Graduate Degree Programs in Educational Leadership Administration in Chicago

What is a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership?

A Master’s in Educational Leadership (MEdL) studies the managerial side of education. It then applies key points to empower teachers. They'll often have the skills and knowledge to lead schools and student outcomes.

Some programs focus on business and day to day operations. These may ready teachers to take on school or district-level leadership positions. Others discuss what students learn and how to teach them. These often help teachers lead in positive change in policy and processes.

Chicago Education Leadership Graduate Programswritten by Rana Waxman

What Can You Do With a Masters in Educational Leadership?

A master’s degree in educational leadership will prepare you to join a workforce 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 administrators (Principals, Deans, Student Affairs Administration)
  • 0.2% are Education Specialists

At the most basic level, educational leadership asks for a set of skills and actions. These promote things like how well students perform on tests or achieve goals. They also speak to teacher effectiveness and whether an institution succeeds.

Per, the job outlook for educational leaders is as fast as national averages through 2026. This is due to the impact of state and local budgets. Also, to the flux in student enrollment. Take a look at the demand for the following careers.

  • Postsecondary Administrators: 10 %
  • Education Specialists: 11%
  • Elementary, Middle, High School Principals: 8%

Do You Need a Master’s in Educational Leadership?

There are three main reasons to pursue a master's degree in educational leadership.

The first is job opportunity. A bachelor's degree is often enough to begin teaching or go after an initial credential. But, to pursue the following administrative roles, you'll need a master's or PhD.

  • Principal, Dean (PhD)
  • School Administrator (Masters)
  • School Superintendent (Masters)
  • School/Guidance Counselor (Masters)
  • Admissions Director (Masters)
  • Financial Aid Director (Masters)

Another reason you’ll need a master’s degree has to do with licensure. In most states, public school principals need a license. The same is true for superintendents. It is common that the master's degree is a criterion for eligibility.

Third is the potential to earn more as you take on extra responsibility. One study, for instance, took a look at Education Administrators. They found that those with a master's degree earned 44% more than those with a bachelor's’ degree.

What Jobs can you get with an Educational Leadership Degree?

With a grad degree in educational leadership you might pursue a range of careers. Most of these are administrative such as school principal. Yet there are different ways to apply leadership skills:

  • Student Affairs
  • Registration
  • Admissions
  • Content Specialist
  • Oversee Faculty Research

Education leaders watch over students, staff and day to day business. Often, they are in charge of policy, budgets and student activities. Together, these skills may help a school, college or university be a place of growth and learning.

Depending on where you want to work, there are different requirements. For K-12 schools, administrators need a master's degree to pursue state licensure. In a university setting, leaders such as Chief Education Officers need a PhD.


Average Salary


Education Administrators


477, 750

Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program



Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School 



Education Administrators, All Other$88,24036,190

Top States for Employment: Education Administrators, Postsecondary



Annual Mean Wage




New York












Most Education Administrators (postsecondary) work full time. They work mainly in:

  • Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools
  • Junior Colleges
  • Technical and trade Schools
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • Other types of schools and instruction

7,122 degrees are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics under the category of Human Resources Management/personnel/administration. In fact, in the most recent update of the data (2009/10), across the U.S., there were 3,837 degrees awarded to graduate students. The majority (99%) of these programs were at the master's level.

Educational Leadership or Doctor of Educational Leadership?

A popular query among students is which degree in educational leadership to pursue. Both the Master's and Doctorate in Education Leadership offer unique courses and outcomes.

A MA in Educational Leadership often requires up to 36 credits. It may expose you research-based tactics. You’ll often learn how to apply make data-driven decisions. These relate to teaching, student learning and school leadership. Some such programs offer a pathway to licensure. A credential necessary for most principals and superintendents.

Such programs often feature internships and business classes. In tandem, they may help you hone your own style of leading. You’ll also be credits closer to a PhD or Doctor of Educational Leadership.

University settings often demand a higher level of education. Deans and university provosts generally need a doctorate degree. If this is your goal you might think about a Doctor of Education. These programs often span 54 credits and allow you to choose an emphasis. Educational leadership and Learning in Organizations is one example.

Such programs may help you make sense of industry research. Then apply findings to your classroom, school or course content. You may thus learn to identify, assess and resolve operations in the workplace. This may help if you are a current educator and want to refine your approach.

Educational Leadership Guide

Master in Educational Leadership*

Doctor of Educational Leadership*

Master of Arts in Educational Leadership

Doctor of Education: Educational Leadership

Length of Program: 22 months -

33 credit hours plus at least 200 hours of School Executive Internship

Length of Program: 3 years (average)

60 credit hours

Professional development to excel as a principal or administration leader. 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.

Professional development to excel as a university faculty member, policy-maker, senior level leader. The program has a core of education concepts like learning theory and exposes students to applied research and management

  • Leading Diversity
  • Building Community
  • Leading in Human Resources and Finance
  • Education Law & Ethics
  • Curriculum Development
  • Educational Leadership & Public Relations
  • Organizational Analysis & Problem Solving for Education
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Issues and Trends in Educational Leadership
  • Instructional Methods

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) through CAEP

*Sponsored Degree

A PhD in Educational Leadership is a research degree. Unlike the EdD, a PhD involves forging new ideas through independent inquiry. Through a wide range of topics, it may help you learn ethical managerial skills. Also, it may be a useful and holistic way to develop as a problem solver and to: Develop subject matter expertise Plan and develop curriculums Learn analytical methods In some schools (Capella is one), the PhD in Educational Leadership comes with a choice of emphasis in school or district leadership. In others, you might focus on college administration and management (E.g. Purdue)

You might also choose a PhD to ready you to pursue licensure as a K-12 principal or superintendent. Apart from this possible outcome, the PhD is well known as a pathway towards:

  • Thought Leadership and Independent Research
  • Chief Executive in University Setting
  • University Faculty Position
  • Collegiate Teaching

If your end game involves any of these, a PhD may have a leg up on a Master’s in Educational Leadership. It may be worthwhile to keep all options open.

What Requirements Are Needed for Educational Leadership?

To enroll in an educational leadership program, you’ll often need three things. A bachelor’s degree, teaching certificate and experience.

In a typical program, classes focus is on being an agent of change. You’ll study a range of topics and complete 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.

There is a full menu of Masters (MA, MS, MEd EdS) and Doctorate (EdD, PhD) programs to choose from. Each may further allow one to explore a specific area such as:

  • Early Childhood Leadership
  • Educational Leadership (Non-Licensure)
  • Online Learning and Leadership
  • Principal Leadership
  • Special Education

If pursuing licensure is your goal, check program details and state board. Licensure may cover areas like building principal, assistant principal, or athletic director.

We’ll discuss a few programs and classes to give you a feel for where your interests lie.

MA in Literacy Education

This type of program may help in the pursuit of a PK-12 Reading Specialist/Consultant Certificate. Topics may include areas like reading difficulties and children’s literature.

MEd in Instructional Leadership

This type of program is about teacher leadership. It may ready teachers to lead in their class, district or school.

MS in Education - Educational 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 operations in a university. It may help you grow skills as an administrator. Some topics focus on student affairs theories and diversity. These may cover areas like advising, student activities and life on campus.

MEd in Curriculum and Instruction

This kind of program focuses the design, development, and uses of curriculums. One often learns to make sense of data and apply it to teach students. It may appeal to those who want to shape policy or train other teachers

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 achievement.

Doctor of Management: Private Sector Higher Education Leadership

Classes may ready you to pursue senior level academic positions in private institutions. 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 administrative strategies and skills. For instance, school finance and scheduling. Others may touch on student assessment, community outreach and school law. These may help you excel as a principal, administration leader, researcher or teacher.

Education Law and Ethics: In this class, one might look at the legal aspects of leadership. 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 curriculums. Topics may cover both theory and methods. The goal is often to uncover areas that need an upgrade.

Improving Instruction: In this class one may learn to use data to make decisions about how to teach. There may be a discussion of student outcomes and how to improve them.
Organizational Management: In this class you may look at how to line up all types of resources. Then use a systems approach to make a school safe place for teaching and learning.

Educational Leadership Theory: A central course which may bring up issues that modern school leaders face. It may touch on both theory and practice. You may for instance look at workplace behaviors in school systems.

What Should I know About Accreditation in Educational Leadership?

Accreditation is a form of control by an outside agency. Some universities maintain two kinds of approval. One speaks to the school as a whole. The other to the programs it houses.

It is important to look for an accredited school and educational leadership program. For one, these schools make it possible to apply for financial aid.

Also, they check things like student services and faculty meet standards. Since a review usually covers a set time frame (E.g. 7-10) years, schools need to re-certify to keep their status.

Professional accreditors review programs. Their interest is in what students are learning. 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 purview is to set and check standards in programs that ready teachers.

Another is The National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA). They are an alliance with a shared goal. To set the bar for education leaders in the school system. They are an alliance with a shared goal. To set the bar for education leaders in the school system.

Recently, they worked on a set of professional standards (PSEL). This guide for education leaders sets norms that state boards of education will use. It will help guide their licensure and professional programs.

Why Accreditation Matters? Going for Principal/Superintendent Licensure

After graduating from an accredited program, a teacher may seek state credentials. Each state varies in the demands it places on aspiring school leaders.

Yet, it is common you'll have to show you completed a ‘state-approved’ program. Such accredited programs prepare tomorrow’s leaders with suitable skills and knowledge.

How long is a Masters Program 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 program length and completion times.


# of Credits Required

Starts Per Year Dates

Minimum Months to Complete

University of Cincinnati



Contact school

21 months

Queens University of Charlotte



Contact school

22 months

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota



Spring, Summer, Fall

Less than 2 years

Grand Canyon University





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 institution is $11,617 per year. This means you will be able to find programs both more affordable and more expensive than the average.

To give specific examples, this visualization shows graduate tuition costs of 4 institutions with Educational Leadership Graduate Programs as reported by the NCES. We have then compared those costs to the typically most affordable and most expensive college options, also as reported by NCES

        Instate/Out Of State Tuition


$11,617 Average Public Institution University Tuition
$14,784 Average Private For Profit Institution Tuition
$26,551 Average Private Nonprofit Institution Tuition

What are the Costs per Credit for Masters in Educational Leadership?

Cost per credit of course is different at every College or University. State Universities 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 institutions.

University# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTuition Cost

Grand Canyon University






Pennsylvania State University




Queens University of Charlotte 





University of Cincinnati





Best 45 Educational Leadership Graduate Programs in Chicago Below:

  • 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.
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