There’s so much focus in the field of education on endorsements and state-level teaching requirements that it’s easy to forget sometimes that it’s not the license that makes the leader.
Leaders lead. And while it doesn’t always require a state license to be seen as a leader, it does take a unique blend of knowledge and skill.
And as an educator yourself, you have a good sense already of what it takes to develop those skills:
Leadership talent must be fostered and honed under the right philosophy and through thoughtful curriculum and caring guidance from instructors with even more experience and knowledge than you have.
That’s exactly what you will find from every program featured here on our list of selected educational leadership master’s degrees.
What Type of Educational Leader are These Programs Designed For?
Not every educator’s path to leadership requires the state-mandated Educator Preparation Program (EPP) required of public school principals and superintendents.
In any of those cases, you still want a degree that can give you the full range of tools and techniques that educational leaders use, without the licensure component that you just don’t need.
If your situation fits any one of these scenarios, then one of these programs will fit the bill.
Identifying the Top Degrees in Teacher Leadership for Non-Licensure Track Education Professionals
Picking out a master’s degree to fit your teacher leadership ambitions without sacrificing quality isn’t always easy. While EPP coursework is designed to fit the needs of state licensing agencies, not your personal goals, it does represent a consistent representation of quality in the educational community.
But if you’re not tracking toward becoming a public school principal or superintendent, your options aren’t restricted to those programs alone. So, we’ve opened up the gates to give you more choices when looking for programs to fit your needs and align with your interests.
Whether it’s a master of education degree that focuses on educational leadership and societal change, one that opens up new worlds through an international teaching and leadership emphasis, or a program with a flat-out leadership development focus, you’ll find options here that are sure to work for you.
And with the strictures of licensing out of the way, we’ve also turned up a lot of fascinating and forward-thinking concentrations you won’t find in traditional certification-oriented programs, things like:
And if you choose one of these top programs, you can rest assured that you are getting some of the finest training in those fields available anywhere in the world today.
With the right resources and support to back up your ambitions as an educational leader, your future goals are in reach today with one of these degrees.
Top Selections of Our Favorite Non-Licensure Track Master’s Degrees in Educational Leadership
Saint Mary's College of California
MA in Teaching Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $20,850
No matter their tenure, teachers of all experience levels are sure to find plenty to get excited about with Saint Mary’s College of California’s MA in Teaching Leadership. Featuring 30 credits and a fully online format, this program offers a separate path for novice and experienced teachers. Novice educators complete a four-course teacher induction sequence, while experienced teachers (those with three or more years in the classroom) become part of a collaborative cohort community. Both asynchronous and synchronous learning formats ensure convenience and flexibility while also offering an engaging learning environment. And with just 15-18 students per cohort, the program fosters a tightknit community among both students and faculty. Whether you’re looking to attain a teacher leader role in your school or you’re preparing for future doctoral study, this program has what you need to succeed!
Soka University of America
MA in Educational Leadership and Societal Change (on-campus)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $66,420
Soka University of America’s MA in Educational Leadership and Societal Change offers a global exploration of the comparative and international dimensions of education. Designed to produce tomorrow’s global leaders with both practical and foundational knowledge, this full-time, two-year course of study is comprised of a small, select international community of students that helps foster a student-centered learning environment. This program comes complete with 41 semester credits, professional development opportunities, opportunities to engage with visiting distinguished scholars and practitioners, and summer research grants for real-world learning experiences.
Loyola Marymount University
MA in Educational Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $35,100
Loyola Marymount University’s MA in Educational Leadership is grounded in social justice and offered in the fully online format that today’s busy working professionals demand. This rigorous program boasts problem-based learning and project-based experiences that are grounded in 21st century learning, and its curriculum explores topics like law, ethics, budget, finance, operations, marketing, fundraising, personnel management, and more. An optional Catholic School Administrator concentration prepares students to assume leadership positions in Catholic institutions, while the Certificate in Charter School Management offers a unique chance to tailor your education to the needs of America’s growing number of charter schools.
MA in Leadership Development (on-campus)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $33,900
Chapman University’s MA in Leadership Development is a two-year course of graduate study that boasts interdisciplinary learning experiences and a focus on building equitable and just communities in schools, higher education institutions, and other organizations. The cohort model of this program is led by a faculty of experts and customizable through your choice of focus areas: (1) higher education leadership; (2) K-12 leadership; or (3) an interdisciplinary focus with courses in nonprofit leadership, civic engagement, and social engagement. Just some of the features of this program include a student-centered learning environment with a low student-to-faculty ratio, interactive and discussion-based courses, evening classes, and travel study opportunities.
MEd in Education Policy and Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $55,200
American University’s MEd in Education Policy and Leadership offers an engaging course of graduate study that boasts a real-world consultancy project for outstanding, hands-on learning, an esteemed faculty of current and former education policy makers, and a fully online design that makes earning your master’s degree easier and more convenient than ever! This program is designed to produce confident and ethical leaders who deftly effect change at the local, state, and federal levels through innovative, evidence-based, and anti-racist policies and programs. Students here study topics like policy, leadership, law, economics, equity, and research in an engaging cohort environment that encourages dialogue, collaboration, and communication.
Hobe Sound Bible College
MEd in Educational Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $12,750
Hobe Sound Bible College offers the MEd in Educational Leadership, a fully online course of graduate study that prepares Christian educators to achieve exciting positions in educational leadership. Whether you have aspirations of assuming school- or district-level positions in public schools, Christian schools, or even missionary, international, and cross-cultural schools, the MEd in Educational Leadership has what you need to succeed! Just some of the topics explored in this dynamic course of graduate study include leadership theory, school law, financial principles, and strategic planning.
Trinity Baptist College
MEd in Educational Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $11,517
Trinity Baptist College’s MEd in Educational Leadership offers a fully online course of graduate study that’s designed for educators who are ready to rise to a higher level and serve as role models and educational leaders. This dynamic, affordably priced program also offers limited residence courses (offered through a one-week, on-campus format). Choose this exciting program and you’ll take educational leadership courses that include Principles of Biblical Leadership; Finance & Budgeting; Critical Issues, Ethics & Law; and Teamwork & Strategic Planning. This program comes complete with a leadership practicum – your opportunity to work closely with an active Christian school administrator for unmatched, hands-on learning experiences.
Upper Iowa University
MEd in Teacher Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $11,988
Upper Iowa University’s MEd in Teacher Leadership is where your capacity for leadership takes off! Just a few of the reasons why you’re sure to love this graduate program include a faculty of experts in teaching in the K-12 environment, a fully online format that features eight-week online courses and six-week summer sessions, and superb advising and support. Career advancement to leadership roles like mentor, instructional coach, curriculum leader, and master teacher is within reach through Upper Iowa’s MEd in Teacher Leadership!
MAT in Teacher Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $10,240
Morningside University’s MAT in Teacher Leadership is where educators become leaders who create collaborative cultures, improve teaching and learning, promote professional learning, and advocate for student learning and the teaching profession. Offered in a fully online format for outstanding convenience and flexibility, this program helps today’s educators develop their own personal leadership style while enhancing their skills in areas like collaborative communication, reflective teaching, and more.
University of Pikeville
MAEd in Teacher Leader (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $10,350
Flexible, convenient, and affordable, the University of Pikeville’s MAED in Teacher Leader is perfect for busy, working educators with aspirations of focusing their career on leadership roles in education. We love how this program’s curriculum is designed to align with your own professional growth plan and features superb, integrated learning opportunities that allow you to utilize your own classroom data. Move from Rank II to Rank I certification with the MAEd in Teacher Leader!
MAEd – Teacher Leader (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $9,300
Grounded in the Christian faith and offered in a convenient and flexible online format, Campbellsville University’s MAEd – Teacher Leader prepares today’s educators to lead and mentor their fellow faculty members. Students here explore different leadership styles while focusing their course of graduate study on one of the following areas: curriculum emphasis, gifted education endorsement, ESL endorsement, interdisciplinary early childhood education, or information technology. Cutting-edge courses in this program cover topics that include practical skills in student assessment, technology in the classroom, and more. Two action research practicums round out this exciting program and prepare graduates with the real world experience it takes to hit the ground running.
Johns Hopkins University
MSEd in International Teaching and Global Leadership Cohort (on-campus)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $50,391
The Johns Hopkins University MSEd in International Teaching and Global Leadership Cohort is where educators become international trailblazers who transform schools, systems, and other learning environments in every corner of the world. Built on a solid foundation of theory and practice, this dynamic course of graduate study comes complete with cultural exchange and enrichment activities, formal and informal learning opportunities, dedicated academic and language services support, and much more. Students here enjoy superb mentoring opportunities, guest lectures, and unique learning experiences that they can put to work in their home countries. Best of all, this program is fully customizable, with students choosing one of the following focus areas: Creative and Innovative Education, Digital Age Teaching and Learning Technology, Early Childhood, Teaching as a Foreign Language, Entrepreneur in Education, or Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM).
MEd in Teacher Leadership (low-residence)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $19,836
Brandeis University’s MEd in Teacher Leadership will take your career in education to the next level through a rigorous and engaging course of study that’s highlighted by action research opportunities, one-on-one professional coaching, and teacher leadership practice experiences. Designed to prepare experienced teachers for teacher leader positions where they improve classrooms and schools, this exciting program fosters a cohort of like-minded future leaders who create a trusted professional network through collaboration and communication.
University of St. Thomas
MA in Education Leadership and Administration (online, on-campus)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $21,235
The University of St. Thomas’ MA in Education Leadership and Administration is where future leaders learn the ins and outs of sound administrative policy and the strategies for putting service leading practices into motion in the educational environment. This program is rich in civic engagement and includes a superb study abroad option in Egypt! We love this program because it allows students to personalize their course of study by choosing from one of four tracks: Teacher Leadership and Peer Coaching, Global Leadership, Critical Pedagogy, or Learning Technology Leadership and Innovation (which leads to a graduate certificate). This exciting program is convenient and flexible, with both on-campus and online formats available. And the dedicated faculty and staff here will guide you as you conduct service learning through civic engagement and conduct real-world research in professional settings.
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
MA in Educational Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $19,140
St. Mary’s of Minnesota offers the MA in Educational Leadership, a fully online graduate program that prepares today’s educators to become innovative educational leaders. This exciting program, which is expertly designed to develop your leadership, management, and analysis skills and knowledge, is led by a distinguished faculty of early childhood, K-12, and higher education administrators. Students here enjoy a contemporary curriculum that covers both the basics of educational leadership, as well as broader topics in leadership and society. Courses like management, ethics and law, and cultural awareness and competence prepare students to become outstanding educational leaders in a variety of settings.
Martin Luther College
MSEd – Leadership emphasis (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $12,600
Martin Luther College’s MSEd – Leadership emphasis is priced right and designed in an online format that makes earning your degree easier than ever. This dynamic course of study offers a focused path for educators looking to advance their careers and take on roles in administration and leadership. We love the flexibility this program provides – six electives allow students to choose courses that best fit with their personal interests and career goals. And the school’s Long-Term Course Calendar allows you to plan your program according to your personal schedule. Complete your program in as little as two years or take as long as seven – the choice is yours!
Concordia University-Saint Paul
MAEd in Educational Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $11,850
Concordia University – Saint Paul’s MAEd in Educational Leadership comes complete with an impressive price tag and a fully online format that aligns perfectly with the needs of today’s busy, working educators. Offered through CSP Global, this course of graduate study is designed to prepare tomorrow’s educational leaders to lead with confidence and integrity. Just some of the topics explored here include professional policy and ethics, culturally responsive practices, curriculum design and change, and financial resources and management. It’s designed following an accelerated cohort model that features eight-week courses (you’ll take one at a time), synchronous or asynchronous study, and optional virtual meetings. Earn your degree here and you’ll enjoy outstanding faculty mentorship, exciting professional networking opportunities, and the opportunity to complete your degree in as little as 20 months.
Southwest Baptist University
MSEd in Teacher Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $11,160
Southwest Baptist University’s MSEd in Teacher Leadership prepares today’s educators to assume exciting leadership roles. Through this dynamic graduate program, you’ll learn to coach and mentor colleagues; analyze classroom data to inform instruction; communicate with your school and community; develop curriculum that meets the needs of 21st century schools; and more. You’re sure to love this exciting program for its fully online format; expert faculty of highly qualified teachers, principals, and superintendents; and engaging courses and relevant curriculum.
Franklin Pierce University
MEd in Educational Leadership (on-campus, online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $23,940
Franklin Pierce University’s MEd in Educational Leadership is a dynamic, research-based course of graduate study for tomorrow’s educational leaders. This program prepares students to work with diverse educational communities and become competent, ethical educational leaders. The program’s curriclum covers key aspects of the learning environment, coaching and leadership models, evaluation techniques, and instructional design methods. This program features a supportive community of innovative educators, outstanding opportunities for hands-on learning, career-focused curriculum, and your choice of on-campus or online study.
Southern New Hampshire University
MEd in Curriculum and Instruction (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $22,572
Southern New Hampshire’s MEd in Curriculum and Instruction is where educators become outstanding educational leaders capable of transforming learning environments, along with the lives of students and staff! This fully online program offers superb flexibility and convenience, with no set class times and 24/7 access to online coursework. With courses focused on student-centered curriculum development and instruction models, this dynamic online program allows students to acquire the practical leadership skills they need to serve diverse learning communities.
MSEd in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (on-campus, hybrid)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $56,520
Hofstra University’s MSEd in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies boasts an interdisciplinary exploration of foundational and policy issues in education and a comprehensive examination of educational leadership in K-12 schools. Students of this program study current theories, concepts, and learning models and prepare to become confident, competent leaders in non-public school settings like museums, corporations, preschools, and more.
MEd in Educational Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $13,500
Gratz College’s MEd in Educational Leadership is grounded in the principle of Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) and designed for today’s educators who want to expand their role in education. This exciting program is focused on advocating for learning that matters, for transformative potential in education, and for advancing the ideas of equity, including and social action. Offered in a fully online format that features convenient, eight-week, asynchronous courses, this exciting course of graduate study boasts unparalleled convenience and practicality. Students of this program may also specialize in Jewish Instruction Education, which features courses in Jewish Studies, teaching methods, and Fundamentals & Orientations in Jewish Education.
North Greenville University
MS – Teacher Leader track (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $14,940
North Greenville University’s MS – Teacher Leader track is expertly designed to elevate your impact as a leader and educator! Students here explore classroom dynamics, examine the impact of current social issues in K-12 education, and expand their knowledge of technology integration, research techniques, and curriculum/assessment development. Just some of the courses you’ll study in this exciting course of graduate study include Professional Leadership and Mentoring, Ethics in Teacher Leadership, and Conflict Resolution in Teacher Leadership.
Bob Jones University
MS in Educational Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $14,850
Bob Jones University’s MS in Educational Leadership is priced to please and offered in the fully online format that today’s busy, working educators demand. Grounded in a biblical worldview and offered through the university’s SCOPE program, which focuses on adult learner needs and career-focused programs, this exciting course of graduate study is expertly designed to produce competent, ethical leaders. It also features an engaging, online platform that includes practical projects, group discussions, lectures, and more.
Walla Walla University
MEd in Educational Leadership (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $20,940
Total tuition for an educational leadership master’s degree comes in at $7,001 below the state average for similar programs.
Walla Walla University’s MEd in Educational Leadership is expertly designed to prepare teacher leaders and Seventh Day Adventist principals and offered in a fully online format for maximum flexibility and convenience! We love the summer-only online courses that won’t interfere with your busy, professional schedule (you’ll graduate in just four summers) and the student-centered learning environment that boasts a low, student-to-faculty ratio. The rigorous curriculum features topics in educational theory and administrative principles and is ideally designed to also prepare educators to become lead teachers, department chairs, reading specialists, curriculum directors, and more!
Alderson Broaddus University
MEd in Teacher Leader (online)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $18,750
Perfectly designed to prepare educators who can better effect change and becomes leaders in the schools in which they teach, Alderson Broaddus University’s MEd in Teacher Leader provides an outstanding course of graduate study leading to roles like mentor teacher, lead teacher, department chair, curriclum design specialist, academic coach, and more! You’re sure to love the fully online format of this program, which features ten courses that are delivered both asynchronously and synchronously. Complete this degree on a full-time basis and you can graduate in as little as one academic year!