Best Online Master’s in Educational Administration 2021
| TBS Staff
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School administrators — including principals, superintendents, and instructional coordinators — oversee K-12 schools, while higher education administrators oversee student services and academic programs at colleges and universities.
Education administration professionals ensure that schools run efficiently and effectively.
Graduates who earn an online master's in education administration enjoy lucrative and in-demand career opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that school principals earn a median salary of over $96,000 per year and projects the creation of 11,000 new principal jobs between 2018 and 2028. Additionally, the BLS reports that higher education administrators earn a median salary of over $95,000 per year, with a 4% projected job growth through 2029.
|#1||Texas A&M University College Station, TX|
|#2||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL|
|#3||Mississippi College Clinton, MS|
|#4||Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC|
|#5||Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH|
|#6||LeTourneau University Longview, TX|
|#7||George Washington University Washington, DC|
|#8||Tarleton State University Stephenville, TX|
|#9||Oklahoma State University Stillwater, OK|
|#10||Southern Wesleyan University Central, SC|
Featured Online Schools
Choosing an Online Master's in Educational Administration Program
When researching potential online master's in education administration programs, students should consider factors such as a program's cost, accreditation status, format, and available specializations. Typically, public institutions cost less than private institutions, but students at both types of schools can take advantage of financial aid opportunities to help offset education costs.
"When researching potential online master's in education administration programs, students should consider factors such as a program's cost, accreditation status, format, and available specializations."
Additionally, students may need to attend an accredited school to qualify for professional licensure or certification. For example, many states require individuals to hold an accredited degree to qualify for a principal or administrator license.
The length of an education administration master's degree track varies depending on the program and a student's enrollment status. Most programs take two years of full-time study to complete, although some schools offer accelerated timelines. Students should also consider a program's format. Asynchronous programs do not require set login times, giving students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional responsibilities.
Finally, many programs offer specializations in areas like principalship and higher education administration. Students should ensure they choose a program with focus areas that align with their career goals.
What Is a Master's in Education Administration?
A master's in education administration prepares graduates for jobs such as school principal, K-12 school administrator, and higher education administrator. Students take classes on topics like school leadership, instructional assessment, and school financing. Some programs offer electives or concentrations in areas like higher education administration, special education leadership, and differentiated curriculum planning.
Many educational administration programs incorporate an internship or practicum to give students hands-on experience in the field. Online programs typically let students meet practicum requirements at an approved site near their home.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Educational Administration Program?
Courses vary by program, but we outline several common master's in education administration classes below.
The Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Education Administration
- Instructional Leadership: This course covers the operational functions of schools, the role of data analysis in school leadership, and how to use teacher evaluations to improve instruction. Graduate students also learn to manage resources — including teachers, budgets, and district opportunities — to increase student achievement. Depending on the program, this class may also cover how to implement English language learning and special education programs. The course prepares students for leadership roles in K-12 schools.
- School Financing: Students in this course learn how to develop a school or district budget and conduct budget forecasting. Students learn about the collaborative process behind creating a budget, budget implementation models, and the role of government funding in budget development. The course also covers topics like enrollment trends, student attendance reimbursements, and population projections, including how these topics shape school financing.
- Educational Psychology: This course examines the theories and research behind how students learn. Participants investigate how culture and context shape student learning, examining topics like motivation, human development, and educational management. Students also learn how to develop teaching methods and instructional processes based on psychological concepts. The course prepares future education administrators to improve instruction using educational psychology.
- School Administration: This class introduces students to foundational school administration principles and responsibilities. Learners study administrative doctrine, leadership behavior, and leadership skills in an educational environment. Learners also study school administration theories and applications. Some programs incorporate a practicum to give students hands-on experience in school leadership. The course prepares students for leadership roles in schools.
- School Law: This course examines the legal framework of the public education system in the United States. Students learn about judicial decisions that shape school law, the legal responsibilities of schools, and the legal constraints on public school officials. Learners study topics like collective bargaining, employment discrimination, and special education law. The course prepares future school administrators to adhere to laws and regulations.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Education Administration Prepares For
Many education administration careers require a license. For example, principals generally need to complete a master's degree and hold a state-issued license to qualify for job opportunities. However, most higher education administrators do not need a license. Licensure requirements vary by state, so prospective school administrators should research the requirements in the state where they intend to work.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Educational Administration Degrees
Prospective students should ensure they attend an accredited school. Several education administration careers require a license, including school principal jobs. In most states, licensure candidates need an accredited graduate degree. Similarly, many employers prefer candidates with an accredited degree.
Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Regional accreditation is typically awarded to nonprofit, degree-granting schools that meet high academic standards.
Programs within a school may also receive specialized accreditation. Programmatic accreditation applies to specific programs, including teacher preparation and education administration programs. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation grants programmatic accreditation to education administration programs.
Online Master's in Educational Administration Careers
Graduates with a master's degree in education administration enjoy diverse career opportunities. We cover several common jobs for graduates below.
|Median Salary: $64,450||Projected Job Growth: 6%|
Instructional coordinators — also called curriculum specialists — oversee a school's or district's curriculum and teaching standards. They develop educational materials, organize teacher training events and workshops, and analyze student performance data to make curriculum improvements. Some instructional coordinators specialize in an area such as special education or English as a second language.
|Median Salary: $95,310||Projected Job Growth: 4%|
School principals oversee the operations of K-12 schools. They implement curriculum standards, manage teachers and staff, and oversee the school's budget. Principals also hire teachers and assess their performance. In many schools, principals implement standards set by the district and coordinate with the superintendent and school board to improve the school. Principals often need a state school administrator or principal license.
|Median Salary: $94,340||Projected Job Growth: 7%|
Higher education administrators manage student services and academic departments at colleges and universities. They may specialize in several areas, such as admissions and student affairs. Higher education administrators in admissions offices may set targets for how many students to admit, conduct outreach to encourage student applications, and oversee staff members. In student affairs, higher education administrators advise students on academic issues, lead programs, and schedule services.
Professional Organizations for Education Administration
Professional organizations help education administration students and professionals advance in their careers, expand their professional networks, and strengthen their skills.
The Best Online Master's in Education Administration Programs
In 1876, Texas A&M University became the first institute of higher learning in Texas. Today, the College Station-based university has an enrollment of over 69,000 students.
Texas A&M works to transform educational leaders into agents of change with its online master of education in educational administration, emphasizing Pre-K-12 educational leadership. The 36-credit master's program includes courses like developing school-community partnerships, school principalship, and instructional leadership development training.
Candidates must have a bachelor's degree, a Pre-K-12 teaching certificate and two years of full-time teaching experience. They must also interview with faculty and be involved in leadership activities.
From its beginning in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has championed teaching, research, and community involvement. Annually, this university educates about 47,000 students on its Urbana-Champaign campus and online.
U of I Online's master of education in educational administration and leadership prepares students for a wide variety of leadership roles, including superintendents, principals, and deans. Ambitious students benefit from a 32-credit curriculum with courses such as public school finance, education law, and leading school improvement.
Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Mississippi College opened its Clinton campus in 1826. This private Christian university enrolls over 5,000 students.
The online master of education in educational leadership from MC has a faith-based curriculum emphasizing Christian leadership roles. This 36-credit educational administration degree program addresses leadership challenges with courses such as the instructional dimension of leadership, school law, and introduction to administrator preparation.
Admission requirements include an official transcript, a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.5 GPA, a teaching license, and a minimum of three years of teaching experience.
Western Carolina University has been a substantial wing of the UNC system since 1972, though its history reaches back to 1889. Located in Cullowhee, this former secondary school has evolved into a university with over 12,000 students.
WCU's 36-credit master of school administration (MSA) online program prepares working educators for leadership roles and principal licensure. The program features courses such as curriculum leaderships, leading adult learning, and shaping school culture.
Candidates must have official transcripts with an undergraduate 3.0 GPA or higher, three years of full-time teaching experience, a valid North Carolina Class A teacher's license (or comparable out-of-state license), three recommendations, a resume, a leadership goal statement, and a candidate evaluation rubric.
In 1963, Southern New Hampshire University became a degree-granting higher learning institution. Since then, this university in Manchester has developed into an educational hub with over 135,000 students.
Teaching professionals enroll in SNHU's online master of science in higher education administration to learn about higher education leadership's major components. The 36-credit curriculum increases management and leadership competence with courses such as data-driven decision making, program evaluation, and educational policymaking.
Admission requires a completed application, a transcript release form for all schools attended, and a graduate attestation form showing at least a 2.75 GPA.
Located in Longview, LeTourneau University started as a technical institute in 1946. Presently, it has transformed into a full university with over 1,100 students.
LETU's online master of education in education administration degree provides working educators with the means to increase leadership and management skills without sacrificing their present work life. Featured courses within the 43-credit curriculum numerous principal practicums, instructional leadership, public school law, and curriculum evaluation.
Candidates for this master's degree must provide official transcripts proving a minimum 2.5 GPA from any regionally accredited undergraduate work resulting in a bachelor's degree. Applicants who don't meet the GPA requirement must submit a resume.
The George Washington University opened the doors to its Washington, D.C., campus in 1821. Now, GW oversees over 26,000 students.
GW's online master of arts in educational leadership and administration appeals to working professionals seeking leadership positions in K-12 schools, central offices, and supervisory posts. The 30-credit curriculum offers such courses as instructional leadership for school improvement, introduction to quantitative research, and administrative issues in education.
Applicants must submit a resume proving at least one year of teaching experience, official transcripts, proof of bachelor's degree, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation.
Founded in 1899, Tarleton State University joined the Texas A&M system in 1917. From its Stephenville campus, Tarleton hosts over 13,000 students.
Tarleton's master of education in educational administration trains ambitious educators for transformative leadership roles within the education system. This 33-credit master's in educational administration program has three concentrations and offers courses such as research in educational leadership, special problems, and special education law.
Candidates must submit an online application and official transcripts verifying a 2.5 GPA or higher.
Located in Stillwater, Oklahoma State University has been educating adults since 1890. This land grant university has over 35,000 students across its five-campus system.
OSU's master of science in educational leadership targets credentialed educators seeking career advancement in Pre-K-12 education by satisfying Oklahoma's principal certification requirements. Courses within the 36-hour curriculum include principalship, supervision of instruction, and school finance.
To apply, candidates must submit a graduate college application, transcripts from all attended colleges, a current resume, a valid Oklahoma standard classroom teaching certificate, three letters of recommendation, and two specified essays.
Since 1906, Southern Wesleyan University's Christian foundation has been a significant part of its core educational values. From its campus in Central, SWU shares these values with over 1,300 students.
With SWU's online master of education in administration and supervision program, working educators can continue their professional duties while earning a principal certification. The program's 36 credit course load includes cultivating a positive school climate, organizational development in schools, and advanced educational research.
Candidates must have a valid South Carolina teaching certificate, two years of education work experience, an official transcript verifying a 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, and a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution.
Webster University started as a small women's college in 1915. Today, this Saint Louis-based university has grown from five students to over 12,000.
The mission of Webster's master of arts in educational leadership and administration is to prepare students for administrative leadership by focusing on the complex dynamics in the education field. The 32-credit curriculum features courses such as school law, ethics in leadership, and school finance and facilities.
Applicants for this master's in education administration must have completed training for Missouri teaching certification. Admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited university, a minimum 2.5 GPA, an essay, and a letter of recommendation from an associate or faculty member.
In 1976, Jerry Falwell Sr. founded Liberty University in Lynchburg. Over the past four decades, Liberty has evolved from a small college to a university of over 15,000 students.
Liberty's online master's in education administration and supervision develops influential leaders in public, private, or Christian educational environments. Some of the 36-credit curriculum's featured courses are school community relations, school administration, and principles of behavior management.
Candidates must submit an official transcript that verifies a nationally or regionally accredited bachelor's degree with at least a 2.5 GPA.
With over 14,000 students, New Mexico State University's 900-acre campus rests in Las Cruces. It has been educating students from this location since 1888.
NMSU's online master of art in educational leadership and administration introduces students to the latest influences and policies affecting college and university administrations. The 33-credit program reflects this theme with courses such as management of educational change, basing decisions on data, and higher education law.
Admission requirements include transcripts from all higher learning institutions attended, a letter of purpose, a current resume, three reference letters, and a writing sample.
Located in Langhorne, Cairn University opened as a Bible college in 1913. Today, it offers over 70 programs to more than 1,500 students.
Cairn offers an online master of science in educational leadership and administration to Christian educators with a desire to advance to an academic leadership role. Some of the 39-credit curriculum's highlighted courses include Biblical integration for educators, principalship, and issues in special education for school leaders.
For entry into the program, applicants must produce official transcripts as proof of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA.
Founded as an agricultural school in 1909, Southern Arkansas University has developed into a higher education hub of 4,100 students in Magnolia.
As a means of earning licensure as a principal, SAU's online master of education in educational leadership in administration and supervision focuses on hands-on clinical experiences. The 30-credit curriculum for this education administration degree features classes such as leadership of special programs and services, school-community relations, and program administrator leadership.
Program candidates must submit an application and an official transcript verifying a bachelor's or master's degree. Unconditional admission hinges on a 2.5 GPA plus a weighted GMAT score of 1,000 or above, a minimum GRE score of 284, or at least a 30 MAT score. Students may qualify for various forms of test waivers.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod founded Concordia University in 1894. From its campus in Seward, Concordia serves over 2,700 students.
Concordia's online master of education in educational administration satisfies the Nebraska state requirements for the elementary or secondary principal certification. The 36-hour program exposes students to school leadership essentials with courses such as curriculum design and evaluation, school resource management, and school improvement processes.
The Concordia admission process includes a completed online application, a request for official transcripts, a letter of intent, and a resume.
Ball State University has been preparing students for career opportunities from its Muncie campus since its christening in 1918. It presently educates around 22,500 students.
For educators wanting to earn a Pre-K-12 building-level and principals license, Ball State's master of arts in educational administration and supervision supplies all the necessary training. The specialized material in the 36-credit program features courses such as educational decision-making, the school principal, and supervision of instruction.
Applicants must turn in a completed application, transcripts verifying a minimum 2.75 GPA, and proof of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution.
Founded in 1882, Northwestern College remains committed to offering a Christian liberal arts education to over 1,500 students on its Orange City campus or online.
Northwestern's master of education in educational administration and principal endorsement trains educators to be principals or special education supervisors by using practicing administrators as course instructors. The 37-credit program gives students first-hand knowledge with courses such as operations management, instructional leadership, and professional portfolio.
Through transcripts and official documents, candidates must supply proof of a baccalaureate from an accredited institution, an undergraduate cumulative minimum 3.0 GPA, a teaching license, and at least one year of teaching experience.
Stationed in Mequon, Concordia University Wisconsin operates as part of the Concordia University system. The university's mission of educating over 8,000 students to be Christian servant leaders originates from its 1881 launch by the Lutheran Church.
Aspiring educational administrators study educational systems' complexities in CUW's master of science in education — educational administration — principal or director of instruction licensure. The 33-to-39-credit program offers courses such as leadership for change, business administration of schools, and legal and ethical issues in educational administration.
The application process requires official transcripts verifying a 3.0 GPA and a bachelor's degree, a resume, an essay of purpose, and two recommendation letters.
Founded in 1876, Prairie View A&M University sits on 1,440 acres of Texas countryside in Prairie View. It provides over 70 degree programs to more than 9,000 on-campus and online students.
PVAMU offers an online master of education in educational administration with all the courses needed to earn a superintendent's certification. Some of the featured courses in the 36-credit curriculum include educational statistics, principles of supervision, and school business management.
Candidates must submit a graduate studies Admission application, three letters of recommendation, and a valid teacher's certificate with at least a year of teacher's experience.
Since 1863, Emporia State University has progressed from a small college of about 18 students to a full university with 5,800 students attending on the Emporia campus or online.
ESU's master of science in educational administration online prepares students to become school principals or athletic directors. This 33-credit program instills professional intelligence and skill with courses such as school leadership theory, research in education, and school systems management.
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, a minimum 2.75 GPA over the last 60 hours of study, a state-issued teacher's license, and at least three years of teaching experience.
Established by South Dakota's state legislature in 1862, the University of South Dakota serves as its state's flagship university. Located in Vermillion, USD has a total enrollment of nearly 9,500 students.
USD's master of arts in educational administration and leadership online concentrates on producing educational leaders who add value to this field. Students can choose between a 32-to-34-credit thesis plan or a 32-credit non-thesis plan in this program. Some of the featured courses in both plans include adult learning theories, principles of post-secondary education, and organization and administration in higher education.
Candidates must have successfully completed a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 2.7.
More than 18,000 students trust the University of Massachusetts Lowell to provide a top-notch educational facility on the Lowell campus and online. Since 1894, this university has been fulfilling that responsibility.
UMass Lowell offers this master of education in education administration to experienced educators seeking to increase the professional knowledge base and advance in their careers. The 30-credit curriculum provides courses such as principles of supervision, leading the professional learning community, and program evaluation.
Applicants with a bachelor's degree can apply with official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and three recommendation letters.
In 1975, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod launched Concordia University Irvine under its original name, Christ College Irvine. Since then, this Irvine-based university has progressed to serving more than 4,000 on-campus and online students.
CUI's master of arts in educational administration offers working educators a cohort program emphasizing strategic decision-making and effective leadership. A few of the featured courses in the 30 credit curriculum include financial resources, facilitating communities of practice, and human resources.
Admission requires applicants to have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a 2.7 cumulative GPA or higher, a CBEST passage, a valid California teacher's credential, and proof of work experience.
Founded as a Christian university in 1858, Hannibal-LaGrange University caters to a student body of over 1,000 on-campus and online students. From its Hannibal campus, the university offers a higher education with the inclusion of Christian values.
HLGU's online master of education in education administration provides leadership and management training to working educators seeking career advancement in K-12 education. Highlighted courses in this 30-credit master's education administration include revision of a school improvement plan, school law, and school business management and facilities.
HLGU encourages interested students to apply through admission counselors or online.
Online Master's in Education Administration Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the following degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:
The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
- Cost in-state / out of state
- Undergrad, grad, or both offered
Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!
If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
Frequently Asked Questions
Earning a master's in education administration prepares students for leadership positions in K-12 schools and colleges and universities.
Graduates with a master's in education administration can work as school principals, higher education administrators, and school administrators. They may hold the job title of dean, director, or vice principal.
Completing a master's in education administration program generally takes two years of full-time study, though some programs offer accelerated timelines.
Many education administrator jobs require a master's degree from an accredited program and a state-issued license. For example, principals and other administrators at public schools often need a license.
Salaries for education administrators vary based on their specific role. School principals earn around $95,000, while higher education administrators earn a median salary of $94,000 per year.
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