2019 Accredited Online Educational Leadership Programs

Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Degree Levels: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $24,148
Avg Salary: $69,289

The 638 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 ( 247)

Partner School
Partner School
Full List Accreditation Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
Full List (247)
Abilene Christian University SACS COC $20,664 100% (6 reviews)
61 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Higher Education - Academic Advising
  • Master of Education in Higher Education - Student Affairs Leadership
Adams State University HLC $13,467 50% (2 reviews)
29 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration & Leadership (HEAL)
  • Master of Arts in Teacher Education - Educational Leadership with Principal Licensure
American InterContinental University HLC Not Provided 66% (163 reviews)
47 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master's (M.Ed.) - Leadership of Educational Organizations
American Public University System HLC $6,600 71% (146 reviews)
462 Programs, 5 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - K-12 Non-Certification
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - K-12 Non-Certification in Athletic Administration
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - K-12 Non-Certification Virtual School
American University MSCHE $30,246 100% (2 reviews)
54 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MEd in Education Policy and Leadership
Andrews University HLC $26,522 Add Review
40 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration
Angelo State University SACS COC $13,977 100% (1 review)
44 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration
  • Master of Education in Student Development and Leadership in Higher Education
Arizona State University HLC $6,342 - $25,018 71% (88 reviews)
226 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed. in Educational¬†Leadership - Principalship
Arkansas State University HLC $10,927 50% (4 reviews)
59 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MS in Education in Educational Leadership
Ashford University WASC WSCUC $10,386 - $15,192 67% (646 reviews)
212 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MA/Early Childhood Education Leadership
  • MA/Education - School Leadership in the 21st Century Specialization
Augusta University SACS COC $19,234 100% (2 reviews)
27 Programs, 3 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in School Administration
  • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership
Austin Peay State University SACS COC $21,797 50% (2 reviews)
60 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Baker College Online HLC $12,510 60% (88 reviews)
71 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Leadership: Higher Education - MSEE
  • Educational Leadership: K-12 - MSEE
Ball State University HLC $21,834 100% (4 reviews)
160 Programs, 6 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Career and Technical Education - Administrative
  • Master of Arts in Career and Technical Education - Community College and Industrial Trainers
  • Master of Arts in Career and Technical Education - Technology Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Education - Educational Administration and Supervision
Barry University SACS COC $17,820 Add Review
18 Programs, 3 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership with Florida Certification
  • MS Educational Leadership
  • MS Higher Ed Administration
Bethel University - IN HLC $7,230 Add Review
34 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in School Leadership
Bethel University - MN HLC $9,630 100% (1 review)
59 Programs, 5 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Athletic Training Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Education K-12 - Educational Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Education K-12 - ENVoY Classroom Management Strategies
  • Master of Arts in Education K-12 - International Baccalaureate
Boston University NECHE $51,716 100% (2 reviews)
87 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies - Higher Education Administration
Bryan College-Dayton SACS COC $11,328 Add Review
23 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Christian School Administration
Buena Vista University HLC $9,306 100% (2 reviews)
34 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education - Teacher Leadership, Curriculum, and Instruction
  • Master of Education - Teacher Leadership, Curriculum, and Instruction: Effective teaching and instructional leadership
California Baptist University WASC WSCUC $13,997 80% (5 reviews)
52 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MSEd: Specialization in Educational Leadership
California Coast University DEAC --- 90% (62 reviews)
86 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed. Administration
  • Master of Education in Administration
California State University-Northridge WASC WSCUC $17,813 100% (1 review)
26 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Educational Administration
California University of Pennsylvania MSCHE $23,434 80% (15 reviews)
108 Programs, 4 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Administrative Program for Principals
  • Master of Education in Advanced Studies in Secondary Education & Teacher Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership: Educational Studies
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership: Weather and Climatology
Campbellsville University SACS COC $12,204 50% (2 reviews)
77 Programs, 20 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Teacher Leader - Content
  • Master of Arts in Education - Teacher Leader - Curriculum
  • Master of Arts in Education - Teacher Leader - Environmental Education Endorsement
  • Master of Arts in Education - Teacher Leader - ESL Endorsement
Canisius College MSCHE $15,466 100% (2 reviews)
25 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Supervision
Capella University HLC $14,842 65% (582 reviews)
232 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MS - Higher Education Leadership and Administration
  • MS - Leadership in Educational Administration
Carlow University MSCHE $16,612 Add Review
31 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership for High Performance Learning
  • Master of Science in Leadership for High Performance Learning with optional PA Principal Certification
Carson-Newman University SACS COC $8,930 Add Review
23 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Central Michigan University HLC $18,942 67% (3 reviews)
85 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Training and Development (Non-Thesis Option)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Training and Development (Thesis Option)
Central Washington University NWCCU $22,421 100% (1 review)
45 Programs, 3 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Instructional Leadership
  • Master of Education in School Administration
  • Master of Science in Athletic Administration
Chaminade University of Honolulu WASC WSCUC $20,640 100% (1 review)
32 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
City University of Seattle NWCCU $15,264 54% (28 reviews)
67 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership (With Administrator Certification)
  • Master of Education in Leadership
Colorado Christian University HLC $13,351 60% (10 reviews)
104 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MEd in Educational Leadership with Principal Licensure
  • MEd in Educational Leadership without Licensure
Colorado State University-Global Campus HLC $9,000 55% (60 reviews)
219 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MS - Teaching and Learning - Teacher Leadership
Columbia International University SACS COC $9,730 100% (1 review)
71 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration
  • Master of Education in Spiritual Formation Leadership
Columbus State University SACS COC $13,822 20% (5 reviews)
55 Programs, 3 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - Higher Education
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - Tier 1 Certification
  • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership
Concordia University - Portland NWCCU $20,910 55% (49 reviews)
55 Programs, 5 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Educational Technology Leadership
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Career & Technical Education Leadership
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Teacher Leadership
Concordia University - Texas SACS COC $9,750 100% (1 review)
21 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Education Administration
Concordia University - Wisconsin HLC $10,542 67% (3 reviews)
100 Programs, 5 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education - Early Childhood Education: Early Childhood Program Administrator
  • Master of Science in Education - Educational Administration
  • Master of Science in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education
  • Master of Science in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education - Administration
Concordia University-Irvine WASC WSCUC $7,914 0% (1 review)
32 Programs, 3 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Coaching & Athletic Administration
  • Master of Arts in Education - Educational Administration
  • Master of Science in Coaching & Athletic Administration
Creighton University HLC $16,964 100% (3 reviews)
75 Programs, 4 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership - School Administration
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership - Teacher Leadership
  • Master of Science in Educational Specialist Areas - Teacher Leadership
Dallas Baptist University SACS COC $17,208 Add Review
164 Programs, 7 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Dual Degree: Master of Business Administration and Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Dual Degree: Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction/Master of Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - Christian School Administration
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Davenport University HLC $14,420 100% (5 reviews)
112 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MEd: Urban Educational Leadership
Delta State University SACS COC $6,859 0% (2 reviews)
36 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration and Supervision
DePaul University HLC $19,689 100% (1 review)
70 Programs, 12 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MA in Educational Leadership - General
  • MA in Educational Leadership - Higher Education
  • MA in Educational Leadership -Catholic Leadership
  • MA in Educational Leadership -Physical Education
Drexel University MSCHE $33,996 60% (5 reviews)
320 Programs, 25 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education Improvement and Transformation
  • Master of Science in Education Improvement and Transformation - Creativity & Innovation
  • Master of Science in Education Improvement and Transformation - Custom
  • Master of Science in Education Improvement and Transformation - E-Learning Leadership
Drury University HLC $8,730 Add Review
29 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Instructional Leadership
Duquesne University MSCHE $22,662 25% (4 reviews)
35 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education - Education Administration - K12
  • Master of Science in Higher Education Administration
Eastern Illinois University HLC $19,571 Add Review
37 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education in Curriculum and Instruction - Curriculum Leadership
Eastern Kentucky University SACS COC $15,220 33% (3 reviews)
102 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Instructional Leadership
Eastern Michigan University HLC $30,532 100% (3 reviews)
34 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership - K-12 Administration
Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus HLC $12,408 100% (3 reviews)
71 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Education Administration
  • Master of Science in Physical Education - Sport Administration
Eastern University MSCHE $16,750 Add Review
32 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in School Health Services - School Health Supervisor Certification
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania MSCHE $16,980 100% (2 reviews)
30 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership
Elmhurst College HLC $30,970 0% (1 review)
30 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MEd in Teacher Leadership
Emporia State University HLC $20,867 Add Review
65 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Educational Adminsitration
Evangel University HLC $9,114 Add Review
13 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus MSCHE $23,298 Add Review
45 Programs, 5 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Student Services Administration
  • Master of Arts in Student Services Administration - Admission and Financial Aid
  • Master of Arts in Student Services Administration - Institutional Risks Administration
  • Master of Arts in Student Services Administration - Intercollegiate Sports Administration
Fitchburg State University NECHE $3,828 Add Review
21 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Management
Florida Atlantic University SACS COC $18,446 100% (4 reviews)
51 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Adult and Community Education Leadership
  • Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - Teacher Leadership Specialization
Florida International University SACS COC $24,202 90% (10 reviews)
127 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Higher Education Administration
Florida State University SACS COC $26,707 100% (3 reviews)
55 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MS in Educational Leadership/Administration
Franciscan University of Steubenville HLC $12,618 Add Review
13 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.S. in Educational Administration
  • Master of Catholic Leadership - Catholic Educational Leader
Gardner Webb University SACS COC $9,050 100% (1 review)
41 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction (K-12) - Teacher Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Executive Leadership Studies
George Mason University SACS COC $34,184 Add Review
58 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Education Leadership
  • Master of Education in Education Leadership - Independent School Leadership
The George Washington University MSCHE $29,840 75% (4 reviews)
134 Programs, 4 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MA in Education and Human Development in Educational Leadership and Administration
  • MA in Education and Human Development in Educational Technology Leadership
  • MA in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
  • MA in Educational Leadership and Administration
Georgetown College SACS COC $4,740 Add Review
24 Programs, 6 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Literacy Specialist with Teacher Leader Endorsement
  • Master of Arts in Education - Literacy Specialist: English (Non-Certified Teachers)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Instructional Leadership (Level I)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Literacy Specialist: English (Certified Teachers)
Georgetown University MSCHE $48,331 100% (1 review)
31 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Professional Studies in Higher Education Administration
Georgia College & State University SACS COC $20,508 Add Review
23 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Georgia Southern University SACS COC $28,610 Add Review
70 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Gonzaga University NWCCU $16,845 100% (4 reviews)
29 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MEd in Educational Leadership
Grand Canyon University HLC $10,555 52% (416 reviews)
220 Programs, 3 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MED in Educational Administration (With IR and Cert.)
  • MED in Educational Administration - Organizational Leadership
  • MEd in Educational Leadership
Hope International University WASC WSCUC $12,065 100% (2 reviews)
82 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MA in Education Administration with Preliminary Administrative Services Credential
Immaculata University MSCHE $12,780 Add Review
24 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
Indiana State University HLC $14,474 88% (8 reviews)
79 Programs, 3 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in School Administration and Supervision
  • Master of Science in Career and Technical Education
  • Master of Science in Student Affairs and Higher Education
Indiana University - Bloomington HLC $31,448 100% (1 review)
67 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership
Indiana Wesleyan University Online - Adult Education HLC $10,764 29% (7 reviews)
143 Programs, 3 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Business Administration - School Administration
  • Master of Education - School Administration
  • Master of Education - Teacher Leadership - Elementary
Iowa State University HLC $23,790 100% (1 review)
61 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration
  • Master of Science in Educational Administration
Jackson State University SACS COC $18,314 Add Review
26 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education - Administration and Supervision
John Brown University HLC $13,440 67% (3 reviews)
23 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed. in Educational Leadership
Kennesaw State University SACS COC $19,547 - $22,275 75% (4 reviews)
97 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership
Lamar University SACS COC $15,582 60% (10 reviews)
50 Programs, 4 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration
  • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership
  • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership with specialization in ESL
  • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership with specialization in Gifted and Talented
LeTourneau University SACS COC $19,872 100% (2 reviews)
47 Programs, 3 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education - Education Administration
  • Master of Education - Education Administration with Curriculum Emphasis
  • Master of Education - Teacher Leadership
Liberty University SACS COC $8,475 59% (247 reviews)
543 Programs, 7 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed: Teaching & Learning: Leadership
  • MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Leadership
  • MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Leadership (Non-Licensure)
  • MED: Curriculum and Instruction: Student Services
Louisiana State University - Shreveport SACS COC $19,846 100% (3 reviews)
28 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M. Ed. Educational Leadership
Lubbock Christian University SACS COC $7,884 Add Review
8 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Lynn University SACS COC $13,420 100% (1 review)
37 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - School Administration K-12
Malone University HLC $10,710 Add Review
19 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership
Marshall University HLC $19,522 Add Review
41 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Instructional Processes & Strategies
  • Master of Arts in Leadership Studies - Educational Leadership (School Principal)
McKendree University HLC $10,410 50% (2 reviews)
23 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education in Higher Education Administrative Services
McNeese State University SACS COC $16,043 100% (1 review)
26 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership
Messiah College MSCHE $11,790 Add Review
40 Programs, 12 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed. in Christian Education
  • M.Ed. in Online Instruction
  • M.Ed. in Special Education
  • M.Ed. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
Michigan State University HLC $34,260 100% (3 reviews)
93 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching and Curriculum - K-12 Educational Administration
Midwestern State University SACS COC $7,162 75% (4 reviews)
34 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Educational in Educational Leadership (with Principal Certification)
Minnesota State University at Mankato HLC $7,856 Add Review
47 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Teaching and Learning
Minnesota State University-Moorhead HLC $19,006 Add Review
49 Programs, 6 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction - Teacher Leadership
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership - Generalist
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership - Higher Education Administration
Mississippi College SACS COC $11,222 Add Review
43 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Science in Higher Education Administration
Mississippi State University SACS COC $22,358 0% (1 review)
83 Programs, 2 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership - School Administration
  • Master of Science in Workforce Education Leadership
Missouri Baptist University HLC $9,405 Add Review
34 Programs, 1 Master's in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Higher Education 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.

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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.

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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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