2023 Best Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration Programs in America
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Graduates with a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration will be able to work in a variety of positions. Schools which offer programs in educational leadership and administration usually have several specializations. Students can go on to work in K-12 schools, higher education, government, public policy, and non-profits. Some choices for graduates include:
- Assistant principal
- District administrator
- Instructional coordinator
- Director or supervisor
- Dean of students or faculty
- College Provost
- University registrar
Based on the position, salaries for graduates can vary. The average salary for a K-12 school principal, one of the most common jobs for educational leadership master’s degree holders was $92,510 in 2016. The average salary for a college administrator, another common career option for educational leadership master’s degree holders, was $90,760 in 2016. It is important to note that there are many positions available for graduates and salaries will generally increase as the master’s degree holders advance in their career.
Best Traditional Master’s for Educational Leadership and Administration Programs
The Harvard University Graduate School of Education offers several specialties for educational leadership and administration. The Education Policy and Management program is the most open-ended. Most students have worked in education, government, and nonprofits and want to make an impact in education policy and practice. The one year program requires 32 credits to graduate and students can take classes in other graduate schools at Harvard. Graduates of the program pursue careers in a variety of places including the state and federal government, think tanks, and school districts. Harvard University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ (NEASC) Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.
The Stanford University Master of Arts program in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies (POLS) is a 9 month program that provides students leadership and policy skills to solve a real-life educational program in their capstone project. The program requires 45 units (12-15 courses) and an internship in an education related organization. Graduates of the program have gone on to work in public and private postsecondary schools, run for public office, and start their own nonprofits. Stanford University’s masters in education program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
University of California – Los Angeles offers a masters in education from their Graduate School of Education & Information Studies Higher Education and Organizational Change division. The program is usually completed in one or two years and requires completion of 36 units (9 courses), field experience in a relevant area, and the passing of a comprehensive examination. Graduates have gone on to work in community colleges and four year universities, public and private schools, and educational associations. UCLA GSEIS is accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).
The University of Pennsylvania offers a one year Education Policy degree in their Graduate School of Education. The program requires the completion of 10 courses and an education policy research practicum. The practicum partners students with leaders in the education field to create a plan which solves an issue in the organization. Graduates have obtained work in the federal or local departments of education, educational policy research, and postsecondary education. University of Pennsylvania’s GSE is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
The Teachers College at Columbia University offers a master of education degree in higher and postsecondary education. The program offers two tracks: professional practices in higher education for mid-career professionals and practices of research in higher education for students seeking to learn about social forces that affect educational policy. Both tracks require the completion of 60 units (15 courses), an independent study based on a professional experience, and a paper on an area of interest. Graduates from the program often go on to a doctorate of education in the Teachers College, or return to their careers in higher education. Teachers College, Columbia University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Best Online Master’s in Education Leadership and Administration Programs
Michigan State University offers a master’s of arts degree in education (MAED) that can be completed completely online. The program is designed for mid-career professionals working as teachers, principals, or adult educators who want to build on their existing professional skills and learn from world class faculty members and their cohort. Students are able to specialize in six concentrations: Literacy Education, P-16 School Leadership, Science and Mathematics Education, Special Education, Technology and Learning, and Sport Leadership and Coaching. Michigan State University’s education leadership program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Indiana University offers an online masters degree in educational leadership. Many of the students are teachers looking to move into administrative roles. The degree will prepare graduates for a building-level administrator license. The M.S.Ed. degree requires 36 credits to be completed over three years and is completely online so students can work full-time while going to school. Indiana University’s masters in education program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
Arizona State University’s masters in educational leadership is designed for teachers and administrators interested in becoming leaders in their school district. The 36 credit course prepares students for the principal certification in the state of Arizona. The degree can be completed based on the student’s schedule with each of the eleven courses lasting approximately 7.5 weeks. Graduates of the program have gone on to careers as principals, guidance counselors, and educational directors. Arizona State University’s online education degree is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Penn State World Campus masters in educational leadership is designed for current teachers seeking a leadership role. Students choose from two concentrations: teacher leader or school leader. The school leader specialization requires the completion of an year-long internship under the mentorship of a current principal. The program requires the completion of 30 online credits; students usually take 3-4 classes per year. The degree requires online participation with a cohort for a collaborative experience. Penn State World Campus masters in education program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
University of Florida’s educational leadership online master’s degree is a two year, 36 credit program designed for current teachers who want to work full time while preparing for a principal certification. Students must complete 150 hours of practicum experience under the supervision of a principal approved by the university. Teacher certification or experience is not required for admission but the degree does not offer teacher certification. Students develop a plan for graduation with their supervisor and can take classes as their schedule allows. University of Florida’s online master’s degree in educational leadership program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
How to Choose the Right Program
You can choose the perfect program based on your future career aspirations and the academic course load each school provides. Some programs focus specifically on the classroom while others allow experience outside of the traditional education field. After this, you can rank schools by convenience, price, and accreditation.
Who accredits a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration?
Understanding the accreditation schools possess is the key to ensuring that you receive a top-notch education that will prepare you for a future in education leadership. Every school, including online programs, will have to maintain some type of accreditation with a state, regional or national accrediting agencies.
This helps to hold the schools accountable for offering a well-rounded curriculum that adequately prepares students for the future. Not all of the top schools hold this accreditation, but it should be considered before you make a choice.
How long does it typically take to get a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration?
The length of master’s degrees in educational leadership and administration vary by university. Many programs are designed for students to work full-time and attend school so students are able to take courses at their own pace. Programs usually last from one to three years.
What does the curriculum include?
The modern curriculum should prepare students for a career in educational leadership in a variety of organizations, including public and private universities, public and private schools, charter schools, nonprofits, etc. Subjects can range from racial and economic hardships, governmental education reform, innovations in technology, school finance, human resources, and the use of data to improve teaching. Many programs require an internship or capstone where students partner with leaders in the field to complete a study and make recommendations for an issue affecting education today.
How can I finance my education?
Obtaining your master’s degree can be an expensive endeavor. You can finance this dream by applying for financial aid and grants through the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Grants offered by the federal government do not need to be repaid upon graduation.
Some of these top universities will also have scholarships available to eligible students on a first-come-first-served basis. These scholarships will not need to be repaid but might be based on your grades, test scores, and other criteria. Similar to a scholarship, some colleges will offer work-study programs that allow you to work off your debt in various positions around campus.
For the remaining amount, you might consider taking out a student loan that can be paid back upon graduation. Look for loans that have a low interest rate and don’t impose a penalty for prepayment. The federal government tends to offer more advantageous loan programs compared to private lenders.
What are the employment prospects for a master’s in educational leadership and administration graduate?
Many students who choose to pursue a master’s in educational leadership and administration have experience teaching and are seeking to move into leadership positions.
To give you an idea of what is expected for this field in the coming years, we will take a look at the most popular careers that many people with this degree choose to pursue. All data is based on the figures available from the United State Department of Labor based on projects made from 2016 to 2026.
- Postsecondary teacher
- Postsecondary administrator
Elementary, Middle and High School Principal: School principals are expected to see an increase of 8% in the next ten years (2016-2026), roughly the same as the average employment rates in the country. There are currently 251,300 principal jobs as of 2016 with a median salary of $92,501.
Postsecondary Teacher: Postsecondary teachers can work in a public or private college teaching students and conducting research. The field is growing at a rate of 15%, much higher than the national average as the number of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions grow. Most of this growth will be for part-time positions. There are currently 1,314,000 post secondary teachers in the country in 2016 with a median pay of $75,430.
Postsecondary Education Administrator: Postsecondary administrators can work in public or private colleges overseeing student services, academics, research, etc. Postsecondary education administrators are expected to see a growth of 10% in the next ten years. There are currently 180,100 jobs in the field with an median salary of $90,760.