2019 Accredited Online Educational Leadership Programs

Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Degree Levels: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $24,336
Avg Salary: $69,289

The 1,236 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 ( 302)

Partner School
Partner School
Full List Accreditation Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
Full List (302)
Lewis University HLC $31,250 0% (1 review)
63 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Leadership
Liberty University SACS COC $11,700 59% (247 reviews)
543 Programs, 17 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction: Educational Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
  • Ed.S. in Curriculum & Instruction: Educational Leadership
  • Ed.S. in Educational Leadership
Louisiana State University - Shreveport SACS COC $20,320 100% (3 reviews)
28 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M. Ed. Educational Leadership
Loyola University Chicago HLC $43,078 Add Review
92 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Leading Inclusive Catholic Schools
  • Certificate in School Discipline Reform
Lubbock Christian University SACS COC $21,794 Add Review
8 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Lynn University SACS COC $37,510 100% (1 review)
37 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - School Administration K-12
Malone University HLC $29,900 Add Review
19 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership
Marshall University HLC $17,856 Add Review
41 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies
  • Graduate Certificate in School Principalship
  • Master of Arts in Education - Instructional Processes & Strategies
  • Master of Arts in Leadership Studies - Educational Leadership (School Principal)
Maryville University HLC $28,470 7% (14 reviews)
116 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences NECHE $32,590 Add Review
40 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Health Sciences -Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies-Educational Leadership
McKendree University HLC $29,640 50% (2 reviews)
23 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education in Higher Education Administrative Services
McNeese State University SACS COC $15,958 100% (1 review)
26 Programs, 3 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist - Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership
Mercer University SACS COC $36,000 Add Review
51 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Educational Specialist in Teacher Leadership
  • Endorsement in Coaching
Messiah College MSCHE $34,160 Add Review
40 Programs, 12 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 $39,406 100% (3 reviews)
93 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Sport Coaching and Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Teaching and Curriculum - K-12 Educational Administration
Midwestern State University SACS COC $10,644 75% (4 reviews)
34 Programs, 2 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 $16,216 Add Review
47 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Graduate Certificate in Learning Communities and Leadership
  • Master of Science in Teaching and Learning
Minnesota State University-Moorhead HLC $15,878 Add Review
49 Programs, 16 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Director of Community Education Licensure
  • Director of Special Education Licensure
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership
Minot State University HLC $6,810 Add Review
37 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Special Education Strategist
Mississippi College SACS COC $17,392 Add Review
43 Programs, 5 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership – Curriculum & Instruction track
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership – K-12 Administration track
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Mississippi State University SACS COC $22,358 0% (1 review)
83 Programs, 3 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Community College Leadership
  • Master of Science in Educational Leadership - School Administration
  • Master of Science in Workforce Education Leadership
Missouri Baptist University HLC $26,020 Add Review
34 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership
  • Master of Science in Higher Education Leadership
Morehead State University SACS COC $13,426 Add Review
54 Programs, 4 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
  • Specialist in Education (Ed.S.) - Instructional leadership
Morgan State University MSCHE $17,832 Add Review
9 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Community College Leadership
  • MEd in Community College Administration and Instruction
Mount Vernon Nazarene University HLC $28,090 0% (1 review)
24 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Intervention Specialist (Advanced License)
Murray State University SACS COC $23,820 Add Review
66 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Management
  • Master of Arts in Postsecondary Education Administration
National American University Online HLC $6,075 - $15,075 36% (72 reviews)
102 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Management with emphasis in Higher Education
Nebraska Methodist College HLC $15,980 100% (1 review)
29 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • EdD - Education & Leadership in Healthcare
New England College NECHE $36,954 38% (8 reviews)
89 Programs, 7 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies - School Principal
  • Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies - School Superintendent
  • Master of Education - Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education - School Climate Leadership
New Mexico State University HLC $21,022 Add Review
71 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education Administration - Community College and University Administration
New York University MSCHE $50,464 100% (2 reviews)
58 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation
Newman University HLC $29,200 Add Review
20 Programs, 3 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Licensure in Building Leadership
  • Licensure in District Leadership
  • Master of Science in Education - Building Leadership
Nicholls State University SACS COC $8,979 Add Review
21 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed. in Educational Leadership - Educational Technology Leadership
North Carolina A&T State University SACS COC $19,416 100% (1 review)
55 Programs, 2 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
North Carolina Central University SACS COC $19,106 Add Review
36 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of School Administration
  • Master of Science in Higher Education Administration
North Carolina State University SACS COC $27,406 67% (3 reviews)
110 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Youth Development and Leadership
North Greenville University SACS COC $19,150 Add Review
32 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education
  • Master of Education - Reading Endorsements
Northcentral University WASC WSCUC $17,526 49% (214 reviews)
266 Programs, 28 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 State University HLC $14,022 100% (1 review)
25 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in School Administration
  • M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership
  • M.Ed. in School Administration
  • M.S. in Higher Education Leadership
Northeastern University NECHE $49,497 100% (10 reviews)
314 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration
  • Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership Studies
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration
  • Master of Education in Higher Education Administration
Northern Arizona University HLC $24,841 72% (18 reviews)
159 Programs, 6 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate - Principal
  • Master of Education in Early Childhood - Early Childhood Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - Principal K-12
  • Master of Education: International Education Leadership
Northern Illinois University HLC $23,816 Add Review
38 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education in School Business Management
Northern Kentucky University SACS COC $19,104 50% (4 reviews)
48 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Education - Teacher as Leader
Northern Michigan University HLC $15,736 Add Review
27 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education Administration - Administration and Supervision
  • Master of Arts in Education Administration - American-Indian Education Emphasis
Northern State University HLC $11,210 Add Review
20 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Leadership and Administration
Northwest Missouri State University HLC $12,908 Add Review
15 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.S.Ed.: Educational Leadership
Northwest Nazarene University NWCCU $29,000 Add Review
28 Programs, 6 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership - Building Administrator
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership - Director of Special Education
Northwest University NWCCU $30,320 Add Review
20 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education - Teacher Leadership
  • Principal Certificate
Northwestern State University of Louisiana SACS COC $18,710 100% (2 reviews)
116 Programs, 11 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Adult Learning and Development - Community College Leadership
  • 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
Notre Dame of Maryland University MSCHE $36,070 Add Review
14 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Leadership for Changing Populations
  • Master of Arts in Leadership in Teaching - Library Media Specialist
Nova Southeastern University SACS COC $29,930 71% (7 reviews)
202 Programs, 7 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership
  • Master of Science in Education - Educational Leadership (FL state approved)
  • Master of Science in Education - Educational Leadership (Nevada state approved)
Oakland University HLC $23,873 100% (3 reviews)
16 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Leadership
  • Master of Education in Higher Education Leadership
Ohio University-Main Campus HLC $21,360 67% (3 reviews)
92 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Endorsement in Teacher Leader
Old Dominion University SACS COC $27,900 80% (10 reviews)
153 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Community College Leadership
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership with Licensure
  • Graduate Certificate in Community College Leadership
  • Master of Science in Education - Educational Leadership - Admin. & Supervision K-12
Olivet Nazarene University HLC $34,940 9% (22 reviews)
43 Programs, 3 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Ethical Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Education - Ethical Building Leadership (Principal Preparation Program) - Indiana Only
  • Teacher Leader Endorsement
Oregon State University NWCCU $29,457 43% (7 reviews)
154 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in College Student Services Administration
Ottawa University Online HLC $11,815 100% (4 reviews)
103 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Educational Leadership
  • Master of Business Administration: School Business Operations
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus MSCHE $13,988 67% (3 reviews)
231 Programs, 10 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate for Principalship
  • Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - Curriculum and Supervision
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - School Leader
Pepperdine University WASC WSCUC $51,992 Add Review
22 Programs, 3 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Leadership in Higher Education
  • Master of Science in Leadership in Pre K to 12 Education
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership Learning
Pfeiffer University SACS COC $29,574 Add Review
31 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MSE
  • MSE - Elementary Education (advanced licensure program - K-6)
  • MSE - Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)
  • MSE - Special Education (advanced licensure program - general curriculum)
Point Park University MSCHE $30,130 Add Review
38 Programs, 10 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Pennsylvania School Principal K-12
  • Certificate in Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent Letter of Eligibility
  • Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration
  • Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration - Cognate (Three Years Track)
Portland State University NWCCU $26,130 83% (6 reviews)
55 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Continuing Administrator License (CAL)
Post University Online NECHE Not Provided 36% (89 reviews)
127 Programs, 6 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration
  • Graduate Certificate: Higher Education Administration
  • M.S. in Higher Education Administration
  • M.S. in Higher Education Administration / Administrative Leadership
Prescott College HLC $30,501 100% (1 review)
39 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, Principalship
Purdue University Global HLC $11,581 - $16,246 36% (121 reviews)
179 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • BS in Early Childhood Administration
  • MS in Higher Education - College Administration and Leadership
Queens University of Charlotte SACS COC $33,532 Add Review
14 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
Quinnipiac University NECHE $46,780 33% (3 reviews)
39 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Science in Teacher Leadership
  • Master of Science in Teacher Leadership - Literacy Leadership
  • Master of Science in Teacher Leadership - Mathematics Leadership
  • Master of Science in Teacher Leadership - Program Improvement Leadership
Rasmussen College Online HLC $10,935 49% (75 reviews)
64 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Early Childhood Education Leadership Bachelor’s Degree-Completion Program
Regent University Online SACS COC $17,288 50% (14 reviews)
452 Programs, 37 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
Regis University HLC $35,610 50% (22 reviews)
106 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MEd in Educational Leadership (Principal Licensure)
Rowan University MSCHE $21,890 100% (1 review)
52 Programs, 8 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Chief School Administrator
  • Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Principal Preparation
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership - Community College Leadership Initiative
Saint Cloud State University HLC $16,462 Add Review
26 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Writing Center Administration
  • MS in Higher Education Administration
Saint Joseph's University MSCHE $43,880 Add Review
55 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MS in Education - Educational Leadership and Administration
Saint Leo University Online SACS COC $22,220 68% (83 reviews)
137 Programs, 7 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education: School Leadership
  • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education: Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education: Educational Leadership for Catholic Leaders
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota HLC $33,560 0% (1 review)
28 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
Saint Thomas University SACS COC $29,730 Add Review
21 Programs, 5 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Ethical Leadership
  • EdD Leadership and Innovation
  • Master in Ethical Leadership
  • MS Educational Leadership
Salem University HLC $16,700 100% (1 review)
54 Programs, 5 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Educational Leadership
  • M. Ed. Education Leadership (Principal Only)
  • M. Ed. In Curriculum & Instruction - Higher Education Administation
  • M. Ed. In Curriculum & Instruction - Special Education Leadership
Sam Houston State University SACS COC $18,022 100% (2 reviews)
65 Programs, 6 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Developmental Education Administration
  • Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration
  • Master of Education in Administration
  • Master of Education in Instructional Leadership
Saybrook University Hybrid Online WASC WSCUC $27,439 Add Review
43 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ph.D. Organizational Systems, Educational Leadership
Seton Hall University MSCHE $40,588 Add Review
33 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate: K-12 Supervisor
  • MA in Education Leadership, Management and Policy
Siena Heights University HLC $25,932 Add Review
25 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership
South College SACS COC $18,000 Add Review
55 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Teacher as Instructional Leader
South Dakota State University HLC $11,689 Add Review
60 Programs, 3 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration - Elementary Education
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration - Secondary Education
Southeast Missouri State University HLC $12,720 100% (1 review)
62 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MA in Elementary School Administration
  • MA in Secondary School Administration
  • Specialist in Educational Administration
  • Specialist in Teacher Leadership
Southeastern Oklahoma State University HLC $15,390 Add Review
40 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed. Educational Leadership (Academic Track)
  • M.Ed. Special Education - Administration
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership – Professional Track
  • MS Sports Administration - Educational Leadership
Southeastern University SACS COC $25,360 100% (1 review)
37 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
Southern Arkansas University HLC $12,156 100% (2 reviews)
41 Programs, 6 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Building-Level Leadership
  • Graduate Certificate in Curriculum/Program Administrator
  • Graduate Certificate in Principal Licensure
  • M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Supervision
Southern New Hampshire University Online NECHE $11,520 61% (324 reviews)
281 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction - Ed Leadership
  • MS in Higher Education Administration
Southwestern Assemblies of God University SACS COC $19,994 100% (1 review)
81 Programs, 3 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - Christian School Administration
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership - Public School Administration
Southwestern College - KS HLC $28,750 100% (1 review)
52 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership - Licensure Track
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership - Non-Licensure Track
Southwestern Oklahoma State University HLC $13,905 100% (2 reviews)
15 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration
Spring Arbor University Online HLC $27,750 Add Review
55 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education
St. John's University MSCHE $40,520 Add Review
32 Programs, 5 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership
  • Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership/School District Leadership
  • Advanced Certificate in School District Leadership
  • Master of Science in Education in School Building Leadership
Stephen F. Austin State University SACS COC $17,676 Add Review
67 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification
  • Principal Preparation Certificate
  • Superintendent Certification
Stevenson University MSCHE $35,490 Add Review
110 Programs, 2 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MA in Community-Based Education and Leadership
  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Community-Based Education & Leadership
Tarleton State University SACS COC $17,111 50% (2 reviews)
32 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MEd in Educational Administration
  • MEd in Educational Administration - Educational Technology Leadership
  • MEd in Educational Administration - Higher Education Leadership
  • MEd in Educational Administration - Principal Certification
Tennessee Tech University SACS COC $24,377 Add Review
46 Programs, 1 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • MA in Instructional Leadership
Texas A & M University-Commerce SACS COC $20,884 86% (7 reviews)
50 Programs, 12 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Doctor of Education in Educational Administration
  • Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Master of Education in Early Childhood Education
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration
Texas A & M University-Kingsville SACS COC $22,102 Add Review
22 Programs, 4 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Certificate in Educational Administration (Principal Certification)
  • Certificate in Higher Education Administration and Leadership (HEAL) Doctoral Level Transcripted
  • Master of Science in Educational Administration
  • Master of Science in Reading Specialization
Texas A&M University-College Station SACS COC $36,606 67% (3 reviews)
118 Programs, 5 in Educational Leadership (view all)
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration - PK-12 Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Technology
  • Master of Science in Educational Human Resource Development

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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