The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for primary and secondary school principals will grow by 8% between 2016 and 2026 and see median salaries hovering near $95,000 annually. The BLS projects that roles for postsecondary education administrators, meanwhile, will grow by 10% and earn salaries just under those of their counterparts. These careers offer a secure path since society will always have a need for schools, but the introduction of technology and digital media into increasingly large areas of the educational landscape make entering the field at this time particularly interesting.

If you're passionate about making a difference in the lives of students, teachers, and communities and have the multifaceted skill set needed to lead educational organizations, a master's in educational administration may lead you to an exciting career. Keep reading to learn about the education needed to fill one of these roles, admissions requirements, common classes, and resources to help you achieve your goal.

Should I Get a Master's in Education Administration?

Master's programs in education administration appeal to a wide variety of learners due to their versatility and the career prospects provided. While many schools offer their programs in both online and campus-based formats, many students elect to attend a brick-and-mortar campus due to the community and peer network provided. This becomes especially true for students moving directly from undergraduate to graduate studies who plan on going into a licensed role upon graduation. Other learners may simply find it easier to keep up with materials by attending face-to-face classes regularly.

Completing a master's degree in education administration provides students with a bevy of practical skills. Given that graduates frequently go into high-level administration roles, leadership development plays a key role in the curriculum, as do studies in areas of educational law, evaluation and development of staff, instructional methods and curriculum development, student achievement, and data-forward leadership.

While progressing through the program, students receive mentorship from their professors and get numerous opportunities to network with speakers and other leaders in the field who visit campus to discuss the discipline. As they move into the latter part of the program, degree seekers can access numerous career services and job placement programs to help them find a suitable position. They also complete an administrative internship to gain hands-on knowledge about the role they hope to soon hold. Although graduates of master's in education administration programs compete with many others for jobs after they leave school, roles in this area continue to expand, as evidenced by data presented later in this guide.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Education Administration?

As long as individuals continue attending schools, colleges, and universities, the need for qualified educational administrators will remain steady. Graduates with master's degrees in education administration can choose from many career paths, with options existing for those who want to work with children or adults.

Successful educational administrators demonstrate compassion and care for those they oversee but also understand the importance of being a strong leader. They dedicate themselves fully to the task at hand, but also know how to delegate. Those in primary and secondary school settings tend to work traditional school hours, while those in postsecondary institutions often work standard business hours. Keep reading to learn about a few popular careers for graduates with this degree.

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Whether working in student services, admissions, residential life, or academics, postsecondary education administrators ensure their departments run smoothly by continually interfacing with other members of the campus community. They also work with parents and students to ensure that the student has a good experience while at the school.

Median Annual Salary: $92,360

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

School and Career Counselors

Working in either the secondary or postsecondary arena, school and career counselors interface with students to identify their strengths, work toward career goals, and address any issues causing poor school performance. They may also provide training to other members of the school community.

Median Annual Salary: $55,410

Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

As leaders of primary and secondary schools, principals oversee all staff, create class schedules, monitor curricular standards, provide discipline when necessary, observe and evaluate teacher performance, and continually dialog with parents about student performance and areas of improvement.

Median Annual Salary: $94,390

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

Instructional Coordinators

Working with educators and administrators, instructional coordinators ensure students have access to grade-appropriate learning materials and recommended textbooks to enhance their learning. They also train teachers on new curricula, create methods for instructional implementation, and assess existing programs of study for effectiveness.

Median Annual Salary: $63,750

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Education Administration Faculty

As part of departments of educational instruction, faculty members in this field train the next generation of educational administrators in areas of leadership, staff evaluation, creating solid teams, and ensuring every child has the tools needed to thrive while in school.

Median Annual Salary: $76,000

Projected Growth Rate: 15%

How to Choose a Master's in Education Administration Program

Because so many schools now offer master's programs in education administration, prospective students can research numerous programs to find the one that suits their interests, learning style, and needs best. When looking over potential programs, many students first review the curriculum to ensure it focuses on an area of the field they find interesting. If the program requires a thesis, students also tend to look at the faculty list to see if a professor specializes in something they want to research. Practicum requirements also factor in, as students want to ensure they gain valuable, relevant experience before starting their job search.

In terms of practicalities, cost factors heavily into student decision-making. Cost-conscious learners often opt for in-state tuition at a public school or a heavily-funded path at a private institution. The length of the program also merits consideration, as some learners want to enter the field as quickly as possible. In addition to asking if the school offers any accelerated programs, find out if the school offers the program on a full- or part-time basis.

If students still don't know whether they want to attend online or on-campus, they should consider what they hope to gain from the program. Many degree seekers find themselves drawn to campus-based programs due to residency requirements and on-campus commitments, but they must also consider things like employment opportunities in their area, the cost of living, and overall quality of life. Learners interested in online master's in education administration degrees can review this list of the best online programs.

Programmatic Accreditation for Master's in Education Administration Programs

When assessing the merits and shortcomings of individual programs, always look for programmatic accreditation. While institutional accreditation tells a student that the school as whole went through a peer-led review process to receive the certification, programmatic accreditation lets learners know that the specific degree and department received a stamp of approval from an organization that measures programs for their ability to properly prepare students. Within the world of education administration, one main body exists: the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP merged with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education in 2013, but you may still see this name pop up while researching. Both are well-known and respected in the field.

Students should pay close attention to the accreditation status of any school they attend, as those who complete degrees at schools without this marker of distinction may experience difficulties later on when it comes to finding a job, or, in some states, earning licensure.

Master's in Education Administration Program Admissions

When applying for admission to a master's in school administration program, many institutions require similar materials to decide whether a student gains acceptance. Learners typically visit the website of the school, download an application, and provide necessary documents, often including official transcripts, standardized test scores, and a personal statement. They must also ask previous mentors, supervisors, and/or educators to write letters of recommendation.

Online admissions tend to require more qualifications because admissions panels need to know that the student has the discipline and focus needed to thrive in a less structured environment. While no magic number exists, many learners apply to between four and eight schools to ensure that they get into at least one. If they receive multiple offer letters, learners should create a pro-con list for each institution and weigh their findings against what they hope to gain from the degree.


  • Bachelor's Degree: Because all education administration programs exist as graduate curricula, every applicant must hold a bachelor's degree. Students who previously completed education degrees usually meet the requirements, while those changing careers may need to take prerequisite courses.
  • Professional Experience: Individual schools set policies regarding professional experience, so students need to check with program administrators to get a sense of requirements. As a general rule, most programs do not require previous experience.
  • Minimum GPA: When reviewing admissions requirements, students often come across GPA requirements of 3.0 or above. If a prospective student holds a lower GPA, they may be able to offset the requirement with high GRE scores, previous experience, or excellent recommendations.

Admission Materials

  • Application: Applications require basic information, such as your name, address, and intended program. Most applications also require a personal statement highlighting your interest in the program and how you plan to use the degree.
  • Transcripts: Transcripts help schools gain information about your previous college experience, the classes you took, and the grades you earned. Students must ask any college previously attended to send transcripts to the new school; the previously attended school usually charges a small fee.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Students should ask former teachers or supervisors to write about their skills and potential for future use of the degree. Most schools ask for two or three recommendation letters. Students should ask at least one month in advance.
  • Test Scores: Some programs may require GRE scores for admittance; if previously serving in a teaching capacity, administrators may want to see your PRAXIS scores.
  • Application Fee: Most programs charge between $50 and $85 for the application fee. Depending on their financial need, some applicants may be able to waive this fee.

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Education Administration Program?

Master's programs for education administration vary significantly depending on the school and individual program on offer, but the following section helps students get a general sense of what they may encounter in terms of available concentrations, typical courses, and academic expectations.

Concentrations Offered for a Master's Degree in Education Administration
Concentration Description Careers
Higher Education Administration The higher education administration specialization prepares graduates to take on roles in a variety of college and university settings and use their skills in leadership-based roles. Student services, admissions, residence life, and other leadership roles within the administrative side of the university.
Special Education Administration With a focus on helping learners understand the unique needs of exceptional students, this concentration prepares them to cater to this learning population using the latest methodologies and best practices. Special education schools, or schools with special education classes.
Instructional Design Degree seekers hoping to develop, evaluate, and train teachers and staff on curricular updates often pursue this specialization as it helps them build the skills and talents necessary to lead the way in bettering instructional materials. Any setting using a curriculum, including elementary, middle, and high schools; two- and four-year colleges; adult education programs; and English as a second language programs.
Grades Pre-K-8 Principalship Students aspiring to take the highest role of leadership in a primary school setting often choose this concentration as it helps instill the skills needed to serve as a dynamic leader while also preparing them to sit for licensure. Elementary and middle schools in either the public or private arena.
Grades 7–12 Principalship Similar to the primary school principalship specialization in that it instills skills related to business management, curriculum planning, and staff management, the 7-12 principalship track focuses on additional topics specifically related to secondary school. High schools in either the public or private arena.

Courses in a Master's in Education Administration Program

Courses included in a master's in education administration degree provide a well-rounded learning experience for students who plan to manage multiple facets of a learning environment. The following section takes a look at some of the more common classes offered in these programs, but students should do independent research of their prospective schools to get a clearer sense of requirements.

Digital Literacy in Schools

This course introduces learners to the myriad digital learning platforms available for K-12 classrooms and how principals and teachers can integrate them into the learning environment to improve outcomes. Students delve into the theoretical and philosophical questions as well as practical applications.

Issues in Education

Taking a case study format, this course identifies some of the top issues existing within K-12 and postsecondary education before discussing methods of improvement. Examples of issues may include bias, inclusion, racial and socioeconomic inequality, and access. Given the broad structure, this course helps individuals looking into roles as principals, instructional designers, and higher education administrators.

Educational Statistics

Students enrolled in this class explore how educational leaders use data and statistics to make decisions, evaluate existing programs, best serve learners, create effective classrooms, and develop an exceptional teaching staff. Students discover common data management tools along the way.

School Law and Human Resources Management

Taking a look at the operational side of schools, this class reviews laws governing recruitment, compensation, personal development, and student management before covering common HR topics surrounding crisis management, classroom interventions, ethical issues, and staff management. Degree seekers interested in becoming principals typically take this course.

Evaluating and Developing Staff

By role-playing with their classmates, students observe teachers in their classrooms, provide a constructive post-observation conference, evaluate teaching materials, and develop staff growth plans. Current trends and methods in personnel evaluation also inform the course's reading list.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Education Administration?

Many students considering a master's in educational administration want to know how long the program takes before committing to student life once more. The majority of programs require between 30 and 36 credits, regardless of whether learners complete them at a brick-and-mortar campus or online. If enrolled on a full-time basis, most degree seekers graduate within two years. Those studying part-time may take three years to complete their program.

Some schools offer accelerated programs with shorter semesters and 12-month academic calendars. Students attending these colleges often finish in one year. In addition to credits taken up by traditional classes, the vast majority of programs also require learners to complete an internship or practicum lasting at least one semester. Degree seekers already employed by a school can ask their college about completing required hours at their place of work.

How Much Is a Master's in Education Administration?

Outside of finding time to actually complete a degree, finding money to pay for it ranks high in the list of important factors to consider. When looking over costs related to individual programs, students should keep in mind that several factors affect the cost of the degree. Individuals attending a public college as an in-state student pay far less than those attending out-of-state or degree seekers who opt for a private university. Some online public schools allow students to pay the same rate, regardless of location.

When reviewing some of the best master's in education administration programs, tuition ranges from $400 to $1,000 per credit. The total cost of the degree will cost somewhere between $14,400 and $36,000 in tuition for a 36-credit program. When creating a budget, students must also factor in other costs. Those planning to attend a campus-based program should consider costs associated with housing, utilities, transportation, and potentially fees associated with moving. Other costs include textbooks, learning materials, technology costs, and other learning fees that vary by school.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Education Administration Prepares For

School Treasurer License

After completing a master's in education administration, some students apply for this licensure to oversee the finances of an individual school or, in some cases, an entire school district. If applying as a principal, applicants must have two years of experience. If applying as a superintendent, they must have three years of experience.

Pre-K-12 Administrative Licensure Certificate

After completing approximately 22 credits in areas of human resources, legal systems, curriculum development, and staff management, applicants take part in a 320-hour practicum at a school approved by the institution the student attends. Most learners need one or two years to complete the certificate.

Educational Leadership License

For students looking to gain their principal certification, this 30 credit licensure program does not lead to a degree but does provide the credentials needed to become a licensed principal. Courses include school administration, legal systems, school and community relations, and personnel management.

Higher Education Administration Certificate

Requiring approximately five courses that cover topics such as characteristics of college students, the landscape of learning and teaching, finance and budgeting, and issues and policies, this certificate aims to prepare future administrative leaders for today's colleges and universities.

Special Education Leadership Certificate

Designed for educational administrators who want to work with exceptional students, this certificate requires 15 credits. Working practitioners can earn the certificate on a part-time basis. Coursework revolves around special education program resources, administrative leadership in special education, and current issues in the field.

Resources for Education Administration Graduate Students

The Seven Habits of Successful Principals

We Are Teachers provides this informative and practical guide that highlights concrete steps principals can take to become more effective leaders in their schools.

How Do Principals Really Improve Schools?

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development offers this thought-provoking article about how principals can shift the educational narrative while improving teacher retention and student achievement.

A Principal's Reflections

This award-winning blog, written by an educational leader, addresses some of the most pressing questions in the field and provides insightful reflections about how principals can become agents of change.

Educational Administration Quarterly

This academic journal highlights emerging research in the field, policy changes, and ongoing issues while providing well-written articles by thought leaders in education administration.

American Educational Research Journal

AERJ provides peer-reviewed analysis of publications, delves into empirical and theoretical best practices, and connects educators with different perspectives on leadership.

Professional Organizations in Education Administration

No matter whether an educational administrator just graduated college or has been in the field for decades, professional organizations provide many benefits to members. Some even allow students to join, thereby opening up an impressive network of possible future employers and colleagues. Many host regional events, national conferences, and continuing education programs while also providing career coaching and resume services, job boards, and mentoring programs.

American Association of School Administrators, The School Superintendents Association

Aside from creating a space where school leaders share their ideas with one another, AASA provides legislative advocacy, insurance, publications, and leadership development opportunities.

American Association of University Administrators

Founded in 1970, AAUA continues to serve university administrators through regular meetings, conferences, professional development opportunities, and an annual awards program.

National Association of Secondary School Principals

Specifically designed for administrative leaders at the high school level, NASSP advocates for members on important policy matters, offers professional learning, and connects colleagues through meaningful online communities.

National Association of Elementary School Principals

NAESP offers a variety of member resources to help individuals better their school communities and build valuable skills. The organization also maintains an active career center.

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

ASCD maintains a membership of nearly 115,000 curricular experts and provides them with numerous publications, videos, online courses, regional and national events, and professional development programs.