Online Master’s Programs in Educational Leadership
Updated on: 09/19/2018
Acquiring an online master’s degree in educational leadership can increase your potential for positions with more authority, some of which may come with a higher pay grade. Teachers with this degree also have the option of specializing in certain areas, which can make them even more marketable in the field of education. Find out how earning an online master’s in educational leadership can help you influence and educate future generations of students. Plus, discover which colleges and universities have the best online programs.
Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership 2018-2019
Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership 2018-2019
Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factors
Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
Each college must have at least one online program 1
Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000
Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.
1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.
A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.
The best master’s degree programs in educational leadership all have several things in common; they provide experienced, licensed teachers with an opportunity to take on new challenges, skills and knowledge to lead a school of their own, and to oversee teachers and curricula. The following rankings are based on information gathered from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, the Department of Education and each university’s own published materials. All schools in this list are accredited.
What Can I Learn in an Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Program?
All students studying a master’s in educational leadership program online will receive instruction in how to operate schools from an administrator’s prospective, often preparing students to become principles or administrators on a school board. Students can expect to learn specific skills, including:
Concentrated leadership for school-wide management
Student-centered curriculum development
Current instructional models
Employee leadership and development skills
Teachers who have graduated with a master’s degree in educational leadership who wish to become a school principal will also have to obtain a principal license or certification. Some state licensing boards have different requirements for obtaining this. Common requirements include a valid teaching certificate, a stipulated number of years of experience teaching and a master’s degree in educational leadership. Graduates will need to contact the licensing board of the state in which they wish to become a principal to find out what specific requirements they must meet.
What’s the difference between a master’s in educational leadership and an MBA in educational leadership?
Both a master’s in educational leadership and MBA in educational leadership help students move up the educational career ladder, but there are some distinct differences between these majors. Typically, an MBA in educational leadership offers a joint master’s degree in both educational leadership and business administration. This degree path is designed for students who wish to continue their educational careers from a business or administrative prospective. The master’s in educational leadership focuses more on reaching career goals of principalship or leadership in a local school district.
What common courses are offered in a master’s in educational leadership program?
Courses in online master’s degree programs in educational leadership tend to differ from college to college. However, many online universities do offer common courses. These may include:
Professional School Leadership
Students will acquire all the skills necessary to become an effective leader in a school environment. Course topics include examining the qualities of effective leadership and creating a personal leadership model. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on professional and personal goals.
Research Methods in Education
This course is designed to outline theories for methodological approaches, use and abuse of research and findings and techniques for generating data. Students learn how to analyze data, make interpretations, decisions and conclusions while respecting and valuing research participants. Participants are equipped with knowledge and skills to apply research findings to the individual student, classroom, school and district levels.
Perspectives on Diversity and Culture
This course examines aspects of promoting equal learning opportunities in the classroom. Students learn how to facilitate collaboration between students, parents, staff and colleagues who are ethnically, culturally, linguistically and socio-economically diverse.
Personnel and Human Resource Management
Students will focus on the skills principals need to communicate and work effectively with staff and faculty. This includes current theories and practices pertaining to assessment, recruitment, appraisal and development of personnel, as well as staff retention and conflict resolution.
Emerging Issues and Trends in Education Leadership
This course examines the interconnectedness of emerging issues and trends related to educational leadership, particularly those which are set to influence the future of education. Teachers will learn how to address emerging trends.
Education, Law, Ethics and Politics
This course introduces the legal, political and ethical aspects governing K-12 schools in the United States. The focus is on topics such as federal codes, policies, case law and analysis of key legal concepts. Students learn about risk management, dealing with personnel, as wells as student and teacher rights.
What exams or projects should I expect?
The culmination of an online master’s degree in educational leadership will depend on the course and the college. Most courses require a practicum or internship and a written exam; some may also require a thesis.
If a written examination is required to culminate an online master’s degree in educational leadership, students will sit the exam during the final semester of their course. The exam will cover all the theoretical and practical aspects of their course and will be completed in one sitting.
Students are often expected to complete a short or long-term internship within a K-12 school setting. The setting will depend on any specializations the student may be taking. The practicum will be directed by the college faculty and an experienced on-site school principal.
Writing a thesis is an important part of the master’s in educational leadership program. The thesis should reflect an in-depth understanding of educational theory and developmental psychology, while simultaneously demonstrating the author’s leadership qualities.
What specializations are available in a master’s in educational leadership program?
Some online master’s in educational leadership programs offer specialist courses. These may include:
This specialization enables students to advance their knowledge, skills and understanding of educational leadership as it pertains specifically within early childhood learning environments.
PK-12 School Counseling
This course is designed to help education professionals operate in culturally diverse settings. Emphasis is placed on theory-to-practice models and development, prevention and intervention.
This course covers an array of leadership skills required for managing an athletic department within K-12 schools and charter and private schools. Topics include financial management, budgeting, managing facilities, legal issues, risk management and strategies for coaching teachers.
What Can I do with a Master’s in Educational Leadership Degree?
Graduating with a master’s degree in educational leadership creates several options for potential careers. These include:
The role of assistant principal involves overseeing curriculum standards, disciplinary measures and staff evaluation within elementary and secondary schools. Typically, classroom teaching experience is a requirement.
Elementary School Principal
Elementary school principals interact with teachers and other school personnel, manage school budget and activities. They also interact with the students, parents and the public on behalf of the school.
High School Principal
High school principals are responsible for approving curricula for grades 9 to 12. They also evaluate teaching staff. Principals run the school’s administration, which includes reviewing budgets, allocating funds and interacting between the school and the community.
Instructional coordinators can work with elementary, secondary or post-secondary educational institutions. Their main role is to create curricula for schools or sometimes for training programs for employees.
Post-secondary Education Administrator
This type of educational administrator often manages several departments within a college, such as student affairs, admissions or the registrar’s office. Post-secondary education administrators generally deal with nonacademic programs.
Joining a professional organization can benefit students or recent graduates of master’s degrees in educational leadership programs. Such organizations often offer professional development services, career leads and resource libraries. Three such organizations are listed below:
The NAESP has been providing support and advocacy for elementary school principals since 1921. The organization publishes a print magazine as well as three online journals. It also offers the National Principal Mentor Training and Certification Program.
The NASSP offers the McKinsey Management Program for School Leaders. This is a part-time online training program that culminates in two years. The organization also published a bulletin, magazine and peer-reviewed journal.
How Much Can I Make with a Career in Educational Leadership?
Job seekers should take a look at the careers listed below and their potential salaries to see what opportunities may be open for those with this degree. As noted above, in addition to a master’s degree in educational leadership, additional certification or licensure may be needed for some careers in this field.
All listed careers are advancing as fast as average, with the exception of instructional coordinators, which is advancing faster than average at a projected growth of 11% between 2016 and 2026. This is likely because of the continued emphasis on test scores and student data. Schools are increasingly turning to educational coordinators to help provide curricula which get better results and to increase teachers’ effectiveness. The information and training educational coordinators provide enable schools to meet their required standards in student achievement. Although demand for instructional coordinators will continue to grow as schools seek additional training for teachers, employment growth will largely depend on state and local budgets.
Teachers seeking to improve their job satisfaction and employment status by seeking an online master’s degree in educational leadership should consider how different courses and specializations may affect their potential salary scale. For example, a master’s degree in educational leadership with a focus on student counseling may potentially lead to a higher paying job than a general master’s degree in educational administration.
Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Program Accreditation
How to Pay for a Master’s in Educational Leadership Degree
Continuing education can be expensive, even for students who are in full-time employment. There a number of options for students who wish to seek financial aid to complete their online master’s degree in educational leadership.
Federal Financial Aid
Just like on-campus studies, online students may apply for federal financial aid. The application process is just the same and begins with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Once the college has assessed the student’s suitability, they will send a letter of eligibility.
In some states, students who are applying for an online master’s degree in educational leadership may be eligible for state funding. More information can be obtained from local state education boards.
Foundations and Organizations
There are numerous private and non-profit organizations throughout the United States that have grants to help with tuition fees. Particularly for master’s degrees in specific fields of education, including educational leadership. One graduate scholarship is offered through The School Superintendents Association and is awarded to graduate students studying to become school superintendents.
Prospective students who are already working in education may be able to obtain help with funding from their employer, particularly if advancing their education will benefit the school. These days many employers value continuing education and like to retain valuable members of staff.
Graduate students may apply for up to $2000 from the Lifetime Learning Credit to spend on educational materials. The credit can be applied to 20% of educational expenses including tuition. Suitable applicants include single filers with an income of $62,000 or less and married people with an income of $124,000 or less.