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.
written by Rana Waxman
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.
|Health Professions||University of Illinois||MS|
|Educational Administration||Dominican University||MEd|
|Master of Education in Catholic School Leadership||Loyola University Chicago||N/A|
|Master of Education - Organizational Leadership||Northcentral University||MBOL|
|Master of Science in Education||Drake University||N/A|
|MA in School Improvement||Campbellsville University||N/A|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In addition to courses, students might engage in independent research and could learn how to apply research to the development of leadership and learning.
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Rockford, IL||$92,510||Not Reported|
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm | [ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-9031.00
GCU offers a variety of M.A. and M.Ed. education programs designed for current educators looking to take the next step in their career. Earn your degree from an accredited non-profit university. No Application Fee!