Online Master’s Degrees in Educational Leadership

October 13, 2021 , Modified on May 26, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Master’s Degrees in Educational Leadership is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to find your fit?

Educational Leadership Master's

In elementary, middle, and high schools, principals perform numerous tasks, including managing school operations, mentoring teachers, and disciplining students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these professionals earn a median annual salary of $98,490, significantly more than the $41,950 median annual salary for all other occupations. A related career, postsecondary education administrator, also features a high median salary of $97,500 per year and a strong projected growth rate between 2019-2019.

No matter their job title, education leaders use their education and experience as classroom teachers to ensure their school provides all learners with an excellent education. These and related professions require a master's in educational leadership degree.

Master's in Educational Leadership Questions

true Q. Is a master’s degree in educational leadership worth it?

BLS research indicates that aspiring principals and postsecondary administrators need a master's degree in educational leadership to satisfy either licensure or employer's hiring requirements.

true Q. What can I do with a degree in educational leadership?

Graduates who do not become a principal or postsecondary administrator explore careers including instructional coordinator, postsecondary teacher, and school and career counselor.

true Q. How long does it take to get a master's in educational leadership?

Typical online educational leadership degrees take two years to complete. Part-time learners or students whose program includes additional graduation requirements may need more time to earn their degree.

true Q. Do teachers with a master's degree get paid more?

Public school systems generally reward teachers who earn an advanced degree with an automatic raise. Private schools may or may not offer this benefit. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Why Get a Degree in Educational Leadership?

Experienced teachers enroll in an educational leadership online degree to qualify for a principal or postsecondary administrator position. These professionals hire staff, mentor students, and act as their school's public face. The median annual salary for both positions exceeds $90,000, significantly higher than what public school teachers earn.

Online educational leadership degrees feature numerous benefits like an asynchronous curriculum. Learners can view lectures and complete coursework at convenient times, allowing them to continue working while earning their degree. This advantage helps degree-seekers avoid student debt.

How Much Does an Educational Leadership Degree Cost?

Many universities offering an educational leadership degree online charge the same per-credit tuition rate to on-campus and online learners. Also, out-of-state students attending a public school may pay more than their in-state peers. However, some online universities charge a flat per-semester tuition rate, allowing accelerated learners to graduate faster and pay less for their degree.

Learning online may offer additional financial benefits beyond tuition. Universities do not charge online students for housing, meals, or fees applicable only to on-campus students. Learners can also avoid high travel expenses or commuter passes. Parents of small children may benefit the most, as they do not need childcare service.

Before enrolling in a program, educational leadership degree-seekers should research their program's applicable fees. These fees may cover student resources, such as e-textbooks and technology. Contact a financial aid advisor to learn more about program-specific fees.

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Educational Leadership Majors Make?

Typical educational leadership majors earn more than primary, secondary, and postsecondary educators. Postsecondary education administrators earn a $97,500 median annual salary, while elementary and secondary school principals earn a median $98,490 per year. Salary varies by employer, relevant professional experience, and licenses and certifications.

Another factor influencing salary includes geographic location. Principals working in New York, California, and Connecticut earn approximately $30,000 more annually than the national mean. New York, New Jersey, and Delaware also feature higher-than-average mean salaries for postsecondary administrators. A salary exceeding $100,000 can promote financial well-being and a higher quality of life.

Success as a principal or postsecondary administrator requires significant teaching experience in addition to a master's degree. Employers value applicants with this experience, as they need administrators who understand the challenges educators face. Other ways to gain experience include working as an instructional coordinator, vice principal, or counselor.

Courses in Educational Leadership

Courses in educational leadership emphasize the tools school administrators need to foster a positive learning environment. Curriculum topics include developing the best learning experiences, improving teaching fundamentals, and honing leadership skills. Programs also feature field experiences at local schools and a final semester master's research project.

The courses below introduce the topics students explore to hone in-demand education administration skills. Not all online educational leadership degrees offer or require them. As a result, please contact prospective schools or visit their website to learn more about the academic experience, graduation requirements, and graduate outcomes.

Certifications and Licensure for Educational Leadership

Graduates may need more than an educational leadership degree to qualify for a job. Many positions require a state-issued license to practice. Applicants pursuing different careers earn one or more professional certifications to attract potential employers' attention. Typical licensure and certification requirements include possessing an advanced degree and passing an exam.

K-12 public schools require principals and vice principals to possess a teaching license with an education administration endorsement. Earning this endorsement involves completing an educational leadership degree and passing the PRAXIS or state exam. Like classroom teachers, administrators maintain their license by taking PD courses. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards awards NBC to experienced teachers demonstrating mastery of teaching best practices. The certification process involves passing examinations and submitting recorded lessons as part of a professional portfolio. Many teachers use the certification to advance their career, including becoming an elementary, middle, or high school principal. PTC certification programs appeal to practicing school administrators interested in international education. Options include international school leadership, international school business leadership, and international teacher leadership. PTC also offers numerous one-day training courses and webinars. Principals who join PTC receive a discount on all certification programs and other PD.

Scholarships for Educational Leadership

Although many online educational leadership degrees feature affordable tuition and fees, students should still explore financial aid opportunities, including scholarships. Typical scholarship eligibility criteria include recommendation letters, a high GPA, and an essay.

Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

American Association of School Administrators Educational Administration Scholarships

Varies AASA awards the competitive scholarship to seven graduate students preparing for a career as a superintendent. Eligibility requirements include a three-part essay, one recommendation letter, and two letters of endorsement.

Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Varies African American students attending a historically black college or university may qualify. TMCF posts new scholarship opportunities throughout the year, and typical application requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs 2021

  1. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    By offering fast, flexible online degrees, Liberty University provides students the opportunity to pursue a graduate education in a timely manner while still working. Current educators who want to further their career may be interested in the school's Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - Leadership. This entirely online program is meant to fit around students' needs, and transfer students can bring in up to 18 credits. A total of 36 credits are required complete the degree, which integrates a Christian worldview. Courses are offered in accelerated 8-week periods, and there are multiple start dates throughout the year. Those studying full time can complete the degree in just over a year, although many students study part time and continue to work while studying. These students tend to finish the degree in about 2 years. The end goal of the program is for graduates to be able to find leadership positions in any type of school, grades K-12. The curriculum closely fits the prerequisites for Virginia's state licensure exam for educational leadership, but students from around the country are eligible for the program. To become licensed, graduates may need to take additional courses beyond the master's degree. Students interested in the program will need to submit a transcript and may be required to submit TESOL scores. An undergraduate GPA of 2.0 is required, although test scores can be used to supplement applications with lower GPAs. Liberty has a flat tuition rate per credit that has been decreasing in recent years.

  2. Cairn University

    Langhorne, PA



    Cairn University, a Christian institution, offers an online Master of Science in Education for students who are interested in advancing their careers and taking on leadership roles within education. The degree is designed for students who are currently educators in a Christian school, or for current educators who want to teach at a Christian school. The program requires 39 credits to complete. The curriculum combines traditional education courses with Christianity, putting emphasis on Biblical studies and teachings. While the degree doesn't offer a concentration, students will have 12 elective credits to complete, and these can be focused on leadership. Because this program isn't explicitly designed for future educators, graduates may not meet all the requirements to become a certified educational leader in their state. However, many students should be able to mold the curriculum to fit most prerequisite needs. The program doesn't require an internship or professional experience and is finished with a capstone project. A 3.0 GPA is required for all courses in the program to be eligible to graduate. Most students complete this program in 2 years studying part time. To be eligible, applicants need a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. All students are charged a flat tuition rate per credit; however, those who are working as teachers in Christian schools are eligible to receive half-off tuition.

  3. Evangel University

    Springfield, MO



    Based in Christian faith, Evangel University aims to prepare teachers to become educational leaders through their Master of Education in Educational Leadership. This program prepares students to become principals in their area, or to get a leadership role in administration. The degree is a 30-credit program that can be completed in just 2 years. All courses in the program are offered online, but students also have the option to take in-person internships for credit and experience. The internship is not required, so students can complete the program from start to finish online. Because Evangel is a school with strong Christian roots, the curriculum will place a small emphasis on Christianity and faith. This is ideal for those who are interested in becoming educational leaders at private, Christian schools anywhere in the K-12 level. Also, because Evangel is in Missouri, students will be prepared to take the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education building level administrator exam. Graduates may qualify for administrative leader or principal exams in other states as well. Students will need to take the PRAXIS for this program, and a GPA of 3.0 or higher is required to be admitted. Evangel also requires that applicants be licensed teachers with at least 2 years of professional experience. After getting accepted into the program, everyone will be charged the same flat tuition rate per credit, and many individuals at Evangel receive some form of financial aid.

  4. Concordia University-Saint Paul

    Saint Paul, MN



    At Concordia University – Saint Paul, students interested in the Master of Arts in Education with a focus on Educational Leadership will gain knowledge that will prepare them to become leaders within K-12 schooling. Graduates of this program have found work in both public and private institutions as either principals or administrators. The Master of Arts in Education requires 30 credits to complete, and all courses can be completed entirely online, or through a hybrid of online and in-person studying. Students can work on their degree from anywhere and even have the option to earn some credits while studying abroad. Courses are offered in the traditional semester format and are flexible enough to meet the needs of working individuals. Unlike other Educational Leadership programs, Concordia doesn't prepare students to become certified educational leaders in any specific state. Students from all states are eligible, although Concordia's curriculum may not meet the specific standards for every state. Through part time studying, the degree can be completed in less than 2 years. Prior to applying to the program, students will need to have some experience working as a teacher. Concordia requires a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, as well as a maintained 3.0 GPA throughout the course of the program. Those studying toward a Master of Arts in Education will be charged the same tuition rate per credit.

  5. New England College

    Henniker, NH



    New England College prepares educators in the state of New Hampshire who are looking to advance their teaching careers. Those interested in becoming a principal or a similar leadership occupation would be interested in the college's Master of Education with a concentration on Educational Leadership or Educational Leadership: Principal Certification. Both concentrations share similar coursework, with the latter geared toward students who are specifically interested in becoming principals. To complete the master's degree, graduates will need 28 credits. Most of the courses in the program are 2 or 4 credits, and students will also be required to pick 3 elective courses. Those interested in educational leadership will need to use their elective credits toward the concentration they choose. Studying part time, students should be able to complete this program in a few years. Students don't need to submit test scores when applying to this program, though they will need to submit their undergraduate records as well as a resume. There is no minimum amount of work experience required, but students will need to prove that they are licensed educators with teaching experience. This program is also available entirely online, and students from any region are eligible to apply. While most individuals in the program are current educators, students aren't required to be licensed teachers. Prior to applying, it is worth keeping in mind that the program prepares graduates to become educational leaders in New Hampshire, so the curriculum may not meet the standards of other states.

  6. Columbia International University

    Columbia, SC



    Columbia International University structures most of its online degree programs with busy, working adults in mind. Current educators interested in Columbia's Master of Education – Educational Administration are expected to continue working while they work toward their degree, and the program is offered entirely online. Columbia's Master of Education requires 30 credits to complete. The Educational Administration concentration can be completed without adding additional courses. Working individuals should be able to complete this program in less than 2 years (if coursework is also taken over the summers). While students can begin the program at any time, the university recommends students begin their studies in the fall and follow their suggested program of study. However, this is not required. Columbia is a religious school, so Biblical studies play a large role in the curriculum. This can benefit students who are interested in becoming leaders at Christian or private schools. Because this program isn't geared specifically toward educational leadership, the curriculum might not satisfy the prerequisites for some states' licensure exams. Also, students are not required to have teaching licensure in any specific state, although it is assumed that everyone in the program is a current educator.

  7. Hampton University

    Hampton, VA



    Instead of studying on the main campus, Hampton University's students in the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program will be required to commute to the College of Virginia Beach Campus. While Master of Arts in Educational Leadership not an online program, some of the required courses can be completed online. This means that students can study in a hybrid format, although they will need to complete in-person clinical courses to ensure that they're prepared for licensure. To be eligible for this program, students should have professional teaching experience, a 3.0 GPA and will need to take the GRE. The curriculum aligns with the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium's standards, meaning graduates will be eligible to take the educational leader licensure exam in most states. At the very least, students will be eligible to become licensed in Virginia. Prior to this, students will first have to complete 42 credits. Courses in the program are offered in semester formats, and most individuals choose to take 12 credits each semester and 6 during the summer. The program generally takes 18 months to complete. Hampton charges a flat tuition regardless of where students live or how many credits they are taking, so students will benefit by completing as many courses as they can in a semester. Also, students should expect additional fees to be added to their tuition. Hampton does offer financial aid to the majority of its students, so they likely won't have to pay as much as the total cost insinuates.

  8. Clemson University

    Clemson, SC



    Clemson University has a history of sports success, a large reason why it created the Master of Science in Athletic Leadership. This 36 credit program prepares students for careers in athletic administration and leadership, specifically at the college level. The Athletic Leadership program is still part of the Clemson's College of Education though, and while students won't meet the standards to become licensed leaders in K-12 schools, they will have the experience to find a similar role geared toward athletics. The 2-year program has 12 courses that are completed over 6 terms. All of the courses are offered online, and most of the courses can be completed whenever students have time. The program also assumes that students will continue working while studying toward the master's degree, so even the courses that require students to be online at specific times are flexible enough to work around busy schedules. To be admitted into the program, students should have an undergraduate degree with a GPA of at least 3.0. The GRE is also required to be admitted. Because the program is focused around athletics, students should have experience with athletic administration or coaching prior to applying. It is worth noting that this is a competitive program and only 25 students are admitted each year, so strong experience in the field will help students earn a spot. Graduates of this program are involved in athletics at colleges and universities across the country.

  9. Saint Leo University

    St. Leo, FL



    Serving students across the country, Saint Leo University offers an entirely online Master of Education in Educational Leadership for current educators. For students living in Florida, this program is also available in a hybrid format with courses offered both online and on campus. Designed for current teachers and educators, the Master of Education is for those who want to move into a leadership position in Florida. While it isn't required to begin the program, most students are already licensed to teach in Florida. The program meets the requirements set by the state to become licensed educational leaders, part of which requires students to be teachers in Florida. However, the requirements of the program may meet those set by other states since the curriculum fits the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium's standards. Also to be eligible, students will need to have a minimum bachelor's degree GPA of 3.0 and provide GRE or GMAT test results. Some students may be required to prove their English proficiency prior to being admitted into the program. The M.Ed. requires 36 credits to graduate, all of which can be completed online except for a practicum. The practicum needs to be completed in person but doesn't need to be finished on Saint Leo's campus. Most of the courses in the program follow Saint Leo's semesters although some will be 16 weeks long. Upon finishing their degree, students will be prepared to become principals or vice principals in Florida.

  10. Lincoln Memorial University

    Harrogate, TN



    Lincoln Memorial University has been gradually increasing its online presence, adding new degrees that can be completed entirely online. A new addition is its Master of Education in Educational Leadership, which is set to start accepting students in 2019. The online version of the program will follow the same curriculum as the on-campus version, and the outcome will be the same: preparation to become a licensed educational leader in Tennessee. Like other educational leadership programs, LMU requires that students have experience working as a teacher. To become a licensed educational leader in Tennessee, students must also have a license to teach in Tennessee. The educational leader license is optional for the program though, and those who aren't looking for Tennessee licensure don't need to have a teaching license in the state. While a minimum GPA isn't required to enter the program, students will need to submit test scores to prove their aptitude. A bachelor's degree is also required. To complete the degree program, students will need to finish 33 credits, and courses are styled after the cohort model. Most students continue working while earning this degree, and studying part time, this program can be completed in just over 2 years. All of the courses are offered entirely online, and students will not be required to commute to campus. Those who do want some in-person instruction can meet with faculty.

Portrait of Thomas Broderick

Thomas Broderick

Thomas Broderick is a freelance writer and the owner of Broderick Writer LLC. He creates study guides, informational websites, and blog posts for clients in the education field. Thomas is also a published author of over 20 short stories and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

Related articles that may interest you is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Do this for you

Explore your possibilities- find schools with programs you’re interested in and clear a path for your future.