Why This Matters

  • EARN $34,990 MORE ANNUALLY AS A PRINCIPAL

    The annual median salary for school principals was $95,310 in 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Comparatively, teachers earn $57,980-$60,320 annually, depending on the grade level they teach.

  • MASTER’S NEEDED IN 37 STATES FOR LICENSURE

    Each state sets its own standards for certifying school administrators. Currently, 37 states in the U.S. require candidates to have a master’s degree in education administration to qualify for licensure.

  • DEMAND FOR RELATED JOBS INCREASING BY 11%

    Individuals with a master’s in education administration can also qualify for instructional coordinator positions, an area of education that is expected to grow at a faster than average pace by 2026.

Our Research

Different types of degree programs in education administration exist, including Master of Arts, Master of Science, and Master of Education. While the different types of degree programs have slightly different requirements and areas of emphasis, they all cover the skills and knowledge you need to be an effective school administrator. Our list includes all three types of degrees.

All of the programs on our list are regionally accredited. Most have National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation, which means they meet the highest quality standards for educator training. Accredited programs are recognized and highly valued by employers and certification boards.

Once we created our list of programs, we evaluated their flexibility, cost, reputation, and course offerings. Using this information, we calculated the Intelligent Score of each program on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best master’s degree in education administration are respected, affordable, and customizable.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 52 hours to write this article
  • 101 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 249 education programs we compared

The Top 53 Master’s in Education Administration

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What You Should Know About This Degree

As anyone who currently works in education knows, being a principal or administrator can be an extremely demanding job. School leaders must be capable of making decisions, resolving conflicts, and dealing with students, teachers, and parents, often with limited resources.

Because of the complex nature of this job, the process of becoming a school principal is carefully regulated by states, which each develop their own standards for granting certification or licensure as a school administrator. These standards include educational requirements. When researching programs, it’s important to check with your state’s education board to confirm that the program you attend is compliant with their regulations for certification or licensure.

As part of these standards, most states require a practical learning component in your degree program, even if all coursework is offered online. Depending on the program, you may be able to complete this requirement where you currently teach, or you may need to work in a different institution. Either way, you should confirm the exact requirements with your program of interest, and make sure they will fit into your schedule.

Although all schools need principals and vice-principals, the projected job growth rate for these positions is 8%, about as fast as the average for all jobs in the U.S., meaning there will be stiff competition for these positions.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Masters Education Administration programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Most master’s in education administration programs want students who have a teaching license and prior teaching experience, although the exact number of years may vary. Find out what their specific requirements are to ensure that you fulfill them.
  • Is this school authorized to provide online education in my state? Regulations for providing online education vary state by state, and not all schools are authorized to provide online education to students in all states. Check with your program of interest to verify they can grant you a degree based on the state you live in, and that your state will recognize your degree.

In addition to researching programs’ curricula and requirements, it’s important to research their application deadlines and admissions requirements. You can typically find this information online or by contacting the program directly.

You should also explore your options for financing your master’s degree, including scholarships, financial aid, and tuition benefits from your current employer.