2019 Best Online Master's in Educational Leadership Programs

Educational Leadership-Top Online Colleges-2019-Badge

These 25 schools are our top choices for the best online colleges offering a master's degree in educational leadership. Seton Hall University is the #1 choice for 2019, with an annual tuition rate of $24,240 for its MA in Education Leadership, Management, and Policy. Northern Illinois University, securing #4 on the list, has the lowest tuition at $7,140 per year for its MS in Education in School Business Management, making the school a very affordable option for distance learners.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about SR Education Group.

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Rank School Annual Tuition Median Salary
#1 #1 Seton Hall University $24,240 $96,300
#2 #2 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign $7,456 $91,600
#3 #3 The George Washington University $15,375 $91,400
#4 #4 Northern Illinois University $7,140 $85,500
#5 #5 San Diego State University $13,116 $82,900
#6 #6 Hofstra University $24,192 $80,100
#7 #7 Eastern Michigan University $9,216 $76,000
#8 #8 National University $9,890 $73,200
#9 #9 Towson University $12,975 $73,500
#10 #10 Graceland University $7,575 $71,500
#11 #11 Central Michigan University $8,940 $69,000
#12 #12 Kansas State University $8,518 $68,600
#13 #13 SUNY College at Cortland $22,650 $68,900
#14 #14 Stony Brook University $22,650 $68,800
#15 #15 St. John's University $20,910 $67,900
#16 #16 University of Houston $14,205 $67,000
#17 #17 University of North Texas $19,283 $66,900
#18 #18 University of Memphis $9,045 $64,700
#19 #19 Ball State University $9,240 $63,900
#20 #20 Arizona State University $8,925 $63,100
#21 #21 University of Louisville $12,852 $63,600
#22 #22 Indiana University - Bloomington $9,273 $61,000
#23 #23 DePaul University $16,640 $61,300
#24 #24 The University of Tennessee - Knoxville $13,626 $60,700
#25 #25 Liberty University $7,470 $59,800
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo. Updated 2018.
  • Annual Tuition: $24,240
  • Median Salary: $96,300
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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Seton Hall University, a private, Catholic university, is the oldest diocesan university in the nation. Seton Hall's online MA in Education Leadership, Management and Policy is ranked as one of the top online programs in the nation and offers a rigorous educational experience with equally rigorous admission requirements. These requirements include relevant work experience, a related undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, three letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and test scores from the MAT or GRE. While the program is fully online, it does require students to attend weekend residencies, an orientation, a meeting halfway through the program, and commencement. The program consists of 13 courses, which will provide students the tools necessary to become leaders in and outside of the classroom.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,456
  • Median Salary: $91,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has one of the most highly regarded online graduate education programs in the country. Offered through the College of Education, U of I provides opportunities for distance-learning students interested in part-time or full-time degree plans. The fully online Master of Education in International Education Administration and Leadership is a 32-hour degree program that includes courses such as Education and Human Rights, Critical Thinking for Teachers, and Global Issues in Learning. It offers distance learners the same U of I on-campus faculty and seeks to groom leaders on the national and international stages of education.

  • Annual Tuition: $15,375
  • Median Salary: $91,400
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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The George Washington University, a private university based in Washington D.C., was chartered in 1821 by the 17th United States Congress. Today, the university opens its doors to distance, digital-based students. The George Washington University's Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration program is offered through GW Online, the university's web-based platform for distance-learning students. The program consists of a 30-credit hour curriculum that is founded on the requirements necessary to meet administrative certification and endorsement. The online program is designed for working professionals wanting to advance their current careers in educational or political leadership. GW Online's master's degree in Educational Leadership and Administration perfectly mirrors the on-campus experience and helps students achieve their dreams.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,140
  • Median Salary: $85,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Northern Illinois University is a public university with satellite sites across Illinois. The university is home to 20,000 people including distance-learning students through its online programs. NIU's Master of Science in Education in School Business Management, designed for busy working professionals, provides students with the tools necessary to complete their degree virtually. For a tuition rate of $22,551, online students gain access to NIU's regionally accredited, 39-credit hour degree program. While offered mostly online through self-paced coursework, students are also required to meet up twice per course in central locations, and virtually attend live classes online. Students must also complete 300 internship hours which help them gain the skills necessary to become leaders in the classroom.

  • Annual Tuition: $13,116
  • Median Salary: $82,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
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San Diego State University, a public university, is part of the California State University System and is one of the largest with over 34,000 enrolled students. In partnership with the CSU System, SDSU provides additional opportunities to distance education students. Through Cal State Online, SDSU offers both fully online and hybrid degree programs, including a Master's in Education with a concentration in Educational Leadership and a Specialization in PreK-12. Though it is affiliated with SDSU, the application process requires prospects to send their applications to Cal State and then apply to the online program. This online program is a great option for online students interested in becoming leaders in the education industry.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $24,192
  • Median Salary: $80,100
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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Hofstra University is a private, nonprofit college known for its small, intimate class settings. Hofstra also offers distance-based students options across many of its academic colleges. Its Master of Education in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies degree can be completed fully online, or in blended courses for students able to attend on campus. The online program focuses on equipping professionals with the tools to advance in diverse academic and government environments. This program is broken down into nine higher education courses, two leadership electives, and one capstone course for a total of 36 semester hours. Hofstra connects distance-learning students to its faculty in courses that meet the same academic rigor that the university has been providing on campus for 83 years.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,216
  • Median Salary: $76,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Located in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Eastern Michigan University is home to 23,000 students across its 800-acre campus and through its web-based portals and platforms. Its digital-based Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program is a 35-semester hour plan offered to online students for a cost of $17,920. Courses are broken down into core classes, which make up the bulk of the degree plan, and three additional courses planned with the university's graduate advisor. To be admitted, degree-seeking students and working professionals must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.7 from a regionally accredited institution and submit their official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, Statement of Purpose, and professional resume.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $9,890
  • Median Salary: $73,200
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC and WASC WSCUC
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Opening in 1971, National University became a staple in California's education system with the goal of focusing on working professionals and non-traditional, adult students. It offers its academic services to students throughout California and Nevada with on-site campuses in both states, and to distance-learning students through its online platform. The university provides two options for students seeking graduate degrees in educational leadership: a Master’s in Educational Administration with Preliminary Administrative Services Credential Option and a Master’s in Higher Education Administration. Both of the programs are offered fully online and require 45 quarter units of graduate work for completion. The online programs are both regionally accredited and cost $430 per quarter unit for a total cost of less than $20,000 for the entire degree plan.

  • Annual Tuition: $12,975
  • Median Salary: $73,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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A small, public university known for producing top-notch educators, Towson University is one of Maryland's premier colleges with opportunities for advancement for nontraditional students through digital-based degree programs designed for adult learners. The university's well-known College of Education offers a Master of Science in Human Resource Development - Educational Leadership program that is fully online and seeks to bridge the gap between resource development and schooling leadership. As an interdisciplinary course, the online program includes courses such as Legal and Ethical Issues in Education, School Budgeting and Fiscal Planning, and Evidence-Based Decision Making for Curriculum and Instruction. Admission into the 36-credit hour program requires students to submit the necessary paperwork and have an undergraduate GPA of no less than 2.0.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,575
  • Median Salary: $71,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Sponsored by the Community of Christ, Graceland University is a private, liberals arts institution with several satellite campuses across Iowa and Missouri. Their online degree program includes a Master of Education in Instructional Leadership that was designed to help students improve their leadership skills and learn how to train others. It is well suited to not only educators, but also military members, first responders, and people who are responsible for training others in a business environment. The Master of Education in Instructional Leadership program is 30 hours in length and requires that applicants have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 from a regionally-accredited college or university.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,940
  • Median Salary: $69,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Central Michigan University has 24,000 students in over 200 programs across all degree levels. The public research university is also home to one of the state's most comprehensive distance-learning programs, offering 28 degrees and two certificates through its Global Campus. CMU has a highly regarded Master of Educational Leadership program with four concentrations for students wanting to focus their degree plan on a specific area of academic leadership. The concentrations are Charter School Leadership, Rural Education Leadership, Virtual Education Leadership, and Supervision. The degree program is delivered from the Department of Teacher Education and Professional Development and requires 30-credit hours of self-paced, web-based coursework.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,518
  • Median Salary: $68,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Kansas State University is the state's flagship educational institution of higher learning with three campuses across central and eastern Kansas. K-State expands its mission of academic excellence to online students through its accredited Distance Education program, which offers over 70 online programs across all degree levels. Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in leadership in the academic world can choose between three MS programs: Educational Leadership, Adult Learning and Leadership, and Curriculum and Instruction. The Curriculum and Instruction program also provides concentrations in Educational Technology, ESL, Mathematics Education, Reading Specialist, and Teaching Civics and Government. The latter two plans offer fully online programs, while the general Educational Leadership degree is offered in a hybrid format with web-based sessions and face-to-face coursework.

  • Annual Tuition: $22,650
  • Median Salary: $68,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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The State University of New York College at Cortland, better known as SUNY Cortland, is a public university with over 7,000 students across on-campus and distance-based degree programs. The distance-based online program offers an opportunity for degree-seeking educators with a Master of Education in Physical Education Leadership. This convenient and affordable program consists of 30-credit hours in asynchronous classwork that gives SUNY Cortland online students the opportunity to work around their professional and family commitments. Regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, this program seeks to teach students how to combine a progressive fitness-focused curriculum with diverse populations through emerging technologies to help lead students to physical success.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $22,650
  • Median Salary: $68,800
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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The State University of New York at Stony Brook University, better known as Stony Brook University, is a public university which is part of the SUNY system of public institutions of higher education. Established in 1957, Stony Brook University currently services around 26,000 students in on-campus and online degree programs. Its digital-based degree plans are delivered through the School of Professional Development and include a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration. This 36 credit program is geared toward working professionals interested in becoming academic advisors, planners, and leaders in any educational setting. The program can be completed in 16 months and offers one of the more cost-effective options for distance-learning students: $1,855 per three-credit course.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $20,910
  • Median Salary: $67,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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Private, Catholic college St. John's University has its main campus in Queens, with other branch campuses across New York City and global locations in Rome, Paris, and Ireland. With more than 100 degrees options, St. John's provides a unique learning strategy for adult students and working professionals with its self-paced online program. Their Master of Science in Education in School Building Leadership offers distance learners a high-quality education in a convenient format. This program also offers students the possibility to get a permanent teaching certification, as well as a building-level administration certificate upon completion. To be admitted into the 34-credit hour program, a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, one year of teaching experience, and proper certification is required.

  • Annual Tuition: $14,205
  • Median Salary: $67,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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With 46,000 students, the University of Houston is one of the largest universities in the country. While most attend its on-campus facilities, a growing number of students have opted for one the university's 38 online degree programs. For educators, U of H offers two online graduate options for people interested in leadership: Higher Education and Curriculum and Instruction - Learning, Design and Technology. The former program is 36-credit hours while the latter is 30-credit hours, but both seek to shape students for leadership positions. Adhering to the same admission standards and performance expectations, U of H's online education programs are a perfect blend of rigor and flexibility and are well-suited for working professionals.

  • Annual Tuition: $19,283
  • Median Salary: $66,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of North Texas is located right outside of Dallas in the rural town of Denton. Known for its education department because of its history as a private teachers college, UNT's online degree programs are a top option for professional educators and distance-based students. Through its accelerated Master of Education in Educational Leadership program, busy professionals and other distance-challenged learners can earn their degree from the comfort of their own home or office. This program is 30-credit hours and consists of 10, 8 to 10-week long courses, which can be completed in as little as 12 months.  With program start dates every 2 to 3 months, prospective online students can begin their degree plan at their convenience.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,045
  • Median Salary: $64,700
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of Memphis is a public university and serves as a major research institution that takes pride in its students' intellectual engagement. Their online program, University of Memphis Global, eliminates physical boundaries to education in hopes of absorbing distance-based students and working professionals who need a more convenient, self-paced option. Education students can complete a Master of Science in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership -Instructional Design and Technology, a Master of Science in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership - School Library Information Specialist, or a Master of Science in Leadership and Policy Studies. All three of these programs provide distance-learning hopefuls with the tools necessary to develop students and subordinates in any academic or institutional environment.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,240
  • Median Salary: $63,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Ball State University is a public university out of Muncie, Indiana with satellite campuses across the state, and online programs offered through their digital-based platform, Ball State Online. Through Ball State Online, degree-seeking education professionals can earn an MA in Education with a focus in Educational Administration or Supervision, or an MA in Special Education with an available Director of Special Education/Exceptional Needs license. They also offer two MA in Career and Technical Education programs with concentrations in Administration and Technology Leadership. Each of these programs requires no less than 30-credit hours of asynchronous, online coursework with some requiring students to attend face-to-face sessions. Through SARA, Ball State University offers online opportunities to students across the United States.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,925
  • Median Salary: $63,100
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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One of the largest and most well-known universities in the United States, Arizona State University has a plethora of options for students, both traditional and nontraditional, across all levels of education. For graduate hopefuls interested in the field of education, ASU offers many online options suitable for working professionals and distance-based students. Their 36-credit hour Master of Education in Educational Leadership, Principalship program teaches students how to succeed as leaders in private and public schools. The program is available to students regardless of their state of residency for a low estimated rate of $10,908 per academic semester. With courses like School Finance and Human Resources, the program will provide students with an interdisciplinary approach to leadership.

  • Annual Tuition: $12,852
  • Median Salary: $63,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of Louisville is a non-profit, public university established in 1798 as the first city-owned university in the nation. Today it boasts a population of over 22,000 students and has a national endowment of $1.3 billion as a research institution. The university's online Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration consists of a 36-hour curriculum, divided into 8-week courses, that allows students to graduate in as little as two years. With a virtual program that focuses on organization and leadership theory, students learn the skills necessary to become proper leaders in any educational industry. Upon graduation, alumni can expect to advance to administrative positions in primary, secondary, and higher education institutions.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,273
  • Median Salary: $61,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Indiana University Bloomington is the flagship university of the Indiana University System and is one of the largest universities in the country, with over 40,000 enrolled students across on-campus and online programs. Known as a top-tier public university, Indiana University Bloomington has increased access to its world-class education with its digital platform IU Online. With IU Online, distance-based students can access Indiana University Bloomington’s Master of Science in Educational Leadership program offered through its top-ranked School of Education. The 36-credit hour program offers a competitive tuition package of approximately $9,200 per academic year, for a total cost of less than $20,000 for a prestigious graduate degree from one of the top universities in the country.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $16,640
  • Median Salary: $61,300
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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DePaul University, a private, Catholic university founded in 1898 and established in the urban center of Chicago, boasts a student population of 23,000, making it one of the 20 largest private universities in the nation. With the majority of its students living off campus, DePaul has taken advantage of a digital-based online education program that offers dozens of degrees to distance-learning students and degree-seeking professionals. Education professionals have 12 online graduate programs to choose from in Educational Leadership: General, Catholic Leadership, Higher Education, Physical Education, Principal License, Teacher Leader, Teacher Leader - Catholic, and Principal License - Catholic. They also offer an M.Ed option in Sport, Fitness and Recreation Leadership. All programs are fully online and require no less than 25-credit hours.

  • Annual Tuition: $13,626
  • Median Salary: $60,700
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Vols Online is the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's digital education portal for distance-based students. Their online programs are geared toward working professionals and include options for students across many disciplines. They offer two graduate programs for degree-seeking professionals in administrative and leadership roles: an MS in Educational Administration and an MS in Educational Administration, Non-Licensure Track. The non-licensure track is focused on creating leaders able to excel in a variety of academic and non-academic systems through a 36-credit hour course. Alternatively, the 36-credit hour general Educational Administration program specifically rears students for a career as a school principal or faculty representative. Both programs have the same admission requirements, which include an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.2, a resume, job experience, and letters of recommendation.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,470
  • Median Salary: $59,800
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC and TRACS
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Liberty University is an online university with over 100,000 students enrolled worldwide through its distance-learning programs. Liberty offers five degrees for working professionals interested in leadership and administration in the field of education: the M.Ed in Educational Administration and Supervision, the M.Ed in Teaching and Learning: Leadership, the M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction: Leadership, the M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction: Student Services, and the M.Ed in Higher Education: Educational Leadership. All of these programs consist of 30-credit hours of online education training and can be completed in one-and-a-half to two years. Tuition for online students is only $7,470 per academic school year.

Online Master's in Educational Leadership Overview

As with most degree programs, the exact admission requirements for a master's degree program in educational leadership vary from one school to the next. In general, however, applicants are typically required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, submit evidence of teaching experience in a school setting, and hold a current state teaching certificate. Other requirements vary, but may include letters of recommendation from previous instructors or employers, transcripts of any previous graduate-level coursework, or Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores. As always, it is best to speak to an advisor or the admissions office of your chosen school to learn about specific requirements.

The master's curriculum is comprised of theory, research, and practical experience. Programs allow students to gain a comprehensive understanding of theories that inform practice in school administration. Areas covered by the curriculum include academic leadership, collaborative leadership, curriculum design and development, diversity and educational leadership, educational law, fiscal and human resource management, instructional improvement and assessment, leadership and change, legal and ethical aspects of leadership, organizational behavior, school management and improvement, strategic planning and systematic evaluation, and technology leadership for administrators.

Students are required to complete a capstone project that involves comprehensive research. Master’s degree programs also typically integrate internship experiences throughout the program. Through such field-based projects, students gain firsthand experience of various issues in educational administration.

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