Careers, courses and degree options for teachers aspiring to be leaders
From ensuring elementary school curricula is engaging to managing university admissions, a degree in education administration can help professionals start careers leading fellow educators and supporting student academics. Teaching professionals and prospective students can use this guide to get expert advice and learn more about their options for education administration degrees and careers. Meet the Expert
Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.
Best Education Administration Degree
To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:
Accredited at the institutional level
Private nonprofit or public school
Minimum of 1 bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area for 4-year schools
Minimum of 1 associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools
Schools were then scored on factors such as:
Cost & Financial Aid
Number and variety of program offerings
Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
Placement and support services offered
Academic/Career counseling services
Loan default rates
These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or “bang for your buck” of a college or degree program.
Education administrators play an important role in directing the future, so choosing a quality degree program is an important first step. A good school will not only provide students with the training needed to become successful education administrators, but it will also provide dedicated peers, accessible faculty and multiple program options. Check out which education administration schools topped our list for 2017.
Northeast Mississippi Community College's associate elementary education degree is a two-year program that offers adults a foundational training that prepares them for a four-year education degree. The school's early childhood education technology degree provides adults with a basic teaching foundation while emphasizing the role that technology plays in early childhood education. Advisors that education majors are assigned help students pick classes that lead to the two-year degree. Classes that advisors help students select also transfer toward a bachelor's education degree. A total of 62 semester hours are needed to graduate. The lowest GPA that students can earn to graduate is a 2.0.
Core education and teaching classes at Coahoma Community College are offered through the child development program. Completion of the early childhood development technology program and related work experience prepare students to take the Child Development Assistant licensing tests. After passing the exams, students could teach at the preschool and infant-toddler levels. Some early childhood development technology courses may be taken online. Students log into Canvas to get assignments while taking online courses. Broader opportunities to learn from instructors in person takes place at the college's educational outreach facilities which are located throughout five counties in Mississippi.
Eastern Wyoming College accepts high school graduates, international students and transfer students into its two-year education degree programs. An Associate of Arts in Elementary and Secondary Education and an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education are types of education degrees awarded at the college. The child development certificate is a two-semester program. More than 100 instructors teach at the college. Students are encouraged to meet with an advisor before registering for classes to increase the likelihood that their classes will transfer into four-year degree programs.
Adults who are committed to educating children at the early childhood and secondary levels could get an Associate of Arts in Elementary Education degree from the College of Southern Idaho. Bilingual elementary education, educational assistant, special education, kindergarten through high school and secondary education are other areas that the college awards undergraduate credentials in. Technical certificates are also conferred in the education assistant program. Curriculums in the programs meet core Idaho teaching guidelines. In programs like bilingual elementary education, the first two years of study are completed at the College of Southern Idaho and the last two years of study are completed at Boise State University.
Faculty at Itawamba Community College teach courses that lead to two year education degrees. The faculty members use the Mississippi Articulation and Transfer Tool (MATT) to help students build a selection of courses that will transfer toward a four-year education degree. At the end of two years of full-time coursework, adults could be awarded an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education Technology, an Associate of Arts in Education of Deaf or an Associate of Arts in Elementary Education. Each program is taught at the college's Fulton, Mississippi campus.
Education degrees and certificates at Prince George's Community College are awarded through the Teacher Education Department. Specific areas that degrees are awarded in include early childhood education, chemistry at the secondary education level and secondary education in English. Within one year, education majors could earn a certificate in fields like early childhood education and early childhood special education. For adults with a bachelor's education degree, the school offers courses that fulfill teacher re-certification requirements. There are two paths to apply for one of the credentials. Adults can apply through the Teacher Education Department chairperson. They could also work through an academic advisor.
The education program at Santa Fe Community College is geared toward adults who want to teach students aged birth to the third grade. The school's early childhood education associate's degree helps adults to partially fulfill the academic standards required of early childhood teachers working in New Mexico public education system. If adults take the early childhood development certificate program, they can gain an understanding of what is expected during the longer, degree program. Credits earned during the certificate program could also be transferred into the two year degree program. Post graduation, students could work in a daycare, childcare center or elementary school.
In addition to awarding two year education degrees, Mesa Community College awards certificates. Working teachers can also take classes that lead to a teacher endorsement at Mesa Community College. Associate degrees that education majors can declare include early childhood education, early care and elementary education. Certificates are available in early care specialist and instructional assistance. There is a child development lab and the Teachers of Language Learners Learning Community on campus to support education majors. Scholarships and a summer internship are also open to education majors.
At Rio Salado College, the education programs prepare adults to teach at pre-kindergarten through high school. Associate and bachelor's degrees are awarded at Rio Salado College. Professional development training programs lead to teacher endorsements. Mentor and state certifications can also be gained by taking education courses at the college. Advanced training is delivered through teacher in residence programs which are available in early childhood education. Completion of residential programs fulfills many Arizona teacher certification renewal requirements. A background check and prerequisites are needed to start some classes. In person classes are taught at the Tempe, Arizona campus.
Adults with existing teaching experience as well as freshmen who are embarking on a teaching career can pursue teacher education and early childhood multicultural education degrees and certificates at Central New Mexico Community College. Information sessions for new students are delivered in English and Spanish. After graduating from programs like the early childhood multicultural education program, students may receive a New Mexico Office of Child Development vocational certificate. During the online teaching and learning program, adults learn how to conduct and understand student assessments. Registration for all education programs must be completed by scheduled deadlines.
Skills to perform teacher administration leadership are offered through Andrews University's higher education administration program. During the program, students gain insight into the development, impact and workings of public education policies, research and leadership competencies. Degree options include the Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration, a Doctor of Education and a Doctor of Philosophy. The educational specialist degree is for adults who are seeking mid-level teacher administration skills. A dissertation is required to graduate from upper-level degree programs. The programs are accredited by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education.
Muskingum University strives to build teacher leaders through its advanced teacher administration degree programs. The university's education department offers training on the educational implications of diversity and multi-age licensure. Laptops can be reserved on campus. A 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher is required of education majors. Key program assessments in lesson plans, assessment of student teaching and assessment of professional dispositions are at the core of many of the programs. Faculty specialize in broad and narrowly defined subjects. Student opportunities include the chance to participate in organizations like the National Rural Education Association.
Training that aligns with higher education leadership careers such as public school administration, education public policy and academic social services are made available at Siena Heights University through the Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership. Adults who are currently working in education administration and adults new to teaching leadership administration are accepted into the degree program. Aim of the program is to prepare adults to lead educational programs at the postsecondary level. It takes 36 credit hours to take all courses associated with the degree. Student development, current education issues, educational technology and assessments are key areas covered during the training.
There are dozens of degrees and certifications conferred at Lindenwood University. Future educators, teacher administrators and public policy developers are types of professionals that Lindenwood University's education department works to prepare for service. Research, theory and global learning strategies and methods make up a sizable portion of coursework. Training is not limited to the classroom. Students also learn on the field, in actual classrooms and via seminars. Class sizes are kept small to allow for personalized student and teacher interactions. The St. Charles, Missouri university confers education administration degrees in fields like educational leadership, teacher education and counseling and social work.
Adults who want to work in leadership positions at schools, educational organizations and government agencies can declare for the Master of Science in Educational Leadership at Creighton University. Classes in the 36 credit hour program generally start once a quarter. Among the program's learning outcomes are ability to manage schools, analyze academic data, communicate specific skill sets and abide by ethical principles. The two concentrations in the degree are in school administration and teacher leadership. School improvement, special education leadership, school culture and leading professional learning communities are types of classes built into the curriculum.
At Northern Illinois University, the pathway to educational administration and teacher leadership abilities is through the school's Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations. Specific degree programs that provide advanced educational leadership training are the Master of Science in Education with a principal endorsement, the educational specialist degree with a superintendent endorsement and the Doctor in Education degree. The 36 credit hour degrees are taught on a semester basis. Students who graduate from the degree programs can work as school superintendents, principals and assistant principals. They may also work at agencies helping to develop public education policies.
Educational leadership, academic administration and teacher supervision abilities are key outcomes of Converse College's Master of Education in Administration and Supervision degree program. Adults who the degree are best suited for are working teachers who aspire to move into senior teaching positions. With the degree, graduates can work at local schools and district administration offices. Graduates can also get certified as assistant principals and principles. Classes are in subjects such as general school administration, school community relations, educational psychology and research and evaluation instruction. To remain in the program, students needs at least a 3.0 GPA.
The Canisius College Master of Educational Leadership and Supervision is a degree that aims to sharpen the knowledge base and skill set of teachers and educators who seek to fill impactful, leadership roles at local, state and national school levels. Licenses that degree graduates can earn include the New York State school building builder license and the New York State school district leader license. An additional two years of college is required for adults with a bachelor's degree. The college's graduate educational leadership and supervision certificate trains students on recent educational policy regulations, trends and strategies.
Touro College provides focused teaching administration training to education professionals during classes within its Master of Science in School Building Leader or Master of Science in School District Leader degree. Program outcomes include abilities to communicate and effectively lead students and faculty. Graduates also learn how to connect with parents and partner toward greater academic success for children attending the schools that they fill teacher administration roles at. It is through its Lander Center for Educational Research that the college works with the New York City Department of Education to operate its graduate education residency program.
Skills to develop school curriculums and instruction are at the heart of the Master of Education degree at Lincoln Memorial University. Most students enrolled in the classes are licensed teachers. Topics in the 33 semester credit program offer deep training in educational leadership, instructional leadership and curriculum and instruction. Licensure at the end of the program follows the Tennessee State Board policies and standards. Another graduate teacher administration option at Lincoln Memorial University is the Master of Education Saturday cohort program. At least 33 credits are needed to graduate with this degree too. Many of the classes are held on a Saturday.
Teachers and educators with an interest in the inner workings of the education system may be good candidates for an education administration degree. Most education administers earn master’s degrees, doctoral degrees or both. In general, master’s degrees provide an introduction to administrative roles, theories and practices while doctorates allow experienced educators to deepen their knowledge of specialized topics and the education system at large. Undergraduate degrees in education administration are generally not offered, although other related majors can prepare students for graduate work and set them on the right professional path.
Undergraduate Education & Work Experience
Because most education administrators start their careers in the field as teachers and work their way up to leadership positions, one is unlikely to find undergraduate degrees in education administration specifically. At the same time, holding a bachelor’s degree is almost always a requirement for admission to master’s and doctorate programs. In addition, many master’s and doctorate degree programs in education administration will require applicants to have a certain number of years as a teacher before they will be considered for admission. For these reasons, undergraduate students interested in the field should not be discouraged, however: a little patience and research can help one make informed decisions that support their long-term goals.
Suggested Majors & Courses
It can be difficult for new undergraduate students to consider the many factors that go into becoming an education administrator. Work experience, licensure, exams and GPA all eventually come into play, and planning for them early on can streamline the progression toward more advanced education administration degrees. While it is important for undergraduates to maintain a good GPA and prepare for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), a common criterion for graduate school admissions, it is just as vital that they choose majors relevant to education administration.
The following undergraduate majors provide a solid foundation for education administration master’s degree programs:
Specific coursework can also help prepare students for education administration careers and degree programs. The following classes can prepare students for master’s degrees and doctorates in the field: Teaching as a Career
Explore the challenges and practices surrounding skilled public school teaching. Topics include learning as a part of development and the purpose of education. Intro to Education and Society
Learn the significance of schools as social institutions and means of cultural transmission, and how these factors influence administrative decision-making. Organizational Design and Change
Study technology in relation to organizational structure, processes and design, and how to establish innovative and dynamic environments within multi-level institutions. Contemporary Leadership Issues
Examine the issues and management paradigms that shape effective leadership in contemporary education. Principles of Communication
Explore an array of perspectives and concepts that promote effective communication among educators of all types.
It is a good idea for students to get their licenses as soon as possible as many master’s and doctoral degree programs in education administration only admit applicants with formal teaching experience. Most education-focused bachelor’s programs prepare students for national teacher certification or state licensure; some even include these exams in their curricula.
While admissions requisites vary by institution, many doctoral programs require applicants to have three to five years of professional experience in addition to a master’s degree. The following tables go into more detail about what students can expect from graduate-level degrees in education administration.
If one has a passion for a leadership role in education, a degree in education administration is a must. Dr. Richard C. Horowitz
One to two years, full-time Three to five years, part-time
Principal, District Superintendent, Education Researcher, Academic Advisor, Instructional Coordinator
Students who want to strengthen their teaching careers or move into administrative roles often pursue master’s degrees in education administration. Some programs require or give preference to students who have their teaching licenses while others provide the option to earn a teaching license while pursuing an administration license. Through courses on pedagogy, leadership, education law and other decision-making forces within the education system, graduates of master’s programs may find administrative careers in all levels of education.
Master’s-level education administration degree programs have room for specialization, but students can also expect to take core courses fundamental to the field. Education Law
Study the legal principles, issues and ethical considerations that affect educational policy-making and success. Student will explore student and teacher rights, policy, equity and influential legal cases. Governance and Administration of Colleges and Universities
Examine the functions and organization of higher learning institutions, including administrative roles and practices. Students will learn about policy-making in relation to students, administrators, governing boards and faculty members. Using Data for School Improvement
Become acquainted with different types of data and how they might improve education planning, visioning and decision-making. Students will collect, analyze and report data in this class. Curriculum Construction
Study contemporary methods and theories surrounding effective curricular design. Students will develop curricula that address strategies for diverse learners, design perspectives and the politics of curriculum implementation.
Professional Development Specialist, University Dean of Student Affairs, Community College President, Education Policy Specialist
Doctoral education administration students gain both high-level knowledge of the field and a specialized area of interest, like educational psychology, leadership in urban school settings or teacher education in multicultural societies. Students can pursue PhDs, which are generally more research-oriented, or EdDs, which tend to focus on methods and theories that can be directly applied in the workplace.
Most programs require a master’s degree, a valid teaching license and practical teaching experience as a requirement for admission. Doctoral education administration programs are typically designed for working professionals: degrees can be completed part-time and classes are often scheduled on weekends or in the evening.
While doctorate-level classes can vary greatly depending on concentration or specialization, prospective students can learn what to expect from a program by reviewing its coursework. The following table highlights examples of real education administration courses.
Educational Leadership and Change
Examine current leadership theories, elements of leadership and management, and systems behaviors of administration in educational environments. Students will also discuss how politics, change, power and communication impact education leadership.
Finance in Higher Education
Survey the financial and business aspects of education administration at the postsecondary level, including federal and state funding, budgeting, institutional planning and sources of financial support.
Diversity and Equity in Education
Explore the role of education in culturally diverse societies, especially regarding racial, socioeconomic and regional subpopulations. Educational opportunity, social stratification, and education’s effect on intergroup relations will be discussed.
Critical Review of Educational Leadership Research
Carefully examine the tools, techniques and presentation of syntheses and reviews of the educational literature that informs future research. Students will learn how to systematically map known information and extract the research questions, frameworks and methods used.
Pre-Enrollment Checklist for Education Administration Programs
There are a few things prospective students might want to consider when choosing education administration degree programs. Among them:
Concentrations and specialty tracks Many education administration programs give students the opportunity to focus their studies on a specific area within the field. Students considering this option should make sure their program of choice offers concentrations within their area of interest.
Schedule Earning an education administration degree might mean conforming to a very specific schedule, particularly with doctoral programs. While many schools design these programs with working students in mind, prospective learners should still confirm that classes their scheduling needs before they apply for admission.
Accreditation Accreditation is important for many reasons. Most state licensing boards and exams require that applicants hold degrees from accredited institutions. Accreditation also indicates a program meets established quality standards. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) replaced both the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC), making it the sole provider of accreditation for education preparation programs. Note that schools accredited by the TEAC or the NCATE retain that status under the CAEP. Students can review programs that are accredited regionally or by the Council for Higher Education Administration (CHEA).
Assistantship and internship opportunities Some programs offer assistantship opportunities that help recent graduates gain practical experience in education administration right away; others include internships as part of program requirements. This practical experience can be invaluable for prospective education administrators.
License preparation oLicensing requirements for education administrators vary by state, so it is wise for students to make sure their degree programs will help them meet licensing requirements in the state in which they intend to work. Because states often use similar licensing exams, students who pick programs that prepare them for those exams may have more geographic mobility down the road.
Program prerequisites oStudents should review all education administration program requirements, including prerequisites for specific concentrations, before enrolling. Having the right credentials, work experience and educational background ensures students are in a program that matches their career goals, skills and knowledge.
Career Options in Education Administration
Because education administration students learn not only how to positively impact the education system but also key leadership, communication and management skills, graduates are prepared for a variety of careers in the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that many education administration careers are growing as fast or faster than the average national rate. The following careers are among those available to graduates with education administration degrees.
Elementary, Middle and High School Principals
Elementary, middle and high school principals are in charge of making sure their schools run smoothly. They work with teachers, parents and students to create and carry out plans that improve learning while still meeting district standards. Principals are also liaisons between their schools and parents, legislators, superintendents and the general public.
Job Growth (2014-2024)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
Master’s degree and school administrator license
Instructional coordinators work to improve the effectiveness of school curricula and teaching methods. They may review textbooks; analyze performance data; observe teachers and students in the classroom; create and implement teacher training programs; and suggest curricular changes to school boards.
Job Growth (2014-2024)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
Master’s degree; a teaching or administrator license may be required
Education Administrators – Elementary and Secondary
These administrators work to achieve institutional and student success in public or private schools. They might coordinate with parents to create educational activities or discuss behavioral problems; observe and analyze teaching methods and curricula; ensure curricular standards are met and improved upon; plan professional development activities; or keep track of funds and allocations.
Job Growth (2014-2024)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
Master’s degree; a teaching or administrator license may be required
Postsecondary Education Administrators
Postsecondary education administrators may take on many duties within higher education systems to keep the institutions operating smoothly. They may work to develop admission criteria, maintain student records, organize school functions or conduct research relating to students and faculty.
Job Growth (2014-2024)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)
Master’s degree; teaching or administrator license may be required
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2015)
In-Depth: Employment & Salary by State for Education Administrators
Take a look at this map to see employment statistics for education administrators from preschool through postsecondary by state. By scrolling over individual states, users can review median wages, employment rates and other stats that can help them decide where to study and work. FL TX NM AZ AK CA NV UT CO OR WA ID HI OK MT WY ND SD NE KS MN IA MO AR LA MS AL GA SC IL WI MI IN OH TN KY NC WV VA PA NY ME VT NH RI CT NJ DE MA MD DC
Key Skills & Requirements for Education Administrators
License in Education Administration Most states require practicing teachers and education administrators to be licensed. Graduates can check their state department’s website for specific licensure requirements.
Teaching Experience Both state licensing agencies and degree programs may require that applicants have practical classroom teaching experience. This experience gives professionals skills and perspectives that aid in administrative duties.
Judgement and Assessment Administrators must be able to assess not only the performance of others, but also themselves. They must also consider the costs and benefits of assessment-based decisions.
Communication Strong listening, speaking and writing skills are vital for working effectively with many different people within educational systems. Administrators needs to be able to listen to and understand others’ ideas; convey information accurately and effectively; and engage in meaningful dialogues.
Management Effective education administrators have strong management skills and experience. Planning, leadership, and coordination of resources and efforts play heavily in education administration.
Critical Thinking The ability to apply reason and logic to solve problems and assess outcomes is essential to effective education administration.
Advice from the Expert: Dr. Richard C. Horowitz
Could you please describe the education and career experience that got you to where you are now?
My master’s program in educational administration was the gateway to my transition from classroom teacher to administrator. In particular, the internship portion of the program gave me the opportunity to apply my newly acquired administrative skills under the supervision of program faculty. My doctoral program in educational administration was completed while I was working as a school principal. Upon completion of the program, I was prepared for the next step in my career – Superintendent of Schools. The knowledge I gained from the doctoral program increased my skill set and contributed to my success as superintendent. What can students expect from an education administration degree program, and how can they prepare to succeed in them?
Expect to learn how to integrate a theoretical perspective into the daily demands of administration. Seek a program that does have an internship component so that you will have the opportunity, under supervision, to implement the new learnings derived from their program. Expect to find pursuing an advanced degree while being employed a particular challenge but certainly doable if you are willing to make some sacrifices in personal time.
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