Why This Matters


    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average salary expectations for high school principals is around $98,000. Salaries are likely to be higher for those in postsecondary positions.


    Job growth for principals is expected to be around average through 2029, with 11,100 new positions available for those going into the field.


    Texas, California, and New York are the three states that employ the most principals, followed by Illinois and Ohio.

Our Research

An online master’s in educational leadership definitely comes with a cost, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. When we were putting our list together, we included schools that offered the lowest cost per credit, with the average cost running from $300 to $500 per credit.

Accreditation is a must for any postsecondary institution, especially when you’re planning on going into educational leadership. The colleges on our list are accredited by organizations such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

  • 56 hours to write this article
  • 150 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 243 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Affordable Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Programs

Most Affordable Online Master's in Educational Leadership Program Badge
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What You Should Know About This Degree

When you’re looking at online master’s in educational leadership programs, there’s a lot to consider financially. The bulk of the expense will be tied up in tuition, which can be estimated fairly accurately by multiplying the cost per credit hour by the number of credits required to complete the program. However, you may also have to pay administrative fees, and there will be the cost of textbooks and supplies not provided by the college.

For those carrying loans from their bachelor’s program, there’s even more to consider. If you’re actively paying off loans that can’t go into deferment when you enter into a master’s program, you’ll need to make sure that you can make those payments as well as tuition payments for your current program. Some loans may be able to be deferred, which means you won’t have to make payments until you’re done with your master’s program. But those loans may accrue interest in the meantime, which can drastically increase the balance of the loans. For more information on the financial aid available to master’s degree students, contact the school’s financial aid office.

Master’s degree students are also often going to school while working full-time jobs, which is part of the appeal of the online degree program. It offers more flexibility in many cases, but it also comes with an increased demand for time-management skills and self-discipline. You’ll need to be able to block off time to study and complete assignments even after a hard day to avoid falling behind.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online master’s in educational leadership programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? To be considered for a master’s in educational leadership, you will need a relevant bachelor’s degree. If you don’t have a bachelor’s in education, you may be required to complete a certain number of credits in the field before you can apply. It’s also common for programs to require at least a 2.7 or 3.0 undergraduate GPA.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Whether classes allow you to work at your own pace or require you to attend specific virtual class times depends on the specific program. If you know that you need a certain format, research the prospective school to make sure that it offers what you need. These programs may also require a capstone project that could involve in-person hours.
  • How long does it take to complete an online master’s in educational leadership program? Most students can complete an online master’s in educational leadership in two to three years. If you have to go part-time due to work or family obligations, it will take longer. If you need to be licensed in your state or pursue any additional certifications, this can also add to the time investment before you’re able to begin your career.
  • What tests are required for an online master’s in educational leadership program? You may be required to take the GRE before applying to a master’s program. You may also need to show a level of computer proficiency to be eligible for an online-only program.