Online Master’s Programs in Education Administration

Education administrators ensure that schools run smoothly, oversee daily operations, and set long-term goals. During an online master's in education administration degree program, students study staff evaluation, fiscal management, and educational policymaking. Graduates take positions such as principal, superintendent, and college administrator. This page covers important information about earning a master's in education administration online, including career opportunities, degree requirements, and characteristics of top programs.

Overview of an Online Master’s Program in Education Administration

An education administration master's degree prepares graduates for leadership roles in K-12 schools and higher education institutions. While specifics vary by program, this section covers common classes and degree lengths in online master's in education administration programs.

Common Classes and Coursework


Strategic Leadership in Education

Graduate courses in strategic leadership train students to become school principals. The course emphasizes topics such as managing budgets, retaining quality teachers, and meeting district guidelines. Students learn about designing action plans, overseeing school resources, and meeting operational needs. The course may incorporate practicum hours.

Staff Evaluation

This course covers staff evaluation theories and practices. Topics include innovative instructional techniques, classroom supervision, and teaching performance evaluation. The course also covers how to create staff development plans and methods for improving teacher performance.

Education Finance

Courses in education finance cover school accounting principles, resource allocation, and administrative theories. Graduate students examine regulations governing school budgets, budgeting challenges, and the relationship between finance and daily operations.

Educational Policy

Educational policy courses explore the process of creating new policies at the micro and macro levels, including adoption and implementation. The course addresses government regulations and laws that influence educational policies. Students also explore the relationship between educational policies and practical applications.

Technology in Education Administration

Education administration students examine the role of technology in educational leadership, including how technology can improve student learning outcomes. The course covers educational management techniques and strategic technology use plans for schools.

Skills You Will Gain

During an education administration program, graduate students learn how to evaluate educational goals, establish policies for a school or academic unit, and assess teaching effectiveness. They also learn evidence-based personnel evaluation techniques. These skills prepare educators for leadership roles, including principal, school administrator, and higher education administrator.

graduate students learn how to evaluate educational goals, establish policies for a school or academic unit, and assess teaching effectiveness

In addition, graduate students strengthen critical-thinking and communication skills. The communication and interpersonal skills gained from group projects and practicum requirements help graduates effectively interact with teachers, students, and parents. Education administration programs also build strong analytical and critical-thinking skills through research papers and projects.

An online master's in education administration also prepares students for doctoral programs. Educators and administrators in academia often need a doctorate, and many doctoral programs only admit students with a master's degree.

Average Degree Length

Education administration master's programs often require 30-40 credits of graduate coursework, which may include practicum requirements. Full-time students typically graduate in two years, but the length of a degree varies based on factors such as enrollment options and degree requirements. Online education administration master's degree programs often offer multiple enrollment options, including part-time and accelerated formats. On a part-time schedule, graduate students may need three or more years to earn their degree, while students who choose an accelerated option can earn their degree in under two years.

full-time students typically graduate in two years

Online learning formats give master's students more flexibility than on-campus programs. Many education administration graduate students teach full time while completing the degree, and online programs allow students to save time on commuting. In addition, by earning a degree online, education administration graduate students can attend a top program without relocating.

How to Find a Top Program

Several factors can help prospective students find ideal online master's in education administration programs. By comparing these factors, students can identify top programs and find the best program for their career goals and interests.

  • Graduation Rate

    Checking a program's graduation rate can help prospective students identify top education administration programs. Low graduation rates may indicate problems with the program's structure or support.

  • Faculty Credentials

    Prospective students should review faculty research experience, specializations, and credentials to find a top program in their particular area of interest.

  • Alumni Network

    A strong alumni network can help program graduates identify job opportunities and advance their careers. Prospective students should check job placements and alumni positions when comparing programs.

  • Specialization Options

    Education administration programs may offer specializations such as elementary principal or higher education. Prospective students should look for programs that offer specializations in their area of interest.

  • Student Services

    Online programs may offer online advising, access to library resources, and other support services that help graduate students earn their degree. Prospective students should review these services to find top programs for online learning.

Education Administration Careers After Earning Your Master’s

With an online master's in education administration degree, graduates qualify for several lucrative career opportunities. For example, earning a master's in education administration online meets the education requirements for principal positions at the K-12 level. Principals oversee teachers and other staff at a school, working with educators and school administrators to meet academic goals. Principals also coordinate with superintendents to ensure their schools follow state guidelines. In addition to principal positions, education administration graduates may work as higher education administrators or school superintendents.

Elementary School Principal

Elementary school principals oversee daily and long-term operations at their school. They supervise teachers and staff members and manage the school's budget. Most positions require experience as an elementary teacher.

Average Annual Salary: $81,016

Middle School Principal

Principals at the middle school level manage their school, acting as a liaison between teachers and superintendents. They set the school's academic goals, manage the budget, and oversee teachers and staff members.

Average Annual Salary: $88,430

High School Principal

High school principals oversee administration at a high school. Tasks include educational planning, staff assessment, and dispute resolution. Principals oversee student programs and services, and ensure the school meets academic guidelines.

Average Annual Salary: $91,199

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Postsecondary education administrators oversee departments at colleges and universities, including admissions, registrar services, and student services. Most positions require a master's in education administration or a closely related field.

Average Annual Salary: $60,708

School Superintendent

School superintendents act as the head administrators for a school system. They work with principals and the school board to manage district budgets and meet academic goals.

Average Annual Salary: $116,145

Source: PayScale

Additional Certifications for Education Administration

After earning an online master's in education administration degree, graduates can pursue licenses and certifications to improve their job prospects. Certain positions, including most public school principal jobs, require a state-issued principal or administrator license. Specific requirements vary by state, but a master's in education administration typically meets the education requirement.

Principal License

An accredited master's in education administration meets the educational requirements for a principal license in all states. To complete the licensure process, candidates typically must pass an examination on school administrative skills. Requirements vary by state, so prospective principals should research the process in their state.

Administrator License

Instead of a principal license, some states issue administrator licenses that cover multiple administrative roles within public schools. Licensure requirements typically include a qualifying master's in education administration, passing scores on a school administrator examination, and a background check. Most administrators hold a teaching license.

Superintendent License

Candidates interested in superintendent positions may need to earn a specialized license. Candidates typically need a graduate degree in education administration, with some states requiring an educational specialist degree from an approved program. Applicants must also pass a state-mandated examination and meet experience requirements.

Professional Organizations and Resources for Education Administration Students

Online master's in education administration students and graduates benefit from the following professional organizations and resources. These organizations provide perks such as career resources, training tools, and networking opportunities for school administrators.

  • American Association of School Administrators AASA represents principals and other school administrators. The association provides professional development resources, networking events, and scholarship opportunities for educational administration graduate students.
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals NAESP represents elementary school principals. The association provides resources on organizational strategy, mentorship programs, and certification options. The association also hosts a career center for job seekers.
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals Middle school and high school principals and administrators can receive access to educational resources, such as workshops and webinars, through NASSP. The association publishes research and hosts a conference with networking opportunities.
  • National Education Association With over 3 million members, NEA represents more educators than any other professional organization. The association offers research, professional development resources, and networking opportunities for educators and administrators.
  • Association of American Educators AAE provides professional development resources for educators, including publications, lesson plans, and teaching materials. The association also offers grants, awards, and classroom scholarships.
  • Association of Leadership Educators ALE publishes the Journal of Leadership Education, hosts conferences for education leaders, and provides career resources for job seekers. The association awards grants for eligible members.
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ASCD publishes Educational Leadership, a resource for educators and administrators. The association also offers webinars, training tools, and professional learning resources.
  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation CAEP sets guidelines for educator preparation accreditation, including for online master's in education administration programs. Prospective students can review a program's accreditation status on the CAEP site.
  • Journal of Educational Administration Founded in 1963, JEA publishes peer-reviewed articles on leadership, administration, and management in K-12 schools. The journal helps educational administration students and graduates stay current in the field.
  • Educational Administration Quarterly EAQ publishes peer-reviewed articles on educational administration topics, including education policy, leadership, and best practices.
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