The Most Affordable Online Master's in Educational Leadership Degree Programs

The Most Affordable Online Master's in Educational Leadership Degree Programs

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Educational leadership exists to improve the quality of education and the processes within the education system. Students in educational leadership programs learn how to manage multiple departments of educators, provide solutions to workplace disputes, improve curriculum design, and introduce innovative teaching methods or technology to new groups. Professionals considering an online master's degree in educational leadership enter a field that offers opportunities in multiple work environments.

An online master's degree in educational leadership can prepare professionals for executive leadership roles in both public and private schools. These elite roles offer lucrative salaries, and demand for these professionals continues to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data indicates that job availability in this field should increase approximately 7% through 2026. Potential roles include K-12 principals, admissions officers, and university administrators. Median salaries for these professions total around $94,000-$95,000. Earning potential may vary by location.

The following guide discusses pertinent information for prospective educational leaders. Read on to learn more about career options, earning potential at different career stages, program factors to consider, and professional organizations in the field.

The Most Affordable Online Master's in Educational Leadership Degree Programs

Affordable Online Master's in Educational Leadership Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the online educational leadership programs based on the quality of the program, the types of online classes for educational leadership offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for effectively providing quality online degree programs.

The Most Affordable Online Master's in Educational Leadership Degree Programs

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CSU Global 

Greenwood Village, CO Apply Now

About this school

Colorado State University goes beyond the traditional higher education model with a global campus designed for working adults. CSU-Global offers career-focused degrees and certificates in various disciplines. The school regularly updates programs to ensure that they align with industry best practices and fast-changing markets.

The 36-credit MS in teaching and learning - education leadership concentration enrolls students with strong leadership skills and a passion for teaching who want to advance to the role of principal or professional educational leader. Students learn K-12 educational best practices and acquire the competencies necessary to coordinate school activities, manage curricula, and maintain a nurturing and safe learning school environment.

The curriculum examines topics such as instructional leadership, school culture and equity leadership, evaluation and assessment, and learning theories and models of instruction. Students complete a 300-hour leadership internship at a K-12 institution, applying what they learn to complete assignments based on their clinical observations. Participants in the master's in educational leadership also complete a research project that uses theoretical models, decision science, and analytical tools.

Learners earn this degree asynchronously and can begin during any month. CSU-Global works to keep tuition affordable, locking in tuition as long as the student remains in good standing. The online master's in educational leadership requests a preferred minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA for admission.


Indiana University-Bloomington 

Bloomington, IN Apply Now

About this school

Indiana University-Bloomington is the flagship of IU, a system that enrolls almost 43,000 Hoosiers. IU oversees 550 academic programs administered through 16 colleges and schools. IU's online graduate education programs rank No. 45 on U.S. News & World Report's ranking of 311 schools.

The 36-credit MS.Ed. in educational leadership prepares educators for school leadership roles, such as principal, assistant principal, and district administrator. The online program also prepares participants for licensure as a superintendent or building-level administrator. Developed in partnership with schools and districts, the curriculum breaks down into educational leadership core courses and strand courses that learners choose with advisor approval.

The core curriculum covers topics like school-community relations, instruction in the context of the curriculum, public school budgeting and accounting, and data-informed decision-making for school leaders. This affordable online master's in educational leadership allows students to customize the degree by pursuing one of four nine-credit strands: school law, learning sciences, higher education and student affairs, and leadership in educational organizations.

Online students receive access to IU's vast library system and 24/7 tech support. While out-of-state students pay a higher tuition rate, this tuition remains competitive. Admission requires a minimum 2.75 GPA. Most enrollees possess teaching experience, but the school considers strong applicants without it.


University of South Florida-St Petersburg 

St. Petersburg, FL Apply Now

About this school

The University of South Florida-St. Petersburg offers students a learning community that models the school's core principles of innovation, collaboration, and community engagement. U.S. News & World Report ranks USFSP among the nation's best regional colleges in the South. Many of the school's undergraduate and graduate degrees incorporate online learning.

USFSP's fully online master of education in educational leadership enrolls teachers and other school professionals who want to pursue Florida K-12 educational leadership certification. The degree requires 30 credits and uses a standards-based approach that balances theory and practice. The master's in educational leadership examines topics such as school law, school finance, principles of education administration, and instructional design and classroom management.

Students in this master of education in educational leadership participate in field experiences within school systems, where they apply learned concepts to educational challenges. Admission requires a current teaching certificate, a minimum of two years of teaching experience, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and GRE scores for some applicants. The program enrolls students in the fall, spring, and summer.


San Diego State University 

San Diego, CA Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1897, San Diego State University emphasizes research, sustainability, and entrepreneurship. SDSU offers several master's programs online, including the MA in education with a concentration in educational leadership.

Faculty designed the program to prepare teachers and school administrators for leadership roles in educational technology at the school, district, or county level. All courses focus on technology, making this a unique and innovative online master's in educational leadership. The program, ranked No. 1 in California, features a one-year cohort model for accelerated degree completion.

Students examine methods of inquiry, visionary leadership, organizational and systems leadership, school improvement leadership, and preK-12 curriculum leadership and management. During a course on tech architecture, students develop action plans to integrate technology change in their schools/districts. For the culminating project, participants conduct an intensive study to identify preK-12 learning challenges and design, deliver, and evaluate technology to address those challenges.

The MA offers a specialization in preK-12 (embedded preliminary administrative services credential). Admission requires school transcripts and GRE scores. The program does not admit students who live in San Diego County.


California State University-East Bay 

Hayward, CA Apply Now

About this school

California State University-East Bay is home to one of the most diverse student populations in the nation. Cal State East Bay enrolls about 14,000 students and operates campuses in Hayward and Concord. The school was one of the earliest adopters of online education among CSU campuses.

Cal State East Bay offers a two-year MS in educational leadership exclusively online. Participants study major theories of organizational leadership, hone managerial skills in school law and finance, and master proficiencies such as using data to conduct research.

The curriculum requires 10-12 courses that examine issues such as educational leadership for equitable resources, social justice and equity in urban schools, and transforming professional learning to support equitable student outcomes. The master's in educational leadership allows learners to earn an optional preliminary California administrative services credential with additional units of work.

Graduates of the MS in educational leadership typically work in roles such as principal or assistant principal, district superintendent, or curriculum specialist. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, a recommendation from an educational leader, and evidence of leadership activities.


Louisiana State University-Shreveport 

Shreveport, LA Apply Now

About this school

Part of a multi-campus system, Louisiana State University-Shreveport enrolls 7,000 learners each year. LSUS offers students a vibrant campus life that boasts abundant student organizations and close proximity to off-campus cultural events. Students learn in small classes and benefit from affordable education compared to similar schools.

Distance learners can complete the master of education in educational leadership fully online in one year. The 34-credit curriculum aligns with standards established by the Standards for Educational Leadership in Louisiana and National Educational Leadership Preparation. Faculty designed the program for working professionals, delivering the M.Ed. in seven-week courses for accelerated degree completion. Participants study leadership theories and planning models, how to develop and maintain community involvement, and school laws and applications.

Courses in the master's in educational leadership include leading with vision, technology leadership in schools, and funding public education. Students acquire hands-on experience during a culminating internship. Participants apply their skills and knowledge in an administrative role under the supervision of a faculty member and school district administrator.

Online students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 2.5 GPA, college transcripts, and at least three years of professional work experience. The program offers several start dates per year.


Thomas Edison State University 

Trenton, NJ Apply Now

About this school

Established in 1972, Thomas Edison State University provides diverse and alternative methods of higher education learning. One of New Jersey's 11 senior public colleges, TESU accommodates nontraditional learners with online programs and a generous transfer credit policy.

The fully online MA in educational leadership offers three specializations: building leadership, district leadership, and school business administration. The building leadership track requires 36 credits and prepares graduates for supervisor and principal endorsements. The district leadership track requires 42 credits and prepares graduates for principal, supervisor, and school administrator endorsements. The school business administration track requires 36 credits and prepares graduates for business administrator endorsement.

All three tracks share courses on school law, curriculum leadership and supervision, developing school and community partnerships, and effective leadership: from theory to practice. All students engage in 300 hours of supervised field experiences. During the field experience, students design and implement curricular, administrative, and professional development activities that meet standards established by the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium.

Students may transfer up to 12 credits into this online master's in educational leadership, and learners pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 2.75 GPA; a teaching, administrative, or educational services certificate; and current tenure in a K-12 setting.


University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 

La Crosse, WI Apply Now

About this school

For nearly two decades, UW-La Crosse has ranked as one of the top four public colleges in the Midwest. The school lauds many achievements, including an 86% retention rate, an above-average graduation rate, and a 19-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

The variable-credit master of education in professional development with an education leadership emphasis enrolls teachers, counselors, school psychologists, and social workers seeking principal licensure. Faculty developed the program to meet Wisconsin Administrative Standards. Students generally complete the fully online program in 18-21 months.

The curriculum examines topics such as the principalship, school law, supervision and instruction, inclusive pedagogical practices, and data-based decision-making for instruction. During a supervised practicum, students demonstrate their knowledge of state content guidelines for principal licensure programs. Learners may opt for a master's thesis consisting of original research that contributes to the field's body of knowledge.

Wisconsin residents and nonresidents pay the same per-credit tuition, making this an affordable master's in educational leadership. Applicants with a minimum 3.4 GPA may qualify for a scholarship that substantially lowers the cost of this program. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in education, a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA, and a background check.


University of Nebraska at Omaha 

Omaha, NE Apply Now

About this school

The University of Nebraska at Omaha is the state's metropolitan college. The school enrolls 15,000 students in academic programs that emphasize research and hands-on experiences. Graduate students study in classrooms with a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. They choose from a comprehensive suite of master's programs that include teacher training and professional development degrees.

The 39-credit MS in educational leadership prepares students for state administrator certification, enrolling certified teachers who want to earn a principal, curriculum supervisor, or special education director certificate. Faculty designed the hybrid curriculum so that teachers can continue working with little interruption. Students meet with faculty and peers face-to-face every other week, supplementing online learning with in-person courses and field experiences.

The online master's in educational leadership offers three concentrations: school administrator, teacher leader, and special education leader. All three share common core courses that examine topics such as educational policy, school community, instructional leadership, and interpersonal relationships. Students pursuing a principal certificate (school administrator concentration) complete an elementary or secondary education internship. Students receive up to 10 years to complete the MS in educational leadership.

UNO is one of the most affordable four-year colleges in Nebraska, including for out-of-state students. Admission requires all school transcripts, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a teaching certificate.


East Central University 

Ada, OK Apply Now

About this school

Established in 1909 as one of three normal colleges in eastern Oklahoma, East Central University enrolls about 3,600 students annually. ECU's academic programs launch the careers of business leaders, elected officials, astronauts, and educators.

ECU's online degrees include a master of education in educational leadership designed for working teachers. The 32-credit M.Ed. aligns with the standards established by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council to prepare teachers for certification as principals, vice principals, or other administrative K-12 roles.

Course topics include the principalship, public school finance, and the fundamentals of public school administration. Learners complete two courses that delve into curriculum and instruction: fundamentals of curriculum and supervision of instruction. Learners use elective credits to focus on one of several study areas, such contemporary issues in education.

Students culminate the online master's in educational leadership with a thesis or capstone project. They may transfer up to nine credits into the program. Admission requires a minimum 2.75 GPA on the last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework, a teaching certificate (or alternative teaching certificate), and the GRE or MAT for some students.


Northeastern State University 

Tahlequah, OK Apply Now

About this school

Northeastern State University enrolls 8,000 students on campuses in Tahlequah, Muskogee, and Broken Arrow and online. The 36-credit MS in higher education leadership prepares students for leadership roles in colleges and tribal, community, and other organizations.

The degree uses a hybrid format with courses on campus in Tahlequah or Broken Arrow and online. Students complete an 18-credit professional core that examines topics such as educational research; organizations, leadership, and change; and ethics and legal issues in leadership. Learners pursue one of two 18-credit specializations: American Indian leadership or higher education administration.

The American Indian leadership option explores contemporary issues relevant to this population. Students pursuing the higher administration specialization examine topics such as individual and group interventions; college student personnel services; and program development, assessment, and evaluation. Both specializations require a three-credit leadership practicum. Students culminate the degree with a thesis or capstone approved by graduate faculty.

Students may transfer up to nine graduate credits into the program. Learners pay affordable tuition and enjoy access to financial aid opportunities. Admission to the online master's in educational leadership requires all college transcripts, a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA, and MAT or GRE scores.


University of Alaska Southeast 

Juneau, AK Apply Now

About this school

The University of Alaska System consists of three colleges, including UAS. The 36-credit hybrid master of education in educational leadership features a cohort model and prepares candidates for roles as school administrators in Alaska, especially in rural school districts.

Students begin the program with a summer intensive and complete it the following summer. Faculty deliver summer sessions on the Juneau campus and fall and spring courses online. The master's in educational leadership examines educational research, educational leadership, and curriculum and instructional leadership. The program requires two school internships that focus on the role and proficiencies of the school superintendent. Students culminate the degree with a research paper, project, or portfolio.

Students must demonstrate mastery of the standards established by the Alaska College of Education in their portfolio. The school offers affordable tuition that sits below the national average in addition to financial aid opportunities. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and three years of public school teaching experience. Only Alaska residents can apply.


Cameron University 

Lawton, OK Apply Now

About this school

Cameron University is a public college in Lawton, Oklahoma. The school offers 50 programs delivered in small classrooms for personalized learning. The education department's teacher preparation degrees include an MS in educational leadership leading to school principal certification. Faculty use a hybrid model that delivers the program 64% online.

All students complete an introductory seminar to begin the master's in educational leadership. The 33-credit curriculum covers topics like school culture, the supervision of curriculum and instruction, community and school relations, and research and technology for school administrators. A notable course focuses on the strategies and best practices school leaders employ to manage facilities, personnel, and instructional resources in public schools.

Students use an internship to culminate the degree, honing professional competencies with hands-on experience in a school or district. Graduates boast knowledge of leadership strategies, staff assessment and supervision best practices, and techniques to assess and supervise programs.

Graduate students pay affordable tuition and enjoy access to financial aid opportunities, such as tuition waivers and scholarships. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, a teaching certificate, at least one year of teaching experience, and a background check.


University of Wyoming 

Laramie, WY Apply Now

About this school

Situated on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, the University of Wyoming campus houses rigorous academics and cutting-edge learning facilities. The school educates 12,000 students from 50 states and 90 countries. UW uses distance learning to provide learning opportunities to students worldwide.

The 33-credit MA in educational leadership is a principal preparation program that can lead to Wyoming certification as a K-12 principal. The fully online curriculum covers topics such as school law; leadership for curriculum development; school and community relations; special education law; and assessment, accountability, and student learning.

A 435-hour principal internship provides participants with practical school leadership experience consisting of three weeks each in an elementary, middle, and high school. Aspiring school leaders work under the supervision of a principal at each school. To earn principal certification in Wyoming, candidates need at least three years of teaching experience and a Wyoming teaching certificate. Out-of-state students should check with their school board to ensure that this master's in educational leadership meets local principal certification requirements.

The school maintains low tuition rates for residents and nonresidents. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least two years of teaching experience.


Stony Brook University 

Stony Brook, NY Apply Now

About this school

Stony Brook University was established in 1957 to train secondary education teachers in math and science. Today, the school stands as a flagship of the State University of New York System. Stony Brook enrolls 26,000 students each year, including more than 8,000 graduate students. Stony Brook, ranked in the top 1% of colleges in the world, administers programs in classrooms with an 18-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

The 36-credit MA in higher education administration blends theory and practice to develop student affairs and administration professionals. The curriculum aligns with National Association of Student Personnel Administrators standards. Students complete core courses that examine leadership in higher education, college student development theory, diversity and higher education, and research and assessment in higher education.

Students supplement required courses with electives that address their interests, choosing from options like technology in higher education, enrollment management, community college administration, and intercollegiate athletics in higher education. One elective option focuses on facilities management as learners delve into issues such as the coordination of contract services, facility renovations and new construction, and how to address security concerns.

Students can complete the master's in educational leadership fully online or in a hybrid format. With careful degree planning, students can complete the degree in 16 months. Admission requires school transcripts and a minimum 3.0 GPA.


The University of Texas at Arlington 

Arlington, TX Apply Now

About this school

The University of Texas at Arlington enrolls 59,000 students worldwide. Students can study on a state-of-the-art campus in North Texas or online. Many of UTA's graduate programs make U.S. News & World Report's rankings of the best in the nation.

UTA collaborates with local school districts to develop the master of education in educational leadership and policy studies, which is a principal certification program. Students can complete the 30-credit degree in as few as 16 months. The curriculum, which aligns with the Texas Administrative Code, examines leadership theory, the principalship, leadership in the instructional setting, diversity in educational settings, and resource management in education.

A required practicum gives students supervised, on-the-job experience in a school setting. A capstone internship fulfills UTA's comprehensive examination requirement for a graduate degree. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, at least two years of relevant work experience, and GRE scores for some students. Eligibility for the standard Texas principal certificate requires a valid Texas teaching certificate. Students living outside of Texas should ensure this degree meets their state's principal licensure requirements.


The University of West Florida 

Pensacola, FL Apply Now

About this school

Based in Pensacola, the University of West Florida offers 70 degrees. UWF also manages an instructional site on the Emerald Coast and a robust virtual college. The school's 12,800 students include 27% who study exclusively online.

The master of education in educational leadership provides a fully online curriculum that prepares participants for administrative positions such as principal, assistant principal, or superintendent. The program maintains approval from the Florida Department of Education, which requires that students pass the Florida Educational Leadership Examination as part of the degree for certification.

The 30-credit curriculum examines subjects such as school improvement theory and practice, law and education, school finance, and the principles of curriculum development. During a course focused on data-driven decision-making, students learn how to analyze data to make decisions and communicate decision-making information to stakeholders. A course on the principalship explores some of the challenges principals face and includes a practicum for educators to apply theory and techniques in a clinical setting.

Learners in this online master's in educational leadership can take advantage of UWF's comprehensive financial aid options to help pay for tuition. Active-duty military personnel may receive waivers for out-of-state fees. Admission requires a valid teaching certification, at least three years of teaching experience, a minimum 3.25 GPA, and the GRE or MAT. Note that UWF may not offer this program in every state.


Northern Kentucky University 

Highland Heights, KY Apply Now

About this school

A growing metropolitan college, Northern Kentucky University is one of the fastest-growing colleges in the state, offering comprehensive learning opportunities on a campus just outside of Cincinnati and online. NKU enrolls 14,000 students in classrooms with a 19-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

The master of arts in education-teacher as leader requires 30-51 credits depending on the specialization. The program offers four specializations: curriculum and instruction, special education, autism and applied behavioral analysis, and learning and behavioral disorders.

All students complete a common set of courses, beginning with a program orientation that covers graduate policies and procedures, concentration selections, the online learning process, and professional behaviors. Students also examine core topics such as leadership in a diverse society; instructional design and curriculum; an introduction to research methods; and leadership in schools, organizations, and communities.

Students can complete the educational leadership master's program in as few as 18 months. Admission requires a minimum 2.75 GPA, a valid teaching certificate, and GRE scores within five years. Learners pay the same tuition regardless of residency.


University of Louisiana at Monroe 

Monroe, LA Apply Now

About this school

Students at the University of Louisiana at Monroe receive instruction from world-renowned faculty. ULM's nationally recognized programs include the 36-credit master of education in educational leadership.

The M.Ed. enrolls certified teachers seeking to advance into administrative roles such as school principal or district administrator. The 15-month program examines topics such as organizational theory and practice, instructional supervision, multicultural education perspectives, and how to manage school and district resources.

An internship in this master's in educational leadership serves as the capstone for participants seeking administrative certification. Students engage in supervised practicum experiences in multiple settings totaling a minimum of 120 hours. Louisiana residents must pass the School Leaders Licensure Assessment to become certified educational leaders in the state.

Faculty deliver the program in accelerated eight-week terms. All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum cumulative 2.75 GPA, a current teaching certificate, three years of teaching experience, and the GRE for some students. The program offers multiple start dates throughout the year.


The University of Texas at Tyler 

Tyler, TX Apply Now

About this school

Part of the University of Texas System, UT Tyler is a comprehensive college located in East Texas. The school enrolls about 10,000 students in programs administered by six colleges. UT Tyler leads in fields such as business, engineering, pharmacy, and teacher education. In addition to the main campus, students study on campuses in Palestine and Longview and online.

UT Tyler's online master of education in educational leadership leads to principal licensure in Texas. Students can complete the 30-credit M.Ed. in 18 months. The curriculum examines topics such as school law, the principalship, school building operations, curriculum and instruction for school improvement, and educational leadership theory and practice.

Students fulfill two practicums focused on the principalship, completing a minimum of 80 hours of practical experience in developmental supervision and 80 hours of applied research on a critical issue in educational leadership.

UT Tyler's key achievements include stellar performance on state licensure exams. Educators interested in this affordable online master's in educational leadership may qualify for the school's Teachers in Excellence scholarship. Admission requires Texas teacher certification, a minimum 3.25 GPA, and GRE scores for some students.


McNeese State University 

Lake Charles, LA Apply Now

About this school

McNeese ranks as one of the best regional colleges in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report. The school offers affordable online degrees, such as the 36-credit master of education in educational leadership.

The fully online degree teaches students how to use data to drive school improvement, oversee school resources and personnel, and manage school-community relations. Practitioners also learn how to apply advanced research methodologies.

Participants apply leadership theory and best practices during 240 hours of guided field experiences in a school setting. Faculty weave these experiences throughout the curriculum to address standards established by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council. One of the nation's best educational leadership master's programs, the M.Ed. teaches educators how to apply school laws, regulations, and procedures in a fair and ethical manner.

McNeese offers competitive tuition rates and comprehensive financial aid options. Students may transfer up to six credits into this online master's in educational leadership. Admission requires a valid teaching certificate, at least three years of teaching experience, and competitive GRE scores.


University of Florida - Online 

Gainesville, FL Apply Now

About this school

The University of Florida lauds affordable and flexible online degrees. One of the nation's best national colleges, UF ties with Clemson for the No. 1 spot on U.S. News & World Report's rankings for best online master's in education programs. Working professionals receive the training and credentials necessary for advancement to school and district leadership roles through the master of education in educational leadership.

The variable-credit online M.Ed. includes the option to earn Florida principal certification but does not lead to teacher certification in Florida. The degree offers a fully online curriculum that examines the principalship, public school finance, data-driven decision-making, educational organization and administration, and administration of school personnel.

Students who plan to pursue principal certification in Florida must fulfill an ESOL training requirement by completing a course or 60 hours of ESOL district in-service. These students also need at least 15 hours of supervised field experience in a school setting.

Learners in this online master's in educational leadership pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires at least a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE scores.


End of list, bravo!

The Advantages of an Educational Leadership Education

While earning an associate or bachelor's degree in educational fields may seem attractive due to the lower time commitment and cheaper program costs, candidates must hold a master's degree to qualify for top roles in education. For instance, students who earn an associate degree in education only qualify for paraprofessional support roles, such as teacher assistants, preschool teacher roles, child care workers, or tutors.

Students who go on to earn a bachelor's degree qualify to manage their own classroom and obtain an initial teaching license. With enough experience, classroom teachers may even go on to become the lead teacher of their department. However, professionals who wish to become principals and leaders must earn an advanced degree. The section below explores careers that require an advanced degree in educational leadership and accompanying earning potential.

Average Salary by Degree Level

Degree Level Average Salary
Associate Degree in Educational Leadership $49,000
Bachelor's Degree in Educational Leadership $63,000

Source: PayScale

Educational Leadership Degree Salary Information

Earning an online master's degree in educational leadership creates multiple career opportunities. Professionals can work in K-12 schools and universities alike, including top leadership positions and niche roles in administrative departments. At the administrator level, professionals need to possess excellent multitasking, organizational, communication, and leadership skills.

High School Principal
High school principals oversee all aspects of administration within their school. These professionals monitor, evaluate, and mentor teachers. Additionally, principals influence curricula and manage the school budget. Principals may need to provide resolution or take disciplinary action when students misbehave. Schools often require candidates to hold an administrator certificate, a master's degree, and several years of teaching experience.
Assistant Principal
Assistant principals ensure that teachers meet state curriculum standards, provide classroom management support, administer discipline, and step in for the principal when needed. Assistant principals need effective communication skills, as they often interact with students and their families. These professionals can work in any K-12 environment. School districts prefer candidates with teaching experience and an advanced degree.
Dean of Students
This school administrator supports students and strives to ensure a positive learning experience. While many deans work for postsecondary institutions, employment exists at the secondary and elementary levels as well. Deans address student behavior and also investigate complaints regarding teachers. Employers look for candidates who hold a master's or doctoral degree.
University Registrar
College or university registrars manage and post students' grades, update student information, and maintain up-to-date transcripts. Students contact the registrar's office for assistance with signing up for courses. Registrars may conduct audits, oversee office staff, and collaborate with other departments.
Provosts plan and develop educational programs offered at colleges and universities. These professionals must ensure academic integrity through leadership and guidance. Provosts often provide solutions to on-campus concerns. The best candidates possess excellent communication and organizational skills. Employers look for candidates with a master's degree and experience in education.

Salary by Experience Level for Educational Leadership Careers

Careers Entry Level
(0-12 Months)
Early Career
(1-4 Years)
(5-9 Years)
(10-19 Years)
High School Principal $68,000 $82,000 $87,000 95,000
Assistant Principal $65,000 $69,000 $70,000 $75,000
Dean of Students $55,000 $56,000 $62,000 $72,000
University Registrar $44,000 $47,000 $58,000 $67,000
Provost $110,000 $99,000 $132,000 $136,000

Source: PayScale

Choosing an Online Educational Leadership Degree Program

Colleges and universities offer online programs to meet diverse learning needs. Students should take their time reviewing program details to select the best option possible, as an online master's degree in educational leadership requires a significant time commitment.

Some online programs utilize hybrid or synchronous formats, which require in-person or real-time attendance. While this option creates hands-on learning opportunities, many distance learners prefer to keep their full-time jobs. These students may only want to consider asynchronous programs, which do not involve set class times. Additionally, local schools often provide a greater return on students' investment through in-state tuition.

The list below provides an overview of other factors students may want to consider:

  • Program Cost: Identifying acceptable program costs helps learners ensure they receive a positive return on their investment. Students may want to research the average salary for their desired job roles to determine how much they can afford to repay if they need student loans. Schools often provide scholarships and grants to offset program costs. Students may want to explore which schools offer the most financial support.
  • Transfer Policies: Students often intend to complete their program at one school. However, circumstances may arise that require learners to transfer. Therefore, students should examine course content to determine how easily credits transfer to another school.
  • School Size and Type: Colleges and universities offer different school environments. Students should identify what sort of environment helps them learn best. For example, small class sizes create opportunities for one-on-one interactions with instructors, while large universities offer a vast student and alumni network. Similarly, private institutions may offer more varied course options in comparison to state schools.
  • Program Length: While the average master's degree requires two years, program formats vary to meet diverse learning needs. For instance, students who work may want a part-time enrollment option. On the other hand, some students want to earn their degree more quickly. Online programs may offer accelerated options, which include condensed courses.
  • On-Campus Requirements: Some online programs include an in-person orientation or hybrid courses, which require periodic on-campus meetings. Furthermore, some online programs require in-person attendance for exams. Depending on the program, students may need to complete field experiences or internships.

Accreditation for Online Educational Leadership Degrees

Students should only consider programs that hold appropriate accreditation. Colleges and universities can obtain accreditation for the entire school or an individual program. These credentials indicate that students can access vetted and high-quality coursework. At the school level, students should look for regional accreditation. While national accreditation covers more territory, regional accrediting agencies focus on developing standards for specific areas of the country and retain the highest recognition.

The list below includes the six regional agencies students should look for:

Learners should also note that the U.S. Department of Education creates and enforces educational policy, while the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) stands as the largest postsecondary membership organization. CHEA recognizes over 3000 institutions and 60 accrediting bodies.

National/programmatic accreditation focuses on specific fields. Students should also consider programmatic accreditations in the educational leadership field. These accreditations indicate that coursework provides fundamental knowledge and skills that graduates need to succeed as educational leaders. Relevant agencies include the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).

Educational Leadership Concentrations

As advanced programs, online master's degrees in educational leadership typically offer multiple concentration areas. By studying a specific area of educational leadership, students can distinguish themselves among other candidates in the job market. Therefore, students should consider what role fits their professional goals to determine the best concentration.

  • Teacher Leadership:
    A concentration in teacher leadership helps educators become subject matter experts in their content area. Professionals learn how to identify problems and develop effective, efficient, and innovative solutions. This concentration often creates opportunities for mentorship, chair committee involvement, and co-teaching experiences.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Department Head
  • Curriculum Development:
    A concentration in curriculum development allows educators to focus on the creation, evaluation, and implementation of course content. Curriculum specialists also focus on teaching methods and using technology to enhance classroom instruction. Professional settings include K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. However, professionals may also work for organizations that create textbooks.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Instructional Coordinator
  • Principal Licensure:
    Students who wish to lead elementary and secondary schools can earn a principal licensure in their state. This concentration focuses on creating and sustaining learning communities, curriculum development, school law, and managing school finances. Students also learn how to effectively communicate with stakeholders, including students' families.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Elementary Principals, Secondary Principals
  • Higher Education Administration:
    Students interested in leadership roles at the postsecondary level should consider a concentration in higher education administration. Courses emphasize diversity and inclusion, legal issues, statistics and data collection, and organizational theory. Students also learn about international policies and strategies for managing international education programs.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Provost, College Dean
  • Policy and Advocacy:
    Concentrating in policy and advocacy helps students draw connections between classrooms and state regulations. This specialization allows professionals to both support and advance student learning. Programs emphasize organizational change methods, policy analysis, assessment, and evaluation. Some roles in this field also focus on innovative methods to support English language learners and students with special needs.
    • Careers this concentration prepares for: Instructional Coordinators, School Administrator

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Educational Leadership?

The average educational leadership master's degree online requires 30-36 credits. However, program length can vary depending on the amount of time students can commit to coursework. For instance, students attending traditional, semester-based programs can anticipate earning their degree in two years with full-time attendance. On the other hand, part-time attendance can double this timeline. Traditional programs offer fall and spring courses, but students may take courses in the summer to complete their degree sooner.

Distance learners often gain access to multiple start dates throughout the year, which allows students to begin coursework immediately. Online programs may also offer four- or eight-week accelerated courses, cutting the average class time commitment in half. Most online programs continue through the summer without extended breaks. Concentration areas and double majors can also impact the length of an online master's degree in educational leadership.

Courses in an Online Master's in Educational Leadership Program

  • Ethics and Educational Leadership
    This course focuses on current challenges in educational leadership. Students examine case studies to analyze both successful and unsuccessful decisions. Learning outcomes include understanding the concepts of ethical leadership on organizational, individual, and societal levels. This course emphasizes evaluation, analysis, and problem-solving skills.
  • Administration of School Personnel
    In this course, students focus on the ways principals engage in ethical, moral, legal, and effective planning. This course also emphasizes talent acquisition, development, and retention. Students explore techniques used to measure incumbent growth.
  • Education Law
    Education law examines public education policy in the United States. Course content primarily focuses on elementary and secondary education. Students ponder current issues with diversity and inclusion, gender, language, and religion. Learning outcomes include understanding the hierarchy of laws and policies at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Curriculum Development
    Curriculum development examines trends, theories, and curriculum structure in K-12 and higher education settings. Learning outcomes include analyzing and evaluating educational theory and practices. Curriculum development also emphasizes knowledge of historical developments, current theories, curriculum mapping, and differentiated instruction techniques.
  • Principal Leadership
    Principal leadership focuses on the process of change, student guidance, curriculum supervision, and decision-making models. This course promotes multicultural, racial, and gender sensitivity. Students also learn how to maintain healthy learning environments and apply student discipline strategies. Principal leadership also covers special populations and extracurricular management.

Paying for Your Online Master's in Educational Leadership Degree Program

Earning an online master's degree in educational leadership requires a considerable financial investment, and few students can afford to pay out of pocket. No matter their financial position, all students should complete a FAFSA form. Potential awards include grants, loans, and work-study opportunities.

Grants do not require repayment, while work-study opportunities allow students to earn money working in relevant departments on campus. Student loans require repayment -- starting six months after students graduate -- and typically collect interest. Students should also consider scholarships like those listed below.

Scholarships for Accounting Students

The School Superintendents Association Educational Administration Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Founded in 1865, AASA supports over 13,000 educational leaders across the country. AASA honors former directors by providing seven scholarships to students earning a master of educational leadership online. To apply, students need a recommendation letter from the department chair at their college.

Amount: Varies

James Madison Graduate Fellowships

Who Can Apply: The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation strives to improve education in secondary schools. Students earning an online master's degree in educational leadership can apply. This scholarship requires one year of teaching after graduation. Other requirements include a strong GPA, official transcripts, a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, and three letters of recommendation.

Amount: $24,000

Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship honors the memory of a notable NAACP member. To qualify, students must hold a current membership with the NAACP. This scholarship also requires at least a 3.0 GPA and U.S. citizenship. Applicants cannot exceed 25 years of age. Other requirements include full-time enrollment at an accredited school.

Amount: $2,000

Weimann Family Teaching Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports students earning a master's degree in education who also graduated from the Pittsburgh Public School system. Students must show proof of full-time enrollment at an accredited school. Other requirements include a minimum 2.0 GPA, proven financial need, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

Amount: $10,000

Pi Lambda Theta Support Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Established in 1910 as a national honor society, Pi Lambda Theta recognizes students pursuing careers in education. Students pursuing an online master's degree in educational leadership at an accredited school may apply. Students must hold a 3.5 GPA at minimum. Other requirements include official transcripts and an essay.

Amount: $2,000