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Should I Pursue a Master's in Educational Administration Online?
An online master's in educational administration positions you for lucrative roles in school and district management. For example, in 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that school principals earned a median salary of $94,390, or roughly $56,000 more than the median pay for all other occupations. School district leaders and administrators at colleges and universities also command salaries significantly higher than the national average.
If you currently work as a teacher, an online program allows you to earn a graduate degree almost entirely on your own schedule. In asynchronous programs, students can watch lectures, complete assignments, and take exams at any time and from the comfort of their own homes. While online study requires strong self-discipline and time management skills, it also offers a highly flexible path to career advancement.
This page offers an overview of online master's degrees in education administration, including information on program curricula, potential salaries, and helpful professional resources.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Educational Administration Graduates
Master's in Educational Administration Salary
According to the BLS, the average postsecondary administrator in the United States earned $107,670 in 2017. The majority of these jobs require at least a master's degree in a field like educational administration. While New Jersey offers college administrators the highest mean wage in the country, California promises the most job opportunities due to its large population and sprawling public university system.
Salaries and job availability can vary depending on a variety of factors. In general, urban centers boast a stronger employment outlook than rural areas. Individuals with more education and experience usually enjoy better prospects and higher salaries as well.
Top Paying States for Education Administrators, Postsecondary
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Master's in Educational Administration Careers
Earning a master's degree in education administration online opens up many different career paths. You may hope to become a principal overseeing the hiring and administration of a school in your community, or you may aspire to serve as a superintendent, leading an entire district and working closely with government officials. Some students earn online master's degrees in education administration to take on positions in higher education.
Whatever path you pursue, jobs in education administration require exceptional interpersonal, decision-making, and leadership skills. Read on for a few common positions in the field.
Postsecondary Education Administrator
Annual Median Salary : $92,360
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
Postsecondary education administrators perform a variety of functions at colleges and universities. In an admissions office, administrative staff review applications and direct admitted students to financial aid resources. In student services, administrators design extracurricular programs and respond to student concerns. An online master's degree in education administration qualifies you for most of these roles.
Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal
Annual Median Salary : $94,390
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
Principals oversee the operation of their school. They create budgets, hire faculty and staff, work with teacher leaders to design and approve curricula, and handle student disciplinary cases. They may also evaluate teacher performance and work with state officials to coordinate assessments. Most schools require principals to hold master's degrees.
Annual Median Salary : $116,252
Projected Growth Rate: N/A
Superintendents lead school districts, overseeing the work of the principals and district administrators that work underneath them. Superintendents collaborate with municipal and state officials to create budgets for the district as a whole. In addition to negotiating with teachers' unions and other organized labor groups, they also serve as a district's primary public representative. These positions require advanced degrees.
Annual Median Salary : $150,184
Projected Growth Rate: N/A
College and university presidents serve as the chief academic and executive officers of their institutions. They appoint and direct the work of various department heads, including directors of finance, admissions, operations, and academic affairs. They also play a key role in raising funds to support student scholarships and faculty endowments. Typically, you must hold a doctoral degree to qualify for these positions.
Annual Median Salary : $73,742
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Curriculum directors create syllabi, lesson plans, and assignments for teachers and other instructional staff. The materials they develop must adhere to school, district, and state standards. Although not necessarily required, earning a master's in education administration online can give you an edge over other candidates for these jobs.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statstics / PayScale
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Educational Administration Program?
The exact nature of online master's programs for education administration vary considerably. For instance, some programs specialize in preparing students for leading private or charter schools, while others feature concentrations in areas such as special education administration, district leadership, or higher education management. Below, you can read about common foundational courses in these programs.
Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Educational Administration
Teaching and Learning for School Leaders
A common component of many online master's degree programs in education administration, this class provides an overview of the latest research in educational assessment, preparing school leaders to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Students also learn management techniques and best practices for recognizing outstanding instruction and improving subpar performance.
Communication and Collaboration for Leaders
School leaders must know how to communicate with a variety of constituencies, including students, teachers, community members, government officials, and labor representatives. In this course, students learn to model open and responsive communication, employ decision-making frameworks that value community input, and use tools that enable easier communication across diverse groups.
Policy and Law in School Organizations
Educational administrators need a deep understanding of the law to guide the work of their organizations properly. For example, in K-12 public schools, principals and superintendents must balance the free speech rights of students with safety concerns. Higher education administrators must protect student privacy in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This class offers an introduction to case law and regulations relevant to the education sector.
This class equips students with the knowledge and skills required to manage financial resources in educational and other public sector organizations. Topics include creating budgets, evidence-based allocation of resources, alternative revenue streams, and federally mandated investments in special education. Students also explore financial analysis tools and study negotiation tactics.
The management of human resources remains integral to the success of schools, colleges, and other educational organizations. In this course, students review policies and practices for recruiting, hiring, and training faculty and administrative staff. Students also learn how to create effective professional development programs, engage in difficult conversations with employees, and motivate staff.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Educational Administration Prepares For
School Leadership License: To serve as a principal in a public school in most states, you must hold a school leadership license. Licensure requirements vary by state, but the majority require each applicant to earn a master's degree and pass an exam and criminal background check. School administrators typically also need to possess several years of classroom teaching experience before taking on a leadership role.
District Leadership License: Some states require a second level of licensure for superintendents. Earning this license requires holding at least a master's degree, though some employers may prefer to hire candidates with a doctorate. Each applicant must also pass an exam and, in some jurisdictions, complete an apprenticeship program with a mentor superintendent.
Professional Organizations and Resources
After earning your degree, joining a professional organization for education administrators may help you to take the next step in your career. Through local events and national conferences, these groups provide the chance to meet new colleagues and discuss problems of practice. Many also offer professional development opportunities, whether simple webinars on a topic like student discipline or more formal certification programs. They may also support aspiring administrators through scholarships, pair recent graduates with experienced mentors, or advertise job openings on online career centers.
National Association of Elementary School Principals : Founded in 1921, NAESP represents the professional interests of elementary and middle school principals in the United States and Canada. In addition to the group's advocacy efforts, NAESP provides a host of resources through its online learning center.
National Association of Secondary School Principals : NASSP serves high school principals and other secondary school administrators. Members can participate in online professional development programs, read policy briefs and news updates, and network through state chapters.
The School Superintendents Association : AASA aims to improve public education by supporting district leaders. The association conducts and disseminates research on topics like teacher salaries, hosts draft district policies, and makes awards to recognize exemplary educators and public servants.
National Education Association : While primarily an association for teachers, the NEA provides a variety of resources for educational administrators as well. For example, the group's legislative action center compiles state and federal education legislation into an easily reviewable newsletter.
American Association of University Administrators : Education administrators working at colleges and universities can join AAUA to access benefits like liability insurance, a scholarly journal on higher education management, and many professional development opportunities.
Office of Federal Student Aid : Along with administering grants, fellowships, work-study positions, and low-interest student loans, the Office of Federal Student Aid also provides guidance on securing private forms of financial support.
Harvard Usable Knowledge : Harvard shares the research of its faculty and doctoral students through the Usable Knowledge web portal. Topics covered include Title IX compliance, whole school improvement, and reacting to traumatic events.
EdWeek : EdWeek remains one of the largest and most respected voices in education journalism. Both students and professionals can stay updated on the latest research and developments in the field.
Chronicle of Higher Education : The Chronicle of Higher Education focuses specifically on issues relating to colleges and universities. Education administrators can also review the Chronicle's career center to learn about new professional opportunities.
Purdue Online Writing Lab : Whether writing a master's thesis or a federal grant proposal, the Purdue OWL can help you write clearly, concisely, and persuasively. The website also features tips on conducting and properly citing research.
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