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Masters in Educational Leadership

Online Masters in Educational Leadership programs aim to help educators improve their school communities. Some programs may help classroom teachers become leaders in their school communities. Others may focus on the ins and outs of school and district administration. They might encourage a combination of education, leadership, and organizational prowess. Altogether, programs combine a love of teaching with management to help students learn.

What Is Educational Leadership?

Educational leadership is a dynamic field. It combines leadership with community-mindedness and educational best practices. Educational leaderships use management skills to help schools and communities provide the most effective education they can. That could benefit both students and their families.

Educational leadership could take all different forms. For example, one leader could head a department, and mentor other teachers. Another may act as principal, or work in another administrative position. As such, educational leadership programs may vary to account for these possibilities. Some courses look at how to mentor and train teachers in your school. Others may look at making budget and curriculum decisions that could affect the whole community.

Education administration programs may rely on students being familiar with current teaching practices. In the field, this can help school leaders better understand the needs of teachers and students. That understanding could help them balance all those different needs effectively. As such, many educational leadership degree programs may require students to have this experience. Others might roll it into the curriculum.

What to Expect in an Online Masters in Educational Leadership Program

Online masters in educational leadership programs may vary based on a number of factors. First is the nature of the program itself. In many contexts, “educational leadership” and “education administration,” may be used interchangeably. However, in some cases this can reflect the types of things the curriculum focuses on. When the two terms are used differently, they generally refer to the following.

  • Educational Administration programs focus specifically on administrative leadership roles. That means programs might hone in on skills you'd need as a school principal or at the district or state level.
  • Educational Leadership programs, in addition to the above, might also focus on school or teacher leadership. That could include things like mentoring other teachers, or department head positions.

However, remember that individual programs may differ from these descriptions.

Some programs might also accommodate school administration certification requirements in that state. Other programs might not look at this. If you're interested in school administration certification, follow up with your selected program.

Online Masters in Educational Leadership Subject Area Concentrations

Some online masters in education leadership programs let students focus on a concentration area. These options might reflect different areas of responsibility or types of schools.  Concentration areas could include examples like the following.

  • Special Education Leadership: These programs look at the unique needs of special education. Specifically, they'd look at it from a management perspective. This could involve looking at special education research. Classes might also discuss making sure your school can meet the needs of all its students, and how to fund it.
  • Pre-K-12 School Leadership: These programs focus on leadership between preschool and high school. Courses might look at what it means to act as department head, faculty mentor, school principal, or work in similar roles.
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Curriculum-focused leadership programs look at how to develop and maintain a solid course of study throughout your school. Programs might look at the educational research informing effective curricula. Courses might also look at how to organize and implement a new one. Some schools may even offer a Curriculum and Instruction major.

Online Masters in Educational Leadership: Offline Elements

Some online educational leadership programs may include elements that may not be able to be completed online. In particular, this could include observation, or other guided field experiences or internships.

Some programs may help students organize these experiences or do it on their behalf. Others may leave that to the student’s individual discretion. If this is a concern for you, follow up with your school for more details.

Online Masters in Educational Leadership Example Course Topics

While earning your online masters in educational leadership, you might attend a number of unique courses. The specifics could vary based on your selected school, electives, and even specializations. That said, some topics might be shared by a number of programs. Here are a few examples.

  • Educational Research: These courses look at how to perform and understand current research in your field. This expertise could help make important decisions effectively in the field.
  • Educational Assessment: This topic might look at how to ensure tests are fair for students. Programs may also look at grading procedures. It might also look at how to assess and improve instructional procedures in your school.
  • Curriculum Development: These classes look at what it means to design and improve curriculum within your school. This could involve looking at current educational research and practices, as well as using creative thinking and building familiarity with classroom needs and objectives.
  • Educational Ethics and Policy: This subject examines legal aspect of school leadership. Courses might look at federal and state legislation, educational policy, and diversity and civil rights concerns. Courses may also look at the impact this could have on your school and the services you provide.
  • School Improvement: These types of courses look at how to determine areas of need within a school, and strategize to meet that need. This could also incorporate training and development of staff and faculty.

Online Masters in Educational Leadership: The Next Steps

Your path after earning an online masters in education leadership may vary depending on your goals. Some people might want to look into school administrator certification. Of course, that's only if it wasn’t incorporated into their masters programs to begin with. These certification requirements may vary from state to state.

Another option is to earn your doctorate in educational leadership. This might be an attractive path if you want to higher levels of leadership. Earning a doctorate might also enable you to teach other educators how to be effective leaders. The prerequisites for enrolling in a doctoral program may vary. This might include things like your CV or resume, and official academic transcripts.

How to Become a Principali

One path for those pursuing an online masters in education administration is to work as a principal of an elementary, middle, or high school. This kind of position might ask for different prerequisites. What those are might depend on the school district, state, or individual position.

However, some common elements include the following.

  • Relevant Masters Degree (such as in Educational Leadership)
  • Classroom Teaching Experience
  • School Administrator Certification in your state

The median annual salary for school principals in 2015 was $90,410.

Did You Know?

Some principals might go on to become school district superintendents, or even instructional coordinators!i

Apply to Online Educational Leadership Masters Programs Today

Start your search today for online masters in education leadership programs! You can begin by reading up on the sponsored program listings here. Once you’ve identified a few that seem like they might work for you, reach out to them by clicking the Request Info button.

Then you can ask your questions, get more information, and even start your application.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm

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