2019 Accredited Online Educational Leadership Programs

Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Degree Levels: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $23,313
Avg Salary: $69,289

The 241 online educational leadership degrees on this page prepare students for careers such as the principal, vice principal, or department head at an elementary and secondary school or an academic dean at institutions of higher education. In addition to the comprehensive list of available online educational leadership degrees, we provide a list of the best online master's programs in educational leadership, ranked based on tuition costs and alumni salaries provided by PayScale.

Students are encouraged to select an educational leadership program that has been accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This agency is recognized by the US Department of Education as a reputable, independent accrediting agency that enforces high academic standards.

Find an Online Degree:

Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Educational Leadership Degrees ( 79)

Partner School
Partner School
Full List Accreditation Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
Full List (88)
Abilene Christian University SACS COC $20,664 100% (6 reviews)
53 Programs, 4 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership - Conflict Management and Resolution
  • Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership - Higher Education
  • Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership - Learning with Emerging Technologies
American University MSCHE $30,246 100% (2 reviews)
54 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • EdD in Education Policy and Leadership
Andrews University HLC $26,522 Add Review
36 Programs, 5 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership
  • Doctorate in Education Leadership
Appalachian State University SACS COC $21,331 100% (4 reviews)
47 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
Argosy University Online WASC WSCUC $13,656 50% (123 reviews)
88 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Leadership (EdD)
Arizona State University HLC $6,342 - $25,018 68% (82 reviews)
223 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation
Ashford University WASC WSCUC $10,386 - $15,192 68% (643 reviews)
213 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Psychology - Educational Leadership
Auburn University SACS COC $29,658 100% (2 reviews)
114 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ph.D. in Administration of Elementary and Secondary Education
Bethel University - MN HLC $9,630 100% (1 review)
59 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in K-12 Administration
California Coast University DEAC --- 90% (62 reviews)
86 Programs, 3 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Administration
  • Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership
  • Ed.D. Educational Administration
Capella University HLC $14,842 65% (580 reviews)
232 Programs, 10 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • EdD - Educational Leadership and Management
  • EdD - Performance Improvement Leadership
  • EdD - Teacher Leader in Digital Transformation
  • EdD - Teacher Leader in K-12 Studies
Central Michigan University HLC $18,942 67% (3 reviews)
102 Programs, 5 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Educational Technology
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Higher Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - K-12 Curriculum
City University of Seattle NWCCU $15,264 54% (28 reviews)
67 Programs, 3 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership - Higher Education
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership - Organizational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership - Specialized Study
Colorado Technical University - Online HLC Not Provided 64% (282 reviews)
123 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Management - Higher Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Management - Private Sector Higher Education Leadership
Columbia International University SACS COC $9,730 100% (1 review)
71 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ph.D. in Educational Leadership
Columbus State University SACS COC $13,822 20% (5 reviews)
55 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Leadership - Higher Education Administration
Concordia University - Portland NWCCU $20,910 55% (47 reviews)
53 Programs, 5 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership: Administrative Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership: Higher Education
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership: Instructional Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership: Transformational Leadership
Concordia University-Irvine WASC WSCUC $7,914 0% (1 review)
32 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed. D.) in Educational Leadership
Drexel University MSCHE $33,996 60% (5 reviews)
320 Programs, 10 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership - Athletic Administration
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership - Creativity and Innovation
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership - Educational Administration
Duquesne University MSCHE $22,662 25% (4 reviews)
35 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Instruction Technology and Leadership
Evangel University HLC $9,114 Add Review
13 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction
Florida State University SACS COC $26,707 100% (3 reviews)
57 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Policy
The George Washington University MSCHE $29,840 75% (4 reviews)
131 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist (EdS) in Educational Leadership and Administration
Grand Canyon University HLC $10,555 53% (413 reviews)
220 Programs, 6 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Behavioral Health
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Higher Education Leadership
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - K-12 Leadership
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Organizational Development
Hampton University SACS COC $11,350 Add Review
30 Programs, 5 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Management
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Management - Higher Education
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Management - Pre-K-12 Education
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Management - Special Education
Indiana State University HLC $14,474 88% (8 reviews)
83 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Administration: Higher Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Administration: School Administration
Johnson University SACS COC $8,850 Add Review
48 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • PhD in Leadership Studies - Educational Leadership
Kennesaw State University SACS COC $19,547 - $22,275 75% (4 reviews)
96 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership
Lamar University SACS COC $15,582 67% (9 reviews)
50 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Global Educational Leadership
Liberty University SACS COC $8,475 60% (245 reviews)
559 Programs, 4 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction: Educational Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
  • PhD: Education: Organizational Leadership
  • PhD: Higher Education Administration: Education Leadership
Marshall University HLC $19,522 Add Review
41 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies
Maryville University HLC $15,646 7% (14 reviews)
72 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences NECHE $21,870 Add Review
40 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Health Sciences -Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies-Educational Leadership
Minnesota State University-Moorhead HLC $19,006 Add Review
43 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership
Mississippi College SACS COC $11,222 Add Review
41 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership – Curriculum & Instruction track
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership – K-12 Administration track
Mississippi State University SACS COC $22,358 0% (1 review)
83 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Community College Leadership
Morehead State University SACS COC $10,422 Add Review
51 Programs, 3 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education - Adult and Higher Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Education - Educational Technology Leadership
  • Doctor of Education - P-12 Administrative Leadership
Morgan State University MSCHE $16,020 Add Review
9 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Community College Leadership
National Louis University HLC $11,364 Add Review
71 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership
  • Ed.S. in Higher Education Leadership
Nebraska Methodist College HLC $13,236 100% (1 review)
38 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • EdD - Education & Leadership in Healthcare
North Carolina A&T State University SACS COC $20,136 100% (1 review)
55 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership Studies - Higher Education and Community Colleges
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership Studies - Leadership for K-20 Diversity and Educational Justice
Northcentral University WASC WSCUC $17,526 49% (214 reviews)
272 Programs, 17 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education - Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education - Instructional Leadership
  • Doctor of Education - International Education
  • Doctor of Education - Leadership in Higher Education
Northeastern University NECHE $23,688 100% (10 reviews)
244 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education - Higher Education Administration
  • Doctor of Education - Organizational Leadership Studies
Northwest Nazarene University NWCCU $9,759 Add Review
28 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership
Northwestern State University of Louisiana SACS COC $19,275 100% (2 reviews)
116 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Adult Learning and Development - Community College Leadership
Notre Dame of Maryland University MSCHE $11,840 Add Review
14 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Leadership for Changing Populations
Nova Southeastern University SACS COC $20,419 71% (7 reviews)
228 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership
Old Dominion University SACS COC $29,976 80% (10 reviews)
153 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Community College Leadership
Point Park University MSCHE $16,938 Add Review
38 Programs, 5 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration
  • Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration - Cognate (Three Years Track)
  • Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration - K-12 Administration (Three Years Track)
  • Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration - Professional Leadership (Three Years Track)
Regent University Online SACS COC $13,326 54% (13 reviews)
519 Programs, 34 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) - Advanced Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) - Character Education
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) - Christian Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) - Exceptional Education Executive Leadership
Rowan University MSCHE $16,050 100% (1 review)
52 Programs, 4 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Community College Leadership Initiative
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Higher Education
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - P-12
Saint Leo University Online SACS COC $9,990 68% (83 reviews)
136 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education: School Leadership
Saint Thomas University SACS COC $14,256 Add Review
23 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation
  • EdD Leadership and Innovation
Sam Houston State University SACS COC $15,045 100% (2 reviews)
65 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Developmental Education Administration
Saybrook University Hybrid Online WASC WSCUC $27,439 Add Review
43 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ph.D. Organizational Systems, Educational Leadership
Southeastern University SACS COC $12,960 100% (1 review)
37 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education
Southwestern College - KS HLC $10,620 100% (1 review)
52 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership - Licensure Track
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership - Non-Licensure Track
St. John's University MSCHE $18,175 Add Review
41 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ph.D. in Literacy: Educational Leadership
Texas A & M University-Commerce SACS COC $13,664 86% (7 reviews)
50 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Administration
Texas Tech University SACS COC $15,193 0% (2 reviews)
117 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership Policy
Trevecca Nazarene University SACS COC $9,968 Add Review
49 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership & Professional Practice
Trident University International WASC WSCUC $6,120 76% (70 reviews)
90 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Leadership (Ed. D.)
  • Educational Leadership (Ph. D. EL)
Union University SACS COC $8,020 Add Review
52 Programs, 4 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • EdD in P-12 School Administration - Instructional Leadership
  • EdD in P-12 School Administration - Leadership in School Reform
  • EdD in P-12 School Administration - Teacher Leadership
  • EdS in Educational Leadership - Teacher Leadership
University of Arkansas HLC $20,792 100% (2 reviews)
78 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
University of Bridgeport NECHE $18,320 0% (1 review)
17 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership - International Education Specialization
University of Florida SACS COC $30,130 60% (5 reviews)
245 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • EdD in Higher Education Administration
University of Houston SACS COC $18,316 50% (2 reviews)
54 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - Professional Leadership, Social Studies/Social Education
University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign HLC $31,811 Add Review
129 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in International Education Administration and Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Learning Design & Leadership
University of Kentucky SACS COC $30,224 100% (4 reviews)
79 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership Studies - Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership Studies - Educational Leadership
University of Louisiana-Monroe SACS COC $21,084 100% (2 reviews)
65 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
University of Maryland University College MSCHE $12,132 60% (188 reviews)
111 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Management in Community College Policy and Administration
University of Massachusetts-Lowell NECHE $26,820 83% (6 reviews)
87 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership in Schooling
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership in Schooling - STEM Option
University of Nebraska-Lincoln HLC $24,278 Add Review
82 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Studies - Educational Leadership and Higher Education
University of North Dakota HLC $22,027 67% (3 reviews)
198 Programs, 4 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Practice and Leadership - Higher Education
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Practice and Leadership - School Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Practice and Leadership - Special Education
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Practice and Leadership - Teacher Education
University of North Georgia SACS COC $18,040 Add Review
32 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership and Practice
University of Northern Colorado HLC $21,402 Add Review
61 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Studies
University of Phoenix HLC $12,793 - $17,760 60% (1121 reviews)
124 Programs, 4 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Curriculum and Instruction
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Educational Technology
  • Doctor of Educational Leadership - Higher Education Administration
University of Southern California WASC WSCUC $44,013 64% (11 reviews)
115 Programs, 2 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctorate of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership
University of Southern Mississippi SACS COC $10,218 0% (1 review)
63 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Administration
University of the Cumberlands SACS COC $5,970 100% (3 reviews)
66 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse HLC $19,974 100% (1 review)
19 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Student Affairs Administration and Leadership
University of Wyoming HLC $14,847 100% (2 reviews)
46 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
Valdosta State University SACS COC $18,292 100% (6 reviews)
68 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership
Walden University HLC Not Provided 49% (492 reviews)
656 Programs, 11 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Community College Leadership
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Community College Leadership (Family Friendly)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (For Administrators)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (Non-Licensure; Family Friendly)
West Texas A & M University SACS COC $7,145 Add Review
42 Programs, 3 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Leadership in Higher Education
Western Kentucky University SACS COC $16,260 0% (1 review)
147 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Organizational Leadership
Wilkes University MSCHE $25,056 Add Review
50 Programs, 7 Doctorates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education - International
  • Doctor of Education - International - Instructional Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Curriculum and Instruction
William Carey University SACS COC $8,700 100% (2 reviews)
18 Programs, 1 Doctorate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Online Educational Leadership Degree Overview & Career Information

Educational leadership is a vital component of today's education system, which is in the midst of being reorganized and revamped to better suit the needs of today's students and economy. Most educational leadership degree holders already have experience as teachers or school counselors of some kind and are interested in advancing to positions that are higher up within the school or school district. In some cases, especially in terms of educational leaders at community colleges and universities, talented students can train to go directly into educational leadership positions.

Educational leadership degree programs exist solely at the graduate level. A master's or doctoral degree in educational leadership can lead to a career as a school principal, superintendent, policymaker, or college education professor. Most programs require that applicants have a valid teaching license and several years of experience as a teacher. These degrees cover topics like school improvement, instructional supervision, administration, curriculum development, and human resources. Some programs can lead to licensure as a school administrator. Students may be required to take part in a leadership internship in a school or on an education board.

The skills emphasized by educational leadership degree programs go beyond basic leadership and management techniques. Specific courses in the program range from school law and ethics to finance and budgeting. Many courses target curriculum development and instructional training. Additionally, more and more programs are incorporating diversity studies into their curricula. Communication skills, managing community relations, and evaluation techniques are important components of any program.

View Educational Leadership Programs View Educational Leadership Programs

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Educational Leadership

Students who are enrolled in an online bachelor's degree program in educational leadership or a similar field such as educational administration can expect to spend four years on their studies. There are also accelerated programs available to those who have already completed some college. The time it takes to finish this type of program will vary depending upon how many credits a student has already earned. Classes that students will likely take during their bachelor's programs include Effective Teaching Strategies, Organizational Management in Early Childhood Education, Human Resource Management, and Leadership in Practice. Upon earning their bachelor's degrees, graduates may go on to hold various leadership positions within the field, such as directing an early childcare facility, working as a Head Start coordinator, or even owning their own preschool. Bachelor's degrees in educational leadership can be found at colleges and universities, and in order to be admitted, a student will need to have earned a high school diploma or GED.

View Bachelor's Programs View Bachelor's Programs

Online Master's in Educational Leadership

Online master’s degrees in educational leadership are designed for current educators who plan to take up leadership positions in the field of education. Courses emphasize the development of leadership and organizational skills, and students build a broad range of competencies to help them become effective educators. Programs require completion of 33 to 45 credits, which takes two years. To learn more about online master's programs in educational leadership, see our master's overview which includes a list of the best programs.

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Online Doctoral Degrees in Educational Leadership

Online doctoral degree programs in educational leadership prepare students to become successful leaders and scholars in the educational field. Programs equip students with theoretical knowledge and practical skills to effectively manage the challenges in today’s complex educational setting. Areas of emphasis in doctoral degree programs include diversity, ethics, leadership, policy, and research. Applicants are required to hold a master’s degree in educational leadership or a related degree. Leadership experience in a school setting is also vital. To earn a doctoral degree, you must complete 60 credits, which takes approximately three to four years.

Areas of emphasis during doctoral training include curriculum development, educational governance and policy, organizational theory, program evaluation, and research. The coursework covers areas such as assessment and evaluation strategies, classroom management, curriculum design, educational administration, ethical and legal issues in education, human resources and professional development, leadership theory and management, leading innovation technology, organizational theory and behavior, policy, politics, and community relations, reform and innovation, and training and performance solutions.

Concentration areas in doctoral degree programs include educational planning and instructional leadership. Students are required to engage in research throughout the program, which allows them to develop competencies in research design, data collection, analysis, and reporting of research studies. Upon completion of doctoral coursework, students are required to take a comprehensive exam. Doctoral degree programs also require students to complete an independent research study and write a dissertation, which must be defended publicly.

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Online Certificates in Educational Leadership

An online certificate program in educational leadership trains those with an education background in the administrative and decision making abilities required to take on roles such as principal, school superintendent, or instructional coordinator. These programs usually take a year or less to complete and consist of 6 to 10 courses. Applicants need an accredited master’s degree in an education or teaching field, as well as professional teaching experience.

The curriculum for educational leadership certificates covers the business and administrative aspects of leading in education. Courses like school finance, school law, and personnel administration train students in the ins and outs of keeping a school running smoothly and efficiently. Other courses investigate the school’s relationship with the community, instructional development, and ways to apply research principles to school administration. Most programs require a practicum or internship experience, where students shadow a principal or another school administrator to see the challenges and practices related to these positions.

Graduates of accredited educational leadership certificate programs are in a good position to take their state’s school administrator licensing exam in order to qualify for an elementary, middle, or high school principal position. Others can go on to become instructional coordinators who help to develop teaching standards for schools. Other possible positions include public service, research, and policy roles in government agencies or non-profit education organizations.

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Career Specializations for Educational Leadership Graduates

A career in educational leadership generally means taking a position as a manager within an education system, either as a principal, assistant principal, academic dean, or as a department or district administrator. People who pursue this career field often have experience working directly with students as teachers, but that is not a requirement. It is necessary, however, that educational leaders have an interest in providing the highest-quality education available to the students they oversee.

Depending on which position an educational administrator takes on, he or she may be responsible for an entire school or school system, or they may handle one specific administrative area like budget, policy, or human resources. In a higher education setting at a college or university, the responsibilities of administrators are often even more far-reaching, including student housing and life services. Positions in this field can be very rewarding but require a significant amount of effort and commitment from the people who take them on. Many education leaders regularly work more than 40 hours a week, as well as on weekends and holidays.

Here are some of the educational leadership positions students may choose to pursue upon graduation:

  • Administration: Administrators at all levels are responsible for the overall management of educational systems and usually oversee multiple schools within a central district.
  • Elementary Education: Working primarily as principals and vice principals, leaders at this level ensure that elementary schools meet all state and national requirements and serve the needs of younger students.
  • Postsecondary Education: Usually educational leaders at this level are called department heads, chairs, or deans; they may manage anything from student services to specific academic departments.
  • Preschool and Child Care: Leaders in this field manage daycare centers and other pre-kindergarten facilities.
  • Secondary Education: Secondary school leaders manage junior and senior high schools, often dealing with larger systems than lower-level education administrators.

Education and Certification Requirements

Most people who currently work in educational leadership got there by first working as teachers or in other positions working directly with students. To work as a teacher, a bachelor's degree is almost always a minimum requirement. As such, people who decide to advance their career by working at an administrative level usually go on to pursue master's degrees to qualify for those positions. Administrators who manage and operate preschool and childcare facilities are the exception to this rule, as they often need only a bachelor's degree. However, for most elementary and secondary school principals and assistant principals, an accredited master's degree in educational leadership or administration is necessary. Central office administrators at this level also hold master's degrees and sometimes doctoral degrees, as well.

Most states require school principals to achieve certification, for which they usually need to pass an exam and obtain a master's degree from an accredited institution. Increasingly, schools require a period of mentoring for new leaders, as well, and many also require administrators to take continuing education courses throughout their careers. In many cases, a graduate degree can suffice, while other states require exams that are specific to educational administration. Checking a state's Department of Education website can help a candidate find the exact requirements.

For those interested in working at institutions of higher education, similar degree requirements apply. More candidates for these positions have achieved PhDs in their own academic field, educational administration, or both; almost all have achieved master's degree at least. However, state regulations do not usually apply to postsecondary education administrators, so no exams or certifications are needed.

The Importance of Accreditation

Most states require elementary and secondary education administrators to have a master's degree from an accredited institution, so it is recommended that students select an online educational leadership program that is recognized by the US Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accreditation helps guarantee that colleges and universities meet high academic standards and offer students an education that utilizes the most current research and information. It also enables students to transfer credits among other accredited schools and apply for financial aid.

The USDE recognizes accrediting agencies, such as the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) for the programmatic accreditation of educational leadership programs. Students can search the USDE database or the CHEA database for accredited programs and schools.

References

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