Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

by TBS Staff
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Masters in Education Leadership Programs

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 tprincipal 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.

Master's in Educational Leadership Overview

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.

Featured Master's in Education Programs

The Best Online Master's Programs in Educational Leadership

  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $11313

    The University of Florida was established in 1858 as the Gainesville Academy. In 1985, UF joined the Association of American Universities (AAU) and has grown to support 15 colleges.

    UF's College of Education provides a master of education in educational leadership program designed for completion in roughly two years. Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor's, master's, or terminal degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA upper-division undergraduate work, and an acceptable cumulative GPA in undergraduate studies. Class sizes are typically in the 10-15 student range with a cost per credit under $740.

  2. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $13016

    UCF was founded in 1963 with the mission to provide talent to Central Florida. The university currently offers a multitude of online bachelor's, master's,and Ph.D. programs.

    UCF's College of Community Innovation and Education provides an online master of arts in educational leadership program designed for completion in two years.

    Admission requirements for the 30-credit program include providing official transcripts and GRE scores. In-state tuition is under $330 per credit while out-of-state tuition is about $1,150 per credit.

  3. Texas A & M University – College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $19118

    Founded in 1876, Texas A&M was the first public institution of higher learning in the State of Texas. More than 69,000 students attend the main campus, located in College Station, annually.

    The master of education in educational administration degree with emphasis in Pre-K-12 educational leadership is a two-year program aligned to the Texas State Board of Educator Principal Domains, Competencies, and Standards.

    Admission requirements for the 36-credit program include a bachelor's degree, teaching certificate, two years of full-time teaching experience, involvement in leadership activities, and an interview.

  4. Penn State World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    Penn State's World Campus was launched in 1998 after a 143-year, robust history. The online provider allows students to earn one of over 150 degrees completely online.

    Through a partnership with the College of Education, Penn State World Campus offers three areas of emphasis under the online master of education in educational leadership program: teacher leader, school leader, and school leader without principal certification.

    The 30-credit program costs about $920 per credit, and students can finish in two years. Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and three references.

  5. The University of West Florida
    Location

    Pensacola, FL

    Tuition

    $9091

    Founded in 1963, UWF became the sixth of an eventual 12 institutions of higher learning in the State of Florida. Today, about 13,000 students attend annually, seeking degrees in one of 70 offered undergraduate and graduate programs.

    Students can complete the master of education in educational leadership degree through UWF completely online. The program typically lasts 18 months at a standard tuition of about $420 per credit.

    Admission requirements for the 30-credit program include official transcripts, teaching certification, two years teaching experience, and GRE scores.

  6. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $15829

    Originally dubbed the Illinois Industrial University in 1867, the higher education institution was renamed the University of Illinois in 1885. Residing in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign in east-central Illinois, the university now boasts 15 colleges and instructional units.

    Illinois' online master of education in education policy, organization, and leadership offers multiple disciplines in both U.S. and international specializations. Programs require a minimum of 32 credits for completion at a cost of $490 per credit.

    Admission requirements include a personal statement on professional experiences, letters of reference, official transcripts, and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA.

  7. Mississippi College
    Location

    Clinton, MS

    Mississippi College was founded in 1826 as Hampstead Academy, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in Mississippi. The school was quickly renamed Mississippi Academy in 1827 before receiving its final name of Mississippi College in 1830.

    Online master of education in education leadership degree teaches students how to apply research and problem-solving to develop their skills as educators and administrators. The 100% online, flexible curriculum includes 36 credits of course work at a cost of under $280 per credit.

    MC admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with 2.5 minimum GPA, three years of teaching experience, and proof of comprehensive exam completion.

  8. Kennesaw State University
    Location

    Kennesaw, GA

    Tuition

    $17618

    KSU is the second-largest university in the State of Georgia and a member of the University System of Georgia. The institution currently offers 150 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees to more than 41,000 students annually.

    The master of education in educational leadership program consists of 36 credits at a cost of about $380 per credit. Two of its concentrations are available fully online. Students typically complete the program over six semesters spanning two years.

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with 2.75 minimum GPA, two years of teaching experience, GRE or MAT scores, and GACE Leadership Ethics Exit Examination scores.

  9. Clemson University
    Location

    Clemson, SC

    Tuition

    $19508

    Founded in 1889, Clemson became a coeducational, civilian institution in 1955 under the name Clemson Agricultural College. The name was changed to Clemson University in 1964.

    The master of education in educational leadership program at Clemson consists of 36 credits of core courses at a cost of about $630 per credit.

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited institution, a resume, a personal statement, and three letters of reference.

  10. Georgia College & State University
    Location

    Milledgeville, GA

    Tuition

    $20478

    Georgia College was founded in 1889 as the Georgia Normal & Industrial College, specializing in teacher training and business skills. Today, more than 6,600 students attend one of its four associated colleges annually.

    The master of education in educational leadership program covers the Georgia Educational Leadership Standards through personalized learning experiences in the school setting. Students typically complete the 36-credit program in one calendar year at a cost of under $290 per credit.

    Admission requirements include two professional recommendations, official transcripts with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75, and documentation for the completed coursework related to children with special needs.

Best Online Programs

Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs Ranking Guidelines

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 Master's in Educational Leadership Online 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 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.

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 Can I Expect From a Master's in Educational Leadership Online 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

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

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 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
Median Salary: $64,450 Projected Job Growth: 6%

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.

School Principals
Median Salary: $95,310 Projected Job Growth: 4%

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.

School Administrators
Median Salary: $94,340 Projected Job Growth: 7%

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.

Popular Questions About Master's in Education

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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