Earning a Master's in Education Leadership Online

Earning a master's in education administration helps students make a difference in the education system. Graduates can take on administrative, supervisory, and leadership roles within the field of education. Instead of overseeing one classroom, graduates might manage an entire school or department of a college. A master's in education administration online also qualifies graduates for jobs with increased responsibilities and salaries. This guide describes the job growth and salary potential for people with a master's in education leadership. It also discusses ways to fund these types of programs and explains what it takes to earn an online educational leadership master's degree. Lastly, this guide discusses professional organizations and resources for students and graduates of online master's in educational leadership programs.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Education Administration?

A variety of people benefit from earning a master's educational leadership online degree. Recent graduates of bachelor's level education programs can advance their careers by pursuing a graduate degree. Students also pursue educational leadership master's degrees when they want to specialize in a subfield of education that requires additional education. Online educational leadership programs often appeal to working professionals who want to extend their career prospects or salary potential.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Education Administration?

Pursuing Specialization

Many specializations in education require a master's degree. To work as a postsecondary education administrator also requires a master's. A master's degree in education administration gives graduates a variety of management and administrative skills useful for branching out into specializations in industries outside of education.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Education professionals who desire senior positions with more responsibility typically need to earn a master's degree, as professionals with a bachelor's degree can only progress so far and cannot receive consideration for many senior administrative jobs.

Online Learning Technology

Earning a master's in educational leadership online gives graduates in-demand skills using online learning technology. As schools at all levels incorporate more technology into their learning strategies, they increasingly need education professionals with experience using technology to support learning.

Prerequisites for Online Education Administration Programs

Online education leadership programs typically require prospective students to meet some of the following prerequisites to qualify for admission.

  • Work Experience: Many online educational leadership master's programs require at least one year of teaching experience; however, some accept recent graduates of bachelor's programs. Applicants with relevant work experience may qualify for more scholarships and grants.
  • Exams and Test Scores:Programs often require applicants to submit GRE or MAT test scores. Many waive exam requirements for students who already hold a master's degree or meet a certain minimum GPA.
  • Coursework: Students who want to earn an online educational leadership degree need a bachelor's degree, but typically do not need to take any specific courses to be admitted.
  • Recommendations: Online education leadership programs almost always require two or three letters of recommendation from the applicant's undergraduate professors or current employer that speak to the applicant's skills and potential as a leader in education.
  • Essays: Most education administration master's programs require prospective students to write an essay or statement of purpose detailing their career goals, academic interests, and relevant professional experience.
  • Interviews: Master's programs in education administration do not generally require applicants to complete an interview.
  • International Students: International students whose first language is not English may need to pass the TOEFL test to demonstrate their English proficiency before acceptance to a program.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Education Administration?

Individuals who hold a master's degree in education administration can expect to make a competitive living, with the general salary range starting around $60,000 and up to more than $90,000. The median salary varies by type of position, with individuals in senior administrative roles making the most. Pursuing nontraditional career opportunities in the education field and beyond can open the door to a variety of potential jobs.

Traditional Careers for Master's in Education Administration Graduates

Career Stats Description

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Median Pay: $92,360

Job Growth: 10%

Postsecondary education administration administrators manage faculty research, academics, and student services at universities.

Ideal for: Highly organized, savvy problem solvers with experience in higher education administration.

Elementary, Middle, or High School Principals

Median Pay: $94,390

Job Growth: 8%

Elementary, middle, and high school principals oversee school operations. They manage teachers and other staff, counsel students, coordinate security, communicate with parents, manage budgets, and prepare reports on student data.

Ideal for: Communicative leaders who excel with problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making.

College or University Professors / Postsecondary Teachers

Median Pay: $76,000

Job Growth: 15%

College and university professors teach students beyond the high school level. They develop syllabi, plan lessons, and assess student progress.

Ideal for: Critical thinkers with excellent interpersonal, writing, and speaking skills.

Academic Dean

Median Pay: $90,571

Job Growth: 10%

Academic deans oversee the faculty at schools of all levels. They set academic standards and goals, manage budgets, and work on student enrollment issues.

Ideal for: Highly organized individuals with superior interpersonal and communication skills.

Nontraditional Careers for Master's in Education Administration Graduates

Career Stats Description

Education Consultant

Median Pay: $62,487

Job Growth: N/A

Education consultants advise students about education opportunities after high school. They help students apply for financial aid, fill out college applications, and review essays.

Ideal for: Self-motivated individuals with superior time-management skills who enjoy research and communicating this research through multiple mediums

Curriculum Director

Median Pay: $73,344

Job Growth: 11%

Curriculum directors help schools develop teaching guidelines designed to improve education. They create strategic plans, evaluate curriculum, and sometimes help train teachers.

Ideal for: Detail-oriented individuals with many years of experience in the education field, who can work well with others.

Entrepreneur / Small Business Owner

Median Pay: Varies

Job Growth: 8%

Entrepreneurs and small business owners work for themselves. Found in every industry and field, they create new businesses from scratch and usually grow every aspect of the business.

Ideal for: Self-directed, persistent, organized, and business-savvy individuals.

Library Director

Median Pay: $63,005

Job Growth: 9%

Library directors manage staff, schedule programs, create budgets, and establish rules to help libraries run efficiently.

Ideal for: Organized leaders with management and library experience.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics/PayScale, 2017-2018/Projections Central

Paying for an Online Master's in Education Administration

The cost of earning a master's educational leadership online degree varies depending on the school, with different tuition rates and study timelines. Students can often save money by choosing a program that offers an accelerated path. Learners attending part time take longer to finish and often end up paying more in tuition. A variety of financial aid opportunities, including grants and scholarships specifically for education graduate students, can offset the cost of completing a master's in educational leadership online program.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants, and Scholarships

Students pursuing a master's in education administration can find a variety of financial aid opportunities to help pay for their degrees.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online Education Administration Program

Master's educational leadership online program curriculum and graduation requirements vary by school. Most programs require around 30 credits and take about two years for full-time students to complete. Major milestones typically include an internship, capstone, and licensure preparation. Some programs include the option or requirement to complete a thesis or research project. Below are some major milestones typical of master's in educational administration programs.

Major Milestones

  1. Complete Core Coursework

    Most students complete one year of core courses before taking any elective or concentration courses.

  2. Internship

    Many education administration master's programs either require or give the student the option to complete an internship.

  3. Turn in Thesis or Complete Capstone Coursework

    Programs often require either a thesis or capstone course. Students take a deep dive into a topic in education administration that personally interests them.

  4. Submit Intent to Graduate

    Students must submit required paperwork notifying their school of their intention to graduate.

  5. Licensure/Certification Preparation

    Students pursuing a career that requires licensure or certification should begin preparing for the application process. This includes studying for exams and completing internship hours.

  6. Apply for Licensure/Certification

    Licensure and certification requirements vary depending on what type of career graduates plan to pursue and what state they live in.


Courses available in master's in education administration programs vary by school. Some typical sample courses are listed below.

Education Law

This course explores the historical, political, and social aspects of education law in the United States at the local, state, and federal levels. They also look at contemporary case studies in education law.

Educational Finance

Students critically analyze the way that economic and political issues affect K-12 school finance. They also explore trends, principles, and programs of contemporary school finance and learn how education administrators typically deal with finance issues.

Human Resource Management in K-12 Schools

This class explores the legal, historical, political, and cultural aspects of human resource management in K-12 educational settings. Students learn about hiring, management, compensation, evaluation, employment law, and professional development.

Educational Research Methods

Learners study a variety of educational research methods, both qualitative and quantitative. They learn how to complete a research design and use methods such as surveys, observation, statistical analysis, ethnography, and action research.

Diversity in Educational Organizations

Students analyze issues of multiculturalism and diversity in schools of all grade levels. They explore the political, social, cultural, and economic facets of the educational system and how these relate to diversity and equity.

Licenses and Certifications

Graduates of master's in education leadership programs pursue a variety of different career paths. Most states require education administration professionals, such as school principals, who work in public schools to hold a license. The rules and requirements for licensure vary by state. States often request principals and education administration professionals hold a master's degree, multiple years of credentialed teaching experience, and undergo a criminal background check. These professionals typically do not need to pass an exam.

  • Master's degree in education leadership or education administration: State education departments typically require applicants for principal or education administrator licenses to hold a master's degree in education leadership or administration from a regionally accredited college.
  • Undergo criminal background check: Since education leaders work with children, they must undergo criminal background checks. Background checks include submitting fingerprints for credentialing and providing a government-issued photo ID.
  • Employment history: Many states require that principals and other education administration professionals hold multiple years of teaching experience. Typically, licensing boards expect prospective licensees to hold three to five years of licensed or certified teaching experience.
  • Self-disclosure of criminal/disciplinary/licensure issues: Applicants must self-disclose a past criminal history, licensure or employment issues, and any disciplinary actions. They must also provide supporting documentation related to these issues. Exact requirements vary by state.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Joining a professional organization in education leadership offers a variety of benefits to students and recent graduates of online master's degree in educational administration programs. Members often receive networking opportunities that lead to internship or job placements. They also reap discounts on continuing education programs, annual conferences, and professional publications. Many groups offer members special access to career services and job boards. If the cost of joining poses a concern, many organizations offer students and recent graduates membership discounts.