Best Online Master’s Degrees in Educational Administration

Learn about the best online master’s in educational administration degrees that can prepare you for a career as a principal or administrator and offer a pathway to the certification you need.

While teachers don’t usually get into the field of education for the pay, an online master’s in educational administration can significantly increase your income, responsibilities, and impact. These degrees act as a pathway to principal and administrator certification. Wondering how big the difference in pay is? A middle school teacher earns a median salary of $60,000 per year, while a middle school principal earns almost $100,000.

The best online master’s in educational administration programs supply you with the academic training and real-world experience needed to become an influential education leader. These flexible programs are offered almost entirely online, allowing you to balance personal and professional commitments with your coursework, and take approximately two years to complete.

In this guide, we highlight a few standout programs, look at common coursework, and see what graduates do with their degrees. If you’re interested in a career in educational administration, this page provides you with important introductory information. Keep reading to learn more.

2021 College Spotlights: Best Online Master’s Degrees in Educational Administration

The best online master’s in educational administration programs prepare you to step into leadership roles. Boasting both flexibility and relative affordability, many programs provide theoretical coursework and hands-on experience. Additionally, many also provide a direct route to a state-certified principal or administrator certification.

Keep reading to learn about three stand-out programs to consider. Later in 2021, we’ll publish our full rankings; check back to see this comprehensive list of the best online educational administration programs.

University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina offers a 100% online master’s in education administration. This online degree uses the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra platform and incorporates discussion boards, case studies, and presentations to create an online experience rooted in interaction and collaboration. Graduates are eligible for principal certification in South Carolina.

Common coursework includes introduction to educational administration, school personnel administration, and supervision of instruction. Additionally, students take two sections of The High School Principal in Practice, providing a practical look at a principal’s day-to-day work. Before graduation, you must complete a comprehensive examination.

Applicants must have at least three years of teaching experience and hold professional teaching licensure. Required materials include official transcripts, a personal statement, and a resume outlining academic and professional experience. Unlicensed applicants won’t be able to earn principal certification but can complete the educational program.

George Washington University

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For prospective students interested in becoming an administrator or principal, George Washington University offers a 30-credit online master’s in educational leadership and administration. The program mirrors the administrative certification requirements set by Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, DC.

Core coursework includes leadership for equity and social justice, school finance and resource management, and administrative issues in education. In addition to traditional coursework, you’ll participate in an internship, typically with your current school district.

The George Washington University online master’s in educational administration admits students for fall, spring, and summer semesters. You must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution and provide all academic transcripts. Applicants are also required to submit a professional resume, statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. One of these recommendation letters should be from a current administrator.

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University’s 30-credit master of education in educational administration is offered almost entirely online and can be completed in 10 months. Designed for working teachers interested in administrator roles, this degree provides the academic backing and credentials needed to move into educational leadership positions.

Required courses include administration of school facilities and finance, public school law, and advanced supervision problems. In addition to online coursework, you’ll enroll in two practicums in school administration. In total, 160 hours of supervised experience are required.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Additionally, interested students must have a valid Texas teaching certificate with two years of teaching experience. Prospective students are not required to submit standardized test scores.

Advantages of Earning an Online Master’s in Educational Administration

Earning an online education administration degree at the master’s level provides the experience and certification needed to tackle an administrative career. These programs support working teachers and allow you to complete course requirements at your own pace. If you’re interested in a career as a principal or administrator, an online degree could be a great way to take the next step. Some of the advantages of an online educational administration degree include:

  1. Career Advancement

    A graduate degree in educational administration supplies the academic knowledge and hands-on experience needed to become an effective administrator. These programs typically offer principal/administrator certification, which leads to expanded career options and increased salaries. Additionally, these degrees focus on building leadership skills applicable to many different careers in both the public and private sectors.

  2. Hands-on Experience

    In addition to your typical, theory-based academic work, an online master’s in educational administration requires substantial internship experience, which usually involves shadowing an administrator in your school district. An internship allows you to apply academic knowledge, learn from an experienced professional, and get a feel for day-to-day responsibilities.

  3. Flexibility

    An online master’s program is often a perfect option for working professionals. Rather than requiring you to radically change your life to accommodate an on-campus degree program, online options provide the flexibility to maintain personal and professional responsibilities while advancing your career.

What You’ll Learn in Online Educational Administration Master’s Degree Programs

An online master’s in educational administration helps working teachers interested in earning the certification needed to take on administrative roles. Through online coursework, you’ll gain a mastery of the theoretical and practical elements of leadership, planning, and management in a school environment.

In addition to more traditional coursework, plan to complete an internship before graduation. Usually requiring between three and six credits of hands-on experience, an internship allows you to shadow education administrators and apply academic knowledge in real-world situations.

The best online programs employ web conferencing, message boards, and live lectures. Keep scrolling to learn about standard courses taught in an online master’s in educational administration.

  • Organization and Evaluation of Curriculum

    Designed to prepare you for administrative roles, this online course examines how principals facilitate and support curriculum implementation. The syllabus explores contemporary instructional methods and teaching strategies that set the stage for optimal student learning. You will also investigate the evolution of curriculum theory while learning practical techniques for managing academics.

  • Principalship

    This course prepares you for a career as a principal through an examination of the core attributes of effective educational leaders. You’ll focus on practical concerns such as site management, finance, and budgeting. Other topics include personnel management, public relations, and educational legal issues.

  • Data-Driven Decision-Making in Education

    This course provides future administrators with the skills needed to effectively comprehend, analyze, and use detailed, data-driven educational research. By understanding qualitative and quantitative methods, you can tackle topics such as research design, data collection, and analytical techniques. You’ll also learn to effectively analyze standardized test metrics.

  • Administration of School Facilities and Finance

    With a focus on the intricacies of school facilities, finance, and technology, this course examines how those elements directly influence student academic outcomes. The course explores the foundational theories and practices of business management, including basic accounting. You will also learn how to build and manage a budget for a school campus that considers all essential building and educational infrastructure elements.

  • School Personnel Administration

    Recruiting and maintaining a staff of effective teachers and managing personnel issues is critical to a school and its students’ success. This course tackles teacher recruitment and hiring issues, along with staff development, training, and supervision. Other critical issues include teacher safety and welfare. Graduate students analyze human resources best practices and explore how new methods can enhance the learning experience.

Specialization Options

Your primary academic focus and career ambitions play a large role in determining a potential specialization in an online master’s in educational administration. Degree specializations allow you to examine your subject matter closely. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a role in a public school, university, or the private sector, a degree concentration allows you to customize your academic experience to mirror your career goals. Keep reading to learn more about common specializations offered for online master’s programs.

  • Principalship

    This concentration focuses on preparing working teachers for earning their principalship certification. Through theory-based academic work and hands-on experience via internships, you can gain the expertise necessary for effective leadership and the knowledge needed for certification. Typical course topics include academic leadership, curriculum development, and resource management.

  • Instructional Design

    Designed to prepare you for a career in curriculum supervision, course design, or teacher training, an instructional design concentration focuses on how data-driven analysis influences curriculum and how the curriculum is taught. Common courses include educational technology and evaluating standardized test metrics. Instructional design skills are also applicable to private-sector training.

  • Higher Education Administration

    This concentration explores the myriad elements that allow a college or university to function effectively. You’ll gain the necessary information to tackle jobs in postsecondary education, corporate training, and government agencies. Topics commonly covered include social justice in higher education, enrollment management, and grant writing.

  • Leadership

    Students interested in supervisory educational roles benefit from a leadership concentration for their online master’s in educational administration. Through theoretical and practical leadership learning, you’ll gain the academic and hands-on experience required to lead educational initiatives effectively, motivate staff, and encourage students.

  • Special Education Administration

    A special education administration concentration provides the skills to manage special education teachers while creating an environment that meets students’ physical, emotional, and cognitive needs. Common course topics include human development, resource management, and education law.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Educational Administration Degrees

Accreditation for your online master’s in educational administration means that the education you receive has a peer-reviewed, official academic stamp of approval. The best online degrees are offered by schools that hold regional accreditation. Regional accreditation, overseen by the U.S. Department of Education, ensures that your school meets rigorous standards. In short, it ensures that you’ll get your money’s worth.

Additionally, the best online master’s in educational administration degrees also have a specific accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. This education-based certification ensures that you’ll get the tools you need to become an effective school administrator. The National Policy Board for Educational Administration also reviews academic programs, setting standards for effective preparation and practice.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Educational Administration

An online master’s in education is primarily designed for working teachers interested in taking on leadership roles. As a result, the curriculum and career options are targeted. Teachers interested in becoming principals and administrators typically need additional certification, and the best online programs act as a pathway toward earning those credentials.

An online master’s in educational administration degree can also lead to a role as an instructional coordinator or a private-sector job focused on school-related issues. An online degree allows professionals to maintain personal and professional obligations while opening career doors and boosting salaries. Keep reading to learn about common career options for this online master’s degree.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal

Primary and secondary school principals manage all school operations, coordinate the curriculum, oversee staff, and supervise day-to-day activities. These education professionals are also responsible for establishing class schedules and developing and implementing curriculum standards. Principals work closely with teachers, evaluating their performance while analyzing the efficacy of teaching methods through standardized test scores.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$63,070 $96,400 $148,630

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Preschool and Childcare Center Director

Preschool and childcare center directors oversee childcare facilities’ daily operations, manage budgets, and supervise staff. These professionals develop educational programming, prepare budgets, and operate facilities to ensure children’s health and safety. Center directors are also responsible for hiring and training childcare staff.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$30,850 $48,210 $82,590

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Instructional Coordinator

These trained educational professionals develop educational material and implement curriculum changes. Adept at analyzing student test data, instructional coordinators make data-based decisions surrounding teaching methods and course materials. They present research-based findings to administrators and conduct teacher trainings and workshops while also ensuring materials meet educational standards.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$38,260 $66,290 $103,790

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Taking on numerous administrative functions, these professionals ensure that essential education services are delivered. Working at colleges, universities, and community colleges, postsecondary education administrators take leading roles in admissions, student life, and residential support. Other areas of professional expertise include disability services and financial aid.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$55,320 $95,410 $194,090

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

High School Teacher

High school teachers play a crucial role in preparing students for life after high school. Whether getting students ready to enter the workforce or begin college, these professionals work with students to improve their academic performance. They plan lessons, assess performance, and prepare learners for standardized tests.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$40,540 $61,660 $99,660

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Educational Administration

The cost of your online master’s in educational administration depends mainly on the program you choose. Online degrees from a private institution like George Washington University can cost over $30,000 for just the tuition. On the other end of the spectrum, public schools like the University of North Texas cost under $17,000 for resident students. Because of state-specific certifications and licenses, you must consider your location first when choosing a program.

To figure out how you’re going to pay for your online master’s in educational administration degree, reach out to financial aid offices to see what funding opportunities are available. In addition to loans and school-associated grants and scholarships, professional organizations are also an excellent source for scholarships. Tuition discounts are sometimes available for public school teachers. Use our financial aid page to make sure you consider all of your options and opportunities.

What Your Online Master’s Degree in Educational Administration Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Total Tuition Cost

University of South Carolina

36

$515 for South Carolina teachers
$572.25 for others

$20,338 for South Carolina teachers

$22,399 for all others

Stony Brook University

36

$471 in-state
$963 out-of-state

$16,956 in-state
$34,668 out-of-state

Ball State University

36

$449 in-state
$661 out-of-state

$16,164 in-state
$23,796 out-of-state

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Educational Administration Master’s Degrees

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in educational administration?

Admissions requirements for an online master’s in educational administration differ slightly from program to program. Some schools require more teaching experience than others, and some require standardized test scores while others do not. Take a close look at admissions requirements and reach out to prospective programs if you have any questions. While many elements of the admissions process are out of your control, you do have the ability to craft a quality application package. Here are some standard elements you should expect to include:

  • Completed application
  • Fees
  • All academic transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement of purpose
  • Professional resume
  • Admissions interview
  • Teacher certification/licensure
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0

How long will it take to finish my master’s in educational administration?

The time to complete your online master’s in educational administration is primarily determined by your status as a full-time or part-time student. The number of credits required also impacts the length of your grad school tenure. Most programs take full-time students about two years. Depending on your course load, programs like Ball State University’s can be completed in as few as 18 months.

Can I earn a master’s in educational administration 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

For most online master’s in educational administration programs, the coursework is completed 100% online. The best programs utilize cutting-edge distance learning platforms to provide a flexible academic option that allows you to keep working while enrolled. Although core classes are offered online, educational administration degrees require you to get hands-on, in-person experience shadowing individuals in the field. Schools like the University of South Carolina and Ball State University require two semesters of internship experience.

Does an online master’s in educational administration prepare you for initial teaching certification?

Online master’s programs in educational administration are designed for working teachers with experience in the field. These degrees do not act as a pathway to an initial teaching license—you’ll need a teacher’s license to gain admission.

That said, the best programs offer a path toward principal or administrator certification. Administrators and principals must earn a specialized certification that’s bolstered by the coursework and training that are part of an online education administration degree.