The Best Online Master's in Educational Leadership 2020

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School principals, superintendents, and higher education administrators help K-12 schools and colleges run smoothly.

These career paths offer advancement opportunities for current educators, as well as for individuals considering a career change into education. Earning a master's degree in educational leadership prepares graduates for advanced roles in educational organizations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), educational leadership jobs offer high earning potential. The median school principal salary exceeds $95,000, while postsecondary education administrators tend to earn over $94,000 per year. These school administration jobs also offer relatively strong growth projections, with 6% projected growth for instructional coordinator jobs from 2018-2020.

An online master's in educational leadership program offers students more flexibility and accessibility than an on-campus program. For example, working professionals may be able to pursue career advancement without leaving their current jobs. Our list of the best online master's in educational leadership programs ranks the top programs, providing a valuable resource for prospective educational leadership students.

Top 10 Online Master's Programs in Educational Leadership 2020

#1 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
#2 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#3 George Washington University Washington, DC
#4 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
#5 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
#6 Fordham University Bronx, NY
#7 University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH
#8 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
#9 Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA
#10 University of Kentucky Lexington, KY

The Best Online Master's in Educational Leadership Degree Programs

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4

University of Florida 

Gainesville, FL

About this school

A public land-, sea-, and space-grant research university, the University of Florida includes more than 200 research, education, and service centers and institutes. Its College of Education offers 29 academic programs, including a fully online M.Ed. in educational leadership designed for working professionals.

The program offers student-centered faculty, mentoring opportunities, small classes, and field experiences that give learners practical experience. The program offers three starts each year. Students typically take three courses per semester to finish in two years, but UF offers both part-time and full-time options.

The program requires 36-39 credits, including courses like data-driven decision-making, communication in educational leadership, and supervised practice in school administration. Students who want to pursue Florida principal certification must complete a three-credit English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) training. Students can fulfill the ESOL requirement in several ways, including by completing 60 hours of ESOL-specific, in-service education.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college and a minimum 3.0 GPA in their last 60 credits of undergraduate work.

Graduation Rate
90%
Online Enrollment
19%
5

University of Missouri-Columbia 

Columbia, MO

About this school

Founded in 1893 as the first public university west of the Mississippi River, the University of Missouri - Columbia is the largest postsecondary institution in the state. The school's distance education offerings include more than 125 undergraduate and graduate programs. The online M.Ed. in educational leadership and policy analysis emphasizes PK-12 educational leadership and administration.

This primarily online program includes on-campus, weekend sessions 4-5 times per semester. Students typically take 1-2 classes per semester, graduating within two years. All distance learners qualify for in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live. Potential careers for graduates include elementary school principal, secondary school principal, and educational policy analyst.

Mizzou's 31-37-credit M.Ed. program covers topics like the politics of school leadership, school improvement, and evidence-based decision-making. Classes include learning cultures, foundations of school leadership, and learning curriculum and assessment for school leaders. The program also requires an internship in educational leadership and policy analysis.

Prospective students need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework. The program does not require GRE scores. International learners must also submit proof of English proficiency.

Graduation Rate
69%
Online Enrollment
44%
6

Fordham University 

Bronx, NY

About this school

A private research institution established in 1841, Fordham University is a Catholic and Jesuit institution that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in areas like business, the arts and humanities, and education.

The school's Center for Catholic School Leadership and Faith-Based Education offers a master of science in education in Catholic educational leadership that prepares Catholic educators for leadership and administrative roles. Prospective students who work full time at a religious school may qualify for a scholarship that covers 40-50% of tuition for up to six credits per semester.

The program emphasizes social justice and equity in the education system. The 30-credit degree offers full-time and part-time options, and students can start the program in the spring, summer, or fall. Courses include applications of technology to administration and supervision, critical issues in Catholic and nonpublic education, and fundamentals of educational administration and management.

Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA, a personal statement, a resume, official transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. Applicants must also submit scores from the GRE, MAT, or an equivalent exam.

Graduation Rate
83%
Online Enrollment
51%
7

University of Cincinnati 

Cincinnati, OH

About this school

A public research institution founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati - Main Campus enrolls more than 44,000 students annually. One of the first universities to offer online classes, UC Online offers a fully online, one-year M.Ed. in educational leadership designed for working professionals. Ideal for licensed educators, the program prepares students for leadership roles in the classroom and for education administration.

The 30-credit degree includes 15 core and 15 elective credits. Students take classes like curriculum development and data analysis, overview of special education law, and human resources administration in education. Students can choose from three concentrations: principal leadership, special education leadership, and online learning and leadership. The master's in educational leadership leads to careers like principal, college provost, and educational consultant.

Distance learners qualify for the same financial aid opportunities as on-campus students. Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA, three letters of recommendation, and a 500-word goal statement. Applicants also need a current, valid teaching license and at least two years of full-time teaching experience.

Graduation Rate
68%
Online Enrollment
52%
8

Florida State University 

Tallahassee, FL

About this school

One of the oldest postsecondary institutions in the state, Florida State University offers nearly 300 degree programs. FSU's College of Education offers an online master's in educational leadership that features three start dates per year. The College of Education awards more than $550,000 in scholarships and fellowships annually.

The 33-credit MS in educational leadership requires core classes such as teacher leadership development, resource management for educational leaders, and data-driven school improvement. The program balances theory and practice and includes instruction from current education professionals. Graduation requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA and completion of field experiences. Students also complete a comprehensive exam during their final semester.

Admissions requirements for the educational leadership master's program include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college with a minimum 3.0 GPA in all upper-division coursework and at least two years of professional teaching experience. Prospective students must also submit GRE scores, official transcripts, an essay question, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and a resume or CV.

Graduation Rate
83%
Online Enrollment
32%
9

Louisiana State University 

Baton Rouge, LA

About this school

A public research institution founded in 1853, Louisiana State University is the state's flagship university. Its School of Education offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including a fully online M.Ed. in educational leadership designed for PK-12 education professionals.

The program gives learners advanced leadership and management skills. Graduates can pursue careers as school administrators, principals, and superintendents. The 39-credit program takes as little as 15 months to complete, with each course lasting seven weeks. Students receive practical experience through part-time internships that let them continue working full time.

The curriculum includes classes like best practices of principal leadership, supervision of instruction in elementary and secondary schools, and understanding and applying research in education. Educational leadership master's students gain access to networking and career opportunities with classmates in their cohort, highly-qualified faculty, and LSU's large alumni network. Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Graduation Rate
67%
Online Enrollment
36%
10

University of Kentucky 

Lexington, KY

About this school

The University of Kentucky is one of just eight postsecondary institutions in the U.S. that houses liberal arts, professional, agricultural, engineering, and medical colleges on one campus. UK's College of Education offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in STEM education, academic and student services, and educational leadership studies.

The completely online M.Ed. in educational leadership studies prepares candidates for leadership roles in schools. Students can also pursue the nine-credit graduate certificates embedded in the degree, which include: instructional coaching, school technology leadership, and leadership for deeper learning.

This 30-credit, 20-month master's degree includes required courses like leading action research and inquiry, leadership for learning-centered schools, and leadership for school program improvement. Kentucky teachers pursuing the teacher leader endorsement must complete an additional 15 credits. The program strongly recommends that prospective students have teaching experience.

Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree -- preferably education-based -- from an accredited college with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must also submit a CV, a personal statement, a writing sample, and four letters of recommendation. International applicants whose first language is not English must also submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language or International English Language Testing System score.

Graduation Rate
66%
Online Enrollment
49%
11

George Mason University 

Fairfax, VA

About this school

The largest public research institution in Virginia, George Mason University hosts 37,000 students from 130 countries. Mason's 211 degree programs include a fully online education leadership M.Ed that fulfills Virginia's requirements for licensure in administration and supervision PK-12. Graduates can pursue careers as district or school administrators and instructional leaders.

The program emphasizes scholarly and professional dialogue, advocacy to improve student achievement, and the connection of theory and practice. The educational leadership faculty includes current and former district leaders, entrepreneurs, and education researchers. Designed for working professionals, the program lets students graduate in two years by taking 1-2 classes at a time.

Students in the 30-credit program take classes in a predetermined sequence as a cohort. Courses include organizational theory and leadership, adult motivation and conflict management in education settings, and using research to lead school improvement.

Applicants need a valid teaching license and two years of full-time teaching experience. They must also submit transcripts demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA, two recommendation letters, a goal statement, and a resume.

Graduation Rate
70%
Online Enrollment
53%
12

Indiana University-Bloomington 

Bloomington, IN

About this school

Founded in 1820, Indiana University - Bloomington serves more than 94,000 students each year. The school offers academic programs in fields like business, music, and education, including a fully online M.S.Ed. in educational leadership that builds upon classroom teaching experience and addresses contemporary challenges in education.

The 36-credit curriculum includes classes like data-informed decision-making for school leaders, public school budgeting and accounting, and legal perspectives in education. Students expand their leadership, critical thinking, and problem-solving capabilities. The degree also includes an embedded Indiana principal's license. Students without two years of experience as a licensed teacher or counselor do not qualify for the principal's license.

Distance learners receive individualized academic support, instruction from the same faculty who teach on campus, and access to 24/7 technical support. Online students also receive research support and services from IU's library system.

IU strongly prefers applicants with teaching experience, but considers prospective students without a teaching background if they can make a strong case for pursuing the degree. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA. They must submit transcripts, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation. International applicants must also submit a resume and test scores demonstrating English proficiency.

Graduation Rate
78%
Online Enrollment
35%
13

The University of Alabama 

Tuscaloosa, AL

About this school

A student-centered, public research university founded in 1831, the University of Alabama is the oldest and largest postsecondary institution in the state. The school offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate degrees through its online program, Bama By Distance.

The College of Education offers an online MA in educational leadership with instructional leadership certification, with new cohorts beginning each fall, spring, and summer. Online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of where they live. Distance learners may qualify for many of the same financial aid opportunities as on-campus students, including scholarships from the College of Education.

Designed for educators who currently hold an Alabama Class B teaching certificate and a bachelor's degree, the 30-credit master's program includes classes like statistical methods in education, leadership for communities and stakeholders, and management of learning organizations.

Students who have not already taken a special education survey course must complete an additional three-credit course on this topic. The program also requires a three-credit internship in instructional leadership and a 10-day, in-school residency. MA candidates must also pass the Praxis test to graduate.

Graduation Rate
72%
Online Enrollment
43%
14

University of New Mexico 

Albuquerque, NM

About this school

Founded in 1889, the University of New Mexico is the state's flagship institution of higher learning. UNM offers more than 20 online programs through its extended learning department, with accelerated programs available for 13 degrees.

Educators seeking to move into supervisory roles can earn a fully online education leadership MA from UNM's College of Education. The program draws heavily from the social sciences and emphasizes issues like strategic leadership, leadership in a diverse society, and leadership for professional development.

The 36-credit degree includes classes like educational leadership in a democratic society, leadership and organizational change, and leadership for conflict resolution in schools and organizations. Students take five required courses and work with an assigned advisor to design the rest of the program based on their professional goals and academic interests.

Students seeking a New Mexico administrative license must meet additional requirements. The educational leadership program does not guarantee approval for administrative licensure. Licensing requirements vary by state, so students should research the requirements in their home states prior to enrolling in the program.

Admissions requirements include a bachelor's in education or a related field from an accredited university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a letter of intent, a writing sample, a professional biographical form, and three letters of recommendation. The College of Education distributes more than $200,000 in scholarships each year.

Graduation Rate
50%
Online Enrollment
57%
15

University of Denver 

Denver, CO

About this school

A private institution that emphasizes research and collaboration, the University of Denver boasts nationally recognized academic programs in a variety of fields. DU's Morgridge College of Education offers an MA in educational leadership and policy studies for working educators. The MA includes 30 credits of school principal certificate courses, 15 credits of additional coursework, and an action research capstone project.

At the beginning of the program, students enter one of six principal licensure cohorts based on their employing school districts. The school principal certificate takes four quarters to complete. Students typically spend 20 hours per week on coursework and leadership projects with their cohort and a mentor. Once they earn the school principal certificate, students qualify to apply for the Colorado initial principal license through the Colorado Department of Education.

Students take classes like educational research and measurement, business design and innovation for school leaders, and multicultural issues. The capstone project includes a 300-hour internship with mentorship by a supervising principal. Students can complete the blended online degree in less than two years. The program offers most coursework online, with 1-3 in-person sessions each quarter.

Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a statement of professional goals, and a current resume or CV.

Graduation Rate
77%
Online Enrollment
41%
16

Kansas State University 

Manhattan, KS

About this school

The state's first public postsecondary institution, Kansas State University began as a land-grant college in 1863. K-State's Global Campus has 50 years of distance education experience. The Global Campus and College of Education offers an online MS in educational leadership for elementary and secondary educators.

This program emphasizes the translation of research into practice, new models of leadership for learning, and the analysis of educational policy. Students take courses like ethical dimensions of educational leadership, historical and philosophical analysis of leadership in education, and administrative leadership in staff development. The MS also requires a practicum.

The 36-credit degree satisfies P-12 building leadership (principal) license requirements in Kansas. Students who do not wish to pursue a Kansas principal license complete only 30 credits. The program comprises 21 leadership operations, six student learning needs, and nine leadership core credits. Graduates can work as elementary and secondary school principals, school administrators, and teacher leaders.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents can apply to the educational leadership program at any time throughout the year; international applicants must meet specific deadlines. K-State requires official transcripts, a statement of goals and professional experience, two letters of recommendation, and a completed self-survey for the MS admission standards form.

Graduation Rate
64%
Online Enrollment
48%
17

San Diego State University 

San Diego, CA

About this school

Founded in 1897, San Diego State University is one of 23 public postsecondary institutions in the California State University system. The school offers nearly 200 bachelor's, master's, and doctorate programs and serves more than 33,000 students each year. The SDSU World Campus offers a variety of online degrees, including six education programs.

The fully online MA in educational leadership prepares educators for leadership roles. The 12-month program emphasizes critical thinking and innovative technology, and it features instruction from world-renowned faculty, researchers, and education practitioners.

Students complete the program as a cohort, taking classes in a designated sequence with the same classmates. Each cohort includes 20-30 students. The Department of Educational Leadership accepts new cohorts each summer for a fall graduation date the next year.

The online MA program consists of 10 courses, including communication, problem solving, and decision-making; seminar for personalized learning and leading through technology; and organizational and systems leadership. The curriculum also explores topics like using data to improve schools, visionary leadership, and research methods in education. Graduates can pursue careers as teacher leaders, school administrators, and principals.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts, a statement of leadership philosophy, a resume or CV, two letters of recommendation, and a self-assessment.

Graduation Rate
74%
Online Enrollment
31%
18

DePaul University 

Chicago, IL

About this school

The largest Catholic university in the U.S., DePaul University offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs. The online educational leadership MA/M.Ed prepares students to coordinate institutional services, shape policy, and collaborate with students and their families. The college offers rolling admissions and four start dates per year.

The educational leadership degree requires three core classes, 10 concentration classes, and two internships. Students also complete an M.Ed. capstone project or an MA thesis. DePaul partners with Chicago Public Schools, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and charter and independent schools throughout the Chicago area, giving students access to local education leaders. The program offers eight concentrations, including principal license, teacher leader, catholic leadership, and physical education.

Students must earn a grade of "C" or better in each class and maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate. Graduates qualify for jobs like school administrator, instructional coordinator, and school superintendent. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and submit official transcripts, a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Graduation Rate
72%
Online Enrollment
62%
19

University of North Texas 

Denton, TX

About this school

Established in 1890, the University of North Texas is a public research institution with a long history of training educators. Its College of Education offers six bachelor's, 11 master's, and nine doctoral programs, including an accelerated, online master's in educational leadership that takes just one year to complete.

The program features eight-week classes that emphasize effective instruction, assessment, and curriculum development. Students can earn principal certification while pursuing the degree. Individuals who already hold a master's degree can choose to only complete certification coursework. In addition to coursework, the 30-credit degree requires a professional portfolio and an internship.

Faculty members have professional experience as superintendents and principals, and most are involved with education law research, professional learning communities, and policy implementation. Admissions requirements include a letter of recommendation from a supervisor, a resume or CV, and an essay.

Graduation Rate
53%
Online Enrollment
51%
20

University of Wyoming 

Laramie, WY

About this school

A public land-grant institution, the University of Wyoming offers a variety of online programs through UW at a Distance, including a fully online master of arts in educational leadership. This 33-credit program requires classes in leadership for curriculum development, leadership for school and community relations, and introduction to school law.

The curriculum also explores topics like special education law, assessment for student learning, and school-based research. Students must complete a supervised principal internship, gaining practical experience in the field. The six-credit, 435-hour internship includes three weeks each at an elementary, middle, and high school.

Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students also need at least two years of professional teaching experience and an interest in school leadership. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a current resume, a letter of intent, a copy of a current teaching certificate, a completed superintendent approval form, and three letters of recommendation.

International applicants must also submit GRE and TOEFL or IELTS scores. Students can start the program in the summer, fall, or spring. Students accepted into the online educational leadership master's program can take advantage of many financial aid opportunities, including scholarships from the College of Education.

Graduation Rate
57%
Online Enrollment
50%
21

Virginia Commonwealth University 

Richmond, VA

About this school

Established in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University offers more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs. VCU's online M.Ed. in educational leadership prepares graduates to lead educational organizations at the school and district levels. The program features field-based learning experiences, award-winning faculty, and opportunities to practice skills in high-need schools. Graduates can work as school principals, supervisors, and superintendents.

Designed for working education professionals, students can complete the educational leadership master's program within 16 months. The curriculum includes courses like effective learning networks, understanding self as leader, and frameworks for decision-making. Students can pursue one of two concentrations: administration and supervision, or leadership studies.

The administration and supervision concentration requires 33 credits and prepares educators for administrator/supervisor K-12 endorsement. The leadership studies concentration requires 30 credits and suits individuals who do not want an administration/supervision endorsement from the Virginia Department of Education.

Application requirements include a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. Prospective students must also meet admissions criteria set by the VCU Graduate School.

Graduation Rate
67%
Online Enrollment
57%
22

Texas Tech University 

Lubbock, TX

About this school

A comprehensive, public institution, Texas Tech University received the designation "very high research activity" from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The school offers 150 bachelor's, 100 master's, and 50 doctoral degrees and serves more than 38,000 students each year.

The online M.Ed. in educational leadership and principal professional certification preparation program prepares educators for careers as principals and other school administrators. Students can start the program during the spring, summer, or fall. The 36-credit degree focuses on instructional coaching, advanced leadership, and data-driven decision-making using a framework of social justice, progress monitoring, and data literacy.

The curriculum includes courses like education law and policy, school-based leadership, and the principal as instructional leader. The program also requires a multi-semester internship. Students learn how to use the Texas Accountability Information System and the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System to improve schools.

Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree, a valid teaching certificate, and two years of teaching experience. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a resume, an applicant statement, and two years of teacher evaluation data. The admissions committee accepts applications year-round. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

Graduation Rate
60%
Online Enrollment
44%
23

Lehigh University 

Bethlehem, PA

About this school

A top-ranked private research university established in 1865, Lehigh University boasts 87 research-based graduate programs. The College of Education offers a partly online M.Ed. in educational leadership designed for working educators who want to pursue careers in school administration. The program offers three start dates per year. Students can earn the M.Ed. while working toward Pennsylvania principal certification.

The 30-credit degree requires five core courses in areas like data-based decision-making, organizational leadership, and research. Students take an additional five courses based on their interests and goals, choosing from options like learning and technology, special education, and counseling. Lehigh offers some M.Ed. coursework online, with most other classes available in the evenings or late afternoons to accommodate the schedules of working educators.

Admissions requirements include transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and an acknowledgement of the College of Education's policy on clearances. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Graduation Rate
87%
Online Enrollment
43%
24

Hofstra University 

Hempstead, NY

About this school

The biggest private university on Long Island, Hofstra University offers 160 undergraduate and 165 graduate programs in fields like business, liberal arts, and education. Distance learners can earn an interdisciplinary M.Ed. in higher education leadership and policy studies that offers all required coursework online.

The curriculum explores policy and foundational issues of leadership in higher education. Students review historical and current issues related to college administration in the United States. The 36-credit degree includes 27 core, six elective, and three final project credits. Required courses include teaching and learning in higher education, student affairs leadership in higher education, and economics and finance in higher education.

The final project requirement allows students to independently research a chosen issue related to higher education leadership. Students who lack higher education experience can complete an internship or apply for a graduate assistant position on campus. The program requires a minimum 3.0 GPA to graduate.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit three letters of recommendation, a detailed resume describing their professional experience, and a statement of professional objectives and goals.

Graduation Rate
63%
Online Enrollment
53%
25

Mills College 

Oakland, CA

About this school

A private liberal arts school founded in 1852, Mills College offers an online MA in educational leadership that builds leadership skills for future education administrators. Designed for working professionals, the flexible program suits both experienced education professionals and individuals from other backgrounds. The curriculum emphasizes social justice and the promotion of equity in the public sector and prepares graduates for leadership roles in policy, administration, and teaching.

The 40-credit degree takes five terms to complete. Students take classes like trauma-informed leadership, hip-hop pedagogy, and human resources management. The program also requires a capstone project that includes creating a professional portfolio showcasing a vision for education. Each week, students complete a three-hour, live, online, cohort-based class; three hours of asynchronous coursework; and 8-10 hours of group work, research, and homework.

Education leadership master's students develop new ways of thinking about education issues, consider solutions to real-world problems, and discuss creative visions for educational leadership. The curriculum incorporates four core competencies: programmatic leadership, planning and assessment, management and supervision, and socio-political-cultural relations.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree. Although the program appreciates applicants with experience working with young people, it is not a requirement.

Graduation Rate
74%
Online Enrollment
68%
26

Western Michigan University 

Kalamazoo, MI

About this school

A public research institution established in 1903, Western Michigan University offers dozens of graduate programs in areas like business, history, engineering, and education. The Department of Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology offers six programs, including a performance-driven master of arts in educational leadership that focuses on issues like transformational leadership, data-driven decision-making, and systems thinking.

Principals, superintendents, students, graduates, and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education all contribute to course development. The curriculum includes school community relations and cultural competence; instructional leadership and supervision; and curriculum, instruction, and assessment leadership.

Students can choose from concentrations in higher education and student affairs leadership; K-12 principal and interscholastic athletic administration; K-12 school principal leadership; or educational and global leadership. The K-12 concentrations align with the requirements of the Michigan K-12 administrator certificate.

All students must complete capstone and internship requirements, which let learners apply education theories to practical situations. Graduates can pursue educational leadership careers like higher education administrator, K-12 building principal, and executive director.

Graduation Rate
53%
Online Enrollment
76%
27

Gonzaga University 

Spokane, WA

About this school

A private, liberal arts institution rooted in Catholic Jesuit heritage, Gonzaga University enrolls more than 7,500 students through 16 undergraduate, 24 master's, and five doctoral programs. Gonzaga's online master's in educational leadership program examines theory and practice from administrative and teaching perspectives.

Students join an 18-member cohort, progressing through coursework with the same group of peers throughout the program. The 30-credit degree features an accelerated, four-semester schedule, allowing students to graduate in less than two years.

The curriculum comprises 10 courses, including cultural competence development, leadership and community, and research and data analysis. Students complete a master's research project working with their employing districts. The program also requires a professional seminar and comprehensive exit exam.

Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and at least three years of professional experience in a PK-12 environment. Applicants must also submit official transcripts from all prior schools, two letters of recommendation, a current CV or resume, and a statement of purpose. International students must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores, a copy of their student passport, and a completed financial declaration.

Graduation Rate
86%
Online Enrollment
51%
28

Montclair State University 

Montclair, NJ

About this school

Montclair State University offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs and enrolls more than 21,000 students each year. The school's online MA in educational leadership combines theory and practice to create strong school leaders. The two-year program explores supervision, assessment, decision-making, and school and community relations. Students take one course at a time, studying each subject for eight weeks.

The 36-credit degree includes courses like effective leadership in a diverse society, leading curriculum change for student achievement, and transformative leadership practices. Students who want to apply for New Jersey principal and superintendent certification after graduation must complete an internship in school leadership and fieldwork in district leadership.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit official transcripts, a statement of objectives, GRE scores, and two letters of recommendation. The program waives the GRE requirement for applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA or those with an accredited master's degree. Online students gain access to the library, professional mentoring, and technical help.

Prospective students who plan to apply for New Jersey principal and supervisor certification must submit a copy of their teaching certificate and hold at least three years of teaching or educational service experience.

Graduation Rate
71%
Online Enrollment
61%
29

Saint Joseph's University 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

A Catholic university, Saint Joseph's University blends a liberal arts education with practical learning. The Department of Educational Leadership offers an educational leadership and administration MS guided by the Jesuit values of social justice, service to others, and democratic ideals.

The fully online program accepts early-career learners and experienced education professionals. Students can choose concentrations either in principal certification and curriculum and instruction supervisor or in supervisor of special education, or they can pursue both specializations by taking an additional nine credits. A specialization is not required.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education approves this educational leadership and administration degree, and students can pursue certification once they complete program requirements. Students take courses like leadership for social justice, equitable fiscal allocation, and human resources and professional growth.

The program offers start dates in the spring, fall, and summer. Graduates can work as school principals, assistant principals, superintendents, and supervisors of curriculum. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college and submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume.

Graduation Rate
80%
Online Enrollment
59%
30

University of Dayton 

Dayton, OH

About this school

A Catholic research university, the University of Dayton offers an online master's in educational leadership that prepares students for administrative and leadership careers in PK-12 schools. Designed for working educators, the online program explores topics like leadership in diverse communities, school law, and finance.

The curriculum blends classroom learning with practical instruction. Students learn to confront and develop solutions for real-world problems in contemporary education. The program offers two tracks: a master of science in education (MSE) in educational leadership (30 credits) or a MSE in educational leadership and principal licensure (42 credits).

The 30-credit track includes courses like instructional leadership, community relations for school leaders, and supervision and professional development. Students also complete a three-credit, 150-hour internship.

Students who pursue the principal licensure track also complete an internship and additional classes in assessment and instruction for school improvement and staff personnel. After completing all principal licensure track requirements, students qualify to take the Ohio principal licensure exam.

Graduation Rate
79%
Online Enrollment
57%
👏

End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology

Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs Ranking Guidelines

Best Online Programs

We selected these degree programs based on the program quality and variety of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Choosing an Online Master's in Educational Leadership Program

The online learning format can help working educators pursue career advancement without leaving their job. Students should consider several factors when choosing a program, including total program costs, the program's areas of focus, and whether the program meets licensure requirements.

The online learning format can help working educators pursue career advancement without leaving their job.

The cost of a master's in educational leadership varies widely. In general, public schools charge in-state learners the lowest tuition rates. However, many distance programs offer tuition discounts to out-of-state students who complete the program entirely online. In addition to tuition, prospective students should consider fees and book costs.

Choosing an accelerated program or a program that accepts transfer credits can also lower the cost of an educational leadership degree. Prospective students can also research the most affordable online master's in educational leadership programs.

Many educational leadership programs offer focus areas in school principalship or higher education administration. Additionally, prospective school principals seeking public school jobs should check whether the program meets the principal licensure requirements in their state.

What Is a Master's in Educational Leadership?

A master's in educational leadership program provides advanced training in school administration and leadership. Graduate students complete coursework designed to train school principals, higher education administrators, and school superintendents. Programs emphasize core skills, including strategic planning in education, school leadership, and curriculum design.

Earning an educational leadership degree generally takes two years for full-time students, though some programs offer accelerated options. Some programs incorporate an internship or practicum, allowing students to gain hands-on experience working under a school administrator. Many online educational leadership programs cater to working educators by prioritizing flexibility.

An educational leadership degree can meet the requirements for positions as school principals, school administrators, and superintendents. After completing an online master's in educational leadership track, some educators choose to earn a doctorate. A doctoral degree can lead to advanced opportunities in education or research, as well as academic jobs. Interested students can learn more about the best online doctoral programs in educational leadership.

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

An educational leadership program trains graduate students about leadership principles for careers in education. While earning an online master's in educational leadership, graduate students take courses in school administration, strategic planning, and curriculum design. Many educational leadership programs meet the requirements for a school administrator license, including as a school principal or school superintendent.

The Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Educational Leadership

Administration of School

This class provides an overview of school administration, including the role of a school administrator, foundational administrative knowledge, and the leadership skills required for educational leadership jobs. Graduate students analyze leadership attributes and how they influence educational administration. Coursework also introduces graduate students to the role of government agencies in schools and the broader educational environment. Learners also prepare for advanced courses in educational leadership.

Strategic Planning

In strategic planning classes, educational leadership students learn how to develop and implement strategic plans. Coursework emphasizes leadership skills and the importance of effective strategic planning in education. It also covers the conceptual framework for strategic planning. This class prepares school administrators for leadership roles within educational organizations. In particular, many school superintendents benefit from strategic planning training.

School Law

Federal, state, and local laws shape the modern education system. This class examines the legal principles that influence the public education system, including areas like administrative law and fundamental rights. With an emphasis on interpreting the process of creating school law, learners investigate the U.S. legislative and judicial process. Graduate students also learn about the legal context for collective bargaining and employment protections.

Curriculum Design

Curriculum design courses examine best practices for developing school curricula at the K-12 level. Graduate students study current research on determining curriculum priorities, implementing curricula, and assessing the effectiveness of curricula. The course also explores the role of state and local governments in curriculum development. Students look at standards and benchmarks, the process of monitoring curricula, and the role of assessment in curriculum design.

Ethics in Educational Leadership

Courses on ethics in educational leadership address ethical issues and dilemmas faced by school administrators. Graduate students examine the ethical principles that guide educational policymaking. They also study the ways ethical issues shape the academic success of students, including vulnerable student populations like students with learning disabilities and students who speak English as a second language. The class strengthens ethical decision-making for future school principals and other leaders in the educational system.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Educational Leadership Prepares For

  • School Leaders Licensure: Many educational leadership jobs require a school administration license, including jobs as school principals and school administrators. Each state sets its own licensure requirements, but candidates must generally have an accredited master's degree in educational leadership or education administration. Many states also require passing scores on an ETS school leadership examination. This test covers educational leadership topics, such as instructional leadership, organizational leadership, and strategic leadership. In some states, candidates for a principal license must already hold a valid teaching license. Prospective school administration professionals should research the licensure requirements in their state.
  • School Superintendent Assessment Certification: In many states, school superintendent jobs require a license or certificate. Candidates for a school superintendent license often need a master's degree in educational leadership or education administration from an accredited program. Some states set additional coursework requirements, which may require a school superintendent concentration. Candidates for this license may need to complete a standardized test covering school superintendent skills. The ETS exam includes multiple-choice questions on administrative leadership, educational leadership, and instructional leadership. Because the requirements for licensure vary by state, prospective school superintendents should review the process in their state.

Educational Leadership Jobs

Earning a master's in educational leadership prepares graduates for leadership roles in K-12 and higher education. At the K-12 level, graduates can work as school principals, instructional coordinators, and superintendents. This degree may also lead to opportunities as a higher education administrator. Learn more about career paths with an education degree by visiting this site.

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators manage school curricula and teaching standards. Also known as curriculum specialists, instructional coordinators review state and federal standards to create curricula. Working closely with principals and teachers, instructional coordinators implement curricula, develop educational materials, conduct teacher training workshops, and analyze data related to the effectiveness of curricula. Instructional coordinators may also create teaching training procedures.

Some instructional coordinators specialize in a certain grade level or subject. For example, instructional coordinators can specialize in special education or English as a second language.

Median Annual Salary

$64,450

Projected Growth Rate

6%

School Principals

School principals oversee school operations at the K-12 level. They manage teachers and staff, establish class schedules, and coordinate curricula. As the highest administrator at a school, principals set academic goals for the institution and make sure teachers receive the resources they need to meet goals. Principals analyze student achievement data to prepare reports and modify curricula.

Many principals work with vice principals, instructional coordinators, and superintendents to manage their school. They oversee the budget and allocate resources for the school. Principals also play an important role in hiring and evaluating teachers.

Median Annual Salary

$95,310

Projected Growth Rate

4%

School Administrators

School administrators manage student services, academics, and other administrative departments. Many administrators work in higher education, where they oversee admissions, the registrar's office, and student affairs. In these roles, school administrators analyze the school's needs to determine how to best meet them, promote the school's programs to prospective and current students, and provide information on financial aid support.

In student affairs, school administrators advise students, create programs for students, and schedule student services. As administrators, they may supervise staff. Many school administrator jobs require a master's degree and experience teaching or working in an educational environment.

Median Annual Salary

$94,340

Projected Growth Rate

7%

Accreditation for Online Master's in Educational Leadership Degrees

Attending an accredited master's in educational leadership program prepares graduates to pursue educational leadership jobs. Regionally accredited programs meet the highest standards for granting degrees. To earn accreditation, universities undergo a rigorous review process that examines their graduation rate, faculty qualifications, and student learning outcomes. The Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation grant accreditation to the independent accrediting agencies that review colleges and universities.

In addition to regional accreditation, a university's school of education can hold programmatic accreditation. In education, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) evaluates teacher training and educational leadership programs. Programs with CAEP accreditation meet licensure and certification requirements for school principal and school administrator jobs. Professionals with an unaccredited degree may struggle to qualify for educational leadership jobs.

Prospective educational leadership students should look for regionally accredited schools and CAEP-accredited programs when choosing where to earn their online master's in educational leadership.

Educational Leadership Professional Organizations

Professional organizations help connect educational leadership graduate students with resources in their field and networking opportunities. Many professional organizations list educational leadership jobs and offer professional development tools for graduate students.

National Association of Elementary School Principals

Founded in 1921, NAESP represents elementary and middle school principals. The association offers research-based resources, including information on staff development, school improvement strategies, and student learning programs. NAESP also hosts an annual conference with sessions on current issues in educational leadership and networking opportunities.

The professional development resources at NAESP include webinars, publications, and a blog. The association offers a career center with principal job postings for job-seekers. NAESP also connects members with best practice resources related to topics like early learning, equity in education, and federal mandates like Common Core.

National Association of Secondary School Principals

NASSP represents high school principals and school leaders. The association provides research-based and peer-tested resources, including practical tools, leadership materials, and professional standards for the field. Members benefit from online webinars, on-site workshops, and customized support on school leadership issues. NASSP also hosts an annual conference, which brings together school administrators, student program advisors, and students.

The Center for Principal Leadership and the Assistant Principal Leadership Center enhance skills and explore current research. In addition to its professional development resources, NASSP administers the National Honor Society and the National Student Council — organizations committed to student leadership development.

NASPA

A professional organization dedicated to student affairs, NASPA represents professionals in the field. The association provides professional development opportunities, research, and networking opportunities. NASPA hosts conferences to connect members and helps keep them up-to-date with current trends in the field. The organization provides resources on topics like student mental health, inclusive practices, and policy changes that affect student affairs.

NASPA promotes scholar-practitioners by supporting original research and publishing peer-reviewed articles in its journals. The organization's publications share experiences and research with students and professionals in student affairs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a master's in educational leadership?

Earning a master's in educational leadership prepares graduates for careers as school principals, school administrators, and superintendents. The degree emphasizes skills like strategic planning, instructional leadership, and school leadership.

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

Earning a master's in educational leadership generally takes two years. However, some accelerated programs offer a one-year track.

What can you do with an educational leadership degree?

Educators with a master's degree in educational leadership can work as principals, higher education administrators, and school superintendents. The degree fulfills licensure requirements for school administration.

How much do education administrators make?

Many education administrators earn over $90,000 per year, according to the BLS. School principals typically earn over $95,000 per year, while postsecondary education administrators earn a median salary of more than $94,000.

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