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Most Affordable Online Master's in Educational Leadership 2020

Most Affordable Online Master's

What Are the Goals of a Master's Program in Educational Leadership?

An educational leadership master's degree prepares educators for careers as principals and other school administrators who improve classrooms, schools, and districts. Leaders in education oversee budgets, curricula, staff training, policies, and personnel decisions.

Students pursuing a master's in education online typically graduate in two years of full-time study. However, graduation timelines vary depending on a student's prior college experience and the type of program. Students attending self-paced or accelerated programs can graduate faster.

Courses in an educational leadership master's program may cover topics like public school finance, communication in education leadership, and administration of school personnel. Programs may also require internships, allowing students to gain professional experience under the supervision of a principal or other administrator.

This guide covers important information for students considering an online master's in educational leadership, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

FAQ

Questions Answers
What is educational leadership? Educational leadership refers to the supervisory roles in school administration. Individuals in these positions manage daily school operations and implement improvements.
How long does it take to earn a master's in educational leadership? The average educational leadership master's program takes two years of full-time study to complete. However, many schools offer accelerated programs, allowing students to graduate in as little as one year.
Why study educational leadership? Studying educational leadership online gives educators the practical skills to oversee personnel, manage budgets, and communicate with stakeholders to improve educational outcomes.
What can I do with a master's in educational leadership? Graduates with a master's in educational leadership can hold leadership positions in schools or districts, working as superintendents, principals, assistant principals, or instructional coordinators.

Top 10 Most Affordable Master's in Educational Leadership Online for 2020

Rank School Location
1 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
2 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
3 Louisiana State University-Shreveport Shreveport, LA
4 Arizona State University-Online Scottsdale, AZ
5 Southeastern Oklahoma State University Durant, OK
6 Augusta University Augusta, GA
7 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
8 The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg, TX
9 The University of Texas at Tyler Tyler, TX
10 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL

Accreditation for Educational Leadership Programs

Students considering online teaching master's programs should verify a program's accreditation status. Accrediting agencies review programs based on factors like learning outcomes, student services, and faculty qualifications. Master's in educational leadership programs can receive accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Employers often look favorably on graduates of accredited programs. 

Students can use the CAEP website to find accredited programs. To learn more about why accreditation matters, visit this page.

Why Study Online?

Online learning offers many benefits, such as flexibility, accessibility, and affordability. Online students often save on many of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as housing and commuting costs. Additionally, many programs allow online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live.

The flexibility of online learning also lets students balance their studies with personal and professional obligations, with many distance learners working full time while earning their degree. Programs that offer self-paced or asynchronous courses offer the most flexibility as they do not require set meeting times. Online students seeking more structure may prefer synchronous courses, which require set meeting times.

Online programs deliver coursework through online learning management systems, such as Moodle, Canvas, and Blackboard. Students can learn more about online learning, including learners' overall satisfaction with the format, by reading the 2019 National Student Satisfaction and Priorities Report.

Most Affordable Master's in Educational Leadership Online 2020 | Best Value Schools

This guide ranks the most affordable online master's in educational leadership programs to help students find quality programs that meet their budgets. Explore the top-ranked degrees below, and find out more about our methodology for compiling this ranking.

The 15 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 most recent 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 the past year 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 15 schools with the highest overall scores (all of which earned at least 20 points) to include in this ranking.


1. Western Governors University

Average Net Price: $7,790

Created by a group of American governors, Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a private, nonprofit institution that offers competency-based bachelor's and master's programs.

Designed for experienced, licensed teachers, WGU's fully online MS in educational leadership prepares graduates for leadership positions, such as principal, assistant principal, and vice principal. Students pay a flat tuition per term, with no difference for in-state and out-of-state learners. Each student receives a mentor to help them proceed through degree requirements. The program typically takes two years to complete.

The educational leadership online curriculum explores topics in leadership, finance, governance, strategic planning, and law in modern educational institutions. Required courses include leadership foundations and ethics, school financial leadership, and leadership of curriculum design and instruction. The program adheres to standards put forth by the National Educational Leadership Preparation and Professional Standards for Educational Leaders.

Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

2. University of Florida

Average Net Price: $19,053

The University of Florida offers a student-centered online educational leadership master's program program that offers three start dates per year and typically takes two years to complete.

The 36-39-credit program includes classes like administration of school personnel, public school law, and data-driven decision-making. In addition to coursework, students must complete a three-credit supervised school administration practicum.

Admission requirements for the online M.Ed. in educational leadership include an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of undergraduate study. The program does not require the GRE starting in the fall of 2020. The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3. Louisiana State University - Shreveport

Average Net Price: $7,349

Louisiana State University - Shreveport offers an online teaching master's program that comprises 34 credits and features small classes and instructors with relevant experience. Students can graduate in as little as one year.

The curriculum explores topics like schoolwide planning, allocation of public resources for education, and implementation of technology. Foundation courses include creating a professional learning community, leading with vision, and mobilizing the community. During their final semester, students must complete an internship in educational leadership. The curriculum aligns with the Standards for School Principals in Louisiana.

Louisiana State University - Shreveport is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The M.Ed. in educational leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

4. Arizona State University - Online

Average Net Price: $6,462

Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College offers an online educational leadership master's program for students seeking principal certification. The M.Ed. in educational leadership (principalship) gives students skills and knowledge in teacher leadership and curriculum development.

The 36-credit degree requires 11 classes on topics like instructional supervision, the American education system, school finances, and instructional leadership. In addition to coursework, students must complete a supervised internship and an applied project. Graduates can pursue roles as a principal, guidance counselor, instructional coordinator, and teacher.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of undergraduate work. Applicants must submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume. Arizona State University - Online is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Average Net Price: $7,794

A public university in Durant, Oklahoma, Southeastern Oklahoma State University offers more than 30 online master's programs, including a 30-credit educational leadership online degree that students can complete in one year. The flexible program offers multiple start dates each year and prepares students for leadership positions in education.

The fully online curriculum explores education from a systems perspective and covers topics like school administration and finance. The program includes instruction from educators with extensive experience in school administration. All distance learners pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Southeastern Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The M.Ed. in educational leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

6. Augusta University

Average Net Price: $11,344

A public research university and medical center founded in 1828, Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia, offers more than a dozen education programs. Augusta's online educational leadership master's program prepares students for leadership roles in pre-K-12 schools. The 36-credit, fully online M.Ed. in leadership takes three semesters to complete. The program offers two concentrations:

  • School Administration
  • Teacher Leadership

Regardless of their concentration, all students take classes in developing professional learning communities, leading school operations, and introduction to educational research. Students must complete a professional experience residency each semester. Graduates can work as lead teachers, central office staff, and assistant principals.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a professional teaching certificate, a completed background check, proof of liability insurance, and a completed Georgia Ethics for Educational Leadership assessment. Augusta University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

7. University of Louisiana at Monroe

Average Net Price: $12,540

The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers more than 35 distance education programs, including an online educational leadership master's program. The 36-credit M.Ed. in educational leadership includes courses like multicultural education perspectives, organizational theory and practice, and managing school and district resources. Students can graduate in 15 months.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA overall or a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 undergraduate credits. The program may grant conditional admission to students with a lower GPA. Applicants must also hold current teaching credentials and three years of teaching experience.

The University of Louisiana at Monroe is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The M.Ed. in educational leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

8. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Average Net Price: $9,455

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley offers an online educational leadership master's program that focuses on English language-learner populations and students from multicultural backgrounds. The program explores topics like school law, site-based school management, and school personnel practices.

The program features seven-week courses, including data management for school improvement, instructional leadership for diverse learners, and school community relations. Students can complete the 30-credit program in 10 months. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

Graduates can pursue educational leadership roles like teacher leader, principal, and school administrator. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

9. The University of Texas at Tyler

Average Net Price: $9,423

The University of Texas at Tyler offers an educational leadership online degree that focuses on public school administration and leadership. The M.Ed. in educational leadership and policy studies leads to principal certification for Texas educators. The program offers three start dates per year.

The 30-credit degree includes classes like administration of special programs in schools, educational leadership theory and practice, and instructional leadership and supervision. Students must also complete two three-credit practicums in principalship.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.5 GPA and standard or provisional Texas teacher certification. Applicants with a 3.25 GPA or higher do not need to submit GRE scores. The University of Texas at Tyler is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

10. Florida Atlantic University

Average Net Price: $11,081

Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton offers an online educational leadership master's degree that features a synchronous format and develops leadership, communication, and critical-thinking skills.

The online master's in educational leadership for school leaders includes courses like statistical methods in education, adult learning and assessment, and educational research methods. Students also complete three internships. Learners must take courses in a predetermined sequence. Students who earn the M.Ed. and pass the Florida Educational Leadership Exam qualify for Florida educational leadership certification (level 1).

Florida Atlantic University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The master's in educational leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

11. Oklahoma State University

Average Net Price: $13,283

Oklahoma State University in Stillwater offers an online educational leadership master's program with a higher education focus. The 36-credit program prepares graduates for entry- and mid-level management positions at private and public postsecondary institutions. Program faculty include full-time student affairs administrators.

Classes include leadership theory and ethical decision-making in higher education, the impact of college on students and society, and assessment techniques in higher education and student affairs. Students can tailor the degree to their interests through electives on topics like online learning, adult learners, and educational psychology. Educational leadership majors must also complete an internship and capstone in higher education and student affairs.

OSU practices rolling admissions and accepts applications year-round. Applicants must submit an academic resume, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts from all previously attended colleges, and an optional academic writing sample. The program may request an interview. Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

12. Wilmington University

Average Net Price: $8,636

Wilmington University in New Castle, Delaware, serves more than 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The school offers career-focused degrees, including a fully online educational leadership master's program that features instruction from practicing K-12 administrators.

The M.Ed. in school leadership includes a 360-hour internship that gives students hands-on experience in the field. Students gain time management, budget development, school law, communications, and community relations skills. The curriculum includes courses in measurement, accountability, and student learning; fiscal operations and resources; and classroom and school culture.

The degree meets the educational certification requirements for assistant principal and principal positions in Delaware. Wilmington University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The M.Ed. in school leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

13. Sam Houston State University

Average Net Price: $9,275

Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, offers an online educational leadership master's degree designed for students working toward principal certification. The 36-credit M.Ed. in school leadership covers school administration fundamentals, including school regulations, leadership strategies, and campus business management. Students learn to work with diverse populations, implement research, and improve schools.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA or a master's degree with a minimum 3.5 GPA. Prospective students with lower GPAs must submit GRE scores. Applicants must submit a copy of their teacher service record documenting at least one year of professional teaching experience. The program also requires two letters of recommendation, a professional statement, a current resume, and an interview video.

Sam Houston State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The M.Ed. in school leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

14. National University

Average Net Price: $15,480

The largest private, nonprofit university in San Diego, California, National University offers an online educational leadership master's program in partnership with participating California county offices of education.

The 45-credit MS in applied school leadership features accelerated, four-week classes that let students focus on one subject at a time. The program prepares graduates to work as school and district administrators and develops leadership and communication skills. Courses include shared vision of learning, teaching and learning culture, and personal ethics for leadership. Students also complete an action research project in a school setting.

National University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The MS in applied school leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

15. McNeese State University

Average Net Price: $9,722

Located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and established in 1939, McNeese State University offers a fully online educational leadership master's program that emphasizes continuous school improvement. The curriculum explores teaching and learning, school/community relations, data-driven decision-making, and professional development.

The 36-credit program includes classes in research methods and technology for school leaders, developing a vision for an effective learning community, and management of school resources and personnel. The degree also requires a 240-hour field experience. Students must complete at least half of the required credits at the 600 level.

Admission requirements include a valid teaching certificate, three years of full-time teaching experience, and satisfactory GRE scores. McNeese State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

16. Angelo State University

Average Net Price: $7,699

Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, offers an online MS in educational leadership with Texas principal certification that prepares graduates to assume leadership roles in K-12 schools. The 36-credit degree covers topics like data literacy, strategic operations oversight, instructional coaching, human capital management, and curriculum oversight.

The curriculum aligns with the state's educational requirements for principals and offers extensive opportunities for hands-on learning. The program includes five eight-week terms each year and follows a cohort model, meaning students take courses with the same group of peers throughout the program. Online students may qualify for program scholarships based on their undergraduate GPA.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Angelo State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

17. Texas Tech University

Average Net Price: $9,567

Texas Tech University in Lubbock offers an online educational leadership master's degree designed for working teachers. The 36-credit M.Ed. in educational leadership includes principal professional certification preparation.

The curriculum emphasizes social justice, professional learning communities, progress monitoring, and data literacy to improve school outcomes. Students take classes like school-based leadership, finance and personnel in schools, and principal as instructor leader. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

Application requirements include official transcripts from all prior postsecondary institutions, a resume, an applicant statement, letters of recommendation, proof of two years of teaching experience, and two years of teacher evaluation data. Texas Tech University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

18. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Average Net Price: $4,136

Working teachers can improve their career prospects and increase their impact on school success by enrolling in the online teaching master's program at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa.

The 36-credit MA in educational leadership takes about one year to complete. The program includes courses like research design in education and the social sciences, administration of special programs, and theories of educational leadership. Students also complete two eight-week supervised practicums in school administration.

The admission committee reviews applicants holistically, considering academic, family, and socioeconomic factors when making decisions. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and a teaching certificate with one year of documented teaching experience.

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The MA in educational leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

19. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Average Net Price: $11,132

A public institution established in 1884, Northwestern State University of Louisiana started as a two-year school for training teachers. Today, the school offers an online educational leadership master's degree that students can complete in 18 months.

The 36-credit M.Ed. in educational leadership requires students to attend an on-campus session once during each semester, usually on a Saturday. Graduates of the program who pass the School Leader Licensure Assessment qualify for a Louisiana level 1 administration license.

Admission requirements include a valid teaching certificate and a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Northwestern State University of Louisiana is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).The M.Ed. in educational leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

20. Concordia University - Saint Paul

Average Net Price: $8,550

A private liberal arts university founded in 1893, Concordia University - Saint Paul offers 48 online programs, including an educational leadership master's degree for working teachers. The program prepares students for administrative careers in K-12 education, focusing on best practices in school management, organization, and leadership.

The 30-credit MA in education with an emphasis in educational leadership includes courses like leadership and human resources management in education, supervision and improvement of instruction, and educational policy and administration. A culminating capstone project requires students to answer a question related to current educational research.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and a personal statement. Concordia University - Saint Paul is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

21. University of Wyoming

Average Net Price: $9,369

A public land-grant research institution founded in 1886, the University of Wyoming in Laramie offers a variety of bachelor's, master's, doctorate, and certificate programs. The school's online educational leadership master's program develops successful educational leaders and researchers. Graduates with a Wyoming teaching certificate and at least three years of teaching experience qualify for K-12 principal certification in Wyoming.

The 33-credit MA in education with a concentration in educational leadership requires courses like leadership for democratic schools, leadership for school and community relations, and special education law. Students also complete a six-credit supervised internship in an educational setting.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least two years of professional teaching experience. International applicants must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. The program offers two start dates each year. University of Wyoming is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

22. Thomas Edison State University

Average Net Price: $12,024

Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, New Jersey, offers an online MA in educational leadership degree that prepares students to work as school and district leaders. The curriculum emphasizes standards for successful school leadership, including community collaboration, ethical action, school culture, vision, and management.

The program offers three concentrations:

  • Building Leadership (36 credits)
  • District Leadership (42 credits)
  • School Business Administration (36 credits)

The building leadership emphasis prepares graduates to earn principal and supervisor endorsements, while the district leadership focus prepares students for principal, supervisor, and school administrator endorsements. Meanwhile, the school business administration focus prepares graduates for school business administrator endorsement.

Regardless of their concentration, all students take classes like technology for instruction and administration, developing school and community partnerships, and budget forecasting and fiscal planning.

Students can transfer up to 12 credits toward the degree. Thomas Edison State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

23. Fitchburg State University

Average Net Price: $3,828

A public university in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Fitchburg State University offers more than 25 academic programs. The school's 33-credit accelerated online M.Ed. in educational leadership and management takes one year to complete and features multiple start dates per year.

Designed for working professionals, the program expands students' leadership capabilities through coursework in school and community partnerships, educational research, and data-driven change. Students learn to solve problems in the educational system, improve teaching and learning through leadership, and manage organizational change.

The fully online program does not require a teaching license. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited college with a minimum 2.8 GPA. Applicants must submit a resume, official transcripts from all prior postsecondary institutions, and an essay. Fitchburg State University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

24. The University of West Florida

Average Net Price: $14,627

The University of West Florida in Pensacola offers more than 90 academic programs. Approved by the Florida Department of Education, UWF's online M.Ed. in educational leadership meets Florida Principal Leadership Standards and prepares students to take the Florida Educational Leadership exam.

The curriculum includes courses like introduction to school finance, data-driven decisions using standardized student achievement data, and human relations and communications in education. Graduates can pursue supervisory and administrative roles in schools, such as assistant principal, principal, dean, and curriculum developer.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.25 GPA, professional teaching certification, and three years of teaching experience. Applicants must also submit a letter of intent, GRE or MAT scores, and evidence of instructional expertise and leadership potential. The University of West Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

25. University of Michigan - Dearborn

Average Net Price: $16,424

The University of Michigan - Dearborn offers an online MA in educational leadership that prepares graduates to pursue leadership roles in PK-12 schools. The program meets Michigan Department of Education Standards for the Preparation of School Principals, and graduates can apply for the Michigan school administrator certificate.

Designed for working professionals, the educational leadership online program explores topics like instructional leadership, school community relations, program evaluation, organizational administration, and curriculum development. Classes include administration of human resources, school budgeting and finance, and curriculum deliberation and development. During their final year, students complete an educational administration internship.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a valid Michigan teaching certificate. Applicants must also submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. The University of Michigan - Dearborn is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).


Career and Salary Outlook

Salaries vary by factors like role, experience, and education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary education administrators make a median annual salary of $88,390, with the top 10% of earners making more than $174,000 per year. Meanwhile, elementary, middle, and high school principals make a median annual salary of $96,400. The BLS projects jobs for principals to grow by 4% between 2018 and 2028.

Where administrators work also impacts their pay. For instance, administrators in large cities often make more than administrators in rural areas due to large cities' higher costs of living.

Elementary, Middle and High School Principals
Bottom 10% Median Annual Salary Top 10%
Less than $63,070 $96,400 More than $148,630

Source: BLS

Certifications and Licensure

Generally, public school principals, assistant principals, and other school administrators need at least 3-5 years of relevant experience and licensure. Licensure requirements vary by state but typically include education, such as an online master's in educational leadership, and professional experience. Licensure candidates often must also pass an exam.

Students should check the licensure requirements in the state where they plan to work. For example, the Colorado Department of Education offers several licenses for administrators and principals, including initial, professional, and master certificate licenses.

The Colorado Department of Education also offers an alternative pathway to principal authorization for applicants currently working as a principal, assistant principal, or in positions that require a master certificate.

Some states offer reciprocity agreements to administrators with licenses from other states. For instance, out-of-state administrators seeking licensure in Colorado can qualify for professional licensure if they hold three consecutive years of experience as a licensed full-time teacher.

Courses in Educational Leadership Programs

An educational leadership master's degree gives educators the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to work as administrators in public and private schools. Learners study topics like the laws and policies that impact schools, how to use achievement statistics to improve school outcomes, and curriculum development principles. Courses vary by program, but most online educational leadership master's programs feature the courses below.

Education Law

This course covers the laws and regulations that impact schools. Topics may include Supreme Court rulings, due process, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and the history of segregation and integration. Students use case studies to understand the applications of various laws and regulations.

Human Resource Development

This course teaches students how to evaluate teachers and their performance and develop training programs for personnel. Online learners study topics like contract management, benefit programs, and staff evaluations.

Fundamentals of Educational Leadership

Graduate students enrolled in this course analyze administrative issues and trends in education. Students develop interpersonal skills and a strong ethical foundation. Students also learn about leadership theories and their applications to education.

Principles of Curriculum Development

This class covers the fundamental theories and strategies used to develop, implement, and improve curricula. Learners study curriculum development principles and procedures for elementary, middle, and high school.

Introduction to School Finance

Administrators must manage school budgets. This class covers public school funding at the local, state, and federal levels. Learners study topics like taxation, revenue sources, fiscal policy, and budget management.

Specializations in Educational Leadership

Students pursuing a master's in educational leadership online can often focus their studies through specializations in areas such as human resource development, global studies, learning design and leadership, and diversity and equity.

Students typically begin the program with core coursework before moving into specialization coursework, often during their second semester. Students may culminate the degree with an internship in their specialization under the supervision of an administrator. They may also complete a thesis around their specialization.

Scholarships for Educational Leadership Students

Online master's in educational leadership students can take advantage of scholarships to help offset the cost of a degree. We cover several scholarships for educational leadership students below.

Edward G. and Helen A. Borgen Elementary Teacher Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Daughters of the American Revolution offers this scholarship to applicants at least age 25. Candidates must be pursuing a career in elementary school education and hold a minimum 3.5 GPA.
Amount: $1,500

Educational Administration Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Graduate students pursuing careers as superintendents can apply for this award. Winners receive an extra $500 at the American Association of School Administrators national conference.
Amount: Up to $2,500

Isabel M. Herson Scholarship in Education

Who Can Apply: The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority National Educational Foundation awards this scholarship to graduate students enrolled in a master's program for elementary or secondary education. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, transcripts, W-2 forms, and a statement of purpose.
Amount: $500-$1,000

James Madison Memorial Teaching Fellowship

Who Can Apply: This fellowship supports graduate learners studying education with a focus on teaching the Constitution. Candidates must be planning to teach American history to students in grades 7-12.
Amount: $24,000 value

NACA Foundation Graduate Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Four graduate students receive awards from the National Association for Campus Activities. Qualified candidates must be pursuing an education program in student personnel and hold a minimum 2.5 GPA. They must also submit an essay.
Amount: $1,000-$3,000

Financial Aid for Educational Leadership Students

In addition to scholarships, students can pursue financial aid opportunities such as loans, grants, and work-study programs. To qualify for federal financial aid, students must submit the FAFSA. The federal government offers subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Subsidized loans are based on financial need and do not accrue interest while the student is in school. Other federal financial aid opportunities include work-study programs, scholarships, and grants.

Students pursuing a teaching career can apply for the TEACH Grant, which offers up to $4,000 a year. Recipients of the grant must commit to teaching in high-need, low-income areas after graduation. If they fail to do so, the grant becomes a loan.

Tuition

Tuition rates vary by school and program. Typically, public schools cost less than private schools. Additionally, in-state students at public schools often receive a tuition discount. However, many programs allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of residency. Schools may also hold reciprocity agreements that allow out-of-state students to attend at a discounted tuition rate.

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