Education Administration

Your Guide to Online Master’s in Education Administration Programs

Your Guide to Online Master’s in Education Administration Programs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most leadership roles within education administration require a master's degree. Image from Unsplash
Mairead Kelly profile
Mairead Kelly December 4, 2020

A master's in education administration can help you ascend the ranks in education administration and management. Online study expands the number of available programs and affords the convenience of remote learning.

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Earning a master’s degree in education administration poses challenges to working professionals. You’ll need effective time management skills to pursue this critical degree at a nearby university while maintaining a full-time job, And what if the closest school offering the degree isn’t really all that close?

Fortunately, many universities offer a master’s in education administration online, helping aspiring instructional leaders and educational administrators achieve their career goals without sacrificing income and workplace advancement. Thanks to continual technological and pedagogical advancs in online learning, these already-effective degree programs will only grow more effective and widespread in years to come. If you’re considering a master’s in education administration, you should give the online option some serious thought.

This guide to online master’s programs in education administration covers the following:

  • Why pursue an online master’s in education administration?
  • What will you learn in an online master’s in education administration?
  • What careers does an online master of education administration lead to?
  • What are the admission requirements for an online master’s in education administration?
  • What should you consider when choosing an online master’s in education administration program?
  • What schools have the top online master’s in educational administration programs?

Why pursue an online master’s in education administration?

Many graduate schools tailor their online master’s degree programs in education administration and related fields—including educational leadership, education policy, and curriculum and instruction—to the needs of working professionals. By offering a flexible, accessible format, online learning particularly benefits prospective career changers and current educators seeking education leadership roles. Online students enjoy more latitude in arranging coursework and assignments around their work and life schedules.

In contrast to traditional higher education programs, most distance learning options don’t require online students to commute to campus or attend in-person lectures, removing almost all the inflexibility of traditional learning from the equation. Online programs also enable graduate students to participate in top programs anywhere in the country without relocating or quitting their jobs.

Are online education administration master’s programs as effective as their traditional, in-class counterparts? While there are differences between online and in-person learning, research consistently demonstrates that online learning and technology are at least as effective as in-person instruction. In a 2013 report from Babson Survey Research Group incorporating responses from more than 2,800 US colleges and universities, 77 percent of academic leaders rated online learning outcomes the same as, or superior to, those in face-to-face classrooms. Online learning has only grown more effective in the ensuing years.

Additional research indicates that employers also embrace online education. A report on online education in 2019 from Northeastern University highlights responses from a national sample of HR leaders regarding the value of online credentials. Of those surveyed, 61 percent believed credentials earned online (both degrees and certificates) to be equal in quality to those completed in-person.

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“I'm Interested in Education Leadership!”

The salary medians for professionals with a master's or doctorate in Education Administration range from $75,000 to $320,000 depending on the location, degree, and qualified job position. (source)

A Doctor of Education (EdD) or PhD can advance a career even further than a master’s—meaning more responsibility and better pay.

University and Program Name Learn More

What will you learn in an online master’s in education administration?

Education administration graduate degree programs typically require between 30 to 39 credit hours of core coursework and electives. Curricula focus on leadership skills, policy development, and the political, economic, and social forces that influence school leaders and administrators across a broad range of educational settings.

Student learning explores topics such as:

  • Administrative and effective leadership foundations
  • Curriculum development
  • Education law and policy
  • Instructional assessment strategies
  • Management
  • School finance

Many schools also allow students to tailor their coursework to a specialization, such as principalship, higher education administration, student affairs, and adult education. The online Master of Science in Educational Administration from the School of Education at Drexel University, for example, offers both a generalist track and a special education leadership concentration.

In some cases, students may need to complete an integrated practicum or internship. These hands-on learning experiences enable students to apply classroom concepts to real-life situations. Additionally, some online programs may require a capstone or thesis project, culminating in the design and implementation of an educational project or a paper driven by original research into a current problem or issue.

What careers does an online master of education administration lead to?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most leadership roles within education administration require a master’s degree. Graduates with master’s degrees in educational administration work at colleges and universities and at private and public schools at the elementary-, middle-, and high-school levels. They may also pursue administrative and supervisory positions in government and education organizations.

Common entry points for degree holders include assistant principal, school principal, and school administrator. However, graduates may find themselves overseeing a school district or school system as a superintendent or putting their advanced policy expertise and decision-making and management skills to use in leadership roles such as dean of students, director of admissions, and chief academic officer. Additional career paths with this degree include:

  • Director of student financial aid
  • Education consultant
  • Corporate trainer
  • College or university registrar
  • Human resource and outreach coordinator
  • Educational policy analyst
  • Admissions counselor

What are the admission requirements for an online master’s in education administration?

Most graduate programs in the education administration realm require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree, a valid teaching license or teacher’s credential, and at least two or three years of teaching experience. It’s also common for students to demonstrate a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, though exact graduate school GPA expectations vary by program.

In addition, some online degree programs require applicants to submit GRE scores. Others do not; the online Master of Educational Administration (M.Ed.) from the School of Education at University of Kansas, for example, does not require test scores.

Other common admission requirements include:

  • Official transcripts from all previously attended higher education institutions
  • Personal statement
  • Resume or CV
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Proof of English proficiency (for non-native English-speaking applicants)

What should you consider when choosing an online master’s in education administration program?

Thanks to an ever-growing assortment of options, prospective graduate students may find that their school search results for online master’s degree programs in education administration a difficult list to narrow down. To make the process less daunting, here are some factors to consider while choosing the best program for you.

Location of future employment

In most states, educational administration jobs require candidates to hold an administrator certificate or licenses, sometimes in addition to a teaching license. Many online master’s degrees in education administration help prepare students for the licensure process and typically reflect the program’s state’s requirements. When compiling your list of prospective programs, choose a program that satisfies the requirements of the state you plan to work in. Otherwise, you may find yourself taking additional classes down the road to earn your desired credentials.

Tuition and other fees

Online tuition costs vary from school to school. Some schools charge out-of-state online students the out-of-state tuition rate, while others have a policy that grants online students the in-state tuition rate. Some schools charge a different rate altogether for online programs.

Accreditation

Accreditation happens at a regional and national level to ensure the quality of schools and their programs. Whether online, on-campus, or a mix of both, programs obtain accreditation from agencies recognized by the US Department of Education. The national accrediting agency for graduate degree programs in educator preparation is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The organization emerged in 2016 due to a merger between the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).

Synchronous vs. asynchronous learning

Online programs deliver content either synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous classes require students to log on simultaneously, typically to watch live-stream lectures and participate in online discussions. Asynchronous classes, on the other hand, allow students to study on their own schedule; students log on, download materials, and complete assignments by a prescribed deadline but not at a fixated time.

Enrollment options

Most online master’s in education administration programs take two years of full-time study to complete, while students enrolled part-time generally take three to four years. Some graduate schools offer a faster route to degree competition. The online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Education with a specialization in Higher Education Administration at Louisiana State University – Shreveport, for example, operate on an accelerated seven-week semester calendar, allowing students to complete their degree in as little as 15 months.

Educational technology

One advantage of online programs is that they teach technical skills related to education, such as navigating a learning management software (LMS). For those unfamiliar with online video and audio conferences, learning modules, discussion boards, collaborative documents, or live streams, an online master’s degree program can double as a crash course in edtech.

Faculty expertise

As in standard university settings, instructors’ experiences and teaching abilities play a significant role in the effectiveness of an online master’s in educational administration. This is especially important if you aim for a specific area of educational administration, such as Title I school administration or the creation and administration of charter schools, which require specialized training. Some programs feature specializations or incorporate instruction from professors with unique insight into areas of educational administration.

Alumni network

Participation in an online education administration master’s program can help students forge relationships with other alumni in their field. This collaborative network can help degree holders advance their careers and provide an outlet for mentorship and support.

Career and support services

Many distance learning programs offer various resources to help students succeed. Some of the basics include online office hours, peer-to-peer support, and career planning services. Many programs also provide hands-on training sessions, workshops, and other experiences that students can participate in throughout the semester to boost their expertise in the field and grow their network of educational leaders.

Graduation rates and job outcomes

Most schools post relevant data about their programs’ graduation rates, graduate starting salaries, and job placement statistics. Seek it out.

What schools have the top online master’s in educational administration programs?

US News & World Report‘s annual index of the best online master’s in education administration programs determines school rankings through a methodology that combines the assessment of student engagement, online learning technologies, faculty credentials and training, and other criteria. Of the 27 schools ranked in its most recent list,
programs at these institutions placed highest:

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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