Top Online Educational Leadership Degree Programs

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What Is an Online Educational Leadership Degree Program?

Online Educational Leadership degree programs covers the theory and practice of leading within schools. You’ll study what goes into running an educational institution or department. This includes everything from hiring and training teachers to managing budgets.

Leading in a school often calls for business knowledge, like finance. You’ll also build on past teaching knowledge and experience. For instance, you could study educational technology or classroom management. In short, you could bring together elements of business leadership and teaching. The goal: to help your school become more effective across the board.

Master’s DegreesDoctorate DegreesGraduate Certificate
Master of Education in Educational LeadershipDoctor of Education in Organizational Leadership – K-12 LeadershipGraduate Certificate in School Leadership


This program delves into leadership skill areas to guide your school to success. Choose from three concentrations: Teacher Leadership, School Leadership, and School Leadership designed for candidates who wish to pursue principal certification.This program could help candidates prepare to lead in diverse settings – including departments, schools, and districts. You’ll study and apply leadership behaviors and strategies. And, you’ll explore the trends, policies, and challenges at play in K-12 education.This 9-credit program teaches the leadership knowledge needed to solve problems in educational settings. You’ll study ethics, contemporary issues, and how to lead in diverse settings.

  • Principles of Instructional Supervision
  • School Improvement
  • Financial Management for Schools
  • History and Politics of K-12 Education
  • Strategic Planning and Change
  • Leadership and Supervision in Education
  • Contemporary Issues in Educational Policy

Online Educational Leadership Degree Programs

Educational leadership programs are usually designed to help teachers prepare for new responsibilities. So, they tend to be graduate degrees which builds on past learning and experience. You’ll study what it takes to go beyond the classroom and lead a department, school, or district.

 Master’s in Education Leadership Programs

At the Master’s level, you’ll study how to apply organizational leadership concepts to a school setting. For example, you could explore human resources as it applies to faculty and staff. Courses like school law and finance can help you get a handle on running an educational organization from the ground up.

Your program should also touch on elements of teaching and learning. School leaders do more than manage operations. They also play a role in curriculum planning and student performance. So, you could take courses in everything from instructional design to building community relationships fostering student success.

Finally, programs sometimes offer concentrations that could help you prepare for your target career path. These may include principal preparation, teacher leadership, education policy, learning technologies, and more.

Master’s in Education Leadership programs may include:

  • Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Teacher Leadership
  • Ed. in School Leadership
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Education Improvement and Transformation
  • Master of Arts (M.A.) in Educational Leadership

Doctorate in Education Leadership Programs

PhD or Ed.D in education leadership programs could build on what you learned at the Master’s level. Or, you could potentially enter your doctorate program with a Bachelor’s. Either way, educational leadership doctoral programs feature advanced coursework and an emphasis on research.

That said, programs may have different focus areas. A PhD in Educational Leadership program may center on solving problems in schools and beyond. You’ll study research techniques specific to education. And, you’ll delve into new discoveries in an effort to help future education leaders better serve their schools.

On the other hand, Ed.D. in Education Leadership programs take a more practice-based approach. While research is part of the program, you’ll focus on applying theory within educational settings. If you’re hoping to lead a school or district, pursuing this path may be perfect.

What Courses Could I Take in an Educational Leadership Degree Program?

Courses typically apply organizational leadership concepts to education. So, you’ll study subjects related to how schools run. This includes everything from staffing and operations to curriculum planning.

Beyond the practical side, you could take courses touch on theory, trends, and research. Classes like these could inspire you to solve contemporary challenges in education!

Common Educational Leadership Degree course courses include:

Financial Management for Schools: Education leaders must ensure a school runs smoothly with its available resources. A course in financial management covers the essential of planning and preparing a budget…and making it work for your goals!

Theories of Teaching and Learning:  This course takes a big-picture approach to how learning works. You’ll study psychological research and teaching theories that can be applied to learning challenges in your department or school.

School and Community Partnerships:  It takes a village to ensure learners are successful. This course focuses on nurturing the relationship between your school and its environment. You’ll learn how to do a better job connecting with parents, outside organizations, and other learning partners.

School Law and Policy:  This course covers the legal basis of education. You’ll study the foundations of school law and how it impacts policy. And, you’ll delve into practical considerations – like common school legal situations and preventive measures.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Degree in Educational Leadership?

A Master’s in education leadership program may take about two years to earn. PhD or Ed.D. programs in educational leadership could take three to five years, or longer. Program length depends on factors like whether you study full time or part time.

Educational Leadership Degrees That Could be Earned in 12 Months

SchoolDegree Level# of CreditsStart DatesMin Months
Western Governors UniversityMaster’sVariesMultiple12
Concordia UniversityMaster’s30Multiple12
George Washington UniversityPost Master’s Certificate18Multiple12
Online Degree Length
Online Degree Length

The Cost of Earning an Educational Leadership Degree Program

NCES states  the average annual cost of attending a public, four-year school was $19,189. At private and for-profit schools, the average cost was 39,529. Compare tuition for these schools offering educational leadership programs:

SchoolDegree Level# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Penn State World CampusMaster’s30$903$27,090
Colorado Christian UniversityMaster’s36$533$19,188
George Mason UniversityMaster’s30$852 (out of state)$25,560

Top Schools That Offer Educational Leadership Online Degree Programs

NCES lists 725 institutions with general educational leadership and administration programs. From those schools, students were awarded 28,849 degrees in 2016 (the most recent data). The most common educational leadership degree awarded was the Master’s (65%).

School2016 Degrees awarded2018/19 Graduate Tuition
Lamar University1,506$13,704 (out of state)
Liberty University722$7,904
The College of Saint Rose675$14,382
Grand Canyon University639$9,916
American College of Education588$5,640
Concordia University-Portland563$20,910
The University of Texas at Arlington337$18,996 (out of state)
Concordia University-Irvine314$7,774
Western Governors University304$7,500
University of Phoenix-Arizona282$16,752
Northern Arizona University282$19,217 (out of state)

Choosing an Accredited Program

Graduating from an accredited education leadership program can help you know your education meets the standards in your field. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredits schools that may offer education leadership programs. They may also accredit individual programs.

In any case, look for a college or university that is regionally accredited. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes seven regionally accrediting organizations. These meet CHEA’s expectations for academic quality, improvement, and accountability.

What Can You Do with an Educational Leadership Degree?

The most recent census data says there are over 5 million education degree-holders in the workforce. That number includes educational leadership degree-holders. The average degree-holder in the workforce is 46.2 years old. And, 66.5% of degree-holders were female.

In general, education leadership roles are growing. For example, elementary, middle school, and high school principal jobs are projected to grow 8% by 2026. Openings may depend on factors like state and local budgets. Principals who retire could also open up new hiring opportunities.

At the college level, education leadership occupations may be growing even faster. Increasing enrollment leads to the need for more professionals to serve students. So, postsecondary administrator roles should grow about 10% by 2026.

Top Salaries by State

The table below shows states with the highest employment levels for School Principles.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York20,670$127,970
New Jersey9,050$127,570

What Kind of Jobs Could You Get With An Educational Leadership Degree?

School Principal

School Principals lead schools at the elementary, middle, or high school levels. They manage faculty and staff, plus oversee the school’s budget and operations. They may plan and manage curriculum to reach goals across the school. And, they meet with students (and their parents and teachers) to provide counseling and discipline.

Median Salary: $95,310 per year

Job Growth Through 2026: 8% , which is as fast as average

Entry Level Degree: Master’s degree


Superintendents are higher-level education administrators. They are often in charge of several public schools or a school district. So, they play a big-picture role when it comes to everything from academics to school operations. School principals usually report to superintendents.

Median Salary: $95,310 per year

Job Growth Through 2026: 5 to 9% (as fast as avg.)

Typical Entry level Education: Master’s degree


Deans are education administrators usually found in colleges and universities. But, they can be found at other educational institutions, as well. They usually direct a range of activities, from research to instruction. They may also advise students and administrate student activities.

Median Salary: $94,340 per year

Job Growth Through 2026: 10 to 14% (faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Master’s degree

© Education Connection 2019. All Rights Reserved.

EducationDynamics maintains business relationships with the schools it features.

Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.