Most states require licensing for public school principals, and this calls for a master's degree in education leadership or a related field. Some states call for completing a mentorship program and passing a test. Master's degree programs in education administration offer training in becoming a school or system administrator, including a principal. Most programs require students be licensed teachers. These programs require two years of study.
Doctoral programs focus on developing ways leadership can improve education and are open to students with master's degrees. These programs generally take 5-6 years to complete and prepare students for top-level positions, including school superintendent.
Admission to a master's degree program requires a bachelor's degree with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better. Education administration programs also require applicants to have a teaching license. Enrollment in a doctoral program requires a master's degree. Applicants need to have maintained a 3.0 GPA in their bachelor's degree studies and a 3.5 GPA in their master's degree studies.
Master's Degree in Education Administration
A master's degree program in education administration trains teachers or other education professionals for junior executive and executive-level front office positions managing schools and school systems. Program content consists of a mix of classroom study, seminars and in some instances administrative internships. Students develop skills in supervision, communication, negotiation and decision-making. Some programs offer administration as a concentration within a master's degree in education. Courses may be available online. Degrees are offered as Master of Education (M.Ed.) or Master of Education Administration (MEA).
Some education administration programs include a thesis as part of required coursework; others require a final project instead. Courses directly related to education administration cover the following:
- Instructional leadership
- School and school system organization
- Supervision principles
- Planning and school improvement
- Cultural diversity in education
Doctoral Degree in Education Administration
These programs aim to improve leadership capacity of education professionals in all aspects through an emphasis on research, analysis, and the translation of education theory into practice. Program content covers financial management, government relations, human resource management and measurement of educational outcomes. Students engage in a mix of classroom study, seminars, internships and dissertation research. These programs result in a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), but may result in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).
Courses and seminars are concentrated during the first 2-3 years. Classes directly address administrative concepts including:
- Applied statistics and data analysis
- Organizational leadership principles
- Education and public policy
- Educational program administration
- Education finance
Popular Career Options
Positions at the top of school administrative hierarchy are open to those with a doctoral degree. Career possibilities include:
- Assistant principal
- School superintendent
- Special education director
- College or university president
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates are prepared to seek administrative leadership positions in public and private school systems at the elementary, secondary and postsecondary level. For the years 2019-2029, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected 4% percent employment growth for elementary, middle and secondary school principals and also a 4% growth for postsecondary education administrators. The BLS reports the median annual salary for elementary and secondary school administrators to be $98,490, while postsecondary education administrators brought in $97,500 per year as of May 2020 (www.bls.gov).
Pursuing an advanced degree in educational administration, either at the master's or doctoral level, will give individuals the necessary credentialing and skill set to excel in a variety of administrative roles in education.