2019 Accredited Online Educational Leadership Programs

Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Degree Levels: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $24,324
Avg Salary: $69,289

The 341 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 ( 171)

Partner School
Partner School
Full List Accreditation Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
Full List (166)
Adams State University HLC $20,456 50% (2 reviews)
29 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Endorsement for Principal Licensure
American Public University System HLC $6,880 71% (146 reviews)
462 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in K-12 Virtual School Administration
Andrews University HLC $28,436 Add Review
40 Programs, 6 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Education Leadership
  • Education Specialist in Higher Education Administration
  • Education Specialist in Leadership
  • Graduate Certificate in Education Leadership - Principal
Angelo State University SACS COC $17,161 100% (1 review)
44 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certification in Texas Superintendent
Appalachian State University SACS COC $22,109 100% (4 reviews)
47 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Educational Administration
  • Graduate Certificate in School Leadership
Arcadia University MSCHE $42,330 Add Review
8 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Pennsylvania Director Credential
Arkansas State University HLC $14,778 50% (4 reviews)
59 Programs, 4 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Special Education Director
  • Ed.S. in Principalship
  • Ed.S. in Superintendency
  • Graduate Certificate in Building-Level / Principal Administration
Auburn University SACS COC $29,640 100% (2 reviews)
129 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.S. in Administration of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership
  • Graduate Certificate in Instructional Leadership
Augusta University SACS COC $23,606 100% (2 reviews)
27 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • EdS in Educational Leadership
Ball State University HLC $25,942 100% (4 reviews)
160 Programs, 5 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Director of Career and Technical Education License
  • Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Administration
  • License for a Director of Exceptional Needs
  • License for Principals
Bethel University - IN HLC $28,030 Add Review
34 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • School Administration Licensure
Bethel University - MN HLC $36,210 100% (1 review)
59 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • K-12 Principal License
  • Superintendent License
Biola University WASC WSCUC $38,448 Add Review
45 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Child Development Permit - Site Supervisor
California Coast University DEAC $4,725 90% (62 reviews)
86 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Grad. Cert. in Educational Administration
  • Graduate Certificate in Educational Administration
California University of Pennsylvania MSCHE $15,326 80% (15 reviews)
108 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Administrative Program for Principals (K-12)
  • Superintendent Letter of Eligibility (SLE) Program
Canisius College MSCHE $36,454 100% (2 reviews)
25 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Advanced Certificate in School Building Leader
  • Advanced Certificate in School District Leader
Capella University HLC $14,250 65% (582 reviews)
232 Programs, 6 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate - Higher Education Leadership and Administration
  • Post-Master Certificate - Adult Education and Leadership
  • Post-Master Certificate - Educational Leadership and Management
  • Post-Master Certificate - Leadership and Accountability
Carson-Newman University SACS COC $27,400 Add Review
23 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Administrator's License Specialization
Central Michigan University HLC $23,670 67% (3 reviews)
85 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Specialist in Education - Administrative Leadership K-12
Champlain College NECHE $39,818 100% (3 reviews)
99 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Program Administration
City University of Seattle NWCCU $16,920 54% (28 reviews)
67 Programs, 4 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Contemporary School Leadership
  • Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership - Administrator
  • Graduate Certificate in Executive Leadership - Superintendent
  • Graduate Certificate in Transformational School Leadership
Clarion University MSCHE $15,636 100% (3 reviews)
68 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Skills for Teacher Leaders
Clemson University SACS COC $36,058 100% (2 reviews)
26 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Youth Development Leadership
Colorado Christian University HLC $30,370 60% (10 reviews)
104 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Principal Licensure
Colorado State University-Fort Collins HLC $28,903 100% (5 reviews)
81 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Student Affairs Administration
  • Graduate Certificate in Student Affairs Management of Auxiliary Enterprises
Colorado State University-Global Campus HLC $9,000 55% (60 reviews)
219 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Leadership - Principal Licensure
  • Graduate Certificate - Educational Licensure - Principal
Columbus State University SACS COC $16,920 20% (5 reviews)
55 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership (Tier 2 Certification)
  • Endorsement in Teacher Leadership
Concordia University - Portland NWCCU $30,270 55% (49 reviews)
55 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Preliminary Administrative Licensure Program
  • Professional Administrator Licensure (Pro-AL)
  • Trauma and Resilience Leadership in Educational Settings Certificate Program
Creighton University HLC $38,750 100% (3 reviews)
75 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Catholic School Leadership
Dallas Baptist University SACS COC $27,480 Add Review
164 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Advanced Graduate Certificate in Christian School Administration
  • Advanced Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration
  • Advanced Graduate Certificate in School Principalship
Delta State University SACS COC $6,859 0% (2 reviews)
36 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Educational Administration and Supervision
Drexel University MSCHE $52,002 60% (5 reviews)
320 Programs, 8 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Community College Administration and Leadership
  • Graduate Certificate in E-Learning Leadership
  • Graduate Certificate in Educational Policy
  • Graduate Certificate in K-12 Virtual School Leadership
East Carolina University SACS COC $23,420 100% (4 reviews)
120 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Dual Language Immersion Administration
Eastern Kentucky University SACS COC $18,250 33% (3 reviews)
102 Programs, 4 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Specialist in Education - Level I Principal
  • Endorsement Preparation in Director of Pupil Personnel
  • Endorsement Preparation in Superintendent of Schools
  • Endorsement Preparation in Supervisor of Instruction
Eastern Michigan University HLC $29,200 100% (3 reviews)
34 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Post-Master's Certificate in K-12 Basic Administration
Eastern University MSCHE $32,145 Add Review
32 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certification in School Principalship
  • Early Childhood Director Program
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania MSCHE $14,668 100% (2 reviews)
30 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Post-Master's Certificate in PA Principal K-12
  • Post-Master's Certificate in PA Supervisor of Special Education
  • Post-Master's Certificate in Superintendent Letter of Eligibility
Florida Atlantic University SACS COC $17,276 100% (4 reviews)
51 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Educational Leadership
  • Teacher Leadership Certificate
Florida State University SACS COC $18,786 100% (3 reviews)
55 Programs, 4 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Modified Certificate Program in Educational Leadership/Administration
  • Modified Program in Educational Leadership/Administration
  • Program Evaluation Graduate Certificate
  • Specialist in Educational Leadership/Administration
Franciscan University of Steubenville HLC $26,430 Add Review
13 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Principal Licensure
Gannon University MSCHE $30,932 Add Review
14 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Superintendent Letter of Eligibility
  • Principal K-12 Graduate Certificate
Gardner Webb University SACS COC $30,700 100% (1 review)
41 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Executive Leadership
  • School Administration Add-On Licensure
George Mason University SACS COC $34,370 Add Review
58 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Education Leadership
The George Washington University MSCHE $53,518 75% (4 reviews)
134 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate Educational Leadership and Administration
  • Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology Leadership
  • Post-master's Certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration
Georgetown College SACS COC $37,160 Add Review
24 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Literacy Specialist with Teacher Leader Endorsement
Georgia College & State University SACS COC $28,060 Add Review
23 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership
  • Education Specialist in Teacher Leadership
Georgia Southern University SACS COC $17,142 Add Review
70 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Leadership Tier I Certification
  • Educational Leadership Tier II Certification
  • Teacher Leadership Endorsement
Hope International University WASC WSCUC $31,800 100% (2 reviews)
82 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Credential in Preliminary Administrative Services
Immaculata University MSCHE $27,350 Add Review
24 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in K-12 Principal
Indiana State University HLC $19,452 88% (8 reviews)
79 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Specialist in School Administration
Indiana University - Bloomington HLC $34,845 100% (1 review)
67 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in EFL/ESL Teacher Preparation
Indiana Wesleyan University Online - Adult Education HLC $25,980 29% (7 reviews)
143 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Principal Licensure Program
Iowa State University HLC $22,472 100% (1 review)
61 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Superintendent
Jackson State University SACS COC $18,314 Add Review
26 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Specialist in Education in Educational Administration - Higher Education
Jacksonville State University SACS COC $15,582 100% (1 review)
61 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Specialist - Instructional Leadership
  • Educational Specialist - Teacher Leader
Johns Hopkins University MSCHE $52,170 Add Review
323 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Leadership in Technology Integration
  • Graduate Certificate in School Administration and Supervision
  • Graduate Certificate in STEM Instructional Leader (PreK-6)
Kennesaw State University SACS COC $8,066 - $17,329 75% (4 reviews)
97 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Endorsement in Educational Leadership Preservice
  • Endorsement in Teacher Leader
  • Specialist of Education in Teacher Leadership
Kent State University at Kent HLC $18,544 100% (1 review)
111 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate - Ohio Superintendent's Licensure
  • Graduate Certificate in Community College Leadership
Lamar University SACS COC $18,274 60% (10 reviews)
50 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Program Certificate in Principal Education
  • Program Certificate in Superintendent Education
Lewis University HLC $31,250 0% (1 review)
63 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Leadership
Liberty University SACS COC $11,700 59% (247 reviews)
543 Programs, 5 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.S. in Curriculum & Instruction: Educational Leadership
  • Ed.S. in Educational Leadership
  • Ed.S. in Higher Education Administration
  • GRAD CERT: Preschool
Loyola University Chicago HLC $43,078 Add Review
92 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Leading Inclusive Catholic Schools
  • Certificate in School Discipline Reform
Marshall University HLC $17,856 Add Review
41 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in School Principalship
McNeese State University SACS COC $15,958 100% (1 review)
26 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist - Educational Leadership
Mercer University SACS COC $36,000 Add Review
51 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Specialist in Teacher Leadership
  • Endorsement in Coaching
Michigan State University HLC $39,406 100% (3 reviews)
93 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Sport Coaching and Leadership
Minnesota State University at Mankato HLC $16,216 Add Review
47 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Graduate Certificate in Learning Communities and Leadership
Minnesota State University-Moorhead HLC $15,878 Add Review
49 Programs, 9 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Director of Community Education Licensure
  • Director of Special Education Licensure
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership - Generalist
Minot State University HLC $6,810 Add Review
37 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Special Education Strategist
Mississippi College SACS COC $17,392 Add Review
43 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration
Morehead State University SACS COC $13,426 Add Review
54 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Specialist in Education (Ed.S.) - Instructional leadership
Murray State University SACS COC $23,820 Add Review
66 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Management
New England College NECHE $36,954 38% (8 reviews)
89 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies - School Principal
  • Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies - School Superintendent
Newman University HLC $29,200 Add Review
20 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Licensure in Building Leadership
  • Licensure in District Leadership
North Carolina State University SACS COC $27,406 67% (3 reviews)
110 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Youth Development and Leadership
Northcentral University WASC WSCUC $17,526 49% (214 reviews)
266 Programs, 4 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Leadership for Improved Student Achievement
  • Post-Master’s Certificate in Educational Leadership
  • Post-Master’s Certificate in Instructional Leadership
  • Post-Master’s Certificate in Leadership in Higher Education
Northeastern State University HLC $14,022 100% (1 review)
25 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in School Administration
Northeastern University NECHE $49,497 100% (10 reviews)
314 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration
Northern Arizona University HLC $24,841 72% (18 reviews)
159 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate - Principal
Northern Kentucky University SACS COC $19,104 50% (4 reviews)
48 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership
Northwest Nazarene University NWCCU $29,000 Add Review
28 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership - Building Administrator
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership - Director of Special Education
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership - Leadership and Organizational Development
Northwest University NWCCU $30,320 Add Review
20 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Principal Certificate
Northwestern State University of Louisiana SACS COC $18,710 100% (2 reviews)
116 Programs, 5 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership and Instruction
  • Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership and Instruction - Educational Leadership
  • Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership and Instruction - Educational Technology
  • Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership and Instruction - Special Education
Oakland University HLC $23,873 100% (3 reviews)
16 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Leadership
Ohio University-Main Campus HLC $21,360 67% (3 reviews)
92 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Endorsement in Teacher Leader
Old Dominion University SACS COC $27,900 80% (10 reviews)
153 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership with Licensure
  • Graduate Certificate in Community College Leadership
Olivet Nazarene University HLC $34,940 9% (22 reviews)
43 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Teacher Leader Endorsement
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus MSCHE $13,988 67% (3 reviews)
231 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate for Principalship
Point Park University MSCHE $30,130 Add Review
38 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Pennsylvania School Principal K-12
  • Certificate in Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent Letter of Eligibility
Portland State University NWCCU $26,130 83% (6 reviews)
55 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Continuing Administrator License (CAL)
Post University Online NECHE Not Provided 36% (89 reviews)
127 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration
  • Graduate Certificate: Higher Education Administration
Regent University Online SACS COC $17,288 50% (14 reviews)
452 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Post-Master's Certificate in Advancing Leadership
Rowan University MSCHE $21,890 100% (1 review)
52 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Chief School Administrator
  • Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Principal Preparation
  • Supervisor Certification
Saint Cloud State University HLC $16,462 Add Review
26 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Writing Center Administration
Saint Leo University Online SACS COC $22,220 68% (83 reviews)
137 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership
Salem University HLC $16,700 100% (1 review)
54 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Educational Leadership
Sam Houston State University SACS COC $18,022 100% (2 reviews)
65 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Professional Certificate in Principal
  • Professional Certificate in Superintendent
Seton Hall University MSCHE $40,588 Add Review
33 Programs, 1 Certificate in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate: K-12 Supervisor
Southeast Missouri State University HLC $12,720 100% (1 review)
62 Programs, 2 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Specialist in Educational Administration
  • Specialist in Teacher Leadership
Southern Arkansas University HLC $12,156 100% (2 reviews)
41 Programs, 3 Certificates in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Building-Level Leadership
  • Graduate Certificate in Curriculum/Program Administrator
  • Graduate Certificate in Principal Licensure

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.

View Master's Programs View Master's Programs

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.

View Doctoral Programs View Doctoral Programs

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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