Top 20 Cheap Online Educational Leadership Master’s Degree Programs

By BVS Staff
August 2017

Online master’s degrees in educational leadership and administration serve a very specific purpose in the academic industry. Although these graduate programs don’t always include licensure and/or certification options, this feature isn’t relevant to many aspiring educational administrators, who are often trying to move out of the classroom environment. However, some programs do require applicants to already hold a teaching credential in their home state. Either way, students who pursue a master’s degree in this field can significantly widen their career prospects, finding work as principals, department heads, district supervisors, and more.

Featured Programs

The 20 Best Cheap Online Master’s in Education Administration Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

Only public and private non-profit/not-for-profit colleges were eligible for consideration in this ranking. Because this article emphasizes affordable online programs, we also only considered schools with average* tuition and fees of less than $20,000 a year.

Also, we limited our analysis to colleges with at least one master’s degree program that has been awarded “national recognition” from the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC). The ELCC, which “evaluat[es] administrator preparation programs that train candidates for school and district level educational leadership positions,” is part of the National Policy Board for Education Administration (NPBEA) and has been recognized by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

*We took into account both in-state and out-of-state rates/fees for public colleges

Ranking Factors

For this ranking of M.Ed. degrees in educational administration and supervision online, we focused on three metrics. In each category, schools could earn a maximum of 15 points for a maximum total score of 45 points.

First, we looked at the number of master’s degrees in educational leadership and administration that each school conferred in the 2015-2016 academic year. A high value in this category indicates a graduate program that has successfully attracted (and retained) a large number of students. Schools that graduated 1-9 students earned 1 point, 10-19 earned 2 points, up to 10 points for 99 students. Since the number of degrees conferred makes less of a difference for very large schools (would you notice if the college graduated 125 students vs. 150?) we adjusted the point range for values above 100. Schools that graduated 100-129 earned 11 points, 130-159 earned 12 points, and so on. Finally, any college that conferred over 300 education leadership master’s degrees in 2016 received the maximum 15 points.

Second, we looked at the number and type of educational administration graduate programs at each school that have been nationally recognized by the ELCC. We awarded six points for master’s degrees that have ELCC recognition, three points for post-master’s/specialist programs, and 1.5 points for doctoral and certificate programs.

Lastly, we awarded points based on each college’s average annual tuition and fees. We did this by subtracting this annual cost from $21,000 and dividing the result by $1000. So, a school with tuition and fees of $13,600/year would earn 6.4 points.

In the end, we took the 20 schools with the highest overall scores (all of which earned at least 20 points) to include in this ranking.


Southeastern Oklahoma State University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

SOSU’s online master of educational leadership degree includes courses like “Public School Law” and “School and Community Relations.”

20. Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Online Master of Education in Educational Leadership

Website
Anyone who is interested in a career in education administration (and has a bachelor’s degree) could benefit from Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s graduate program. The 12-month, 30-credit program is open to applicants both with and without a teaching certificate. In addition, all classes are available 100% online, and many of the department faculty have worked in school administration themselves. Of course, one of the other main benefits is the price; SOSU has one of the most affordable M.Ed. degrees in educational leadership online! Note, however, that the curriculum does not include an internship and therefore does not offer principal certification.
Average Tuition & Fees: $7,302/yr
Score: 21.7

Indiana State University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Because the program requires campus visits, only Indiana residents are eligible to enroll in this M.Ed. degree in educational administration and supervision online.

19. Indiana State University

Online Master of Education in School Administration and Supervision

Website
Indiana State University’s graduate program in School Administration and Supervision fulfills part of the state requirements for the Building-Level Administration license. Therefore, if you have a valid teaching license and at least two years of classroom experience, you will be eligible to work as a school principal upon receiving this degree (presuming you pass the licensure exam, of course!). The 33-credit curriculum for this accredited online master of education administration consists of nine classes, including a two-semester internship. Additionally, program members must create a portfolio that demonstrates the knowledge and skills they gained during their internship.
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,550/yr
Score: 22.5

Southwestern Oklahoma State University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

SWOSU’s synchronous, webinar-based format makes this a top online master of education administration program for students who want a high level of interaction.

18. Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Online Master of Education in Educational Administration

Website
Southern Oklahoma has strong representation on this ranking of top cheap online educational leadership master’s degree programs. Both the southeastern and southwestern state colleges offer top programs for aspiring school administrators. And of course, since both universities offer distance education courses, Oklahoma residents aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit. At SWOSU, faculty are using the M.Ed. Educational Administration program to pioneer a new type of course delivery. Using webinars, professors live stream their lectures to students, who can view the video in real-time through their own computers. This format provides a more interactive experience than traditional online courses.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,995/yr
Score: 23

California University of Pennsylvania Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Cal U, home to one of the best online master of educational leadership programs, requires students to complete two supervised field projects.

17. California University of Pennsylvania

Online Master of Education in Educational Leadership – Educational Studies

Website
For a broad-based curriculum that will prepare you for a variety of roles in education administration, check out the California University of Pennsylvania. It offers an accredited M.Ed. degree in educational leadership online that could help you secure a job as a principal, dean, or in college administration. And you can trust that the instruction at Cal U is top-notch. After all, the university has been providing teacher education for more than 150 years! Over that time, teacher training programs have become a core part of the university’s academic profile. Today, graduate degrees are available in everything from STEM to ESL to technology, and, of course, school administration.
Average Tuition & Fees: 14263.5/yr
Score: 23.2

Henderson State University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Henderson State’s cheap online educational leadership master’s degree program offers a rigorous curriculum rich in high-value courses.

16. Henderson State University

Online Master of Science in Educational Leadership

Website
The Educational Leadership Program at Henderson State University is a comprehensive initiative that incorporates multiple degree types and licensure options. Students can choose from four primary degree plans: an M.S.E. or Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, an M.S.E. in Technology Leadership, and an Ed.S. in Curriculum Leadership. Of these, the online educational leadership master’s degree program is most suitable for teachers who want to obtain building-level administrative licensure. But if you choose to earn your degree from HSU, be prepared for a challenge. In addition to standard coursework, you’ll need to complete at least 217 internship hours, an “action research” project, and a final portfolio.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,169/yr
Score: 23.8

University of Texas of the Permian Basin Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

If you’re anxious to enroll in an accredited M.Ed. degree in educational leadership online, note that UTPB’s program offers six start dates a year.

15. University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership

Website
Like Oklahoma, Texas has an abundance of options for teachers who want to pursue an affordable M.Ed. degree in educational administration and supervision online. In fact, UTPB is one of three schools in the UT system to earn a spot on this ranking. And although the graduate program at the Permian Basin is slightly smaller than its siblings’, it offers plenty of benefits nonetheless. Not only can you complete this M.A. in Educational Leadership entirely online in as few as 12 months, but you’ll graduate with the qualifications for both building- and district-level administrative positions. Plus, UTPB’s tuition is one of the cheapest in Texas!
Average Tuition & Fees: $5,670/yr
Score: 25.3

University of Southern Mississippi Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

This affordable online master of education administration degree consists of 34 credit hours and takes four semesters to complete.

14. University of Southern Mississippi

Online Master of Education in Educational Administration and Supervision

Website
Like most online programs, the University of Southern Mississippi’s educational administration program aims to provide flexible course options for busy professionals. However, USM goes a step further in its mission by “unleashing the creativity that emerging technologies can afford.” In other words, this university has created a top M.Ed. degree in educational administration and supervision online that is actually enhanced by its web-based format. In fact, USM offers two delivery methods for this program. One is completely online (with the exception of a three-semester internship), while the other combines internet instruction with a short (three week) face-to-face session each summer.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,375/yr
Score: 27.6

Concordia University Chicago Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Unlike other accredited online educational leadership master’s degree programs, Concordia’s program does not include an internship component.

13. Concordia University-Chicago

Online MA in Educational Administration

Website
Concordia University in Chicago offers an extremely flexible program for future educational administrators. The 30-credit curriculum is available on both a part-time and full-time basis (for a total program length of 12 or 24 months) and provides classes in both online and on-campus formats. What’s more, its lack of an internship requirement makes it one of the best online master of education administration programs for experienced professionals who would not necessarily benefit from more on-the-job training. However, you will have to complete a final capstone project that demonstrates your mastery of all previous coursework.
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,688/yr
Score: 27.8

Nova Southeastern University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

With three start dates per year, you won’t have to wait long to start earning one of the top M.Ed. degrees in educational leadership online.

12. Nova Southeastern University

Online Master of Science in Educational Leadership

Website
To be eligible for Nova Southeastern University’s accredited online master of educational leadership degree, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree and valid teaching certificate and/or be a practicing K-12 teacher. More specifically, the curriculum caters to working professionals who desire a career as a school principal, district supervisor, or college director (of admissions or academic advising, for example). Accepted applicants can choose to attend classes entirely online or through a blend of online and evening/weekend classes. Lastly, note that the program is state-approved for add-on licensure in both Florida and Nevada.
Average Tuition & Fees: $17,454/yr
Score: 28.5

University of North Texas Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Whether you just need your principal certification or want to earn a full 30-credit M.Ed. degree in Educational Leadership online, UNT has you covered.

11. University of North Texas

Online Accelerated Master’s in Educational Leadership

Website
The University of North Texas joins a growing list of schools in the Lone Star State that offer affordable online educational leadership master’s degree programs. (As if there weren’t already enough options for Texas residents!) With a price tag that barely tops $10k and a habit of graduating well over 100 students per year, UNT happens to have one of the largest – and cheapest – programs in the region. And it’s not just the university’s online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership that attracts so many applicants. UNT also offers a 21-credit, accelerated principal certification program that you can complete online in just 12 months.
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,675/yr
Score: 29.8

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

UTRGV’s affordable online master of educational leadership offers unique classes like “Instructional Leadership for Diverse Learners.”

10. University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

Online Master of Education in Educational Leadership

Website
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley may be one of several Texas-based schools on this list, but its online educational leadership program is one of a kind. What makes this M.Ed. so unique is its focus on contemporary issues facing student populations today. More specifically, the curriculum aims to develop “culturally responsive” leaders who can serve diverse groups. Coursework puts a particularly strong emphasis on English language learner (ELL) populations. As such, this is undoubtedly one of the best M.Ed. degrees in educational leadership online for educators who work with students from multicultural backgrounds.
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,008/yr
Score: 30

Marshall University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Marshall’s top online educational leadership master’s degree program also offers “Justice Leadership” and “Leadership Specialist” emphasis options.

9. Marshall University

Online MA in Leadership Studies – Educational Leadership

Website
Admittedly, Marshall University’s graduate program is a little different from most other accredited M.Ed. Also in educational administration and supervision online. In fact, it’s not an M.Ed. degree at all! But this M.A. in Leadership Studies with an emphasis in Educational Leadership is a very close substitute. The 36-credit curriculum covers topics like school personnel administration, educational technology, and legal and policy issues. In addition, you’ll cap off the course sequence with a three-credit internship and a follow-up “portfolio assessment.” Once you graduate, you’ll be eligible to take the PRAXIS II Educational Leadership Administration and Supervision Test and acquire licensure in West Virginia.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,063/yr
Score: 30.9

Arkansas Tech University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Graduates of ATU’s top online master of educational leadership program are eligible for licensure as building-level administrators (i.e. school principals).

8. Arkansas Tech University

Online Master of Education in Educational Leadership

Website
Applying for college can be a nerve-racking process, but Arkansas Tech University offers a simple solution. That is, if you have a valid teacher’s license and at least two years of teaching experience, you can earn unconditional admission to ATU’s educational leadership program. (Of course, you’ll need to meet all the other general requirements for admission to the Graduate College, too.) After that, it’s just a matter of churning through the coursework. Like most online master of education administration programs, the curriculum requires you to complete an internship (worth four credit hours) and a professional portfolio.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,037/yr
Score: 31

Stephen F Austin State University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Anyone who take their education seriously will recognize that SFA has one of the best online educational leadership master’s degree programs in the country.

7. Stephen F Austin State University

Online Master of Education Degree in Educational Leadership and Principal Certification

Website
When it comes to teacher education, Stephen F. Austin State University runs like a well-oiled machine. Indeed, the school is so committed to training students in this discipline that it has an entire department reserved for secondary education and leadership. Within this department, you’ll find a cheap online master of educational leadership that is both rigorous and rewarding. The curriculum touches on industry staples – such as community leadership and law – plus 21st-century practices like data-driven decision-making. Even more impressive, graduates of the program who go on to take the TExES have maintained a pass rate of over 90%!
Average Tuition & Fees: $9,820/yr
Score: 31.2

Northern Arizona University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Enroll in NAU’s cheap M.Ed. degree in educational leadership online and pick from three tracks: Higher Education, Principal, and K12 School Leadership.

6. Northern Arizona University

Online Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership

Website
Northern Arizona University boasts a surprisingly versatile graduate program for future school leaders. The comprehensive curriculum rivals even the very best M.Ed. degrees in educational administration and supervision online. It’s no wonder that last year, the program’s graduating classes counted nearly 260 students! The reason for NAU’s popularity amongst educational administrators lies in its dynamic curriculum, which offers three distinct emphases. So not only will you have career options as a principal, in higher education, and/or in general school leadership, but you’ll be able to tailor your education to match your professional goals with precision.
Average Tuition & Fees: 13662.5/yr
Score: 31.8

Western Governors University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

The average student completes WGU’s affordable M.Ed. degree in educational leadership online in two years.

5. Western Governors University

Online Master of Science in Educational Leadership

Website
As a leader in distance education and career-oriented training, it’s only natural that Western Governors University would include multiple teacher training programs in its degree offerings. One of these is the M.S. in Educational Leadership, which primarily prepares students to work as school principals. And if that’s the kind of job you’re looking for, WGU’s cheap online master of education administration program can offer you a direct path to your goals. Its impressive curriculum was formulated on the input of multiple experts; the university even maintains an Education Program Council to ensure high quality coursework across the board.
Average Tuition & Fees: $6,790/yr
Score: 32.2

Sam Houston State University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Along with its accredited online master of education administration degree, SHSU also offers certificates in academic advising and institutional research.

4. Sam Houston State University

Online Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration

Website
Sam Houston State University’s M.A. in Higher Education Administration emphasizes “career-related leadership” for professionals who want to work on a college campus. Students who enroll in this cheap M.Ed. degree in educational administration and supervision online may also be interested in pursuing doctoral studies. Either way, SHSU’s program offers a solid foundation in student services and academic affairs, governance and resource allocation, and other contemporary issues in higher ed. The curriculum also offers two different ways for you to synthesize your knowledge. You can complete a thesis (preferable for students who plan on pursuing a Ph.D.) or participate in a hands-on practicum.
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,723/yr
Score: 32.3

At UT Arlington, you can complete one of the nation’s most affordable and best online master of education leadership programs in just 15 months.

3. University of Texas-Arlington

Online Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Website
The University of Texas at Arlington is the highest ranked of all the UT schools on our ranking of top cheap online educational leadership master’s degree programs. This is primarily due to its impressive ability to attract (and retain) students. In fact, its most recent graduating class numbered more than 300! But why is UT Arlington such a popular choice? It may have something to do with the unique focus of its M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Compared to other colleges, this program’s curriculum puts a greater emphasis on topics like the “Political and Legal Aspects of Education” and “Educational Research and Evaluation.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,394/yr
Score: 32.6

Liberty University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

Liberty’s top online master of education administration degree requires students to complete 36 credits of coursework, including a three-credit internship.

2. Liberty University

Online Master of Education – Administration and Supervision

Website
Current teachers who want to expand and enhance their skillset to include an understanding of education law, school-community relations, and financial management should take a close look at Liberty University. Through Liberty, you could earn an accredited M.Ed. degree in educational administration and supervision online in about 15 months. Note, however, that this program format includes required “intensives” that will require you to visit the campus in Lynchburg, Virginia. In addition, Liberty’s background as a Christian institution means that some classes may touch on religious topics – such as leadership in Christian schools.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,000/yr
Score: 35.5

Lamar University Online Educational Leadership Masters Degree Programs

In addition to our ranking, Lamar has been recognized for its top affordable online education leadership master’s degree program by U.S. News and GetEducated.com.

1. Lamar University

Online Master of Education in Educational Administration

Website
Considering that more than a third of the schools on this list are in Texas, it seems only fitting that the college with the #1 best M.Ed. degree in education leadership online would be from the same state. But it’s no coincidence that Lamar University beats out its neighbors to earn the top spot. From its massive size (it conferred over 750 master’s degrees in education leadership last year!) to its affordable tuition, Lamar has plenty going for it. Other highlights include the program’s 21st-century curriculum (classes include “Diverse Learners” and “Fundamentals of Leadership and Technology”) and 18-month completion time.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,408/yr
Score: 39.6

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 best cheap M.Ed. degrees in educational leadership online!

Sources:
IPEDS Data Center
College Navigator
http://www.npbea.org/ncateelcc/
http://caepnet.org/provider-search?state=&program=ELCC&tab=program#progresults

Leave a Reply