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The Best Online Doctorate In Educational Leadership Programs

Pursuing a master’s in educational leadership can lead to professional growth and open doors to various career opportunities. This degree equips earners to take on leadership roles in school administration, curriculum development, or policymaking.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects educational leadership positions to grow 5-7% between 2021 and 2031, offering promising job prospects and above-average salaries. The advanced degree not only provides valuable skills and knowledge, but can offer a satisfying and impactful career in shaping the future of education.

The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Average Tuition (In-State / Out-of-State)

  1. #1

    Florida State University
    $4,640 / $19,084
  2. #2

    George Washington University
    $55,961 / $55,961
  3. #3

    Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
    $5,357 / $20,877
  4. #4

    University of South Carolina-Columbia
    $12,288 / $33,528
  5. #5

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    $7,770 / $24,900
  6. #6

    Liberty University
    $14,791 / $14,791
  7. #7

    Texas A & M International University
    $3,818 / $13,634
  8. #8

    Southern New Hampshire University
    $9,600 / $9,600
  9. #9

    Tarleton State University
    $4,951 / $14,123
  10. #10

    Webster University
    $28,500 / $28,500
  11. #11

    Southern Wesleyan University
    $24,926 / $24,926
  12. #12

    Northwestern College
    $32,700 / $32,700
  13. #13

    LeTourneau University
    $31,740 / $31,740
  14. #14

    University of Phoenix-Arizona
    $9,552 / $9,552
  15. #15

    South Dakota State University
    $7,697 / $11,172
  16. #16

    Cairn University-Langhorne
    $29,178 / $29,178
  17. #17

    Capella University
    $14,148 / $14,148
  18. #18

    New Mexico State University-Main Campus
    $6,041 / $22,507
  19. #19

    Grand Canyon University
    $16,424 / $16,424
  20. #20

    Hannibal-LaGrange University
    $22,500 / $22,500

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Overview

An online master’s program in educational leadership helps graduates qualify for roles as school principals, district administrators, and educational policymakers. Educational leadership degree-seekers can expect a comprehensive curriculum designed to prepare them for these and other advanced career pathways in the education sector.

Educational leadership programs typically require 30-36 credits and take 2-3 years to complete. Learners gain an understanding of educational leadership foundations and explore topics, such as educational research, school finance, and educational law. Programs often end with a final project or exam that checks students’ mastery of the subject matter and their readiness for leadership roles.

When picking a program, think about factors such as accreditation, program rankings, cost, and financial aid opportunities. Carefully considering these factors leads to confidence that the program suits your needs and career goals.

Featured Online Programs

The Best Online Master’s Programs in Educational Leadership

The school and/or program descriptions below were drafted using natural language generation technology and have been edited for clarity and accuracy. The data is primarily sourced from government databases such as IPEDS – see sources section for more details.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our
school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased
information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That’s why we’ve developed a
rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

  • Academics
  • Affordability

  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the
schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated
Postsecondary Education Data System
 (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual
surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college,
university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys,
which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is
publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College
Navigator
.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic
Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of
schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com,
subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other
sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online
education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are
weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student
success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and
graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities.
For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our
rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research
and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial
incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff
through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

#1 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Florida State University

  • Tallahassee, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Tallahassee, Florida State University offers an online master’s in educational leadership and administration to enhance educators’ professional knowledge and prepare them for administrative roles. After completing a master’s degree, candidates can pursue career advancement in their current field or a new one.

The master’s curriculum emphasizes both practical and theoretical approaches to educational administration. Learners focus their training by choosing electives based on their interests and career goals. Applicants with a background in educational administration typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees participate in internship programs at approved locations in their local area. The common facilities and services offered at most universities, such as the library or gym, are accessible to students who live on campus. Graduate students also build professional connections through virtual networking events and other activities.

Florida State University at a Glance:

Type of school: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 32%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 16

Program name: Education Leadership Master’s

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,684

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $24,116

Percent Online Enrollment

97%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

George Washington University

  • Washington, DC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students seeking an online educational administration degree can enroll in the master’s program at George Washington University, located in Washington, D.C. The rigorous MA in educational leadership and administration is designed for working professionals interested in K-12 education and central office leadership positions.

The master’s curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the field. Virtual classrooms give enrollees access to scholars, principals, superintendents, and other field experts. Applicants without a degree in educational administration or a related field may need to meet prerequisite requirements to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Graduate students expand their professional network through internships and online events.

George Washington University at a Glance:

Type of school: Private, not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 43%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 50

Program name: MA in Educational Leadership and Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $31,770

Percent Online Enrollment

25%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

  • Stillwater, OK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma State University hosts a top-ranked master’s in educational administration program. The master of science in educational leadership studies prepares graduates for leadership roles in PK-12 education. A master’s degree can also prepare candidates for opportunities in new fields.

The curriculum is a hybrid cohort model designed for working adults who can learn and collaborate together. The MS emphasizes theory and practice, and enrollees participate in internship programs at approved locations in their local area. Campus attendance gives students access to common amenities and facilities, such as the library or gym. Graduate students also build professional connections through virtual networking events and other activities.

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus at a Glance:

Type of school: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 67%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 23

Program name: MS in Educational Leadership Studies

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,531

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $21,034

Percent Online Enrollment

88%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Higher Learning Commission

#4 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

University of South Carolina-Columbia

  • Columbia, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of South Carolina-Columbia offers an online M.Ed. in education administration with an emphasis in educational leadership and policies in PK-12 schools. The master’s curriculum examines advanced theories and practices in educational administration, utilizing simulations, case studies, and research projects.  

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. Common facilities and services offered at most universities, such as the library or gymnasium, are accessible to students living on campus. The program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

The University of South Carolina-Columbia at a Glance:

Type of school: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 68%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 28

Program name: M.Ed. in Education Administration 

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,737

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $29,760

Percent Online Enrollment

93%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Lincoln, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online MA in educational administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln prioritizes flexibility. The degree offers specializations in community colleges, higher education, and student affairs administration. UNL’s department of educational administration is well-known for developing rigorous and accessible programs for educators pursuing career advancement in P-12 and higher education.

UNL encourages applicants to gain experience in educational administration before applying to the program. Online enrollees work with the school to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. Internships and networking events help graduate students enhance their experience and expand their professional network.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln at a Glance:

Type of school: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 78%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 15

Program name: MA in Educational Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $6,138

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $17,928

Percent Online Enrollment

67%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Higher Learning Commission

#6 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University offers an online M.Ed. in higher education with a concentration in educational leadership. Enrollees receive the necessary training to pursue administrative roles in postsecondary education. The master’s curriculum blends theory and practice to provide an advanced understanding of educational administration. The curriculum expores topics, such as leadership and supervision in education and educational policy. 

Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. Online enrollees add to their resume by pursuing internship opportunities at approved locations near their home. Graduate students also build professional connections by attending networking events.

Liberty University at a Glance:

Type of school: Private, not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 50%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 68

Program name: M.Ed. in Higher Education – Educational Leadership 

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,935

Percent Online Enrollment

93%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#7 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Texas A & M International University

  • Laredo, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of science in educational administration at Texas A & M International University, located in Laredo, offers a flexible online format. Students can complete the degree in just 10 months. Enrollees can use the program to help prepare for principalship exams in Texas.

The master’s curriculum explores advanced methodologies and research in educational administration. Enrollees learn effective leadership and data-driven decision-making skills. Online enrollees complete practicum or internship requirements in their local area to gain hands-on experience. Campus students have access to the library and gymnasium, as well as other equipment and facilities available at most institutions. Seven-week courses help students accelerate degree completion.

Texas A & M International University at a Glance:

Type of school: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 59%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 11

Program name: MS in Educational Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $3,350

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $10,712

Percent Online Enrollment

59%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Southern New Hampshire University, located in Manchester, is a leader in online learning. SNHU’s M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction offers a concentration in education leadership. The program emphasizes both practical and theoretical skills that graduates can apply in the classroom and in administrative roles.

The M.Ed. covers subjects, such as curriculum design, technology integration, and leading educational organizations. Internship and practicum activities provide hands-on experience and professional networking opportunities. Students have access to learning resources from day one, and can complete the degree in just 15 months.

Southern New Hampshire University at a Glance:

Type of school: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 94%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 29

Program name: M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a Concentration in Education Leadership

Graduate Tuition In State: $18,810

Students Enrolled

134,345

Percent Online Enrollment

96%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

New England Commission on Higher Education

#9 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Tarleton State University

  • Stephenville, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Stephenville, Texas, Tarleton State University offers a customizable online M.Ed. in educational administration. The curriculum offers both principal certification and non-certification degree plans with one of three concentrations: EC-12 leadership principal certification, higher education leadership, and educational technology leadership.

Participants complete practicums to acquire knowledge of a variety of areas, such as building operations and finance and budgeting. Online enrollees work with the program to find internship opportunities in their local area. Campus students have access to the library and gymnasium, as well as other equipment and facilities available at most institutions. Graduate students also participate in networking events to expand their professional connections.

Tarleton State University at a Glance:

Type of school: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 58%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 7

Program name: M.Ed. in Educational Administration 

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,248

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $12,510

Percent Online Enrollment

100%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Webster University

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online MA in educational leadership and administration at Webster University is a good option for students pursuing K-12 school leader certification. The program builds specialized skills for leadership roles through coursework, internships, and a capstone course.

The master’s curriculum emphasizes both practical and theoretical approaches to educational administration. Topics covered include school law, finance, and leadership and innovation. Online enrollees fulfill internship requirements at approved sites in their local area. Since the program is also available on campus, in-person attendees can enjoy the common amenities and facilities available at most institutions, such as the library or gym. The program hosts networking events and other professional development activities to help graduate students expand their professional connections.

Webster University at a Glance:

Type of school: Private, not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 53%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 27

Program name: MA in Educational Leadership and Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,500

Percent Online Enrollment

59%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Higher Learning Commission

#18 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

New Mexico State University-Main Campus

  • Las Cruces, NM
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students seeking an online educational administration degree should consider the master’s program at New Mexico State University-Main Campus, located in Las Cruces. The master of arts in educational leadership and administration in preK-12 + licensure program prepares learners for roles in public school leadership or research.

The degree is also advnaced preparation for leadership roles in governmental or private sector agencies. Students complete most of the degree online but must attend on-campus meetings during the internship component. The internship provides participants with professional experience in educational settings. 

The program boasts affordability and tuition discounts for active duty personnel.

New Mexico State University-Main Campus at a Glance:

Type of school: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 63%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 18

Program name: Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration in PreK-12 + Licensure program 

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,981

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $17,330

Percent Online Enrollment

54%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Higher Learning Commission

#19 The Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Grand Canyon University

  • Phoenix, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students seeking an online educational administration degree can enroll in the master’s program at Grand Canyon University, located in Phoenix. The master’s in education leadership program draws on a rigorous curriculum that prepares graduates for administrative responsibilities. A master’s degree allows candidates to move up the career ladder or pursue a new career path.

Learners focus their training by choosing electives based on their interests and career goals. Applicants with a background in educational administration typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. The common facilities and services offered at most universities, such as the library or gym, are accessible to students who live on campus. Graduate students grow their professional connections through internships and virtual networking events.

Grand Canyon University at a Glance:

Type of school: Private for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 81%

Total Online Master’s Programs: 45

Program name: Master’s in education leadership

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,528

Students Enrolled

103,427

Percent Online Enrollment

92%

Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Accreditation

Yes

Higher Learning Commission

Careers: Salary and Demand

Salaries in educational leadership vary based on location, qualifications, and cost of living. Overall, the educational leadership field offers competitive salaries.

Many master’s in educational leadership graduates become postsecondary education administrators and school principals at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. According to the BLS, these professionals earn median annual wages of $96,910 and $98,420, respectively, as of 2021. Additionally, job growth projections for 2021-2031 stand at 5% and 7%, respectively.

Other common jobs related to educational leadership include:

Source: Payscale, BLS

Paying for a Program

For many learners, the cost of higher education can be daunting. Tuition rates vary widely based on location, type of institution (public or private), and student residency (in state or out of state). Prospective applicants should consider the cost of textbooks, housing, and other living expenses, as well. Make sure to research and compare the prices of different programs to make an informed decision.

Below, explore options to help ease the financial burden:

Financial Aid

Start your funding search by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This application establishes your eligibility for different types of federal financial aid, including grants, loans, and work-study opportunities. Many schools also use information on the FAFSA to decide if applicants qualify for institutional financial aid awards.

Federal Grants and Loans

The Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant do not require repayment. On the other hand, federal loans, such as Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans, help cover remaining educational costs but must be repaid with interest after graduation.

State and Private Financial Aid

You may also qualify for state and private financial aid options. State financial aid programs include grants, scholarships, and loans. Private financial aid comes from sources, such as foundations, corporations, and community organizations.

Online vs. On-Campus

On one hand, online programs offer convenient, cost-effective learning experiences tailored to busy professionals. On the other hand, on-campus education may provide a more hands-on, immersive academic experience. The right choice for you depends on your unique lifestyle, goals, and preferences. Explore the pros and cons of both options below.

Online Education

On one hand, online programs offer convenient, cost-effective learning experiences tailored to busy professionals. On the other hand, on-campus education may provide a more hands-on, immersive academic experience. The right choice for you depends on your unique lifestyle, goals, and preferences. Explore the pros and cons of both options below.

Pros

  • Flexible schedule
  • Savings on tuition and campus fees at some schools
  • Diverse courses and resources
  • Access to the latest technology for interactive learning

Cons

  • Less structured learning environment
  • Limited access to campus amenities and resources
  • Reduced interaction with peers and professors
  • Potential technical and communication issues

On-Campus Education

Pros

  • Access to campus facilities, such as gyms, libraries, and health services
  • Networking opportunities through in-person clubs and student organizations
  • Increased face-to-face interaction
  • More traditional, structured learning environment

Cons

  • Potentially higher costs, including tuition, fees, and room and board
  • Limited scheduling flexibility, possibly making it difficult to balance work and school
  • Increased risk of stress and anxiety due to college life demands
  • Potential inability to attend classes due to health or safety concerns

Public vs. Private

Choosing between public and private colleges can shape the course of your higher education. Both provide unique advantages and disadvantages, impacting your academics, finances, and personal development. To shed light on these differences, we have compiled critical pros and cons for each:

Public Colleges

Pros

  • Lower cost due to government funding
  • More program options
  • Larger enrollment, possibly more diversity
  • Greater availability of campus resources

Cons

  • Larger class sizes
  • Higher student-to-faculty-ratios
  • Less personalized campus community
  • Potential for limited extracurricular activities

Private Colleges

Pros

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Lower student-to-faculty ratios
  • Close-knit campus communities
  • Unique, specialized programs

Frequently Asked Questions

As more educational institutions recognize the importance of strong leadership, the demand for professionals with a master’s in educational leadership is projected to grow up to 7%.

Professionals with a master’s degree in educational leadership typically enjoy higher earning potential than those with only a bachelor’s degree. According to career outlook data on BLS, people who earn a master’s degree have a median weekly earning of $1,661 whereas those who have a bachelor’s have a median weekly earning of $1,432. As you gain more experience and advanced qualifications, your salary will likely increase, making the investment in higher education worthwhile.

Yes. Factors like local cost of living, the size and type of educational institution, and regional demand for qualified professionals all affect the salary you can expect in a given area. For example, people who live in cities typically have a higher cost of living and therefore a need for higher salaries.

Sources

    • IPEDS Access Databases. (Data retrieved November 17, 2022). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

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