United States Education Leadership Graduate Programs & Schools
Educational leadership programs cover leadership, management, and training methods to promote student, teacher, and institutional success. Students may develop the knowledge and skills they need to analyze, evolve, and enact school policies, procedures, and reforms at systemic and organizational levels. Many educational leadership degrees also prepare graduates to apply for administrative and principal licensure. Whether your goal is to provide leadership in K-12, collegiate, and other school settings, or simply expand your administrative abilities, an education leadership program may be for you.i,ii
What is Educational Leadership?
At the most basic level, educational leadership is the set of skills and actions used to promote student achievement, teacher effectiveness and job satisfaction, and institutional improvement and success. An educational leadership degree could prepare professionals to work as school administrators, principals, counselors, directors, supervisors, content specialists, or in a variety of other positions.Educational leaders typically work closely with teachers, faculty, students, parents, and government bodies to create stability and effectiveness in school systems. They might create, manage, and control policies. They may also support and supervise teachers and other faculty.i,ii
Educational leadership has many applications. Some common areas are listed below.
- Student affairs administration
- Academic affairs administration
- Post-secondary education leadership
- Adult education administration and leadership
- Administration and leadership in the educational governmental agencies, non-profits, and NGOs
Who Might Pursue a Graduate Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration?
Typically, professionals who already have experience in the field of education pursue a graduate degree in educational leadership and administration. Many of them have teaching certificates, and some may have experience working in educational administration, curriculum design, or advocacy. They may work in K-12 education, collegiate education, adult education, or in administrative capacities at a school-based or central office.
In most cases, they care deeply about education and its ability (or inability) to promote student success. They’re commonly interested in taking on professional responsibility and accountability at advanced levels. Some may also hope to pursue licensure and earn an educational leadership degree to meet minimum requirements. There is no one type of student. Therefore a variety of educational leadership programs exist to meet many different needs.
What Graduate-Level Programs Are Available in Educational Leadership and Administration?
Educational leadership graduate degrees come in three primary levels:
- Certificate programs
- Master’s degree programs
- Doctorate degree programs
Within these types of programs, students might study specializations such as educational policy, educational research, or student affairs and development. Each has their own requirements and goals. Therefore it's important to conduct your own research to determine which educational leadership program might fit your needs.
Certificate in Educatinoal Leadership Programs
The educational leadership certificate may be a great option for students who want to focus on educational leadership and administration but already have a master’s degree in another subject. These are shorter, more concentrated programs, allowing students to focus their studies on a specific area. Many certificate programs prepare students to apply for school leadership and administration licensure. Depending on the program, they may help professionals become assistant principals, principals, or supervisors at schools or central offices. Most certificate programs require one to two years of full time study.
Masters in Educational Leadership Programs
Master’s in educational leadership and administration programs typically come in one of three forms: the Master of Science, Master of Education or Master of Arts. Programs may focus on core topics in education leadership and administration, as well as a specific functional area. Examples include higher education, K-12 settings, teacher leadership and student services. Core classes could touch on student learning and development; program curricula delivery and assessment, educational analysis (with an emphasis on data, statistics, and research) and educational access and opportunity (with an emphasis on economics and diversity, for example). Electives and emphasis courses may then allow students to further tailor their program.
In addition to classroom study, some mastesr in education leadership programs may have a research component. This could be especially important to those interested in going on to pursue a PhD or Ed.D. Others may end with a final capstone project. Students typically pursue a masters in educational leadership over the course of two to three years full time study.
Some masters in educational leadership programs are designed to prepare graduates for administrator or principal licensure. Licensure varies by state, so ensure programs of interest meet your states needs if this is important to you.
Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration Programs
Many professionals in the field of education opt to pursue a doctorate degree (EdD) or PhD in educational leadership and administration. The doctorate in educational leadership program often delivers curricula more suitable for practical application. PhD in educational leadership programs, on the other hand, often focus on research and contributing new theories to the education field. While doctorate programs commonly prepare students for leadership positions in K-12 and collegiate education, PhD programs may prepare professionals to work as educators and researchers in colleges and universities. Either type of degree might prepare students to work in schools or districts’ central offices. However, this is not always the case and ultimately, you should study each potential doctorate program carefully.
In most cases, it takes anywhere from three to six years for students to earn their EdD or PhD in educational leadership and administration, depending on individual program and course load.
What Might I Study in an Educational Leadership and Administration Graduate Program?
Ultimately, what you’ll study in a graduate-level educational leadership and administration graduate programs depends on the program level and the goals of the particular program. However, we can give you a sense of how your curriculum might be arranged and what subjects you might study.
First and foremost, many programs’ credits, courses, and field requirements may be designed according to licensure requirements. Licensure requirements vary by state, so you may want to check with your state’s department of education and ensure that the program you select meets those requirements.
Second, most programs will orient around a collective of core and elective credits. To conclude your program, you might have to take a comprehensive exam, complete an internship, or write a thesis or dissertation.
Third, most educational leadership and administration programs cover subjects that prepare students to think about and take action in areas critical to educational success and reform. In any given program, you might cover the following topics.
- Theories of leadership and leadership styles
- Diversity in the classroom and institution
- Resource management
- Legal and ethical aspects of leadership and administration
- Data analysis and statistics
- Principalship (and department, school, and district leadership)
- Instructional leadership
- Methods of educational research (quantitative and qualitative)
- Philosophies of teaching and learning
- Curriculum, instruction, and assessment
- Special education
- ESL, TEFL, and TESOL
- Pedagogy and epistemology
- Human development
- Education and business theories
Through courses in subjects like these and others, professionals in educational leadership and administration graduate programs may study theoretical and practical applications and explore various aspects of education and leadership. They may discuss the challenges of today’s education system and ponder how to direct and transform education in the future. These are just some of the many things students might study in their Educational Leadership programs. Contact schools for a full course list.
How Can I Find Graduate Educational Leadership Programs?
You can begin your search for Educational Leadership Programs (certificate, master’s or doctorate degree programs in educational leadership and administration) here. We created a list of programs to scroll through and get a sense of what’s available. You can also opt to learn more or request additional information directly from the institution. Alternatively, you can use our search tool to refine your search and browse Educational Leadership Graduate Programs by type, format or location. Start your journey to an educational leadership degree today!
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/postsecondary-education-administrators.htm#tab-4
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