Best Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

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Updated on November 26, 2022

Due to the dynamic nature of higher education settings, courageous leadership is necessary for it to progress further. Thus, a graduate degree in educational administration will enable practitioners to address significant issues and the quality of curriculum provided for learners in an academic environment that demands continuous innovation and constructive change. For seasoned educators passionate about enhancing student learning and institution efficiency, obtaining a Master’s in Educational Leadership will help bridge the gap that hinders the quality of instructional content and college administration. The knowledge gained in this program; will enhance your career prospects, leadership skills, and power to influence academic activities in college settings.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that; the top 10% of High School Principals earned an average annual salary of $153,520 as of May 2021, while the lowest 10% earned lower than $64,000. With the immense financial benefits and career growth in this field, acquiring educational leadership qualifications will benefit aspiring students. Professionals in this specialty can also work as Instructional Coordinators, School Counselors, Postsecondary Education Administrators, Middle School Teachers, etc. Furthermore, candidates in this program learn to measure student performance, create budgets, assess standard curricula, and evaluate support staff & teachers.

Now, we will explore career opportunities, professional associations, academic requirements, and top Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs.

What is Master’s in Educational Leadership?

A master’s degree in educational leadership, also known as educational administration, is a unique academic pathway for aspiring school administrators and principals. The main goal of educational leadership is to ensure academic success via improvements in procedures, curriculum, and resources. But, without the assistance and cooperation of all parties concerned, including the children, parents, instructors, and decision-makers.

Due to the several elements involved in school administration, educational leadership tends to create a compelling vision of academic excellence for all learners regardless of socio-economical or socio-cultural levels.

How much does an online master’s in educational leadership cost?

The cost of a master’s in educational leadership, online or in-person program, depends on various factors. For instance, state residency is a vital consideration since most universities and colleges charge significantly higher tuition for out-of-state applicants. However, some colleges charge “fixed tuition” for online learners regardless of state residency. Also, technology fees are another critical factor, as it applies to every online student apart from on-campus learners.

With all the associated fees mentioned above, an online master’s in educational leadership will typically cost between $325 and $1,000 per credit. Therefore, students can expect to pay tuition costs ranging from $12,000 to $36,000.

How long does it take to earn a master’s in educational leadership online?

Generally, it takes two years of full-time graduate study to complete a 30- to 36-credit online master’s degree in educational leadership. Although, the length of a master’s program in this field varies by the requirements of every institution.

Several institutions offer accelerated degree paths that can be finished in less than one year, while some dual-degree courses call for a dedication of more than two years. Additionally, some programs mandate that students enroll in some courses as a cohort group, with each cohort having a predetermined start and end date.

How Do I Choose an Online Educational Leadership Master’s program?

When opting for an online educational leadership degree, the accreditation of the Institution is the primary factor to consider, aside from cost and program learning formats (e.g., online, hybrid, or in-person).

The U.S. Department of Education often accredits colleges and universities in the country. The accreditation procedure thoroughly evaluates a school’s academic offerings and student support services. To this effect, applicants must confirm if the institution delivering the program has received regional or national accreditation; since a school’s accreditation affects the transferability of course credits and students’ eligibility for federal financial aid.

Check Here: Top Masters in Education Degrees in California

What is the Online Master’s in Educational Leadership admission Requirements?

The major admission prerequisites for an online master’s in educational leadership degree include a bachelor’s degree in a related field, an official college transcript, a teaching certificate, and three or two years of classroom pedagogical experience. Although, some institutions necessitate enrollees to submit their GRE scores.

What are the Educational leadership degree specializations available for professionals?

Specialization areas for online master’s in educational leadership degrees are not common; educational leadership program often serves as concentration (specialization) areas for Master of Education career pathways. Although, some universities and colleges in the United States allow candidates to obtain a “specialization” for their respective educational leadership master’s qualification. In this field, a popular specialization area is “teacher leader.” However, other potential concentration areas include education or school administration, and a principal licensure track, that trains graduates to earn their principal’s license after graduation.

Faith-based institutions may offer concentrations for students that intend to use their qualifications in a religious, academic setting, like Catholic school leadership. Some of the specialization areas in educational leadership include;

  • Teacher leader
  • School administration
  • Principal preparation
  • Catholic school leadership

Online Coursework in Master’s in Educational Leadership 

The academic curriculum of an online educational leadership master’s degree program comprises elective and core coursework areas.

Core courses build on the foundational topics of undergraduate study by introducing more advanced techniques and concepts. These courses include school finance, leadership theory, educational law, and human resources in academic settings. Many of these programs also comprise practicum or internship courses in the core curriculum.

Meanwhile, elective courses make up a small fraction of the curriculum areas. Most times, only three or two electives are required. Some elective courses in educational leadership programs include special education, communication, curriculum, and instruction.

Is there Practicum Experience in Educational Leadership Programs?

Practicum and Internship courses are often common in education leadership master’s degree programs. Graduates will gain these hands-on experiences in higher learning classrooms at secondary, elementary schools, or university campuses.

During this program, candidates usually complete 200 hours of practicum or internship to graduate. Additionally, meetings with faculty advisers, virtually or in person” at the student’s placement site, are sometimes necessary before the program completion.

Top 9 Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs 

University of Florida

Graduation Rate: 88.5%

Acceptance Rate: 31.1%

Institution Type:  Public

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Program Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Degree Offered: Online Master of Education in Educational Leadership 

Course Credits: 36-39 credit hours

Avg. Cost per Credit: $734

The University of Florida provides an M.Ed in Educational Leadership designed for professional educators seeking to advance their expertise in this specialty. The MEd qualification can be earned in one of the two-course tracks: the degree with Florida Level 1 certification in Educational Leadership OR the degree without the eligibility for Florida certification in Educational Leadership. Applicants entering with a minimum of three years of teaching experience are due for the certification track, while students with less pedagogical expertise can opt for the certification track after completing their three years of teaching.

Montclair State University 

Graduation Rate: 70.6%

Acceptance Rate: 82.7%

Institution Type:  Doctoral University

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Program Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Degree Offered: Online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership 

Course Credits: 36 credit hours 

Avg. Cost per Credit: $660.40

Montclair State University provides an Online MA in Educational Leadership; that offers candidates the conceptual tools and advanced preparation to become seasoned school leaders. The coursework includes supervision, assessment, student achievement, leadership, decision-making, community, and school relations. For professionals currently holding a master’s degree, the program provides advanced certifications in core areas like; principal, supervisor, and director of school counseling. Furthermore, the graduate program offers the avenue for an additional practicum to qualify the student to earn the School Administrator certification.

University of Central Florida 

Graduation Rate: 73.4%

Acceptance Rate: 45.2%

Institution Type:  Metropolitan Research University

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Program Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Degree Offered: Online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership 

Course Credits: 30 credit hours

Avg. Cost per Credit: $327.32

University of Central Florida provides an Online MA in Educational Leadership for aspiring educators. Via this program, you will leverage your insight, knowledge, and research; to weigh in on the evolving trends within the field. The credential will equip candidates with the distinct pedagogy they need to transition as true leaders, including legal aspects of school operation, a robust understanding of evaluation practices, contemporary concerns, diversity in education, and evaluation practices. Also, the institution will equip candidates with the latest skills to step into the changing -transformative educational growth.

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California State University -East Bay

Graduation Rate: 75.5%

Acceptance Rate: 73.3%

Institution Type:  Public

Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Program Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Degree Offered: Online Masters in Educational Leadership 

Course Credits: 30 credit hours

Avg. Cost per Credit: $486

California State University -East Bay offers a Master’s in Educational leadership designed for practicing educators who seek to become professional leaders in education at the pre-K-12, adult, preschool, or community college levels. The program format makes it convenient for anyone, not just those who work or live in the San Francisco East Bay Area. Likewise, graduates can look forward to a comprehensive and hands-on curriculum in which the instructors offer detailed feedback on each student’s work.

University of North Texas 

Graduation Rate: 64.6%

Acceptance Rate: 84%

Institution Type:  Public Research University

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Program Accreditation: The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Degree Offered: Masters of Education in Educational Leadership 

Course Credits: 30

The University of North Texas provides an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership to learners passionate about teaching and making a difference in the younger generation’s life. The Educational Leadership program inspires practitioners with new ideas and opens doors to career opportunities. In addition, the curriculum emphasizes current research and theory that inform educational leaders as they make decisions regarding positive school culture, student achievement, and effective teaching practices.

Louisiana State University

Graduation Rate: 66.3%

Acceptance Rate: 73.4%

Institution Type:  Doctoral University

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Program Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Degree Offered: Masters of Education in Educational Leadership 

Course Credits: 39 credit hours

Avg. Cost per Credit: $459

Louisiana State University offers an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership designed for certified teachers seeking to expand their instructional skills. The program equips educators with vital pedagogical skills to become influential leaders and administrators. This extensive curriculum enables educators to land more competitive and sought-after teaching positions and to create inviting, demanding, and rewarding learning environments for both teachers and children.

Grand Canyon University

Graduation Rate: 40.5%

Acceptance Rate: 80.7%

Institution Type:  Private

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Program Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Degree Offered: Online Master’s in Educational Leadership 

Course Credits: 30 credit hours

Avg. Cost per Credit: $580

Grand Canyon University provides a Master’s in Educational leadership that prepares learners for a future/career in educational administration. This non-licensure program in educational leadership trains graduates to lead students and teachers at school sites. Also, two of the main emphasis of the master’s in educational leadership degree are: learning & practicing the ethical and professional responsibilities of being an effective school leader. The topics in this course include Education law, School finance, and Sustaining (Creating) positive school cultures.

University of Cincinnati

Graduation Rate: 100%

Acceptance Rate: 78.1%

Institution Type:  Public

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Program Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Degree Offered: Master of Education in Educational Leadership 

Course Credits: 30 credit hours

The University of Cincinnati offers an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership to provide prospective applicants with the necessary skillset for educational administration and leadership positions. The program equips licensed educators to become impactful leaders within educational settings. Via the three main concentrations, candidates can choose the track that suits their career goals. These specialization areas include Principal Leadership, Special Education Leadership, and General Policy and Administration. After completing this course, you will;

  • Gain practical experience through internships that will align you with the duties and obligations of a principal.
  • Learn about the organizational behaviors and leadership ideas used in school systems.
  • Analyze the present economic theories, the sources of funding, and the trends affecting the financing and administration of public education

University of Alabama

Graduation Rate: 71.5%

Acceptance Rate: 80.4%

Institution Type: Doctoral 

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Program Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Degree Offered: Master of Arts in Educational Leadership 

Course Credits: 18-39 credit hours

Avg. Cost per Credit: $440

The University of Alabama offers a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership tailored for current educators aiming to boost their expertise in administrative and leadership settings. The master’s program suits practitioners with bachelor’s qualifications and Alabama Class B teaching credentials. During this program, graduates gain an in-depth understanding of the tools of inquiry, central structures, and concepts in educational leadership. Additionally, they learn to work with learners, communities, and families in ways that mirror the dispositions anticipated by educational leaders.

After completing the course, participants are eligible for the Alabama Class A certification in Instructional Leadership.

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Licensing and Certification for Educational Leadership Professionals 

If you already hold a master’s degree and a current teaching license, aspiring educators can complete their Educational Leadership certification program. A few leadership positions in education call for formal certification. In most areas, private school principals don’t have to obtain a school administrator license; nonetheless, employers frequently choose licensed applicants when hiring public school administrators or teachers.

Other occupations may not always need a license. For instance, to work in public schools, instructional coordinators may require a teaching license or a school administrator license; but many can obtain employment without any form of qualification

Note: in this field, educational requirements often vary from one state to another.

What can you do with an online degree in educational leadership?

Applicants who enroll in an online master’s program in educational leadership acquire knowledge to meet the logistical, financial, and administrative demands of spearheading an educational facility (e.g., high schools). Via this program, students gain knowledge and expertise in curriculum and instruction, resource management, school finance, teacher evaluation, and education administration.

Here, we will outline some of the educational leadership jobs and educational leadership salaries available in various occupations in this specialty.

Elementary School Principals

Elementary school principals oversee all the school operations, such as daily school activities. They manage staff, coordinate curriculums, and offer a productive and safe learning environment for learners. Likewise, they meet with teachers and parents to evaluate students’ performance and behavior. Furthermore, they prepare and assess reports on academic test scores and various student achievement data.

Other Duties and Responsibilities of Elementary School Principals are to;

  • Create and maintain class schedules
  • Encourage and correct students
  • Observe instructors and assess their performance
  • Plan career development workshops and programs for the staff
  • Control the school’s spending, place orders for supplies, and make maintenance plans

Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, the median annual wage of Elementary School Principals as of May 2021 is $98,420. The highest 10% made more than $153,520, while the lowest 10%  earned lower than $61,480.

High School Teachers 

High school teachers prepare and assist learners for academic life after graduation. They teach educational lessons, and different competencies students will require to attend university (college). Also, they evaluate students’ strengths, abilities, and weaknesses. In addition, they enforce and develop administrative policies and classroom rules.

Duties and Responsibilities of High School Teachers

  • Work with different students to enhance them and develop their competencies in subject areas 
  • Adapt lessons to the varying size of the class
  • Grading homework and tests for students
  • Communicate with parents about students’ progress
  • Prepare students ready for the state-mandated standardized tests

According to BLS, the median annual salary for high school teachers as of May 2021 was $61,820. Employment of professionals in this specialty will increase by 5% over the next ten years.

Instructional Coordinators 

Instructional coordinators oversee teaching standards and school curriculums. They develop educational content, implement it with principals and teachers, and assess its effectiveness in classroom settings. Aside from recommending teaching strategies and the use of new technologies, they organize, plan, and conduct workshops, training, and conferences.

Other Duties and Responsibilities of Instructional Coordinators are to;

  • Create guidelines for teachers to follow when implementing a curriculum
  • Examine and make recommendations for books and other academic resources
  • Evaluate test results for students
  • Introduce new programs or information to educators and other instructional professionals

According to the BLS report, instructional coordinators earned a median salary of $63,740 as of May 2021. The lowest 10% made more than $38,390, while the highest 10% earned $101,090.

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Postsecondary education administrators help learners with various tasks, including; completing admissions applications and registering for classes. They evaluate information about prospective applicants and admitted students. Likewise, they review different academic applications to ascertain pupils that will gain admission. They also determine the number of enrollees to be offered admission.

The median annual salary for postsecondary education administrators as of May 2021 was $96,910. Employment of postsecondary education administrators will increase by 7% from 2021 to 2031.

School and Career Counselors /Advisors

School counselors assist learners in developing social and academic skills, as well as post-graduation plans. Career advisors and counselors help clients and students to explore or choose an educational program that will lead to a career. They evaluate students’ competencies and interests via interviews and aptitude assessments. Also, they analyze relevant data to determine factors, like poor attendance, which can negatively affect learners’ educational performance.

Other Duties and Responsibilities of School and Career Counselors are to

  • Inform students and faculty about certain subjects, including harassment and drug usage
  • Assist learners in comprehending and overcoming social or behavioral difficulties
  • Engage with students to cultivate learning-supporting abilities, such as study habits and time management
  • Help students set career, academic, and social objectives by working with teachers and families

Based on the BLS report as of May 2021, the average yearly wage of School and Career Counselors was $60,510. The industry’s expert demand will rise by 10% over the next decade.

Career Outlook for Professionals with Master’s in Educational Leadership 

The career (job) outlook and salary potentials for master’s in educational leadership degree practitioners varies based on levels or positions in the organization. For example, High school principals made an average annual wage of $98,460 in May 2021, while elementary principals earned lower than in the same period. The career path is estimated to grow by 5%, with an additional 23,500 jobs between 2021 and 2031. Meanwhile, instructional coordinators earned a median yearly salary of $63,740 in May 2021. The demand for specialists in this field will grow by 7% over the next decade, with the addition of 20,900 job openings.

Professional Organizations for Master’s in Educational Leadership

Joining a professional association can be gratifying for master’s students in educational leadership. These organizations provide various services, such as networking events, professional development, career leads, and online resource libraries. Some of the notable professional organizations in the field of educational leadership are;

The “association of leadership educators” was founded in the 1980s and invites all members to register for “mini-grants” to fund their projects related to program assessment and curriculum development. In this organization, membership costs $100 per annum, but students in colleges/universities can enroll for $50 per year.

NAESP works to assist and advocate for professionals who work with elementary- and middle-school students. The organization also offers the National Principal Mentor Certification and Training Program, which usually takes nine months to complete. It also publishes three electronic journals, a print magazine, and other materials.

NASSP houses the  2-year McKinsey Management Program for School Administrators, comprising six online courses. Additionally, the association publishes the peer-reviewed journal; NASSP Bulletin and the Principal Leadership Magazine, both of which are only available to registered members.

Frequently Asked Questions: Master’s in Educational Leadership 

What can I do with a Masters in Educational Leadership?

A master’s in Educational leadership provides a variety of careers for successful graduates, such as School Principals, Educational Consultants, and Special Education Specialists.

Which is the best master’s degree in education?

A few of the available concentrations you could focus on include;

  • Educational Leadership or Administration
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Teaching English Language Learners
  • School Counseling
  • Educational Technology, etc.

What is a master of leadership degree?

A Master of leadership degree helps prospective applicants gain organizational, managerial, executive, and human resource skills, among others. It will also allow them to advance in their careers and become influential leaders.

Is a Masters in Educational Leadership worth it?

It’s a vital qualification for candidates aiming for leadership positions in college settings. Via the Master’s program, educators passionate about teaching and making a  positive impact in and outside the classroom will gain the crucial knowledge expected of practitioners in this field. In addition, it will help their teaching career, establish them professionally and enable them to gain mastery in management roles. 

What is the highest paying job in masters in education?

Various factors affect the salary of those with a Master in Education degree. One of the highest paying jobs available to Master in Education degree holders is the position of a “School District Superintendent,” with an annual salary range of $250,000 to $350,000. They can also become chief academic officers and principals, earning between $117,541 to $117,541 per annum.

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What is a Masters in educational leadership good for?

Essentially, the degree will help applicants advance their careers to attain leadership positions in public and private schools, elementary, middle, and high schools.

Why do a masters in educational leadership?

The Master’s in educational leadership will help applicants build their communication, leadership, critical thinking, decision-making, interpersonal and problem-solving skills. Also, it will provide teachers with the required certification.

How much can I make with a master’s in educational leadership?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale, Master’s degree holders in educational leadership can earn as high as $151,447 by working as a provost in higher institutions.

What do you learn in educational leadership?

Primarily, applicants will learn to lead. They will gain advanced instructional and administrative skills that will help them to influence education in and outside the classroom positively.

What are the four major types of educational leadership?

  • Transformational leadership: This helps in school development and achieving already set goals.
  • Servant Leadership: It enhances the relationship between the leader, subordinates 
  • Responsible Leadership: It ensures that the whole community is united and provides support for all.
  • Distributed Leadership: It teaches collaboration and cooperation, i.e., working and combining the efforts of the community at large to provide a better result.

What are examples of educational leadership?

The following are some examples of educational leadership;

  • Transactional Leadership
  • Transformational Leadership
  • Authoritarian Leadership
  • Democratic Leadership
  • Servant Leadership
  • Laissez-faire Leadership e.t.c.

What are the main issues of educational leadership?

Some of the challenges educational leaders face are;

  • Access to quality education 
  • Drop in learning rate and widening academic gaps
  • Shortage of fully equipped classroom settings

What are career opportunities in educational leadership?

Educational leadership provides a plethora of career opportunities for interested candidates. A few of them are;

  • Dean of Students 
  • Academic supervisor 
  • School Principals 
  • Superintendents
  • Curriculum reviewer
  • University Registrar
  • Assistant Principal 


In Summary!

A master’s degree in educational leadership is a core replacement for professionals and educators who aim to become administrators in traditional public or private colleges (universities). Candidates will also be trained leaders in international schools and most states’ charter institutions.


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