United States Masters in Education Leadership Programs
A Masters in Educational Leadership program could prepare leaders of today and tomorrow to face challenges with vision and purpose. As a field of study, educational leadership is one with many facets.
Leaders might need to motivate and guide teachers, improve student outcomes and create and enact policies - not to mention use resources wisely. They also may need to have a solid grasp of organizational behavior. Masters in education leadership programs could entail courses that provide insight into these topics and more. As a learner, you could develop key skills and knowledge in areas as diverse as lesson design, school administration, school reform and evaluation.
What Is a Masters in Educational Leadership Degree?
A Masters in Educational Leadership degree is a graduate degree that tackles advanced coursework and educational research in a specific subject to hone your expertise. Among Educational Leadership Masters programs there are several forms of degrees that might be awarded. The Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS) and Master of Education (MEd) degrees are the most common. There are also universities that offer a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Masters in Applied Psychology degree with a focus in school administration or organizational leadership. While programs vary, the typical Master of Educational Leadership program is a 30-credit master’s degree, which might be completed by some students in about 2-years of full time study.
MEd, MA or MS in Educational Leadership Degrees
Essentially, each university defines its Masters of Education Leadership programs in their own way. You should always read their program details to see whether the courses meet your needs. Below are some general guidelines to use, if helpful, to inform your decisions.
- A Master of Education (MEd) degree is a practitioner degree that might help students learn
- how to apply education leadership principles to real-world problems.
- A Master of Arts (MA) degree is a research degree that often requires a thesis. It may suit teachers who want to continue in the classroom or pursue administrative careers.
- A Master of Science (MS) degree is an action-research degree where students might study how to interpret and use research to achieve goals.
What Might I Learn in Educational Leadership Masters Programs?
Whatever your focus, whether it is educational law and policy, community issues, or faculty leadership, a Masters of Education Leadership program may provide a dynamic course of study.
Build a Professional Portfolio: Most programs go beyond courses in theory and research methods. Students often get the chance to build authentic leadership experience as they observe and take part in administrative internships or a leadership project.
Potentially Gain Skills of Principals or Administrative Leaders: Certain programs may be designed to position graduates to pursue principal or administrator licensure (assistant principal, principal, teacher leader, superintendent). If this is your goal, see that the Master in Educational Leadership degree you choose meets administrative certification requirements in your state.
Innovative Leadership: You might study the principles of educational leadership and work on your own leadership style. For instance, you might learn how to communicate effectively, lead ethically or build diversity.
Collaboration: Students might study how to effectively work in teams, build a consensus, or inspire others in the creation of positive change for students and teachers.
Curriculum and Instruction: Students may evaluate and design curriculum and instruction to foster growth of all learners.
Management: Students might gain the ability to manage a safe and effective learning environment based on supervisory principles and research-based management styles.
Assessment: Some programs provide in-depth methods for how to assess other teachers, your students, or a course of study. You might also learn how to use data or technology in your strategies.
Educational Research: Students often examine ways to improve education through quality data collection and analysis.
Applicants to most Master in Educational Leadership programs are presumed to have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited college or university. A bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, or bachelor of education are some examples. In some programs, a valid teaching license might be required to receive an extra administrative license. Requirements vary, so follow up with individual programs for details.
Explore Master in Educational Leadership Programs
To choose a Masters in Educational Leadership program that aligns with your goals, you might specifically explore a focus in educational policy, educational research or student affairs. Expect degree requirements to vary.
Below are some examples of the types of degrees you might find. The perfect degree for you should align with your career goals, personal interests and academic background.
Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
Students in a Master of Arts (MA) in Educational Leadership program may receive practical instruction in ethical school leadership, and various ways to manage and supervise. Through their courses, learners might develop a leadership vision for different higher education areas. These could include college admissions, financial aid, counseling, student activities, alumni relations, and career planning and placement. While you can expect course names to vary, a general curriculum might cover some of the content below.
- School Law and Policy
- School-community Relations
- Multicultural Leadership
- Analysis of Instruction
At the end of their courses, students may be required to take a comprehensive exam. Also, some programs may include courses and field experiences that are intended to help students prepare for state administration certification. For interested students, there are also programs that explore educational leadership from a certain religious world view. Contact programs to learn more.
Master of Science in Educational Leadership
The Master of Science (MS) in Educational Leadership program is often designed for educators who want to expand their leadership knowledge and skills to pursue formal or informal leadership roles in schools. Coursework for a Master of Science in Educational Leadership might explore systems thinking and data analysis, and students might begin to develop an organizational plan.
Other courses could cover key challenges such as parent involvement and student achievement. Students might learn more about their own personal leadership style. Also, they may learn how to leverage the latest research to guide decisions, and lead with greater confidence in their classroom and community. See below for examples of course topics.
- Legal and Financial Leadership
- Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment
- Teacher Leadership (K-12 Grades)
- Mentoring and Coaching
- Personnel Management
In addition to courses, students might engage in independent research and could learn how to apply research to the development of leadership and learning.
Master of Science in College Student Affairs
Students who pursue their Master of Science in College Student Affairs might develop their knowledge of student affairs administration and conflict analysis. In their courses, students might focus on current issues and trends, student development theories and codes of conduct. These and courses that explore human factors may complement courses that are geared to group dynamics and mediation. Other courses might explore topics such as personnel practices, supervision, budget, finance, and program development.
DID YOU KNOW?
Principals typically need a master’s degree in education leadership or education administration.i
Master of Science in Higher Education
The Master of Science in Higher Education program often explores areas that are relevant to today’s colleges and universities. Through their courses, students might discuss organizational principles. Also, they may examine how technology, public policy and finances affect a student’s ability to attend college. Learners could gain practical insight and develop the ability to research and think critically about higher education administration, teaching or student affairs.
College Administration and Leadership: Discusses the principles of effective leadership as they relate to the management of academic programs and departments in a variety of postsecondary settings.
College Teaching: Explores how adults learn and the use of technology in higher education settings. Coursework might shed light on how to design and apply curricula, and assess student learning.
Student Affairs: Could revolve around how to manage student services programs. Courses might explore how to balance student affairs with management and legal issues.
Master of Education in Education Leadership
The Master of Education (MEd) in Educational Leadership program might explore the skills and knowledge base needed to administer education programs and policies. Some programs entail about 30 credit hours that are split between core courses and an area of emphasis. In their core courses, students could learn things like how to manage projects, engage stakeholders and implement policy. They might also study how to use data to set performance goals and make strategic improvement decisions based on assessments.
Master of Education Leadership Concentrations
Emphases for a Master of Education in Education Leadership program could vary between schools, but are intended to enhance the professional range of current educators.
MEd in Policy Studies: In addition to leadership, public policy, legal, economic, and research skills, the track could stress the data analysis and performance management skills potentially needed to administer education programs and policies.
MEd in Teacher Leadership: Students might examine theories and strategies that are used to support and mentor other teachers so that they can develop professionally in their schools. Coursework could explore ways to assess instruction, provide feedback and collaborate on curriculum and assessment development. Students in this track might get to select an area of emphasis in literacy, dyslexia/reading specialist, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This is to help them develop a solid grasp of how to support teachers and school-wide change in a specific content area.
MEd in Administration and Supervision: Students could acquire the tools and skills to effectively communicate and lead as a supervisor. Coursework might explore functional administration through a discussion of community relations, school law, and financial management. Students might also take courses that address behavior management and how to supervise other teachers.
MEd in Curriculum and Instruction: A focus in curriculum and instruction might help students grasp theories of teaching, learning and lesson design. Some programs could focus on how to integrate technology into classrooms. Other areas of emphasis could include Adolescent Literacy or English Language Development.
MBA in School Administration
The Master of Business Administration in School Administration discusses leadership through the critical lens of applied management theory, accounting, finance, economics and operations. MBA students might also take courses in business strategy and ethics with a view to achieve organizational goals. To get a sense of possible topics of study, see the examples that follow.
- Resource Management
- Business Communication
- Special Education Laws
- District and School Policy
- Budget and Time Value
In some schools, MBA courses are taken in a specific sequence, and could involve an internship where students build their ability to think critically and model leadership principles. Programs vary.
What Might I Do with a Masters in Educational Leadership Degree?
A Master in Educational Leadership degree may prepare graduates to pursue an administrative path, supervise a division, school, or school system.i As an alternative, students might enhance their classroom skills or develop educational content to help students reach their full potential.ii
Other students might continue their education with a doctorate in educational leadership.
You may want to earn your masters degree in educational leadership at a regionally or nationally accredited university. These are schools that must undergo a review every few years where they are assessed for fiscal stability, student resources, faculty and curriculum. Individual programs might be approved by different (professional) agencies. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is one such agency. Not all schools or programs or accredited, so do your own research if this is important to you.
On-Campus, Online or Hybrid?
Many of today’s graduate schools realize that their students have busy lives and schedules. Because of this, Master in Educational Leadership degrees may be offered in residential and distance formats. If you prefer interaction and community, you could look for graduate schools with Masters Education Leadership programs by location. This may be a great way to take advantage of campus facilities and resources. Other formats such as online and hybrid (blended) programs might appeal to mid-career adults whose work schedule means they need more flexibility. Coursework could be available online, 24/7, allowing you to earn your degree without compromising your lifestyle.
Find Your Master in Educational Leadership Program
You want to lead in education. Now you need a faculty to guide and mentor you. Use the on-page tools to get started. You can refine by subject (policy, research, or student affairs) and by format (online, on campus, hybrid). This will generate a list of programs for you to easily compare and apply to directly. Take the next step to find a Master in Educational Leadership ptogram that aligns with your goals right now!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm | [ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-9031.00
- Milwaukee, WIMilwaukee, WI
Wisconsin Lutheran College
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Bob Jones University
BJU’s master’s program in educational leadership equips you to be an excellent leader in a Christian school context.
Queens University of Charlotte
The George Washington University
The online Master’s in Educational Leadership Administration is designed for teachers and school administrators who want to advance into leadership positions.
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
Master of Arts in Educational Leadership Get Ready to Lead The online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota will help you become a leader or administ...
- Baltimore, MDBaltimore, MD
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins MS in Research Administration is designed to benefit research practitioners, including those currently working...
California Baptist University
The online Master of Science in Education Specialization in Educational Leadership degree program is designed to equip individuals with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of leadership required for professional excellence as trainers, teachers,...
- Riverside, CARiverside, CA
La Sierra University
Mission Statement: A diverse community of inquiry, learning, and service, rooted in the Christian gospel, La Sierra is committed to Seventh-day Adventist values and ideals. Its mission is: TO SEEK truth enlarging human understanding through scho...
University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati's Master of Education in Educational Leadership online program connects working educators with a dynamic community of dedicated professors, accessible research, and a devoted student support team. The University has gaine...
Advance your career as a recognized education leader, learn how to influence a collaborative work environment and gain management skills you can put to work in the public or private sector. Become a Community College Student Services Director or Subj...
- Chicago, ILChicago, IL
Loyola University Chicago
The M.Ed. degree in Curriculum and Instruction is designed for certified teachers seeking to become learning specialists in a selected area of the field of education, to advance within their career and to meet recertification requirements.
- Chicago, IL
Indiana Wesleyan University
Candidates in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in School Administration program develop strategies that promote a culture of achievement for all stakeholders, evaluate personal management capabilities and design a plan to drive improvement...
Grand Canyon University
Master of Education in Educational Administration (Leads to initial teacher licensure).
University of Louisville
The Online Master of Education in Teacher Leadership at the University of Louisville is designed for Kentucky teachers who want to be better equipped to be leaders in their classroom, school or district. Endorsement or specialization options are also ava...
- San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
University of San Francisco
The Master of Arts in Human Rights Education (HRE) Program provides a unique opportunity to understand and address deep-rooted social and educational inequities through the lens of critical Human Rights Education.
- San Francisco, CA
Liberty University Online
Liberty University’s Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Teaching & Learning – Student Services online program equips students for leadership roles in public and private schools. This program is ideal for those who are passionate abo...
- Tampa, FLTampa, FL
University of Tampa
UT’s M.Ed in Educational Leadership is a cutting-edge program that caters to working professionals by offering flexible scheduling options such as traditional, weekend, and hybrid instructional models.
Explore the roles of institutional research and strategic planning as they relate to institutions of higher education. Examine various theories for development of a comprehensive student services program.
Colorado State University
Build a better college experience that makes a difference in the lives of students.
- New York City, NYNew York City, NY
New York University
Our International Education program prepares you to understand the global implications of your responsibilities and to apply knowledge across international boundaries. As a student you will become an expert in designing, implementing, managing, and e...
Emporia State University
Master of Science in Education Administration (concentration Pre-K-12).