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Most Affordable Online Master’s In Educational Leadership

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If you’re a licensed teacher with a few years of classroom teaching experience under your belt, you might want to consider going back to school and earning an advanced degree. Pursuing a master’s in educational leadership online opens the door to many new career opportunities, and you can continue to work while furthering your education. Plus, the field is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2019 to 2029 the job outlook for principals is expected to grow by 4%.

Many graduates of educational leadership master’s programs go on to work as principals of elementary, middle, or secondary schools, where they coordinate curricula, oversee teachers,and improve the safety and learning environment for young learners.

In addition to increasing your ability to shape a school or district, a master’s degree can dramatically improve your earning potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for principals was almost $100,000 per year in 2019. And, if you’re worried about how to finance your master’s degree in educational leadership, there are plenty of graduate education scholarships to take advantage of as well.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

The 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs for 2021

  1. Western Governors University
    Location

    Salt Lake City, UT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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).

    • Program Name: Master of Science in Educational Leadership
    • Average Tuition Cost: $14,740 total
    • Graduation Rate: 21%
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    • Admission Requirements: Educator license, three years experience
  2. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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).

    • Program Name: Masters in Educational Leadership
    • Average Tuition Cost: $734 per credit
    • Graduation Rate: 88%
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA
  3. Louisiana State University-Shreveport
    Location

    Shreveport, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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).

    • Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
    • Average Tuition Cost: $374 per credit
    • Graduation Rate: 31%
    • Program Length: 1 year
    • Format: Online
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 2.5 GPA
  4. Arizona State University-Online
    Location

    Scottsdale, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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).

    • Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
    • Average Tuition Cost: $543–$1,343 per credit hour
    • Graduation Rate: 4%
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA
  5. Southeastern Oklahoma State University
    Location

    Durant, OK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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).

    • Program Name: Master of Education in Educational Leadership
    • Average Tuition Cost: $265 per credit
    • Graduation Rate: 35%
    • Program Length: 1 year
    • Format: online, in-person, or hybrid
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 2.0 GPA
  6. Augusta University
    Location

    Augusta, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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).

    • Program Name: Master of Education in Leadership
    • Average Tuition Cost: $230 per credit
    • Graduation Rate: 40%
    • Program Length: 1.5 years
    • Format: Online
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 2.5 GPA, teaching certificate
  7. University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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).

    • Program Name: Master of Education, Educational Leadership
    • Average Tuition Cost: $300 per credit
    • Graduation Rate: 47%
    • Program Length: 15 months
    • Format: Online
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 2.75 GPA, teaching certificate, three years experience
  8. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
    Location

    Edinburg, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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).

    • Program Name: Masters in Educational Leadership
    • Average Tuition Cost: $458 per credit
    • Graduation Rate: 46%
    • Program Length: 10 months
    • Format: Online
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA, GRE scores
  9. The University of Texas at Tyler
    Location

    Tyler, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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).

    • Program Name: Masters of Education in Educational Leadership
    • Average Tuition Cost: $258 per credit
    • Graduation Rate: 42%
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 2.5 GPA, teacher certificate, GRE scores
  10. Florida Atlantic University
    Location

    Boca Raton, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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).

    • Program Name: Master’s in Educational Leadership
    • Average Tuition Cost: $204-$372 per credit
    • Graduation Rate: 50%
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, three years of teaching experience

  • Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools


    At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs.
    We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%

    You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.


Here are the most frequently asked questions about Educational Leadership Master's.


  • What is educational leadership?

    Educational leadership is the process used by school administration to lead, guide, and leverage the strengths and opportunities of their students, teachers, and the students’ parents in order to help them reach their education-related goals. This term is used in conjunction with school administration in primary, secondary, and higher education.


  • How long does it take to get a master's in educational leadership?

    In general, a master’s in educational leadership normally takes about two years to complete if you are enrolled full-time in a program. However, many schools also offer part-time and accelerated options to fit your schedule needs, so the time it takes for you to finish this degree can vary greatly from program to program.


  • What will I study in a master’s in educational leadership program?

    The areas of study you focus on will depend highly on the program you choose and the concentration you focus on, but in general, you can expect to learn a lot about the methods for developing curriculum and setting standards for curriculum in this master’s program, as well as other topics like teaching theory, the foundation of educational administration, and the role of education institutions in society. As a master’s in educational leadership student, you will learn to develop curriculum standards for diverse groups of students, starting at early childhood and continuing through high school or later. This may include alternative methods or approaches to curriculum.


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Online Master's Degree in Educational Leadership Overview

An online master’s in educational leadership is designed for licensed teachers who want to pursue an advanced degree that is focused on educational leadership. Choosing an online format will enable you to continue growing your work experience and tenure while in your current position, but while also setting yourself up for promotion and career advancement.

A master’s in educational leadership will prepare students for educational administration roles like principal, dean, department head, and superintendent. Some programs offer concentrations that allow you to specialize your education. Concentrations could include school administration, teacher leadership, district leadership, and higher education.

How Much Does an Online Master’s in Education Cost?

Tuition for a master’s in educational leadership degree will vary depending on the program you choose and your residency status. Some universities will charge a flat rate for online programs, but others will charge out-of-state students more — sometimes triple what in-state students pay. 

The most affordable schools on our list ranged in tuition costs from about $100 per credit hour to $600 per credit hour. Each program weighs credits differently, so some may consist of 120 credits while other programs are completed with 30 credits. In general, the total tuition costs for one of the master’s in educational leadership degrees on our list can range from $13,000 to $30,000, not including other costs and fees. 

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Educational Leadership? 

A graduate degree in educational leadership opens up a wide range of possibilities for administrative positions at places like public or private schools or colleges and universities. You’ll be required to complete a master’s thesis project in order to graduate from a master’s program in educational leadership. This project will not only help you to develop deeper knowledge, understanding, and capabilities within educational leadership but will also help you determine what your strengths and interests are as well.

For example, you might be able to find employment as a department chair at a college or a principal at a public school. Most schools require at least a master’s degree to become an assistant principal or a higher-level administrator, so if that career path is one of your goals, you may want to pursue this type of degree. Or, you may decide to go into academia as a professor who helps teach future graduate students about educational leadership.

Scholarships for Masters in Educational Leadership

There are a wide selection of scholarship opportunities for graduate students pursuing educational degrees. Typically, you’ll need to be in good academic standing to apply for scholarships. Look to educational organizations, associations, and your educational institutions for financial aid assistance.

Educational Administration Scholarships, $2,500.

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) offers scholarships to graduate students pursuing advanced degrees in school administration and educational leadership.

Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship, $1000.

The National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) awards scholarships to students pursuing a graduate degree in education. Candidates must possess a valid teaching license and write an essay on voluntary unionism in education.

BHD Endowed Scholarships for Teachers, $2,500.

The Central Scholarship Foundation offers a scholarship for students who did not complete an undergraduate degree in education, but plans to pursue a graduate degree in teaching. Applicants must maintain a 2.0 GPA and have declared their major.

Bound to Stay Bound Books Scholarship, $8,000.

Four students can win this scholarship each year from the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). It’s designed for graduate students pursuing a degree in library and information science, library science administration, or library media specialist.

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Danika Miller

EDUCATION REPORTER

Danika Miller is a staff education reporter at Best Value Schools. She graduated from Western Washington University with a BA in creative writing. Danika has since specialized in education and finance writing as a reporter at Affordable Colleges Online, The Simple Dollar, Her Campus, CreditCards.com, Reviews.com, and elsewhere.

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Angelica Leicht

SCHOOLS EDITOR

Angelica Leicht is the schools editor at Best Value Schools who oversees our college rankings, school profiles, and other higher education coverage. She previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.

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