Best Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Degree Programs

By choosing to pursue a master's degree in educational leadership, you'll be preparing for a variety of careers in the field of education, including public or private school principal, postsecondary administrator, district superintendent, and instructional coordinator. Graduates can lead student services at the college level or impact student lives in the classroom. A master's degree is a prerequisite for many education jobs, and earning it online is a great option for working professionals.

As classroom technology evolves, the need for savvy educational leaders grows, which means plenty of career opportunity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median income for elementary, middle school, and high school principals in 2018 was $95,310 — among the higher salaries available in education careers. With a little research, you can find the master's degree best suited to your career goals.

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1Western Governors UniversitySalt Lake City$$$$$4001 East 700 South, Suite 700
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
(801) 274-3280

Established in 1997, Western Governors University (WGU) is a non-profit online college that offers a master of science in educational leadership geared toward students who want to become school principals. While most courses are completed online, WGU helps students arrange classroom visits close to where they live and work for the two required practicum courses.

Since WGU's program operates under a competency-based model, program length varies with student ability, and dedicated students can complete the program in 12-22 months. Accelerated options are also available. Online courses are designed for educators already working in the field, and are offered asynchronously to maximize flexibility. As a capstone, students must complete action research or program evaluation projects utilizing the knowledge and methods they learned in the program.

WGU's program prepares students for school principal certification but is not accepted for licensure in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, or Minnesota.

Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

2Colorado State University GlobalGreenwood Village$$$$$7800 East Orchard Road Ste 200
Greenwood Village, CO 80111-0000
(800) 920-6723

The Colorado State University Global Campus (CSU-Global) administers its degrees and certification programs entirely online, including the master of science in teaching and learning with a concentration in education leadership. The program offers a concentration in principal licensure and a licensure-only option for students who already hold master's degrees.

CSU-Global's 39-credit program offers courses asynchronously to accommodate full-time professionals. Accelerated options are available, and students can test out of subjects in which they have previous experience. Course topics cover staff management and evaluation, action research, curriculum oversight, and technology. A research-based capstone combines coursework with practical experience, demonstrating student ability.

Applicants need two years of teaching experience at a K-12 school in the United States. Students with less than a 3.0 GPA may need to complete a course on writing and research fundamentals to enroll.

Colorado State University Global Campus is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

3University of FloridaGainesville$$$$$
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-3261

Established in 2014, the University of Florida (UF) Online offers a master of education in educational leadership program, which also offers the Florida principal's certification for aspiring school administrators.

Students taking two courses per semester can complete this 36-credit program in two years. Under faculty advisement, students may decide to accelerate their studies or to take more time. The program's curriculum includes courses on data driven leadership, instruction, public school law, finance, and technology leadership. Courses are offered asynchronously and are designed for professionals working full time. If students wish to graduate with a Florida principal's certification, they must take a 150-hour fieldwork practicum under the supervision of a Florida-licensed principal.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's, master's, or Ph.D. with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and GRE scores are required. Teaching experience is optional, though encouraged.

The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

4Mississippi CollegeClinton$$$$$200 South Capitol Street
Clinton, MS 39058
(601) 925-3000

Located in central Mississippi since 1826, Mississippi College (MC) is a Christian institution that offers an online master of education in educational leadership with a strong focus on technology, assessment, and faith-based learning. Students can complete the program's 36 credits in 12 months and are eligible for master-level certification exams. Graduates may pursue careers as school administrators, district superintendents, or site coordinators.

MC's M.Ed. core course requirements include introduction to administrator preparation, instructional dimension of leadership, informed management, and school law. Students are required to complete 510 practicum hours, including clinical experience and a 330-hour internship in a career-relevant setting.

Applicants need an elementary, secondary, or K-12 teacher license with at least three years of experience. Students with an undergraduate GPA lower than 3.75 must take comprehensive exams to gain admission consideration.

Mississippi College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

5The University of West FloridaPensacola$$$$$11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514-5750
(850) 474-2000

With a physical campus in Pensacola, Florida, the University of West Florida (UWF) offers an online master of education in educational leadership that is ideal for students seeking jobs as principals, assistant principals, superintendents, curriculum developers, or private school deans. As required by the state of Florida, all students must pass the Florida Educational Leadership Examination (FELE) before they are eligible to graduate.

UWF's curriculum focuses on the application of student assessment data in implementing school policies, development of critical thinking and communication skills, and leadership values. Students work with advisors to create their own strategies for online learning.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a 3.25 GPA and a valid teaching certification. GRE scores are also required. Online learners can apply for an out-of-state tuition waiver to reduce tuition costs.

University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges.

6Brandman UniversityIrvine$$$$$16355 Laguna Canyon Road
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 341-9800

Brandman University offers in-person and hybrid courses across 25 campuses in California and Washington, including entirely online options like the master of arts in education with a concentration in educational leadership. A highly customizable program, this degree is ideal for students pursuing careers in public administration, human resources, and organizational leadership.

Brandman's 30-credit curriculum includes core courses in research and evaluation methods, learning theory, comparative education, and curriculum studies. Services available to online learners include enrollment coaches to assist with the admissions process, academic advisors for building study plans, and academic support, including writing and math tutoring.

Applicants have flexible options when it comes to GPA calculations, including the opportunity to submit the most recent graded semester for students with an overall GPA of 2.5-2.99. Students pursuing this option are required to meet two of three minimum GRE scores: 141 quantitative, 150 verbal, and 4.5 analytical writing. Students with lower GPAs can submit a portfolio of writing samples and additional letters of reference.

Brandman University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

7Concordia University - Saint PaulSaint Paul$$$$$1282 Concordia Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55104-5494
(651) 641-8278

Established in 1893, Concordia University St. Paul (CSP) is a Christian institution affiliated with the Lutheran Missouri Synod that offers an online master of arts in education with an emphasis in educational leadership. Also offered in person, the program is designed for students seeking careers as principals or administrators in K-12 schools.

Courses for this 30-credit program are offered in simultaneous online sessions designed to prepare students for educational leadership positions. Required courses should be taken in order, including educational research and applications, curriculum and instruction, financial resources, and educational policy. Students can choose to complete their diversity in education requirement with a semester of study abroad. The program requires a three-credit capstone project focused on a relevant research question.

Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit official transcripts and a personal statement. They also need a current, valid Minnesota teaching license. Students who do not meet minimum requirements may be asked to submit additional materials.

Concordia University St. Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

8Concordia University - ChicagoRiver Forest$$$$$7400 Augusta
River Forest, IL 60305-1499
(708) 771-8300

Located in Riverpoint, Illinois, Concordia University Chicago (CUC) is a private institution that offers an online master of arts in leadership with a specialization in higher education. The program is available entirely online, but can be taken in person through satellite locations in the Chicago area. Graduates may pursue careers in government, nonprofits, higher education, and human services.

Students can complete CUC's 33-credit program in 12-24 months. Core courses include leadership and excellence, ethical and social leadership, and introduction to research. Specialized courses for students concentrating in higher education include law and higher education, fiscal and social responsibility, and knowledge management. The final capstone course is designed to synthesize coursework and allow students to apply their skills toward practical problems.

Applicants need a cumulative 2.85 GPA or a 3.0 GPA in a master's program. Students with lower GPAs may gain probationary admission.

Concordia University Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

9University of St ThomasSaint Paul$$$$$2115 Summit Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55105-1078
(651) 962-5000

Located in Houston, Texas, the University of St. Thomas (UST) is a private Catholic university offering a master of education with a specialty in educational leadership and additional concentrations available in linguistic diversity and special education. The program is offered entirely online or as a hybrid study. It prepares students for Texas principal certification, so they can work as school principals, superintendents, and curriculum designers.

UST's 36-credit degree program centers around core requirements in educational research, scholarship writing, educational research design, and data analysis. Students specializing in educational research continue with courses in instructional leadership, school law, curriculum planning and development, and multicultural populations. There are two required internship semesters: one with a focus on operations, and another on community.

Applicants with a cumulative GPA below 3.0 must submit GRE scores. In order to receive a professional certificate, students need at least two years of teaching experience.

The University of St. Thomas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

10Stony Brook UniversityStony Brook$$$$$310 Administration Building
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(631) 632-6000

A staple of the State University of New York (SUNY) system since 1957, Stony Brook University offers an online master of arts in higher education administration — a 36-credit program that students can complete in three years of full-time study. The degree is designed for professionals wishing to work in higher education, either directly with students or in an administrative capacity.

Core courses in Stony Brook's curriculum include foundations of higher education administration, leadership in higher education, diversity in higher education, and a project seminar to guide the final capstone project. Elective offerings include six credits of technology, legal issues, finance, or athletics. Stony Brook uses Blackboard to administer its asynchronous online courses, and online students have access to a full digital library and the writing center.

Stony Brook prefers applicants with a 3.0 GPA or higher, but will consider lower cumulative GPAs on a case-by-case basis. GRE scores are not required.

Stony Brook University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

11Nova Southeastern UniversityFort Lauderdale$$$$$3301 College Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796
(954) 262-7300

Established in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1964, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a private institution that offers an online master of science in education with a specialization in educational leadership for pre-K-12 teachers interested in pursuing administrative careers. The program prepares graduates for Florida Department of Education educational leadership certification requirements, and students must pass the Florida Educational Leadership Examination (FELE) to graduate.

NSU's 36-credit program covers educational research for practitioners, school leadership, human resources, and school law. Students must complete a 300-hour administrative internship onsite in a school or other administrative environment under the supervision of an experienced administrator.

Applicants need a cumulative 3.0 or higher GPA and must hold a current professional educator's certificate.

Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

12Texas A&M University - CommerceCommerce$$$$$2600 South Neal
Commerce, TX 75429-3011
(888) 868-2682

Founded in 1889, Texas A&M University-Commerce (TAMUC) offers an online master of science or master of education in educational technology with a concentration in leadership for students interested in the impact of technology on education and how to implement best practices as school principals. Students may also seek careers with the government or in private industry.

TAMUC's 30-credit online program consists of 18 core credits in learning and technology, technologies for instruction, implementation of media technology programs, and research methodologies. Additional elective subjects may be taken online or in person.

Applicants must submit GRE scores or present transcripts proving a cumulative bachelor's or master's GPA of 3.0 or higher. These requirements may be waived for applicants with valid Texas teacher or principal licenses.

Texas A&M University - Commerce is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College.

13Liberty UniversityLynchburg$$$$$1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24515
(800) 434-9595

With a physical campus located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is a Christian college offering an online master of education in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in leadership. Graduates pursue careers in teaching, principalship, university administration, or policy development.

On average, students complete Liberty's 36-credit program in 18 months. Advanced courses in education include learning theory, research and assessment, foundations, and curriculum. Students can also elect to study educational technology, behavior management, or school leadership in diverse settings. Depending on their desired certifications, students choose between current issues in education or directed practicum for a capstone. Courses are flexible and offered asynchronously.

Applicants must have a 2.0 GPA or higher. Subject to approval, students may transfer up to 50% of the required credits into the program.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges.

14University of Central FloridaOrlando$$$$$4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, FL 32816
(407) 823-2000

Located in Orlando, Florida, the University of Central Florida (UCF) offers an online master of arts in educational leadership for students interested in becoming instructional coordinators, college provosts, human resources administrators, or principals and assistant principals in private schools. The program does not lead to certification in Florida. Beyond the online degree, UCF offers two in-person educational leadership concentrations: higher education student personnel and college teaching and leadership.

UCF's 30-credit master's degree includes courses in fundamentals of graduate research, statistics, organization and administration of schools, community school administration, and contemporary issues in educational leadership. UCF provides online learners with services like free writing center consultations, extensive library tutorials, career coaching, and a mobile app where students can access email, course descriptions, and an event calendar.

Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and scores from either the GRE or the MAT. The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

15Lehigh UniversityBethlehem$$$$$27 Memorial Drive West
Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 758-3000

Founded in 1865, Lehigh University offers an online master of education in educational leadership that combines online learning with face-to-face classroom time, which must be completed during two consecutive summers on campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Intensive summer institute courses meet for five days in June and July. The program emphasizes global learning and is designed for aspiring international school principals.

Lehigh's 30-credit program takes about two years for a full-time student, including the two summer institutes. Course requirements include organizational leadership and change management, diversity and multicultural perspectives, instructional leadership, and school law. Additional coursework is required for students pursuing Pennsylvania principal certification. Since Lehigh is affiliated with the Principal's Training Center (PTC), students can transfer at least three courses taken with PTC in Miami or London into the program.

Applicants need official transcripts with a minimum 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Lehigh uses rolling admissions, so completing an application early is beneficial.

Lehigh University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

16Concordia University - PortlandPortland$$$$$2811 NE Holman Street
Portland, OR 97211-6099
(503) 288-9371

Located in Portland, Oregon, since 1905, Concordia University-Portland is a Lutheran institution offering an online master of education in educational leadership. Graduates of Concordia's program pursue careers as principals, department administrators, education consultants, preschool directors, college services directors, and public administrators. The program can be completed entirely online and also offers options for hybrid and on-campus learning.

This 30-credit program is designed to last one year. Core requirements include courses in character and ethics of leadership, theories of teaching and learning, community of learners, and contemporary educational thought. Students may choose between two capstones: completion of an action research proposal, including data collection and planned approach; or practitioner inquiry, in which the student will evaluate and improve their own teaching methods.

Applicants need official transcripts with a cumulative 2.8 GPA or higher, a letter of recommendation, a statement of intent, a resume detailing relevant work experience, and a filled-out personal character questionnaire.

Concordia University-Portland is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

17The University of Texas in ArlingtonArlington$$$$$701 S. Nedderman Dr.
Arlington, TX 76013
(817) 272-2011

Located in North Texas, the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) is a public university that offers an online master of education in educational leadership and policy studies that prepares students for Texas principal certification.

Students can complete UTA's program in 16 months, and online classes are offered asynchronously. The program requires 30 credits of study in the areas of leadership theory, curriculum design, political and legal aspects of education, and resource management in education. Students also complete an administrative practicum, which offers in-person career training, and a capstone internship, which includes a portfolio and research project. Advising and tutoring assistance are also available for online learners.

Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA, though the academic dean may grant conditional status to students who do not meet that standard.

The University of Texas at Arlington is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

18University of West AlabamaLivingston$$$$$Station One
Livingston, AL 35470
(205) 652-3400

Founded as an all-girls school in 1835, the University of West Alabama (UWA) is now a public university offering an online master of education in instructional leadership for students interested in becoming principals or administrators in public or private schools. The program prepares students to obtain class A professional educator certificates.

UWA's 34-credit program can be completed in 1-2 years. Courses include introduction to special education, counseling multicultural populations, technology and education, school law, contextual dimensions of instructional leadership, and school business management. Students must complete two internships in the area of instructional leadership and pass the PRAXIS exam in order to graduate.

Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA, three years of P-12 teaching experience, and a current class A or B professional educator certificate in teaching.

The University of West Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

19Arizona State University - SkysongScottsdale$$$$$1475 N Scottsdale Road - Ste 200
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
(480) 884-1860

Established in 1886, Arizona State University's (ASU) online master of education in educational leadership (principalship) prepares students for careers as principals, teachers, guidance counselors, education directors, and instructional coordinators. The program is designed to prepare students for Arizona state principal certification.

ASU's 36-credit program spans 11 courses, each lasting eight weeks. Program requirements include competency in educational administration, school finance and human resources, and critical issues in educational leadership. ASU provides library services, tutoring, career services, disability services, and 24-hour technical support for online learners. Additionally, ASU offers an orientation to familiarize online learners with their learning platform and general student expectations.

A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for admission, but GRE scores are not required.

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

20Regis UniversityDenver$$$$$3333 Regis Blvd
Denver, CO 80221-1099
(800) 388-23662111

Regis University is a private college in Denver, Colorado that offers a hybrid master of education in educational leadership with principal licensure. The 33-credit hybrid program takes two years and requires in-person classes in addition to online coursework. It uses a project-based approach, focusing on topics relevant to school administration like fiscal policy and motivational and ethical leadership. Students qualify for principal certification after the first year of the program, but need nine more credits to finish their master's degrees.

Regis's program requires courses in school strategy and sustainability, community and communications leadership, human resources leadership, data literacy and assessment, personnel selection and supervision, and school law. Classes last for five weeks.

Applicants need current teaching licenses and must have a cumulative 2.75 GPA. Regis offers a 10% tuition discount for certified teachers.

Regis University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

21Concordia University - NebraskaSeward$$$$$800 N Columbia Ave
Seward, NE 68434-1556
(800) 535-5494

Concordia University - Nebraska is a private, Lutheran-affiliated university that offers an online master of education in curriculum and instruction with instructional leadership technology. The degree offers hybrid or fully on-campus options, with courses administered online or on the Lincoln, Nebraska campus. The 36-credit program can be completed in two years and is designed for students seeking careers in technology-driven program development, leadership in K-12 schools, or higher education.

Concordia's course requirements include courses on empowering teachers as leaders, contemporary thought in education, integrating technology in the classroom, and psychological foundations of teaching and learning. Each student completes a capstone project that is personalized to their interests and career goals.

Concordia does not require the GRE for admission, and up to 25% of the degree requirements may be transferred into the program from previous graduate studies with university approval.

Concordia University - Nebraska is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

22Columbia International UniversityColumbia$$$$$7435 Monticello Rd
Columbia, SC 29203-1513
(803) 754-4100

Columbia International University (CIU) is a private Christian institution located in Columbia, South Carolina that offers an online master of education with concentrations in educational administration or instruction and learning. The program is designed for students who wish to pursue careers as public or private K-12 teachers, school administrators, and superintendents. Additionally, the program is ideal for those who may wish to continue their studies by pursuing doctoral degrees.

CIU's 30-credit program carries an emphasis on biblical learning with course requirements including chapel, history and philosophy of education, biblical foundations for curriculum, authentic assessment, and law and personnel. The degree can be completed in two years, including one summer session.

Applicants need a minimum 2.7 GPA and previous experience in education, either through undergraduate study, teacher certification, or classroom experience.

Columbia International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

23Boston UniversityBoston$$$$$
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 353-2000

Boston University (BU) is a private institution that offers an online master of education in educational leadership and policy studies with a concentration in higher education administration for students interested in pursuing careers in higher education, including development, financial aid, admissions, alumni relations, and career advisement positions. The program does not lead to any certifications or licensure.

Part-time students can complete BU's 36-credit program in five semesters over two years. Coursework includes legal issues in higher education, introduction to research, strategic planning and implementation, contemporary issues in higher education, and innovation in higher education. All courses run asynchronously over seven week periods, with students typically taking two classes per 14-week semester.

Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores and can expect acceptance decisions within three weeks of submission.

Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.

24Lamar UniversityBeaumont$$$$$4400 MLK Blvd
Beaumont, TX 77705
(409) 880-7011

Located in Beaumont, Texas since 1923, Lamar University (LU) is a public institution that offers an online master of education in teacher leadership for educators looking for a strong foundation in research, teaching methodologies, community building, and mentorship. Graduates may also focus on curriculum design and implementation.

LU's 36-credit program takes 18 months, and coursework covers research and current issues in education, school law, diverse learners, differentiation of instruction, and public school curriculum. At the end of the program, students complete a capstone course that synthesizes their knowledge and helps them implement it in their classrooms. LU provides 24-hour technical support and library resources for online learners.

Applicants need a valid teaching certificate, at least two years of teaching experience, and a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA.

Lamar University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

25University of the SouthwestHobbs$$$$$6610 North Lovington Hwy
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-6561

Founded in 1962, the University of the Southwest (USW) is a private, Christian university in Hobbs, New Mexico that offers an online master of science in educational administration for students seeking careers in school administration or instructional leadership. In addition to its fully online option, the program offers hybrid and on-campus formats.

Required courses for USW's program include educational leadership and supervision, theories of curriculum development, theories of administration, education and special education law, and policies and public relations. Students must also complete an internship in educational administration before graduation.

Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit a resume. With school approval, conditional admission may be offered to applicants with a lower GPA.

University of the Southwest is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.