Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Amy Boyington
by
Updated July 1, 2024
Edited by
An online master's in educational leadership can prepare you for non-classroom careers like principal or admissions director. Learn what to expect.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

What Is a Master’s in Educational Leadership?

An online master’s degree in educational leadership explores administrative elements in education, including policy, curriculum design, and instructional supervision. These programs can lead to careers like school principal, superintendent, instructional coordinator, and postsecondary administrator.

Professionals already working in education typically pursue these programs to transition their careers beyond the classroom. Enrollees can expect to learn about educational law and policy, building partnerships between schools and communities, and financial management. A master’s in educational leadership usually comprises 30-36 credits and takes 1-2 years.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), educational leadership jobs offer higher-than-average wages: As of 2023, the median school principal salary was $103,460, while postsecondary education administrators earned a median wage of $102,610. The outlook for these school administration jobs is also positive — for example, the BLS projects a 4% growth rate for postsecondary education administrators from 2022 to 2032.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Loading...
Loading...Learn More
Visit Site
Loading...
Loading...Learn More
Visit Site
Loading...
Loading...Learn More
Visit Site

Top Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

#1 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Florida State University

  • Location-markerTallahassee, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,640
  • Out-of-state$19,084
  • Retention Rate95%
  • Acceptance Rate32%
  • Students Enrolled43,569
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment97%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

George Washington University

  • Location-markerWashington, DC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$55,961
  • Out-of-state$55,961
  • Retention Rate88%
  • Acceptance Rate43%
  • Students Enrolled27,017
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment25%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

  • Location-markerStillwater, OK
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,357
  • Out-of-state$20,877
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate67%
  • Students Enrolled24,535
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment88%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

University of South Carolina-Columbia

  • Location-markerColumbia, SC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$12,288
  • Out-of-state$33,528
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate68%
  • Students Enrolled35,470
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment93%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Location-markerLincoln, NE
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,770
  • Out-of-state$24,900
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate78%
  • Students Enrolled25,108
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment67%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Liberty University

  • Location-markerLynchburg, VA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,791
  • Out-of-state$14,791
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate50%
  • Students Enrolled93,349
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment93%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Texas A & M International University

  • Location-markerLaredo, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,818
  • Out-of-state$13,634
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate59%
  • Students Enrolled8,525
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment59%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Location-markerManchester, NH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,600
  • Out-of-state$9,600
  • Retention Rate67%
  • Acceptance Rate94%
  • Students Enrolled134,345
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment96%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Tarleton State University

  • Location-markerStephenville, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,951
  • Out-of-state$14,123
  • Retention Rate69%
  • Acceptance Rate58%
  • Students Enrolled14,016
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Webster University

  • Location-markerSaint Louis, MO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$28,500
  • Out-of-state$28,500
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate53%
  • Students Enrolled8,197
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment59%
  • AccreditationYes
#11 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Southern Wesleyan University

  • Location-markerCentral, SC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$24,926
  • Out-of-state$24,926
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate56%
  • Students Enrolled1,345
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment66%
  • AccreditationYes
#12 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Northwestern College

  • Location-markerOrange City, IA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$32,700
  • Out-of-state$32,700
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate74%
  • Students Enrolled1,496
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#13 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

LeTourneau University

  • Location-markerLongview, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$31,740
  • Out-of-state$31,740
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate56%
  • Students Enrolled3,122
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment67%
  • AccreditationYes
#14 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

University of Phoenix-Arizona

  • Location-markerPhoenix, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,552
  • Out-of-state$9,552
  • Retention Rate42%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled89,763
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes
#15 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

South Dakota State University

  • Location-markerBrookings, SD
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,697
  • Out-of-state$11,172
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate89%
  • Students Enrolled11,405
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment76%
  • AccreditationYes
#16 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Cairn University-Langhorne

  • Location-markerLanghorne, PA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$29,178
  • Out-of-state$29,178
  • Retention Rate82%
  • Acceptance Rate81%
  • Students Enrolled1,229
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment28%
  • AccreditationYes
#17 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Capella University

  • Location-markerMinneapolis, MN
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,148
  • Out-of-state$14,148
  • Retention Rate45%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled38,930
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#18 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

New Mexico State University-Main Campus

  • Location-markerLas Cruces, NM
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,041
  • Out-of-state$22,507
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate63%
  • Students Enrolled14,227
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment54%
  • AccreditationYes
#19 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Grand Canyon University

  • Location-markerPhoenix, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$16,424
  • Out-of-state$16,424
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate81%
  • Students Enrolled103,427
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment92%
  • AccreditationYes
#20 Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership

Hannibal-LaGrange University

  • Location-markerHannibal, MO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$22,500
  • Out-of-state$22,500
  • Retention Rate60%
  • Acceptance Rate65%
  • Students Enrolled739
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment34%
  • AccreditationYes

Choosing the Right Online Educational Leadership Master’s Program

Because of their increased flexibility, online programs can help working educators pursue career advancement without leaving their jobs. Prospective enrollees should consider several factors when choosing a program, including tuition costs, available concentrations, and whether the program meets licensure requirements.

Costs for master’s in educational leadership programs vary. In general, public schools charge in-state learners the lowest tuition rates. However, some distance programs offer flat-rate tuition to out-of-state students who complete the program entirely online, while other schools offer discounted rates for all distance learners. In addition to tuition, prospective students should budget for 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 principals seeking public school jobs should check whether the programs on their list meet their states’ principal licensure requirements.

What to Expect From an Educational Leadership Graduate Program

An educational leadership program develops graduate students’ administrative skills to help prepare them for careers in education. While earning an online master’s in educational leadership, you can take courses in school administration, strategic planning, and curriculum design. Many educational leadership programs meet the licensure requirements for school administrator careers like school principal or superintendent.

Explore the Educational Leadership Curriculum

Coursework varies by program, but the following list includes several common master’s in educational leadership classes.

  • Leadership and Supervision in Education: This course explores the importance of educational administrators and how they interact with, support, and oversee educators. Students learn leadership strategies to build relationships and enhance collaboration in educational settings.
  • School-Community Relationships: School administrators must foster beneficial relationships between schools and their communities. This class teaches learners to identify community, school, and district needs and leverage this information to build partnerships, use community resources, and organize community initiatives.
  • Critical Issues in Educational Leadership: This course examines historical and modern topics in education. It equips students with the necessary skills, knowledge, and tools to overcome common challenges that schools and their districts face.
  • School Law and Policy: Learners in this class explore topics such as special education, policymaking practices, compliance, and educational ethics.
  • Curriculum Design: Enrollees learn to craft effective curricula and improve coursework to meet the needs of diverse students. This course also explores integrating technology into the curriculum design process to enhance classroom instruction and learning.

Understand Certifications and Licenses

Many educational leadership jobs require school administration licensure, including roles like school principal and administrator. Each state sets specific licensure requirements, but candidates generally need accredited master’s degrees in educational leadership or education administration.

Some jurisdictions may also require passing scores on the ETS school leadership exam. This test covers educational leadership topics, such as instructional leadership, organizational leadership, and strategic leadership. In some states, candidates for principal licensure also need valid teaching licenses. Prospective school administration professionals should research these licensure requirements for their state.

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Educational Leadership?

An educational leadership master’s degree can lead to education careers outside traditional classroom settings. Some jobs may require additional education, certification, or licensure. For example, some districts may prefer library media specialists with library science degrees or certifications.

Graduates of educational leadership programs often have teaching licensure and experience in the classroom. However, candidates without these credentials should consider administrative internships to gain experience and enhance their resumes.

Graduates of master’s in educational leadership programs can qualify for roles like the following:

Careers for Educational Leadership Graduates
Job2023 Median Annual SalaryJob Growth Rate (2022-32)
Postsecondary Administrator$102,6104%
School Principal$103,4601%
Career Counselor$61,7105%
Superintendent$103,8403%
Library Media Specialist$64,3703%
Source: BLS

Popular Questions About Master’s in Educational Leadership

What is educational leadership?

Educational leadership is a collaborative process in which teachers, administrators, and other education professionals improve education and student outcomes. Educational leaders work as program directors, principals, and curriculum developers, making administrative decisions that benefit educators and students.

How much does a master’s in educational leadership cost?

An in-person or online master’s in educational leadership costs an average of $400-$700 per credit, equating to about $12,000-$21,000 in total tuition for a typical 30-credit program. However, tuition varies across schools. For example, private institutions often have higher tuition rates than public schools, and highly competitive colleges or universities may charge more per credit than other institutions.

Is a master’s in educational leadership worth it?

Whether a master’s in educational leadership is worth it depends on your goals. You can benefit from this degree if you are passionate about education but prefer to work outside the classroom to create or update policies and processes that improve student outcomes. Some educational leadership roles — like superintendent and postsecondary administrator — have six-figure average wages, which means earning this degree can offer a positive return on investment.

How much do education administrators make?

The BLS reports education administrators working in colleges and universities earned a median annual salary of $102,610 in 2023. However, salaries vary significantly among schools and positions. For example, administrators transitioning into department head roles often receive salary increases. Education administrators in K-12 school districts may also have different earning potential than their counterparts in higher education.

What is the difference between educational leadership and educational management?

An educational leadership program teaches educators the theory and practice of supporting schools, teachers, and students. These programs are best for professionals who aspire to principal and other administrative education roles. In contrast, management education suits future business leaders, like financial directors or project managers by building skills for improving business operations, collaboration, and decision-making.

0