for practitioners, problem solving and visionary leadership, and a seminar in the knowledge base of educational leadership. In the final two semesters, students complete a 300-hour administrative internship where students develop a leadership portfolio under an experienced administrator's guidance. To graduate, students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and pass the Florida Educational Leadership Examination. All professors at NSU possess advanced degrees in the field.

Applicants must hold a teaching certificate and a bachelor's degree that reflects a minimum 3.0 GPA. The university does not make exceptions for students with lower GPAs. Due to the internship requirement, all applicants must teach in a public K-12 school. Applicants also submit a supervisor recommendation and all performance evaluations from the past 12 months. All students pay the same tuition rate, and each year the Abraham S. Fischler College awards eight scholarships to eligible graduate students.

NSU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The Abraham S. Fischler College of Education boasts accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Education
Available Concentrations: Educational leadership
Tuition: $995/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (954) 262-8500
Email: nbarrett@nova.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

24

University of St Francis

Joliet, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

The College of Education at the University of St. Francis offers a master of science in education - educational leadership for Illinois educators. Concentrations are available in teacher leadership or principal preparation, and the latter program satisfies the requirements for principal certification in many states. Before applying, prospective principal preparation students should contact USF to learn whether the online master's in educational leadership online applies in their states. The principal preparation concentration requires six semesters, and students in the teacher leader concentration graduate in five semesters.

Both synchronous concentrations use a cohort learning model. For the first 21 credits, all students take the same core curriculum, which stresses instructional leadership, supervisory behavior, and serving special populations. Principal preparation students take courses in school finance and law, while students in the teacher leader specializations complete electives to personalize their educations. Both concentrations feature internships and practicums. Principal preparation students complete their internships during the summer so that they can continue working full time as teachers in the fall and spring semesters.

USF requires graduate applicants to possess a minimum 3.0 GPA and an Illinois teaching license. Principal preparation applicants should have three years of teaching experience, while teacher leader applicants should have two years of teaching experience. All applicants submit two recommendation letters. Per-credit tuition rates are the same for all students. USF provides limited funding to online graduate students, so new students should inquire with USF's financial aid department as soon as possible.

USF holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The College of Education holds accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Education - Educational Leadership
Available Concentrations: Principal preparation; teacher leader
Tuition: $748/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-33 credits
Program Length: 5-6 semesters

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 3 years

Contact
Phone: (815) 740-3389
Email: mstevenson@stfrancis.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

25

Indiana University - Bloomington

Bloomington, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 77%

The fully online educational leadership - master of science in education program at Indiana University prepares teachers to work as primary, secondary, and college-level administrators. IU Bloomington works with school districts across the country to create its rigorous curriculum. Full-time students typically graduate in two years, and graduates work as principals, college provosts, and curriculum developers, among many other leadership positions in the education field.

The 36-credit synchronous curriculum features 27 credits of core courses and a nine-credit concentration. The core curriculum includes coursework in school-community relations, data-informed decision-making for principals, and a practicum in educational leadership.

IU Bloomington boasts four concentrations in its online master's degree in higher education leadership: higher education and student affairs, leadership in educational organization, learning sciences, and school law. This individual-pace program allows students to take as many or as few courses they want to each semester. All IU Online faculty also teach courses on the Bloomington campus, meaning that students receive the same quality education as their on-campus peers.

At IU Bloomington, graduate admission requirements vary by program. The strongest applicants possess a minimum 3.0 GPA, excellent recommendation letters, and significant teaching experience. IU Bloomington charges out-of-state students only 20% more in tuition compared to in-state students. This small tuition difference makes IU Bloomington an attractive option for both in- and out-of-state students. Also, full- and part-time students pay the same for their degrees. New students can start their educations at four points throughout the year. IU awards university-funded scholarships to eligible students.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Education
Available Concentrations: Educational leadership
Tuition: $429/credit in-state; $515/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact
Phone: (812) 856-2927
Email: wbourke@indiana.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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

Earning an online educational leadership master's degree prepares students for careers running school systems and academic facilities. Many online educational leadership programs use different instructional techniques and include varied curricula. Online educational leadership programs also differ in cost, credit requirements, completion time, and concentrations offered.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP

Concentration Description Careers This Concentration Prepares For
Principal Leadership For most schools, the leader of faculty and students is the principal. Many master's in educational leadership online programs are designed to prepare students to become principals and vice principals. This concentration typically involves extensive internships. Principal, vice principal, dean
Teacher Leadership Perfect for future department heads, students can learn to lead with curriculum innovation and mentorship. Department head, teacher, vice principal
Administration Leadership Administrative leadership can help students get more involved in the operational aspects of running a school. This concentration is a popular option for teachers at private and nontraditional schools. Curriculum coordinator, principal, teacher, dean

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP

Every master's in educational leadership online program features a unique set of courses depending on its focus and faculty. However, many online educational leadership master's programs cover the same topics in their core curricula. Most students will see these foundational courses in their program:

  • Curriculum Development: Online master's in educational leadership students look at the big picture rather than individual lesson plans. It's important for them to be able to determine what the outcome will be.
  • School Finance: Students learn how leaders interact with school finance, which issues are common, and what solutions may be available. They will also learn about allocating funds between departments.
  • Internships: Online master's in educational leadership programs involve many experiential components. Most online programs feature some form of an internship or fieldwork as part of its requirements.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP?

An online educational leadership degree requires about 36 credits and can usually be completed in one to three years. Many programs feature flexible, individually paced learning schedules designed for working students. Some programs feature an online cohort model, which has students proceed through the program at a synchronous pace. Many programs feature an accelerated academic schedule with extra terms in the summer and winter for quicker completion time. Internships and capstone projects can also impact how long it takes for degree completion.

CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP PREPARES FOR

  • State-specific principal certification/license: Most online master's in educational leadership programs are designed to prepare students for the principal certification or licensure requirements in a given state. These requirements vary from state to state, so students should research their own state's requirements before enrolling. Often the certification is built into the program directly so that students graduate with a license and degree at the same time.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Educational Leadership Degrees

Students searching for the best master's in educational leadership should look for the program's accreditation. A school or program is accredited when it meets various academic and operational criteria that are widely agreed upon as the standards for education. Students who attend accredited programs are earning degrees that are respected and legitimate to other schools and employers.

Online colleges and universities are accredited either regionally or nationally. National accreditation can apply to any school, but is typically used for online colleges and universities. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is a nongovernmental organization run by higher education leaders, recognizes certain agencies that accredit schools. These agencies may be related to a specific field or subject and investigate schools and provide accreditation.

Regional accreditation applies to traditional brick and mortar schools and many of their online programs. Schools are accredited by one of the six regional U.S. agencies. These regional agencies are recognized by CHEA and the Department of Education (DOE). The DOE does not accredit schools, but oversees the accreditation process and recognizes the accreditors. The CHEA, the DOE, and other groups work to create standards and maintain the system.

Programs can be independently accredited. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredits master of education programs. This educator-run organization is committed to improving education and maintains strict standards for teacher learning. Learn more about accredited schools on the DOE's or CHEA's websites.

EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK FOR MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP GRADUATES

Job Placement: Master's vs Bachelor's in Educational Leadership

Students who earn a graduate degree in educational leadership face more favorable employment rates than their counterparts with a bachelor's or less. A recent survey by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce revealed a 2.2% unemployment rate for experienced education professionals with a graduate degree and a 2.4% unemployment rate for recent graduate degree earners. By comparison, the unemployment rate for professionals with a bachelor's degree is 3.7% to 5.1%, depending on experience level.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), education administrators with a master's degree outnumber their peers with a bachelor's by a ratio of two to one. BLS data reveals that 338,917 administrators -- or 46% of the field -- held a master's degree in 2013. Bachelor's degree-holding administrators represented 170,873 positions, or 23% of the industry. The best master's in educational leadership programs enable graduates to compete with fellow graduate degree-holders in the job market. Furthermore, educational leadership professions are expected to grow in the years to come. The following table features BLS projections for some of the most common educational leadership career pathways.

Occupation Number of Employees (2014) Projected Growth Rate (2014-24) Difference in Number of Employees
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals 240,000 6% 14,000
Postsecondary Education Administrators 175,100 9% 15,200
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors 64,000 7% 4,200
Instructional Coordinators 151,000 7% 10,500

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Earning a Living

In addition to lower unemployment rates, job candidates with a master's in educational leadership also stand to increase their earning potential. BLS found that the median annual salary for education administrators with a master's degree was $75,000 -- roughly $23,000, or 44%, higher than administrators with a bachelor's.

It's also important to note that salaries for educational leadership professionals will incrementally increase over the course of their careers. Using data from the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, the following table compares entry-level and mid-career earnings for employees with a master's degree in different educational fields, including educational leadership.

Master's Degree Field Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Educational Leadership $55,400 $71,500
Educational Administration $53,800 $73,800
Educational Technology $50,500 $69,200
Higher Education Administration $42,200 $64,000

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

Salary expectations at different career stages will also depend on an employee's specific job title. The next table features the median annual salary for different educational leadership positions at four career benchmarks.

Profession Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Elementary School Principal $72,316 $77,515 $79,523 $88,647
Principal/ Headmaster, Middle School $80,000 $86,000 $91,000 $96,000
High School Principal $76,000 $82,000 $89,000 $95,000
Education Administrator, Postsecondary $48,000 $50,000 $63,000 $65,000
Academic Dean $78,264 $84,707 $93,399 $120,613
Curriculum Developer $58,680 $61,830 $70,507 $74,037

Source: PayScale

Of the positions listed in the table above, academic deans enjoy the highest earnings at three of the four benchmarks (middle school principals had slightly higher salaries at the mid-career mark). Additionally, academic deans enjoy the highest career salary growth -- a 54% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. Career salary growth for the other occupations fell between 20% and 35%.

Career Opportunities

Students who graduate with a master's degree in educational leadership will qualify for dozens of positions, although individual eligibility will depend on their area(s) of specialization. Some of the most common career pathways for master's in educational leadership recipients are detailed below.

K-12 Principal: Principals monitor daily operations at elementary, middle, and high schools. They oversee the school's curriculum, faculty, finances, administrative functions, and educational resources. Most principals began their careers as teachers, and later earn a master's in educational leadership or administration. Principals at public schools are required to earn licensure in all 50 states.

Postsecondary Administrator: Administrative roles at the college or university level include deans, registrars, student administrators, and faculty researchers. Most of these positions can be attained with a master's degree, though advancement in some areas may require a PhD.

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors: These professionals oversee day-to-day operations at preschools, day care facilities, and other pre-elementary learning centers. Many states require childcare centers -- including home-based establishments -- to earn a license, and all employees must pass a criminal background check.

Instructional Coordinators: Instructional coordinators are responsible for the curriculum and teaching standards at elementary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions. Those who work at public schools are required to earn a license in some states.

Position Median Annual Salary
K-12 Principal $90,410
Postsecondary Administrator $88,580
Preschool and Childcare Center Director $45,670
Instructional Coordinators $62,270

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different educational approaches is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for education administration professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • National Association of Secondary School Principals: Celebrating its 100th birthday in 2016, the NASSP is today represented by principals, assistant principals, and other middle/high school administrative personnel in 35 different countries. The organization hosts networking functions, offers continuing education programs, and gives members the opportunity to become advocates in different key areas of secondary school administration.
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals: Founded in 1921, the NAESP today serves elementary school principals and administrative personnel in the U.S., Canada, and overseas. The organization's online learning center features webinars, tutorials, and links for classroom-based training programs; an online resource library is also available.
  • Association of Deans & Directors of University Colleges & Undergraduate Studies: This nonprofit organization that represents deans and administrative personnel at postsecondary institutions across the country. The AD&D hosts an annual conference at a different U.S. location each year, and offers both individual and institutional memberships.

Financing Your Online Master of Educational Leadership

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about your financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs of 2018
Ranking School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
3 Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA
4 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
5 George Washington University Washington, DC
6 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
7 Boston University Boston, MA
8 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
9 University of Denver Denver, CO
10 The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
11 University of St Thomas Houston, TX
12 University of San Diego San Diego, CA
13 Gonzaga University Spokane, WA
14 Fordham University Bronx, NY
15 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
16 Colorado State University-Global Campus Greenwood Village, CO
17 Brandman University Irvine, CA
18 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO
19 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
20 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
21 California Lutheran University Thousand Oaks, CA
22 Montclair State University Montclair, NJ
23 University of St Francis Joliet, IL
24 The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg, TX
25 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX
26 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
27 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
28 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
29 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
30 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN
31 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
32 Touro University California Vallejo, CA
33 Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA
34 Mississippi State University Mississippi State, MS
35 Saint Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA
36 Concordia University-Nebraska Seward, NE
37 Concordia University-Chicago River Forest, IL
38 University of South Florida-Sarasota-Manatee Sarasota, FL
39 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
40 Regis University Denver, CO
41 University of North Texas Denton, TX
42 Seton Hall University South Orange, NJ
43 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
44 Texas A & M University-Commerce Commerce, TX
45 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
46 The University of Texas at Arlington Arlington, TX
47 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR
48 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
49 The University of Texas at Tyler Tyler, TX
50 Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Baton Rouge, LA
Best Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs of 2017
Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
3 Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA
4 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
5 George Washington University Washington, DC
6 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
7 University of St Francis Joliet, IL
8 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
9 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
10 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
11 The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
12 Brandman University Irvine, CA
13 Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Baton Rouge, LA
14 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
15 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
16 Emporia State University Emporia, KS
17 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
18 Concordia University-Chicago River Forest, IL
19 Texas A & M University-Commerce Commerce, TX
20 Seton Hall University South Orange, NJ
21 Rowan University Glassboro, NJ
22 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX
23 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
24 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA
25 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
Best Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
2 Concordia University - Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
3 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY
4 The George Washington University Washington, DC
5 Concordia University - Portland Portland, OR
6 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX
7 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
8 University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
9 Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre, PA
10 Concordia University - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
11 Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, TX
12 Arizona State University - Skysong Scottsdale, AR
13 St. John's University Queens, NY
14 University of Texas at Arlington Arlington, TX
15 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
16 Canisius College Buffalo, NY
17 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
18 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
19 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
20 University of North Texas Denton, TX
21 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
22 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
23 Rowan University Glassboro, NJ
24 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR
25 University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO