Masters Degrees in Educational Leadership

With today's growing diverse population and rapidly growing technology, schools need leaders who can understand the complexities of today's landscape while having the skills to inspire students, teachers and fellow administrators. If you are a teacher who wants to increase your opportunities in education, consider pursuing your master's degree with a focus on educational leadership.

There are many programs in every state that can help you earn your master's while continuing to work in education. These programs are built with current educators in mind. That's why you see so many options for online avenues for professionals who want to move up without hitting the brakes on their career.

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Consider a featured Online Master's Degree:

Finding a Masters in Educational Leadership

Long gone are the days when an online degree is viewed differently than an on-campus degree or certificate. Now that about every college and university offers online classes and 100% online degree programs, you can find accredited Master's in Education Leadership programs that will help you meet the qualifications your state mandates.

In fact, it is always a good idea to start talking to colleges in your state first, before looking beyond your borders, so that you can ask them about state requirements and other relevant information that may be an important factor in your decision. If you are still thinking about earning your master's in education, whether on campus or online, continue reading to learn about the curriculum, timeline for completion, online experience and anticipated salary and outlook for professionals who earn their master's in educational leadership.

Masters Level Courses for Educational Leadership

Every Master's in Educational Leadership program is going to offer its own unique path for completion. This includes the courses you will take along the way, as well as on-campus requirements for tests, residency (if applicable), and other criteria that will be unique to your college. When talking to each school make sure you fully understand their online experience.

You may take partial or 100% online degree programs that can result in a Masters in Educational Leadership. You will take courses specific to helping you pass certain requirements that pertain to your state. You will also take a scope of courses that spans the spectrum of areas you will need to understand to be an effective leader. Courses will include topics, such as: community relations, legal perspectives, how data and technology affect modern education, higher education administration, politics of education, special education leadership, and more.

Choosing a degree program that focuses on educational leadership can be just the beginning of mapping your way forward. That's why it's important to discuss this decision with several schools. You will want to be sure their curriculum matches the career outcomes you desire.

Consider an Online Masters in Educational Leadership Degree

Your online education experience can provide you with the same skills and career outcomes that a campus based program can prepare you for. Now that most all accredited institutions are on board the online bandwagon, the innovation and success stories for this type of learning are growing every year. Professionals in educational leadership online courses can download course materials, lectures and study as their schedule allows. Since these programs for educators are created by educators, you should not have a hard time finding an online program that meets your state’s accreditation requirements and allows you to work on your schedule.

You may be required to “check in” to live chats or discussions to be counted present to some classes. You may also have to report to testing centers a few times during the course of your studies – another reason why you should start your search for online programs near you before looking for programs beyond your ideal commuting range.

If you are ready to start learning more about reaching the next level in education, compare schools in your state to find out what kind of Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership is right for your desired career trajectory.

Expected Coursework in an Educational Leadership Degree

Finding the program for you might extend past going to whatever school is closest to you. It could be an online program or you might even consider relocating to enroll in your desired program. You should look through the syllabus and become familiar with courses you can expect while earning your degree. We’ve pulled some common courses you might expect to see in the Educational Leadership degree.

Educational Leadership Theory

This course was designed to give students an in depth look into the various practices and theories that are involved with educational leadership. Students may learn proper organizational behaviors alongside participation in collaborative group activities and individual exploration. The dynamics of this course focus on the many different challenges that are presented to school leaders and the tactics used by successful professionals to understand and solve various issues.

Curriculum Design: Theory and Practice

Curriculum Design: Theory and Practice teaches the various methods of designing effective and reliable curricula to different groups. Students may be taught different methods of theory regarding curriculum design, including subject-centered, leaner-centered, and problem-centered designs.

Practical and theoretical applications of curriculum design are discussed in this course, in preparation for future professional education requirements. After completion of this course, students should be able to create a meaningful curriculum that has the potential to reach students of various backgrounds and present information in a way that can easily be understood.

Ethical Issues in Education Leadership

This course provides students with an evaluation and understanding of ethical issues that are present in educational leadership. The educational realm is filled with the potential for ethical mishaps. Through coursework in this topic, students can potentially be taught to identify and potentially solve ethical dilemmas, all while protecting individual rights against harm. The focus of this course is on ethical practice and theory, since both have a bearing on students within an educational system.

During this course, students may face ethical dilemmas that can potentially be faced during courses that include literature, humanities, and through the student’s own practices. Students in this course are likely to be expected to acknowledge the ethics of rights, care, and justice of students throughout the educational process.

Profile of 3 Educational Leadership Degree Programs

We wanted to highlight a few Educational Leadership programs and the schools that offer them so you can see what makes each one unique. Finding these unique aspects about the programs you are considering will be important in the program decision making process.

University of Iowa

The University of Iowa offers a M.A. in Educational Leadership program that is designed to prepare students for positions as professors, policymakers, or leaders in an educational setting. The program itself is a great option for professional students that are forced to balance a higher education with current full-time employment and family demands. Most students in this program are already working in the educational field, and moving forward towards a higher degree.

When choosing the University of Iowa for your master’s degree program, you should research what is required from your state should you choose to pursue a career as a school principal or administrator. This university offers the M.A. in Educational Leadership with the Principal Licensure as well as an option without. Most states have specific requirements as to what type of degree or licensure that a principal holds, so be sure to confirm this prior to choosing a degree program.

Connecticut, for example, requires 15 semester hours in educational leadership for principal certification while the State of Mississippi requires that students complete a graduate degree from their own state-approved or regionally accredited universities.

NYU Steinhardt

The MA in Educational Leadership: School Building Leader degree at NYU Steinhardt is a great program for students that are interested in pursuing careers as leaders in education. This includes principals, government officials, non-profit organization employees, and more. This degree program includes a variety of different techniques that were designed to educate students from several perspectives.

If you choose a program such as this one, you may combine the aspects of coursework and electives with fieldwork and internships to expand your knowledge of the educational field from various viewpoints. This university offers a flexible option for students that are busy working professionals and provides support throughout the learning process.

The MA program is accredited b the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which is a vital factor for educational programs across the country. Accreditation not only approves the curriculum that is taught at different universities, but it also ensures that educational professionals have the skills needed to effectively work with students in a learning environment.

University of Northern Texas

The Educational Leadership program at the University of Northern Texas takes on a slightly different perspective than the previously listed schools. At this university, you have the potential to gain skills that can be applicable in both public and private educational sectors. While in this degree program, you may have the opportunity to advance your knowledge of the field of education and apply this knowledge in applicable settings.

There is a high emphasis on research as a primary means of advancement as well as indulging in creative activities that can change the dynamic of the educational environment in which you work. Like most other Educational Leadership programs, this university prepares students for careers working as school administrators or principals. The curriculum provides a solid foundation for the Texas Examination of Education Standards (TExES) for principal certification.

This computer-administered exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions on School Community Leadership, Instructional Leadership, and Administrative Leadership. Depending on your state, there may be similar tests that are required for principal certification. Our experts encourage you to research what your state requires, so that you can choose a university that properly prepares you for your examination, if applicable.

Career Outcomes for Masters in Educational Leadership Programs

As you earn your master’s degree in this area, you will learn how to be more effective as a notable figure in your school or company that focuses on education improvement. Whether you choose to work in elementary, secondary, higher education, or a business or non-profit, you will have a better understanding of how to improve school systems while navigating the processes that turn strategy into execution.


If you are a current teacher and want to take the first step to becoming a leader in education, becoming a principal can be a wise move, and a stepping stone to other administrative roles in the future. According to updated Bureau of Labor Statistics, elementary, middle and high school principals can earn a median annual wage of $90,410 (source).

Curriculum Specialist

When you work in this role you will help schools implement more effective curriculum in the classroom, as well as advise in many ways. You will be able to look for areas of improvement and help develop plans of action to increase student success. Professionals who work as curriculum specialists are similar to Instructional Coordinators, who can earn a median wage of $62,270 per year, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (source).

Organizations for Curriculum Development

Networking is the social lifeblood of every field of study and professional industry. No matter where you are in your career, it’s always a good idea to connect with peers and mentors who can inform your decisions that lead to further success and development of your skills. There are many organizations for educators of all types, including leaders in the field.

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ( is a great resource for leaders in education to refer to throughout their careers. Their focus on innovation in education through curriculum, products and course materials, and delivery methods help educators understand the shifting landscape in real time. This is also a great networking organization that you can tap for conferences, online information that can be easily accessed, and online programs that promote professional development. If you aren’t sure where to start looking for new connections and information that can help you become a leader in education, start with this organization.

So Should I Get My Masters in Educational Leadership?

A Master’s in Educational Leadership can set the stage for a totally different career path than the standard teaching position. Along with more prestigious opportunities, there is also a lot more responsibility associated with this choice. Educational leaders are found in the spotlight, during good times and bad. They are responsible for larger communities and educational facilities, and require professionals to truly be passionate about their field from the beginning to end.

If you are contemplating whether or not you would be a good fit for this degree program, there are a few questions you should ask yourself prior to enrolling. Would I be happy outside of the classroom? Am I fit to take responsibility (both good and bad) for the activities that take place at my institution? Is educational performance and standards interesting to me? Is having an impact on an entire community rather than just my students what I am interested in? Depending on how you have answered these questions, the decision to move on to this degree program may be a great idea or perhaps something with a little too much responsibility.

Professionals that decide to take the next step into educational leadership are often teachers that feel like they could truly make a difference in the school system. These leadership positions embody the need for a strong leading personality, with the drive and determination to take on challenging opposition and the potential for ethical problems. If you are currently working as a teacher and have the desire to level up into an administration role, this degree program could be right for you.

Typical leaders have a profound knowledge of educational standards, a theoretical understanding of what is needed to effectively lead large groups of individuals, and the charisma to address the community and provide data and information about school systems.

This degree program is definitely a great choice for individuals that find these requirements relatable and have these educational concerns in mind. Depending on the leadership position that you prefer (K-12 or collegiate), there may be different requirements and personalities to consider. It is recommended that you choose a program that is fitting for the group you intend to lead, so that you have the proper skills to effectively influence those chosen.