Why This Matters


    With a median hourly wage of $45.87 per hour, postsecondary education administrators make $55,600 more than the median annual wage of all other U.S. occupations.


    The need for skilled administrators in student services, academics, and faculty research is expected to increase at the same rate as all other occupations.


    It’s estimated there will be 197,600 postsecondary education administrators nationwide by the end of the next decade. Registrars, provosts, and academic deans will assist with the increased enrollment of students in colleges and universities.

Our Research

This list covers master’s programs that prepare graduates to manage staff and teach students through instructional, classroom, and strategic leadership. Degrees offered include Master of Education in Educational Leadership, Master of Science in Education Administration and Supervision, Master of Education in Instructional Leadership, Master of Education In Classroom Leadership, and Master in Educational Leadership in Higher Education. Students can choose between online, on-campus, and hybrid learning formats.

National and regional accreditation is given to higher education institutions that uphold a high academic standard. The programs on this list are accredited by national accreditors such as the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). Schools are also accredited regionally by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best Master’s in Educational Leadership Degree program are affordable, respected, and flexible. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 59 hours to write this article
  • 160 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 242 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Master’s in Educational Leadership Degree Programs

Best Master's in Educational Leadership Degree Programs


What You Should Know About This Degree

When choosing a graduate program in education, you should also consider pursuing a Master of Educational Administration degree. Educational administration programs provide students with the management skills needed to lead a specific school or school district. Students learn how to correctly hire and evaluate new staff, improve instruction, and handle school finances. Educational leadership programs teach students how to measure their school environment’s success and offer strategies to help improve performance. While the study of educational leadership focuses on the bigger picture, educational administration programs are concerned with the day-to-day operations of academic environments. Consider what type of senior-level positions you’d like to be eligible for when choosing a degree program. Graduates will need to obtain additional licensure in most states to be eligible for leadership roles as principals and education administration professionals.

Certifications are an important component of the field of education and can help graduates gain new skills and demonstrate expertise to potential employers. Organizations such as the American College of Education offer certificate programs in educational leadership. Prospective principals should also consider obtaining the Advanced Certification for Principals given by The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

What’s Next?

Ask yourself these questions when researching Master’s in Educational Leadership degree programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? You must hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a relevant field to pursue a graduate degree in educational leadership. Some programs require professional work experience in addition to a minimum GPA and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Most Master’s in Educational Leadership degree programs require two years of full-time study to graduate. The schools on this list require a minimum of 30 credits and a maximum of 39 credits to graduate.

Application deadlines and entry requirements are different for each program. Detailed information about the program to which you are applying can be found by contacting the school’s admissions department or visiting its website.

Consider how you will pay for your higher education. You may be eligible for scholarships, grants, and federal student aid. Some employers may cover the costs of your graduate studies. Make sure to research funding opportunities, and turn in all financial aid applications on time.