Educational Leadership Degree Programs in United States
What is Educational Leadership Degree?
An Educational Leadership degree (MEdL), studies the management side of education. It then applies key points to empower teachers. These programs aim to arm teachers with skills to lead schools and student outcomes.
Some programs focus on business and day to day work. These programs may ready teachers to take on school or district leadership jobs. Others discuss what students learn and how to teach them. These skills may help teachers lead change in school policy.
written by Rana Waxman
Educational Leadership Degrees in United States
What Can You Do With a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership?
A master’s degree in educational leadership will prepare you to join a work force of over 5.05 million. Most are women between the ages of 36 and 45. Of these workers, over half (56.9%) are teachers. Others are:
- 4.5% are Education Admins (Principals, Deans, Student Affairs Leaders)
- 0.2% are Education Specialists
These leaders are expected to have a certain set of skills. They need to promote how well students do on tests and help them each other goals. They are also held to both school and teacher success. To pursue the following admin roles, you'll need a master's or PhD.
- Principal, Dean (PhD)
- School Administrator (Masters)
- School Superintendent (Masters)
- Guidance Counselor (Masters)
- Admissions Director (Masters)
- Financial Aid Director (Masters)
The BLS tells us the job outlook for educational leaders is expected to grow faster than average through 2028. The growth will go up and down according to state budgets and student enrollments. Most Education Admin work in:
- Colleges and Professional Schools
- Junior Colleges
- Technical and Trade Schools
- Elementary and High Schools
Is a Master's in Educational Leadership Worth It?
If your goal is to become a leader in education 'worth' is not the right question. If you don't earn the degree, you likely will not have the chance to apply for the job. Starting with the fact that in most states, public school principals need a license. The same is true for superintendents. It is common that the master's degree is needed for the license.
Also, there is the potential to earn more money. One study, found that Education Admins with a master's degree earned 44% more than those with a bachelor's’ degree.
Average Salaries from the BLS
|Education Administrators||$95,270||477, 750|
|Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center||$53,550||49,130|
|Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School||$97,440||250,280|
|Education Administrators, All Other||$88,240||36,190|
Top States for Employment: Education Administrators
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Lansing-East Lansing, MI||$155,870||Not Reported|
|Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC||$135,930||240|
Masters in Educational Leadership vs a PhD
Which degree level is the right path for your goals? Both the Master's and Doctorate in Education Leadership offer unique courses and outcomes.
A MA in Educational Leadership is often up to 36 credits. It may expose you to research based tactics. You may learn how to apply make data driven decisions related to teaching, student learning and school leadership.
College settings often want a higher level of education. Deans and school provosts may need a PhD. PhDs often span 54 credits, and allow you to choose an emphasis. A PhD program should teach you how to conduct research. Then apply findings to classroom, school or course content. This would allow you to identify, assess and resolve issues.
Educational Leadership Degree Guide
MEd in Educational Leadership
PhD Educational Leadership
EdD - Doctor of Educational Leadership
Length of Program: 11 courses including School Exec Internship
The program may ready you to resolve disputes and manage people and money in a school setting. In tandem, students hone a personal leadership style.
Length: 23 courses, Superintendent Internship
This program focuses on the research, leadership, management, and problem solving skills principals and superintendents need in today’s K - 12 world.
Program Length: 17 courses including Internship
The EdD aims to excel students as university faculty members, policy-makers and senior level leaders. Core education concepts like learning theory and exposes students to applied research and management.
|Program Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)|
Program Accreditation: CAEP
A PhD in Educational Leadership is a research degree. Unlike the EdD, a PhD involves forging new ideas through your own process. Through a wide range of topics, it may help you learn ethical and manager skills. Also, it may be a useful way to develop as a problem solver. PhD pathways include:
- Independent Research
- Chief Executive in College Setting
- College Faculty Position
To enroll in an educational leadership program, you’ll often need three things. A bachelor’s degree, teaching certificate and experience.
In a common program, classes focus on being an agent of change. You will study a range of topics and do a final project or internship. Along the way, you may learn about your own style as a leader and how to leverage it in a chosen setting. It all depends on which program you pick.
If pursuing license is your goal, check program details to make sure the program offers a pathway. A few focused programs include:
- MS in Education - Edu Theory and Practice
This type of program may help in the pursuit of National Board Certification. It may cover curriculum theory in depth. As such, one may learn to improve student outcomes.
- MS in Student Affairs in Higher Education
This type of program may look at the day to day working of a college. It may help you grow skills as an admin. Some topics focus on student affairs theories and diversity. These may cover areas like advising, student activities and life on campus.
- EdS in Educational Leadership and Administration
This type of program often suits students with a master’s degree who want further credentials. It may ready you to lead and promote in the area of student success.
- Doctor of Management: Private Sector Higher Education Leadership
Pursue senior level academic jobs in private schools. This type of program may boost skills as a manager and leader. It may cover areas like how to set policy. Also, you'll often study how take charge of resources, staff and outcomes.
What Classes Will I Take?
Some themes address admin strategies and skills. For instance, school finance and scheduling. Others may touch on student assessment, public outreach and school law. These may help you excel as a principal, administrator or researcher.
Education Law and Ethics: In this class, one might look at the legal aspects of leadership. Topics may get into things like due process, search and seizure and sexual misconduct.
Curriculum Development: This class may ready you to plan and build what students study. Topics may cover both theory and methods. The goal often to find areas that need an upgrade.
Improving Instruction: Here, one may learn how to apply data to make decisions about how to teach. For example, student outcomes and how to improve them.
Educational Leader Theory: A central course which may bring up issues that modern school leaders face. You may for instance look at work place behaviors in school systems.
Accreditation is a form of quality control by an outside agency. Some schools maintain two kinds of approval. One for the school as a whole. The other, to certain programs.
It is important to look for a school to be both regionally accredited. And, for the educational leadership degree program to be accredited. For one, these schools make it possible to apply for financial aid.
Specific agencies review programs. Their interest is in what students are learning at the program level. Education is a regulated industry that follows ethics and principles. As such, accredited programs keep up the standards for teachers and industry leaders.
One such agency is CAEP, the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Their goal is to set and check standards in programs that ready teachers. Another is The National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA). This alliance aims to set the bar for leaders in the school system.
In many cases, earning a degree approved by one of these agencies is needed to earn a licence.
How long is a Masters in Educational Leadership?
It may take about two years part time to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership. If you study full time it may take about one year. The number of credits varies (30 - 36) and this also impacts the length.
|# of Credits||Min Months to Complete|
|University of Cincinnati||30||21 months|
|Queens University of Charlotte||33||22 months|
|Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota||33||Less than 2 years|
|Grand Canyon University||30||Each course is 6 weeks, completion time N/A|
How Much Does A Masters in Educational Leadership Degree Cost?
The average cost of a of a graduate degree from a public school is $11,617 per year. This means you will be able to find programs that cost more and less than the average.
To give specific examples, this graph shows graduate tuition costs of 4 schools with Educational Leadership Graduate Programs as reported by the NCES. We have then compared those costs to the average college options, also as reported by NCES.
What are the Costs per Credit for a MEd in Educational Leadership?
Cost per credit of course is different at every college. State schools are also likely to have in state costs vs out of state costs. Below are a few examples of the cost per credit as reported by each one of these schools.
|# of Credits||Cost Per Credit||TotAL Cost|
|Grand Canyon University||30||$530||$15,900|
|Penn State University||30||$886||$26,580|
|Queens University of Charlotte||33||$400||$13,200|
|University of Cincinnati||30||$739||$22,170|
Top 68 Educational Leadership Degree Programs in United States:
- Accredited online university.
- Capella University offers doctoral programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession.
- Competency-based curriculum delivers both foundation knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you’re learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.
Northcentral UniversityDoctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Education - International Education Education Specialist - Instructional Leadership Education Specialist - Leadership in Higher Education Education Specialist - Organizational Leadership Doctor of Education - Organizational Leadership Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Organizational Leadership Education Specialist in Educational Leadership Master of Education - Corporate Wellness
Dakota Wesleyan UniversityMaster of Arts in Educational Policy and Administration
University of PennsylvaniaTeaching, Learning, and Learning, M.S.Ed. School Leadership Quantitative Methods Education Policy Educational Leadership Mid-Career Doctorate in Educational Leadership
The George Washington UniversityMA in Education and Human Development in Educational Leadership and Administration Education Specialist in Educational Leadership and Administration
Johns Hopkins UniversityMaster of Science in Research Administration
Queens University of CharlotteMaster of Arts in Educational Leadership
Walden UniversityDoctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (Non-Licensure) Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (For Administrators) Doctor of Education (EdD) - Community College Leadership Doctor of Education (EdD) - Higher Education Leadership & Management PhD in Education - Education Policy, Leadership & Management PhD in Education - Organizational Research, Assessment & Evaluation PhD in Education - Higher Education Leadership, Management & Policy MS in Education - Educational Leadership & Administration (International; Non-Licensure) MS in Education - Teacher Leadership (Grades K-12)
Purdue University GlobalM.S. in Higher Education - College Administration and Leadership
Concordia University-PortlandMEd in Educational Leadership MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - Educational Technology Leadership EdD in Educational Leadership - Transformational Leadership EdD in Educational Leadership - Instructional Leadership EdD in Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation EdD in Educational Leadership - Administrative Leadership
Saint Mary's University of MinnesotaEd.S. in Educational Administration Ed.D. in Leadership
Grand Canyon UniversityM.Ed. in Educational Leadership (NITL) M.Ed. in Educational Administration (ITL) Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Behavioral Health Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership in with an Emphasis in K-12 Leadership Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development Ed. S. in K-12 Leadership
Trident University InternationalEducational Leadership (Ph.D.) Educational Leadership (Ed. D.)
University of DelawareMaster of Education in Teacher Leadership
Colorado Technical UniversityDoctorate of Management - Private Sector Higher Education Leadership
Liberty University OnlineMED: Higher Education: Educational Leadership MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Student Services (Non-Licensure) MED: Administration and Supervision: Teacher Licensure Education Specialist: Educational Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration: Education Leadership PHD Education: Educational Law Doctor of Education: Educational Leadership PHD: Higher Education Administration: Education Leadership PHD: Public Policy: Education Policy EDS: Higher Education Administration