Educational Leadership Degree Programs

What is Educational Leadership Degree?

An Educational Leadership degree (MEdL), studies the management side of education. It then applies key points to empower teachers. These programs aim to arm teachers with skills to lead schools and student outcomes.

Some programs focus on business and day to day work. These programs may ready teachers to take on school or district leadership jobs. Others discuss what students learn and how to teach them. These skills may help teachers lead change in school policy.

 Education Leadership Graduate Programswritten by Rana Waxman

Educational Leadership Degrees

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Instructional Leadership ProgramMorehead State UniversityMS
Educational ManagementBrunel UniversityMEd
Master of Education in Educational LeadershipLock Haven UniversityMEd
School AdministrationNotre Dame de Namur UniversityMA
Master of Education - Educational LeadershipNational UniversityMEd
M.S. Educational LeadershipWestern Governors UniversityMSEd
M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (NITL)Grand Canyon UniversityMEd
Doctor of Education in Leadership and InnovationPurdue GlobalN/A
Education, MSEd - Allied Health Teaching and LeadershipKeiser UniversityN/A
Ed.S. in Educational LeadershipRegent UniversityEdD
M.S. in Higher Education LeadershipPost University OnlineN/A
EdD in Performance Improvement LeadershipCapella UniversityN/A
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What Can You Do With a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership?

A master’s degree in educational leadership will prepare you to join a work force of over 5.05 million. Most are women between the ages of 36 and 45. Of these workers, over half (56.9%) are teachers. Others are:

  • 4.5% are Education Admins (Principals, Deans, Student Affairs Leaders)
  • 0.2% are Education Specialists

These leaders are expected to have a certain set of skills. They need to promote how well students do on tests and help them each other goals. They are also held to both school and teacher success. To pursue the following admin roles, you'll need a master's or PhD.

  • Principal, Dean (PhD)
  • School Administrator (Masters)
  • School Superintendent (Masters)
  • Guidance Counselor (Masters)
  • Admissions Director (Masters)
  • Financial Aid Director (Masters)

The BLS tells us the job outlook for educational leaders is expected to grow faster than average through 2028. The growth will go up and down according to state budgets and student enrollments. Most Education Admin work in:

  • Colleges and Professional Schools
  • Junior Colleges
  • Technical and Trade Schools
  • Elementary and High Schools

Is a Master's in Educational Leadership Worth It?

If your goal is to become a leader in education 'worth' is not the right question. If you don't earn the degree, you likely will not have the chance to apply for the job. Starting with the fact that in most states, public school principals need a license. The same is true for superintendents. It is common that the master's degree is needed for the license.

Also, there is the potential to earn more money. One study, found that Education Admins with a master's degree earned 44% more than those with a bachelor's’ degree.

Average Salaries from the BLS

  Average Salary Employment
Education Administrators $95,270 477, 750
Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center $53,550 49,130
Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School  $97,440 250,280
Education Administrators, All Other $88,240 36,190

Top States for Employment: Education Administrators

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
California 12,840 $123,630
New York 10,960 $118,020
Illinois 8,530 $99,740
Texas 6,030 $118,950
Michigan 5,410 $115,810

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Education Administrators, Postsecondary
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Lansing-East Lansing, MI$155,870Not Reported
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC$135,930240
Charlottesville, VA$129,390180
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO$129,030230
Salisbury, MD-DE$123,98060

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Masters in Educational Leadership vs a PhD

Which degree level is the right path for your goals? Both the Master's and Doctorate in Education Leadership offer unique courses and outcomes.

A MA in Educational Leadership is often up to 36 credits. It may expose you to research based tactics. You may learn how to apply make data driven decisions related to teaching, student learning and school leadership.

College settings often want a higher level of education. Deans and school provosts may need a PhD. PhDs often span 54 credits, and allow you to choose an emphasis. A PhD program should teach you how to conduct research. Then apply findings to classroom, school or course content. This would allow you to identify, assess and resolve issues.

Educational Leadership Degree Guide

MEd in Educational Leadership

PhD Educational Leadership

EdD - Doctor of Educational Leadership

Length of Program: 11 courses including School Exec Internship

The program may ready you to resolve disputes and manage people and money in a school setting. In tandem, students hone a personal leadership style.

Length: 23 courses, Superintendent Internship

This program focuses on the research, leadership, management, and problem solving skills principals and superintendents need in today’s K - 12 world. 

Program Length: 17 courses including Internship

The EdD aims to excel students as university faculty members, policy-makers and senior level leaders. Core education concepts like learning theory and exposes students to applied research and management.

Sample courses:

  • Leading Diversity
  • Building Community
  • Leading in HR and Finance
  • Education Law & Ethics
  • Curriculum Development

Courses Include:

  • Quantitative Design & Analysis
  • Funding Education Institutions
  • Education and the Law
  • Teacher Evaluation
  • Research Seminar

Some courses:

  • Advanced Learning Theory & Research
  • Applied Research Methods & Concepts
  • Org Analysis & Problem Solving for Education
  • Issues and Trends in Edu Leadership
  • Conflict Resolution
Program Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Program Accreditation: CAEP

Accreditation: CAEP

A PhD in Educational Leadership is a research degree. Unlike the EdD, a PhD involves forging new ideas through your own process. Through a wide range of topics, it may help you learn ethical and manager skills. Also, it may be a useful way to develop as a problem solver. PhD pathways include:

  • Independent Research
  • Chief Executive in College Setting
  • College Faculty Position

Degree Requirements

To enroll in an educational leadership program, you’ll often need three things. A bachelor’s degree, teaching certificate and experience.

In a common program, classes focus on being an agent of change. You will study a range of topics and do a final project or internship. Along the way, you may learn about your own style as a leader and how to leverage it in a chosen setting. It all depends on which program you pick.

If pursuing license is your goal, check program details to make sure the program offers a pathway. A few focused programs include:

  • MS in Education - Edu Theory and Practice
    This type of program may help in the pursuit of National Board Certification. It may cover curriculum theory in depth. As such, one may learn to improve student outcomes.
  • MS in Student Affairs in Higher Education
    This type of program may look at the day to day working of a college. It may help you grow skills as an admin. Some topics focus on student affairs theories and diversity. These may cover areas like advising, student activities and life on campus.
  • EdS in Educational Leadership and Administration
    This type of program often suits students with a master’s degree who want further credentials. It may ready you to lead and promote in the area of student success.
  • Doctor of Management: Private Sector Higher Education Leadership
    Pursue senior level academic jobs in private schools. This type of program may boost skills as a manager and leader. It may cover areas like how to set policy. Also, you'll often study how take charge of resources, staff and outcomes.

What Classes Will I Take?

Some themes address admin strategies and skills. For instance, school finance and scheduling. Others may touch on student assessment, public outreach and school law. These may help you excel as a principal, administrator or researcher.

Education Law and Ethics: In this class, one might look at the legal aspects of leadership. Topics may get into things like due process, search and seizure and sexual misconduct.

Curriculum Development: This class may ready you to plan and build what students study. Topics may cover both theory and methods. The goal often to find areas that need an upgrade.

Improving Instruction: Here, one may learn how to apply data to make decisions about how to teach. For example, student outcomes and how to improve them.

Educational Leader Theory: A central course which may bring up issues that modern school leaders face. You may for instance look at work place behaviors in school systems.


Accreditation is a form of quality control by an outside agency. Some schools maintain two kinds of approval. One for the school as a whole. The other, to certain programs.

It is important to look for a school to be both regionally accredited. And, for the educational leadership degree program to be accredited. For one, these schools make it possible to apply for financial aid.

Specific agencies review programs. Their interest is in what students are learning at the program level. Education is a regulated industry that follows ethics and principles. As such, accredited programs keep up the standards for teachers and industry leaders.

One such agency is CAEP, the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Their goal is to set and check standards in programs that ready teachers. Another is The National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA). This alliance aims to set the bar for leaders in the school system.

In many cases, earning a degree approved by one of these agencies is needed to earn a licence.

How long is a Masters in Educational Leadership?

It may take about two years part time to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership. If you study full time it may take about one year. The number of credits varies (30 - 36) and this also impacts the length.

  # of Credits Min Months to Complete
University of Cincinnati   30 21 months
Queens University of Charlotte   33 22 months
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota   33 Less than 2 years
Grand Canyon University 30 Each course is 6 weeks, completion time N/A

How Much Does A Masters in Educational Leadership Degree Cost?

The average cost of a of a graduate degree from a public school is $11,617 per year. This means you will be able to find programs that cost more and less than the average.

To give specific examples, this graph shows graduate tuition costs of 4 schools with Educational Leadership Graduate Programs as reported by the NCES. We have then compared those costs to the average college options, also as reported by NCES.

$11,617 Average Public University Tuition
$14,784 Average Private For Profit School Tuition
$26,551 Average Private Non Profit Tuition

What are the Costs per Credit for a MEd in Educational Leadership?

Cost per credit of course is different at every college. State schools are also likely to have in state costs vs out of state costs. Below are a few examples of the cost per credit as reported by each one of these schools.

  # of Credits Cost Per Credit TotAL Cost
Grand Canyon University     30 $530 $15,900
Penn State University 30 $886 $26,580
Queens University of Charlotte    33 $400 $13,200
University of Cincinnati   30 $739 $22,170

Top 93 Educational Leadership Degree Programs :

GCU offers a variety of M.A. and M.Ed. education programs designed for current educators looking to take the next step in their career. Earn your degree from an accredited non-profit university. No Application Fee!

  • Accredited online university.
  • Capella University offers doctoral programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession.
  • Competency-based curriculum delivers both foundation knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you’re learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.
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