What Can You Do With A Master’s In Educational Leadership?

Are you interested in taking the next step in your education career? If so, a master’s in educational leadership degree could opens doors to new careers like:

  • Principal
  • College provost
  • Registrar
  • Curriculum developer
  • Or just polish your teaching skills

There are numerous career options, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)1 projects 5% growth for teachers and administrators from 2019-2029, totaling 441,000 jobs. The average annual salary for professionals working as post secondary administrators is $95,410, well higher than what most educators earn.

What is a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership?

Having a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership shows employers, other teachers, and the community your passion for the field and establishes credibility. A Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership is a two-year program with courses focused on:

  • Human resources
  • Program evaluation
  • Stakeholder buy-in
  • Diversity
  • Ethics
  • Training and development
  • Circular leadership
  • All necessary skills for administrative jobs in education

Outstanding Schools That Offer Degrees in Educational Leadership

Here are 10 schools that provide Master’s in Educational Leadership degrees online! This list is a great place to start looking to find the program that’s right for you.

Lamar University

Lamar University offers a doctoral degree in educational leadership. The EdD in Educational Leadership has two specializations:

  • Educational technology innovation
  • Global educational leadership

The program is available entirely online and requires a 3.5 minimum GPA, along with competitive GRE scores. In addition, Lamar University also offers a 30-program hour EdM in Administration and a 36-program hour MEd in Digital Learning and Leading program.2,3 

While both degrees can be completed mostly online, the EdM program in administration requires two internship-based courses. Tuition for both programs is $719 per three-hour course or $239.67 per credit hour. All candidates must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, and the GRE is not required for a 2.5 GPA or higher. 

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a variety of online master’s degrees in education, including a fully online master’s in educational leadership with a specialization in higher education. 

The 30-credit hour program takes one year to complete.   Tuition costs are $415 per credit hour, and Liberty provides tuition discounts for veterans and veterans who work as first responders. Courses come in an accelerated eight-week format, and there are eight different degree start times throughout the year.  

There are no required login times, and Liberty University is very flexible with learners transferring in credits from other graduate degree programs, allowing for up to 50% of credits to be transferred in. 

University of Southern California

If you’re interested in a doctoral degree in educational leadership program that focuses on K-12 students in urban environments, the University of California has the perfect program for you. This 15-course program covers topics such as

  • Research and data
  • Critical reflection
  • Accountability

Anticipated completion time is three years, and candidates are expected to have 

  • A master’s degree
  • At least three years of full-time work experience in the field of education
  • Leadership experience. 

Courses are offered synchronously in a real-time, live session format, and student collaboration is a necessary component of this degree program. Tuition for the three-year program is currently $85,785 but estimates a 3-5% increase in tuition fees each year.

University of Pennsylvania

Students seeking an Ivy League level qualification can review the University of Pennsylvania’s work-friendly, mostly online MS education with principal certification. The 11-month program allows students to continue working full-time while completing courses. Each cohort meets one weekend per month from September-June. So, while there is an on-campus component, the majority of the degree program can be completed online.[t2] 

The University of Texas at Arlington

The master’s of education in educational leadership and policy studies is a 30-credit master’s degree program with tuition totaling $8,200, one of the lowest tuition programs on the list. Due to COVID-19, the accelerated degree program is available entirely online. Applicants are expected to have two or more years of work experience and a 3.0 GPA or higher.

George Washington University

Since 1904, George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development has been recognized as an excellent research institution. The university offers a 30-credit online masters in education in educational leadership and administration that can be earned in as little as two years.

The program is also offered on-campus and requires an internship component. Students should prepare for a significant amount of group work as coursework focuses on real-world case studies in a school setting.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University offers a master’s of science in educational leadership completely online. The program takes as little as nine months to complete, and the flexible format allows students to complete work at the pace that best fits their lifestyle. 

The program requires both an internship and field-experiences and leads to licensure in the state of Florida. At the conclusion of the program, students are expected to attend a week-long summer symposium to showcase their field projects.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University offers a hybrid master’s of education in independent school leadership degree with tuition in the $37,072 range for the 2021 school year.

While the degree is mostly online, the two-year program does require two on-campus summer stints. In addition to coursework, students are also expected to obtain hands-on experience with independent schools.

The program focuses on these three topics:

  • Human resources
  • Leadership
  • Diversity and inclusion

The University of West Florida

This 18-month, 30-credit hour program leads to an MEd in educational leadership. Courses last 6-8 weeks each and require students to attend live synchronous video sessions. The program explores many aspects of education, including:

  • Education law
  • Curriculum
  • Human relations

Tuition costs are $146.50 per credit hour or $12,495 for the full degree. However, the university accepts up to six transfer credits into the program, which can significantly cut costs and completion time. 

Applicants usually submit the following:

  • At least two years of teaching experience
  • GRE scores no older than five years (The GRE requirement is waived for the Summer 2021 term)
  • A valid teaching certification,
  • An undergraduate degree with a GPA of at least a 3.0 

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University offers a master of science degree in leadership for Pre-K to 12 education. The program lasts 20 months, requires 32 units, and costs roughly $1,320 per unit. Pepperdine offers the program completely online but also provides a hybrid program option for students interested in attending on-campus courses every now and then.

The program has two start times: September or January. One Saturday and/or Sunday weekend class is required for each term, but students can participate in the weekend session online or in-person. The full cost of tuition for the program is $42,240.

Check out our full list of schools that offer educational leadership degree programs.

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

With a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, so many new positions in education become available. Some positions include:

  • Principal
  • Dean of Students
  • University Registrar
  • Department Chair
  • University President
  • School Superintendent
  • Professor
  • Education Researcher
  • Career Counselor
  • Training Manager
  • Private School Director
  • College Provost

What is the Expected Salary of Someone with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership?

Because of the variety of educational leadership careers, salaries do vary. However, a principal with a Master’s in Educational Leadership can expect to make anywhere from $84,570 to $96,680. Postsecondary education administrators can expect a salary of ~$95,410 per year. School and career counselors earn $57,040 annually, according to the BLS.

Educational Leadership Job Projections

The BLS projects a 4% growth in employment for postsecondary education administrators from 2019-2021. Please note, projections are not a guarantee of job growth.

Educational Leadership Career Paths

Positions in the education administration field are projected to grow 4%, and many require at least a master’s degree. A few of those positions are outlined below:

CareerSalaryProjected Job Growth (2019-2029)About the Position
Administrative Services Manager$96,9406%Professionals work in organizations, schools, and other corporations to plan and direct administrative objectives. They supervise and provide clerical services, uphold standards, and recommend policy changes.
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals$96,4004%Principals oversee school activities, staff, and evaluate teacher performances.
Human Resources Manager$116,1806%Human resources managers complete employee screening, recruiting, hiring, termination procedures, oversee benefit programs, and consult about employment issues.
Postsecondary Teachers$79,5409%Postsecondary teachers work in college and university settings conducting research and delivering lectures. They also develop and modify curriculum and instruction efforts.
Source: BLS

Earning a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership

To earn a master’s degree in educational leadership, most programs require 30 credits or 10 master’s-level courses. It could take anywhere from nine months to 2.5 years to earn your degree. Course topics can vary depending on specialization, but students should expect courses in:

  • Project management
  • Negotiation
  • Human resources
  • Ethics
  • Diversity

Types of Educational Leadership Degree Programs

Most Master’s in Educational Leadership degrees cover a broad range of subjects. However, it is possible to specialize in certain programs like the following:

  • Leadership
  • Global education
  • Urban environments
  • Higher education
  • Independent school leadership
  • Grades Pre-K to 12 education
  • Administrative support
  • Education policy and development
  • Human resources
  • Education technology innovation
  • Data science

Graduate Educational Leadership Degree Coursework

As a Master’s in Educational Leadership degree candidate, you can expect to take a variety of courses. However, there are some courses you’ll find are common across most programs.

Diversity and equity courses

In a leadership role, many people are involved in the education process:

  • Taxpayers
  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Students
  • Concerned community members

For that reason, it is important to learn to communicate with people from a variety of backgrounds. Additionally, diversity and equity courses provide case studies about education trends to keep students up to date.

Human resources

Students interested in leading schools and teams may perform any or all of the following:

  • Team building exercises
  • Perform routine evaluations
  • Oral presentations
  • Continuing education
  • Training lectures
  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Dissolution of employees working in the school system.

Human resources courses provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to handle HR situations.

School leadership

In school leadership courses, students analyze real case studies that school districts, classrooms, and teachers have encountered.

Research and data

One course that you’ll see on the syllabus for most master’s degrees in educational leadership programs is research and data. In this course, you’ll study collecting and analyzing data and applying findings to solve practical issues.

How Long Does a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership Take To Finish?

Program length can vary depending on a variety of factors such as:

  • Previous education – Most programs require at least a bachelor’s degree and teaching license before applying. For bachelor’s degree holders in other fields, a teaching program leading to licensure is typically required before attempting the advanced degree.
  • Online learning – Online learning programs are not for everyone, so while online learning can help students study more effectively, it is advised that on-campus programs are pursued by potential candidates who desire a more hands-on approach in the classroom.
  • Part-time vs full-time learning – Online learners lead busy lives, so there are options for part-time and full-time learning. Full-time learning can cut down the time it takes to complete a degree program, but part-time learning helps students with other professional or personal obligations.
  • Accelerated program availability – Master’s in educational leadership programs can greatly vary in length. Some programs take as long as two and a half years, but others take as little as nine months. For students interested in full-time learning, accelerated programs are a great way to jump into administrator roles faster.

Skills Learned in an Educational Leadership Degree Program

Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership equips future leaders with a variety of valuable skills:

  • Negotiation
  • Recruiting and onboarding
  • Leadership
  • Education reform
  • Curriculum development
  • Research and data analysis
  • Evaluation
  • Inclusion and diversity
  • Training
  • Strategic planning
  • School finance
  • Administrative development
  • Effective communication

These skills are all critical for principals and other education leaders and ensure leaders are prepared for any scenario.

Choosing the Best Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership

There are a few things to consider when choosing the best master’s degree in educational leadership for you. Here are some that are important to ask:

  • What do I want to specialize in?
  • Should I complete the program online or on-campus?
  • How long will it take to complete the program?
  • Is the program accredited?

Educational Leadership Degree Specializations

Students interested in a specific field or career path should consider a specialization. Common specializations include:

  • Educational Leadership and Administration – Teachers specializing in leadership and administration are concerned with general administrative tasks and procedures at educational facilities. Professionals choosing this specialization usually pursue careers as principals or assistant principals.
  • Policy Studies in Education – Students specializing in policy studies are typically interested in the legal aspects of education. Professionals choosing this specialization may work as paralegals, attorneys, researchers, and advocates.
  • Special Education – A special education specialization prepares educators to work with students with learning disabilities. Professionals choosing this specialization may work as school evaluators, program developers, and teachers.
  • Adult and Higher Education – The adult and higher education specialization is best for those interested in developing skills to teach adult learners at the postsecondary level. Professionals choosing this specialty may choose careers such as college provosts, deans of departments, university principals, and career counselors.
  • Teacher Leadership – Students specializing in teacher leadership are primarily invested in ensuring teachers have adequate skills to meet the needs of their students. Professionals choosing this specialization may work as career counselors, trainers, or college professors.

Online vs. On Campus Educational Leadership Degrees

The great thing about master’s in educational leadership programs is that they are often provided in accelerated formats and available fully online. This enables students to create their own schedules, complete coursework on their own timeline, and continue working full-time while earning their degree. 

Students who don’t mind attending campus from time to time may prefer a hybrid program, and studying 100% on-campus is also an option for students who prefer consistent class schedules, hands-on learning, and meeting new friends.

Whatever your personal needs may be, there is a graduate program for you!

Should I Complete Courses Online?

Online courses are flexible and can be completed at your own pace. Though most interactions are solely online, online programs still come with the same faculty, requirements, and resources available to on-campus students.

How Long do Online Courses Take to Complete?

Online courses vary in length, and completion times are based on a variety of factors. Here are some things to consider:

  • Hybrid vs online courses/programs – Hybrid courses often require on-campus visits throughout the semester or on weekends. It’s important to consider how that might impact the cost and completion time of your degree program. On average, online and hybrid degree programs take an average of two years to complete.
  • Accelerated online courses – Does the program you’re interested in offer accelerated online courses? If so, does it only offer a few courses or a fully accelerated course load? Taking accelerated courses can cut completion time down from two years to nine months.
  • How long students have to complete an online course – Some online courses last seven weeks. Others can last 16-18 weeks. It’s important to factor in how long each course takes to know how that may impact completion times. If finishing as quickly as possible is an important factor, it’s best to opt for shorter, accelerated courses.

How Long Will it Take to Get a Master’s in Educational Leadership?

  • I am a teacher with a teaching license: If you already have a teaching license, it takes nine months to 2.5 years to earn the degree.
  • I have a 4-year degree in another field: If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, earning a master’s degree in educational leadership takes nine months to 2.5 years. You may also need to complete a teaching credential program before you can begin your graduate degree. A program that leads to licensure can add an additional 6-12 months of studies before becoming eligible to apply for the degree program.
  • I am a licensed teacher but will work while taking courses: If you take classes part-time, expect to spend 2-4 years earning the degree if you already have a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential.
  • I am a licensed teacher but will not work while taking courses: If you take classes full-time or utilize an accelerated program, it is possible to complete the master’s degree in nine months to 2 years.

Accreditation

When choosing your program, it is important to choose an accredited institution. National accreditation is not as widely accepted by schools, and many credits don’t transfer under this type of accreditation. Regional accreditation is the most recognized and respected form of accreditation, and credits are more likely to transfer. When pursuing a degree in educational leadership, teachers seeking specific licenses should take great care to ensure their program is recognized as a valid program in their state.

Applying to Master’s in Educational Leadership Degree Programs

Admissions Requirements for Graduate Educational Leadership Programs

In order to apply, candidates should prepare the following documentation:

  • Bachelor’s degree – Candidates are required to submit proof of a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA to prove they can handle the rigorous coursework.
  • Teaching certificate/license – A teaching certificate/license is required. Schools will request a copy as part of the application process. Schools also use this information to assist with advising candidates about reciprocity agreements within their state or to make other program suggestions.
  • Official Transcripts – Schools request official transcripts from all previously attended higher education institutions to verify application information, check GPA, and confirm graduation dates.
  • Background Check – Background checks are required for all applicants to ensure a safe learning environment for all students both on-campus and online.
  • Letters of Recommendation – Some programs require two or three letters of recommendation from other peers or leaders in the education field.
  • Personal Statement – Applicants are usually asked to provide a personal statement for the admissions committee to review. You should include the following in your personal statement:
    • Why are you interested in the program?
    • What experiences have prepared you for the rigorous program?
    • What do you intend to do with your degree after graduation?
  • Application Fee – Most schools charge a small application processing fee.

Paying for a Degree in Educational Leadership

When choosing a degree program, the overall cost of a program can help students decide where they can afford to attend. It’s also important to seek out employer sponsored payment programs as well as scholarships and grants.

How Much Does a Master’s in Educational Leadership Cost?

For online degrees, students can expect to pay anywhere from $8,000-$30,000. For hybrid degree programs, students should anticipate a total cost from $15,000-$60,000. 

On-campus programs tend to be more expensive as there are more overhead costs. It’s also important to check if the school of interest charges in-state or out-of-state tuition fees for online learners. Though online programs can be more affordable, some schools charge the same on-campus tuition fee, so be sure to double check.

Some school systems and private employers offer tuition assistance if your degree helps their organization. Scholarships and grants can also help reduce overall tuition prices, and we’ve outlined some below.

Scholarships for Master’s in Educational Leadership Students

Career Resources for Educational Leadership Students

Looking for career resources? Check out the organizations below for additional career training, certification options, job boards, mentoring opportunities, and articles.

What can you do with a master’s degree in educational leadership?

A master’s degree in educational leadership gives learners the skills needed for a variety of roles including:  

1. Elementary, middle, or high school principal
2. Assistant principal
3. District administrator
4. Program directors
5. Director of studies
6. Education program specialist
7. Performance improvement officer
8. Heads of independent schools

Is it worth getting a master’s in educational leadership?

A master’s in educational leadership is an invaluable credential for teachers or leaders to build credibility and expand skills while transitioning into administrative leadership positions in education.

What skills do you gain by obtaining a master’s degree in educational leadership?

A master’s in educational leadership can equip you with a variety of marketable skills:

1. Stakeholder analysis
2. Planning
3. Negotiation
4. Assessment
5. Supervision
6. Decision-making
7. Teacher training

Is a master’s in educational leadership worth it?

For teachers looking to move into administrative roles, a master’s in educational leadership can be very helpful. Administrative positions in the education sector usually require additional qualifications. In fact, a school administrator with four years of experience or more can expect to earn roughly $67,000 per year. For school administrators with over 20 years of experience, a six-figure salary is not uncommon.

Sources:

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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