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Comprehensive Guide to Pursuing an Education Leadership Degree

Are you passionate about education and supporting America’s youth? Educators play a vital role in helping children of all ages reach their full potential, and a career in education is fulfilling for many.

While teachers receive most of the credit for the learning process, their impact would not be possible without principals, administrators, and superintendents. These professionals facilitate education while offering support to educators throughout their careers. In this guide, we will take a closer look at educational leadership and explain how to pursue an educational leadership degree.

What Is Educational Leadership?

Educational leadership refers to advanced positions within the academic field. The people in these positions are responsible for instructional leadership and overall management of an academic establishment. The primary goal of an education leader is to provide successful student outcomes. Examples of educational leadership include higher education administrators, school principals, and superintendents.

In the past, these types of positions weren’t widely available for people who wanted to play an active role in education. Now, there are many more options, especially for educators who want to transition from teaching into a leadership position. Positions are also available in the non-profit arena, allowing you to make a difference for underserved communities in the United States and around the world.

Types of Education Leadership Degrees

You can obtain an educational leadership degree at various levels, depending on the position you’re looking to hold. The following are the various types of education leadership degrees:

Associate’s Degree in Education Leadership

An associate’s degree in educational leadership is the first step in your leadership journey. Most master’s degree programs require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Education Leadership

A bachelor’s degree in educational leadership is a four-year degree that helps educators and academic professionals reach the skills they need to influence change. This degree transitions you from a teacher to a more active leadership role.

Master’s Degree in Education Leadership

Commonly known as an M.Ed., a master’s in educational leadership degree focuses on institutional initiatives and strategies for effective management. Most people who seek this graduate degree go on to be school principals or administrators.

Doctoral Degrees in Education Leadership

Also known as an Ed.D or Ph.D., doctoral degrees in educational leadership are the highest level of education you can pursue. These seasoned professionals strive to advance the field of education and promote ongoing change among students and educators.

Potential Career Paths

A degree in education leadership sets you on the right path for a variety of different careers. People who complete this degree frequently become:

  • Principals or assistant principals
  • District superintendents
  • School administrative positions
  • Education consultants
  • Curriculum coordinators
  • Program directors

These are the most prevalent leadership positions in education, but many other roles exist for people with educational leadership degrees. 

Key Skills Acquired

Educational leadership degrees teach you skills that are necessary when acting in higher roles within the academic landscape. Students seeking one of these degrees learn:

  • Strategic planning
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership and management
  • Research and data analysis
  • Instructional strategies
  • Budgeting and finance in education

By focusing on instructional leadership and other aspects of managing an academic institution, you will develop the tools you need to excel as a leader.

Typical Coursework and Subjects

The coursework and subjects in an educational leadership program aim to create professionals who are well-versed in all areas of the academic landscape. Your educational leadership degree will involve courses in:

  • Curriculum development
  • Policy analysis and advocacy
  • Organizational theory in education
  • Research methodologies
  • Human resources management in schools
  • Education law and ethics

Your degree may include courses in technology, instructional leadership, and cultural competence, depending on where you receive your education.

Choosing the Right Program

How do you choose the right educational leadership program if you’re looking to advance in the academic industry? You want to choose the best possible institution that also meets your needs based on factors such as:

  • Faculty Credentials: Before enrolling in a particular program, you want to look at the faculty’s credentials and experience. Can they provide a high-quality, focused education that encourages you to grow?
  • Accreditation: You can verify the institution’s accreditation from independent accreditors that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes. Look for programs with accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission and Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
  • Tuition Cost and Financial Aid: You’ll need to assess the average cost of an educational leadership degree at each institute you’re interested in. From there, apply for any available financial aid that can ease the expense of your course load.
  • Course Delivery: How will you be attending your classes? Online courses are beneficial to students who work full-time, while in-person classes are more immersive. There are also hybrid options that incorporate both online and in-person courses.
  • Alumni Network: After you graduate, you can still tap into post-degree resources like networking events through the school’s alumni network.

Application Process and Requirements

Completing any prerequisites is the first step in your educational leadership journey. Programs require that you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in any field — preferably a degree in education with a GPA of at least 2.5. Many programs require that you have existing educational experience, with at least two years teaching K-12. 

You will provide various documents during the application process. This includes a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, who should be a certified principal. You should also include a resume or CV detailing your experience in the educational field, along with a statement of purpose. This personal statement should outline why you want to attend the school and program specifically, so tailor this for every application.

Submit all of your official transcripts, including GRE and MAT test scores. You will pay your application fee at this time.

Tips for Success in an Education Leadership Program

Follow these tips to help you succeed in reaching a position in educational leadership:

  1. Build a strong professional network.
  2. Participate in internships and other practical experiences.
  3. Stay up to date with current research and advancements in the field.
  4. Attend seminars, conferences, and workshops regularly.

These tips can help you continue to grow throughout your career.

Future of Education Leadership

The bottom portion of a students legs climbing stairs, each stair higher labeled with the following year

The future of educational leadership is exciting, particularly with the growth of online resources. More students are receiving their degrees online, meaning more people are entering the realm of educational leadership. While this may present a job scarcity challenge, it also presents a diversity of thought and approach among these positions.

Advancements in technology allow more efficiency and increased communication among educational professionals. Many educational leaders use current technology to further develop meaningful relationships between teachers, students, and peers in the academic field.

Related Fields and Further Study

Educational leadership is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play an active role in educating the country’s youth. Comparative education, instructional design, and education policy are all related fields. 

If you want to be an educational leader with a special focus, you can pursue further areas of study. Special education and higher learning leadership are just two examples of further study.

Follow Your Passion and Make a Difference With an Educational Leadership Degree

Educational leaders are vital in shaping the learning experience for children of all ages and creating positive change. Become a part of this process by pursuing your educational leadership degree today.

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