How to Get a Masters in Educational Leadership

For education professionals who have several years of teaching or education experience, a natural career progression can be to move into educational leadership, such as become a principal.

To become this type of educational administrator, you will need to earn your master’s degree in educational leadership. This is most commonly a master of arts degree, and is intended for those who want to be either a principal or a school administrator or superintendent. Some of these master’s programs offer specialties in K-12, building and district leadership, and higher education.

This master’s program will usually feature educational leadership and administration classes, as well as field experiences and internships. This program will provide you with an excellent understanding of educational leadership so that you can lead staff and students in an educational environment.

Some of the possible positions you could have with this master’s degree include:

  • Principal: This is an educational leader who handles all of the daily operations and administrative functions of a school. Principals can work at an elementary, middle or high school. Duties will include daily operations, oversight of instructors, evaluating and selecting curricula in some cases, and hiring of staff. Principals also must implement the latest teaching and educational standards in the school. In a big school, principals could work with several assistant principals.
  • Postsecondary Education Administrator: This educational leader works at a community college, college or university. Depending upon the job, he or she could work in the oversight of student services, academics and research. You also may work in admissions, as registrar or in student affairs. Some education administrators in universities also may work in financial aid, to assist students to find the best ways to afford college.
  • Postsecondary Teacher: These teachers usually work in a community college or university, and will instruct students in many different academic and technical subjects. You could be either a professor or an instructor, depending upon the educational environment in which you work. You could spend much of your time teaching, or you may be working more in research.

Why Earn a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership?

The employment outlook for all education, training and library occupations is quite bright. It is believed that job growth will increase by 8% by 2024, which is about as fast as average. In total, 697,000 new jobs in these fields will be added by 2024.

Much of the growth in the educational leadership and administration field will depend upon the population of the area. Some school districts are growing at a very rapid pace, especially in the southern United States. Others may be contracting in the midwest and northeast.

For principals in particular, the best job possibilities are for those who have a master’s degree in educational leadership or educational administration. Also, having at least five years of teaching experience will put you in position for the best job prospects.

Admission Requirements

To earn your master of arts in educational leadership, you will need to meet these type of requirements to be considered for admission:

  • GRE test scores in the top 30 percentile
  • A bachelor’s degree in education or in a liberal arts field
  • Transcripts that show you had a 3.0 or higher GPA in college
  • Writing samples, which can include a personal statement, or a response to a scholarly educational article
  • Updated resume that reflects several years of progressive educational experience and/or teaching experience

Curriculum and Courses

An excellent program to consider in this field is the Master’s in Educational Leadership from Penn State’s World Campus. The World Campus is working closely with the College of Education to offer a 100% online master’s in education with several choices of concentration:

  • Teacher leader: You can continue to teach while you are earning your master’s to become a lead teacher, mentor teacher, or the head of a school department. You will be learning about learning theory, teacher leadership, curriculum design and teacher inquiry.
  • School leader: This program allows you to do an internship so that you can integrate the educational leadership knowledge you pick up in your classes into the field. You will do so under the supervision of a principal mentor on site. This option includes certification to become a school principal in Pennsylvania.
  • School leader without principal certification: This is the same program as the above but does not include principal certification.

Many students choose this program because it has more than 15 years of experience in teaching online, and more than 100 years of distance education. The College of Education at Penn State World Campus is ranked as one of the top graduate schools in the US.

Many people who apply to this program are K-12 teachers who want to improve their leadership skills and increase their knowledge about schools, student learning and teacher management.

Required classes include:

  • Introduction to Teacher Leadership
  • How Schools Work
  • Teaching as Inquiry
  • Teaching of Adults
  • Curriculum Design – Theory and Practice
  • Learning Processes in Relation to Educational Priorities
  • School Improvement

Career Outcomes and Job Titles

You could find yourself working in jobs with these titles with your master’s in educational leadership:

  • Supervisor
  • Assistant principal
  • Principal
  • Superintendent
  • Professional educator
  • District leader

Job and Salary Outlook

  • Principal — The job outlook in this field is fairly bright with a 6% increase in job demand anticipated by 2024. There will be increases in enrollment in some districts and cities, and a reduction in enrollment in other areas. Those with the best career prospects will have their master’s degree and at least five years of teaching experience. The median salary is $90,400 per year.
  • Postsecondary Education Administrator — This field is expected to grow by 9% by 2024, which is faster than average for all occupations. It is believed that many colleges will see an increase in enrollment as students are going back to school to learn new skills. There will be a greater need to have more admissions officers to process applications for students. Also, some in this profession could be working in student affairs, and there will be more need for housing and related services for these new students. Median pay in this field is $88,500.
  • Postsecondary Teacher — Employment in this field will increase by 9% by 2024, which is faster than average when compared to other occupations. More people are going back to school to gain additional skills, and there will be more need for teachers in community colleges especially to handle the higher demand. The median salary is $72,000.

Scholarships and Grants

  • School Superintendents’ Association: This association has many educational leadership and administration scholarships for students who are earning their master’s degree.
  • University of North Texas: This university has both a master’s and doctoral program in educational leadership. There are several grants and scholarships available to help to fund your education.

Additional Resources

  • Association of International Education Administrators: This association is the only one in existence that represents senior educational administrators around the world. All of the members who are in this international education organization share resources and network about educational administration and leadership topics.