Top 20 Online Master's Degrees in Education Administration for 2019

Teachers play an important role in shaping the development of students, but they cannot do it alone. Education administrators work behind the scenes to ensure schools operate smoothly, which in turn creates a stable and healthy environment for learning. An online master's degree in education administration prepares budding professionals to oversee teachers and staff, manage budgets, and run schools efficiently to ensure the leaders of tomorrow possess the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

Educational administrators are the CEOs and top managers in the educational system. Achieving these desirable positions is challenging, but by obtaining a master's degree in education administration, current teachers interested in advancing their careers can become principals, superintendents, or even university presidents. These new positions may be more demanding and fast-paced, but the rewards and recognition are well worth the effort.

What Are The Best Online Education Administration Programs?


Drexel University Philadelphia, PA

Using state and national leadership standards, Drexel University’s accredited online master’s degree in educational administration is designed to prepare and mentor future elementary and secondary educational leaders. The MS in educational administration is divided into four different concentrations: PA administrative certificate, principal K-12, supervisor of special education certification & principal (K-12) certification, supervisor of special education certification (without principal certification), and the non-certification track. This program is divided into four 10-week quarters per year. One semester-credit is equivalent to 1.5 quarter-credits. Students can expect to take up to 45 credit hours to complete the program. The program culminates in an action research project.


Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL

Even though Nova Southeastern is no longer accepting students into the educational administration and leadership program, the materials and courses can be taken in a more specialized program such as leadership, management & administration of educational programs, or curriculum, instruction, and technology. The management and administration of educational programs specialization focuses on preparing educators with skills in leadership, management and supervision, and budgeting, as related to curriculum and instruction. Coursework in the management and administration of educational programs master’s degree program is available online and at NSU’s regional campuses. The administrative internship is the culminating experience in this program. The purpose of the internship is to provide an opportunity to perform the duties of an administrator in an actual work setting. Under the guidance of an experienced cooperating administrator and a faculty supervisor, the intern will observe, interview, and work with the assigned administrator for a minimum of 150 contact hours.


Concordia University-Portland Portland, OR

Concordia University offers a master’s in education in administration, which will provide a Preliminary Administration License. The master's program at Concordia is presented on-campus, online, or as a hybrid. The program should be completed in just over a year, with the hybrid program modified to be completed in more than two years. Courses are updated every 12-18 months to ensure a timely, relevant curriculum.


Liberty University Lynchburg, VA

Liberty University's online Master of Education - Administration and Supervision prepares students for effective leadership in Christian, public, and private schools. The program is available online with required intensives and requires a minimum of 36 hours to complete. Intensives must be completed on campus. There is a three-hour internship that is also required to complete the master’s program. This highly rated Christian school may require specific religious courses to graduate.


Concordia University-Nebraska Lincoln, NE

Concordia University’s M.Ed. in educational administration program qualifies you for one level of administrative certification after completing the 36-hour program. Each course is eight weeks long and there are 13 courses to complete. Those seeking a principal certification at a level different from their teaching certification or dual administrative certifications must complete an additional nine hours, totaling 45 program hours.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers up both a master’s degree and a Doctor of Education, either online or off-campus. The master’s degree will require 36 hours to complete, with the possibility of an additional 32 hours to receive a certificate of advanced study. EAL graduates embrace a broad array of leadership positions, including teacher leaders, division and content area chairs, deans, principals, central office administrators, superintendents, and educational policymakers. Programs also prepare individuals for higher education faculty positions in PK-12 educational leadership and policy. Online courses can be taken synchronously, in tandem with asynchronous forum posting. Courses will take six to eight weeks to complete online, whereas off-campus programs will take 12 to 16 weeks.


LeTourneau University Longview, TX

LeTourneau’s online Master of Education in education administration degree is designed for busy educators who want to enhance their leadership and management skills without having to give up their current jobs. Students complete one online course at a time, with each course lasting three to seven weeks. This degree is only offered as an accelerated program in an online format. Students must have completed a minimum of two years of teaching experience in a TEA-approved Pre-K-thru-12 school prior to the time of application for the Master of Education - Education Administration.


Concordia University-Wisconsin Mequon, WI

This online graduate-level administrative degree is for teachers and current administrators who want to develop their organizational and leadership abilities. The administrative concentration of the Master of Science in Education provides the opportunity to receive a Wisconsin State Administrative License through the Department of Public Instruction. The program requires 33 to 39 credit hours to complete. The program can lead to a career as a principal, director of instruction, director of community education, business manager, school superintendent, or curriculum coordinator.


Concordia University-Chicago Chicago, IL

The Master of Arts in Educational Administration is for students who seek an online master’s degree program in the administration of educational programs. It is designed to prepare potential leaders to assume various administrative positions. The program is available both online and on campus. It encompasses 30 credit hours and can be completed in 12 to 24 months. A master’s capstone is required for all Master of Arts candidates. This culminating project highlights the candidate’s mastery of content throughout his or her studies. Capstones are traditionally a summary of work demonstrating overall growth and a specific understanding of professional industry standards.


University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, NE

The University of Nebraska at Kearney offers more than 10 different graduate programs related to educational administration. With programs ranging from art education to special education, there are options for any professional working towards a graduate degree in the field. Most of the programs will require 36 credit hours to complete. For those interested in curriculum and instruction for K through 12, the applicant can choose from seven different concentrations including early childhood education, elementary education, english as a second language, instructional effectiveness, reading/special education, and secondary education. A new concentration area in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) will be available starting in fall 2017.


Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI

The higher education administration program offers up a master’s and doctoral program that will prepare students to work effectively in administrative and executive positions of student services such as enrollment, admissions, financial services, athletics and residence halls. The master's program will take two to three years to complete, while the doctoral program will take four to five. Requirements for the master’s degree state that the applicant must have completed a four-year degree with a minimum 2.60 GPA. However, since the student is considered holistically for acceptance, students who do not meet the GPA requirements may also apply. For those seeking a higher education at a private, religious school, Andrews is the best-known Adventist educational institution in the world.


California University of Pennsylvania California, PA

The administrative program for principals at Cal U provides you with a unique and challenging opportunity to obtain a master's degree in education and/or certification as a K-12 school principal. This ADP program is designed not only for degree and certification candidates, but also for both teachers and administrators who, as seasoned educators, wish to continue to enhance their teaching and leadership skills. Students have the option of completing the 30-credit ADP Master of Education degree that includes all requirements for certification as a K-12 principal. If you already hold a master's degree, you may complete certification requirements through our 24-credit K-12 principal certificate program without completing the entire master's program.


Texas A&M University-Commerce Commerce, TX

The educational administration master’s degree and principal certification program at Texas A&M is a fully online program. Admission to the master’s degree with principal certification is a two-part process. Students must be admitted to both the TAMUC Graduate School and the educational administration master’s degree and principal certification program, regardless of whether a candidate is pursuing the 30-hour master’s degree in educational administration with principal certification or the 21-hour principal certification, only.


Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA

The Master of Education in Higher Education Administration at Georgia Southern prepares the student for a career or growth in post secondary education. The program is available either online or on campus, and either full or part time. The higher education administration program emphasizes course work in human development, research/evaluation, law/policy, finance/governance, and educational foundations/policy, as each relates to the nature and function of postsecondary institutional types. This M.Ed. will prepare students for a career at vocational/technical institutes, two-year and four-year colleges, comprehensive universities, and proprietary organizations.


Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA

The Master of Arts (MA) in Education with an emphasis in higher education is designed for students seeking careers in student affairs and higher education administration. The curriculum helps candidates develop the leadership vision, higher education knowledge, and management skills needed to assume leadership positions across a broad spectrum of higher education fields including (but not exclusive to) recruiting, admissions, orientation, financial aid, counseling, Greek affairs, student activities, academic support services, student athlete support services, and career planning and placement. All master's candidates in the HEA concentration are required to complete a standard comprehensive final exam. The program requires 36 hours and can be completed in as little as 15 months. It consists of 12 courses, each of which is seven weeks long.


Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX

Conducted 100% online, the Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration prepares students for mid-level administrative and leadership positions at higher education institutions and for further doctoral studies. This degree may be completed with or without a thesis. Students seeking the MA in higher education administration may also opt to pursue the Academic Advising Certificate or the Certificate in Higher Education Assessment and Institutional Research. Admission requirements are as follows:

The degree requires 30 hours of graduate coursework. A comprehensive examination is required during the final semester of coursework.


Emporia State University Emporia, KS

Graduate programs in the department of School Leadership/Middle & Secondary Teacher Education at Emporia State are designed to prepare personnel to assume leadership roles as lead teachers, building-leadership team members, coordinators, supervisors, principals, superintendents, and other central office personnel. The master of science degree in curriculum and instruction offer four concentrations to prepare teachers to become staff development coordinators, curriculum specialists, and practitioners. Specific concentrations are curriculum leadership, effective practitioner, national board certification, and instructional coach/teacher leader. The master of education in teaching degree provides two options: a master’s program for those who are already licensed teachers or are in another teaching profession outside of public education and a master’s program for those pursing Restricted Licensure in Kansas. Each program has specifics that must be met for admission, and graduation information can be found on Emporia’s website or in its catalog.


Northern State University Aberdeen, SD

The school’s leadership and administration program prepares school service personnel for leadership roles in PK-12 school administration. Specialized courses foster development of the analytic and scientific inquiry skills needed by school administrators which includes management, public relations, curriculum development, and supervision. Courses provide the background for certification in a wide range of administrative positions. Completion requires 45 credit hours to graduate, 30 of which is course work, including research-intensive options and an internship. Admission to the leadership and administration program requires one year of full-time PK-12 teaching experience in an accredited school. Three years of verified teaching experience is required for licensure in South Dakota.


Point Park University Pittsburgh, PA

The mission of Point Park University’s master of arts in educational administration program is to prepare professional educators for leadership positions as school administrators or principals. There are three options for attendance: the hybrid format is both online and in person, the online format is strictly online learning, and the on-campus format meets only in the classroom. Upon completion of this program, students will have earned an MA in educational administration and be eligible for certification as a K-12 school principal in the state of Pennsylvania.


University of Central Arkansas Conway, AR

Offered through the Department of Leadership Studies, graduate programs in school leadership are designed for individuals seeking Arkansas licensure as building administrators, curriculum administrators, or program administrators for adult education, special education, or gifted talented education. Candidates may choose one of the two tracks for their master’s degree work: building administrator or curriculum/program administrator. Both tracks require completion of a minimum of 34 hours of approved coursework, an internship, a portfolio defense, and a satisfactory score on the Arkansas Department of Education mandated examination. In addition to meeting the general requirements of the Graduate School, the prospective candidate must:

  • Complete the application forms/processes for admittance to the SLMA program.
  • Have an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.7 GPA.
  • Provide Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores to the Graduate School or Praxis I or verification of a valid standard educator license to the department.
  • Provide at least three professional references that may be contacted regarding potential for success in the program.
  • Provide official transcripts from all previously attended institutions

What Will I Learn in an Online Education Administration Master's Program?

The curriculum requirements for an online master's in education administration vary from one school to the next. However, students can expect coursework that shares some common themes. Below are five sample courses that online master's programs in education administration usually offer.

  • Developing and empowering instructional leaders: In this course, students develop skills for workplace leadership, professional mentorship, data assessment, and instructional evaluation. Students identify instructional leaders, promote their professional development, and deliver constructive performance feedback. This course is preparation for graduates to work as school principals.
  • Educational research: This course introduces students to research basics. Students explore research planning skills and examine the application of quantitative and qualitative research methods to education contexts. They also practice interpreting and evaluating the research of others. This course is particularly relevant for students who wish to become education researchers.
  • Education finance: This course explores issues related to education budgets and school functioning. They study local, state, and federal financial regulations that affect school operations. Students examine accounting principles, fiscal resource allocation, and administrative processes, and graduates are equipped with budgeting skills that school principals and postsecondary administrators require.
  • Education law: Students examine case studies and discuss legal topics -- including freedom of speech, school safety, religion in schools, and discrimination -- to gain an overview of the laws and policies that affect American schools. This course prepares aspiring school principals to improve general student outcomes.
  • Using data to improve student achievement: Students develop instruction methods and methods for boosting student achievement through data use. In this course, participants discuss data collection, analysis, and application within educational contexts. They also examine the relevance of data to decision making at the legislative, administrative, and classroom levels. Aspiring instructional coordinators will find this curriculum especially valuable.

Job Outlook and Salaries for Education Administrators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2016 median pay for postsecondary education administrators was $90,760. The field is projected to grow 10% between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the average rate for all other occupations. This growth can be partially attributed to higher student enrollment at colleges and universities. A master's degree is the typical entry-level requirement to become an educational administrator, and experience in the field is a plus when looking for jobs. Prospective candidates who work at four-year colleges and universities can earn nearly $10,000 more than their counterparts at junior colleges.

Median Salary for Education Administrator, Elementary and Secondary School Salary by Experience
Entry-Level (0-5 Years) Mid-Career (5-10 Years) Experienced (10-20 Years) Late Career (20+ Years)
$51,000 $61,000 $73,000 $80,000

Source: PayScale

Job Duties and Options for Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators oversee student services, academics, and faculty research at colleges and universities. Their job duties vary depending on the area of the college they manage, such as admissions, the registrar, or student affairs. Most administrators work full time, with work slowing down during the summer. Job duties may change depending on where they work, but some similarities should apply for education administrators across the board.

For an admissions position, administrators may determine the admission rate for schools, meet with prospective students, review applications, analyze admission and student data, and promote the school or university. Often times, these professionals work with a school's financial department.

For a position in the registrar's office, administrators can expect to register students, schedule space and time for classes, verify graduation requirements, plan ceremonies, and maintain student records.

Student affairs administrators advise students on different aspects of student life, communicate with parents or guardians, support students in non-academic affairs, and schedule programs. Each of these three areas has the potential for even more specialization, depending on the needs of the educational institution.

Postsecondary education administrators can also be provosts or academic deans. Provosts -- also called chief academic officers -- help college presidents develop academic policies, participate in making faculty appointments and tenure decisions, and manage budgets. Academic deans direct and coordinate the activities of an individual college or school. For example, in a large university, a dean may oversee the law school.

Professional Organizations for Education Administrators

Students pursuing an online master's in education administration may benefit from joining a professional organization dedicated to their field.

Professional organizations for education administrators provide resources for school principals, superintendents, instructional coordinators, and school business professionals. Members of these organizations can take advantage of research publications, networking events, professional development opportunities, and political advocacy resources. They may also have access to employment assistance, legal services, and product discounts.

Students pursuing a master's in education administration online degree can join one of the organizations listed below.

  • School Superintendents Association: AASA is a collective of school leaders who advocate for public education. Membership benefits include access to relevant publications, national conferences, and professional development opportunities. Members may also receive professional liability insurance, money management resources, and legal assistance.
  • National Education Association: NEA advocates for education reform and promotes social justice and equal opportunities for students. Members participate in conferences, service events, and advocacy initiatives. They also have access to financial resources, legal services, continuing education, and association publications.
  • Association of School Business Officials International: ASBO International promotes the strategic use of educational resources. Members include school business professionals who attend conferences and continuing education events. Additional membership benefits include access to employment assistance, advocacy opportunities, online forums, and product discounts.

To determine the best master's degrees in education administration, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the 20 best master's degrees in education administration. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.