Educational Leadership Degree

Leadership is measured by the impact you have on the world around you. For educational leaders, that means having both vision and a plan for improving the lives of students, faculty, and the broader school community.

A Degree in Educational Leadership is an Investment in Your Future, and Theirs.

Educational Leadership Degrees Build on the Training and Experience You Already Have

Earning the right kind of master’s, EdS, doctorate, or post-master’s certificate is job one for any future principal, superintendent, or other educational leader. Building on the teaching and mentorship skills you already have after years in the classroom; an educational leadership degree will help you develop key leadership skills in:

Knowledge has the power to change lives. That’s as true for educational leaders as it is for the students and faculty they lead.

Principal standing in her office

Educational Leadership Degrees - Master's, EdS, Doctorate, and Post-Degree Certificate Options

A two-year graduate degree in educational administration is the standard for educational leadership roles at every level. In every state, principal, superintendent, and other building- and district-level administration licenses require a master’s at minimum, with few exceptions. Advanced leadership training with a Master of Education in Educational Leadership, Master of Arts in Educational Administration, or other similar degree will deliver exactly what you need to build essential skills, along with key curriculum components required for state licensure.

For educators who already have a master’s, Educational Specialist (EdS) degrees are often the go-to option. A unique post-master’s degree that only takes two years to complete, the EdS offers doctoral-grade study in a fast, affordable package. Commonly used to up your game for superintendent or other district administration roles, these programs polish up your advanced leadership skills to make a difference at the school level and beyond.

As the terminal degree in the field, an EdD (Doctor of Education) or PhD in Educational Leadership is respected by school faculty and school boards alike. This two-to-five year course of study offers a chance to explore advanced and original research that will develop solutions-oriented thinking around the toughest challenges in education today. You’ll graduate as an expert in your field with all the qualifications needed to take on the biggest issues facing students and teachers.

While the EdS offers a full degree option in educational leadership for anyone who already holds a master’s, some schools also have one-year post-graduate certificates for educational administrators. Though less common, post-bachelor’s certificate options are also available. These programs commonly wrap the state-required coursework for licensure into a fast-paced package that skips what you already know to focus on giving you the exact qualifications you need to move to the next level.

Careers in Higher Education Leadership and Administration

Colleges and universities need leaders, too, which is where well-trained deans, provosts, department chairs, and registrars with the right higher education administration degrees come in. With a level of expertise that meets the needs of their older student population, higher education leaders put the final polish on every aspect of the learning experience and produce the citizens and workers that American society counts on.

Learn How to Become a School Principal or District Superintendent in Your State

The exact steps to becoming a principal can differ somewhat from state to state. From experience requirements to necessary coursework to the very title and level of responsibility they hold, our state guides provide the critical details.

The differences in what it takes to become a superintendent can be even more nuanced. Being eligible for one of the approximately 13,500 district superintendent positions across the country means having a deep understanding of the needs and culture of the district.


Online Degrees Make it Easier for Teachers to Achieve Their Leadership Goals

Busy educators are taking advantage of the flexibility and widespread availability of online educational leadership master’s, EdS, and doctorates.

The freedom to put your teaching job and family first, while earning a degree to advance your career.

Stay connected from anywhere, with classmates, professors, and school resources.

Advisors to help you arrange the in-person fieldwork you need to meet state licensing requirements.

Recent Articles

Keep up on the latest in the world of education and how building and district leaders are shaping the future of schools and school systems across America.

Educational Leadership Degree FAQs

Yes. The degrees included on are all graduate-level degrees, meaning all applicants are expected to already hold a bachelor’s degree. You can hold a bachelor’s in any subject to apply for an Educational Leadership program. Those who know at the outset of their educational journey that they would like to pursue a career as a school principal or superintendent may choose to pursue concentrations in education while in undergraduate college, which can be a helpful way of preparing for the coursework of graduate school. However, this is by no means an expectation, and in fact graduate-level programs appreciate having students with a range of disciplinary backgrounds, as educational leadership can draw from a host of different approaches and methodologies.

Most people who hold positions in educational leadership have some amount of teaching experience under their belt, and many Master’s in Education programs (including ones with concentrations in Educational Leadership) are designed to be paired with a full-time teaching role at an elementary, middle, or high school. This is not simply a box to be checked, but rather an important educational experience that will deeply enrich your understanding of student needs, teacher’s roles, and how schools are run. While the duties of educational leaders are indeed different from those of classroom teachers, having this firsthand experience may set your agenda as an administrator and make you a more thoughtful and informed school leader.

When you first think of Educational Leadership, you’re likely to imagine roles such as principal, vice principal, and superintendent. However, specialty programs and educational tracks within schools often require their own oversight, as they have unique targeted goals that need to be managed and carried through by individuals with great expertise. For example, special education programs in schools often follow their own course through curriculum that are determined by specific student needs that diverge from the overall student body. This means that they require knowledgeable administrators who can conduct research, evaluate program efficiency, and make key decisions to guide their departments, in roles that are often separate from those of the administration of the school as a whole. While it is possible to get lower-ranking roles in arenas like these without an Educational Leadership degree, attending a graduate program focused on your discipline of choice will make you an ideal candidate to take charge of such programs, which is a position of significant responsibility.

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