Many schools offer online M.A. programs in education administration, supervision or leadership. All courses and exams can be completed online, but students typically need to fulfill an internship requirement at a local school. Students can learn about educational research methods, teacher evaluations, higher education philosophies and legal issues at schools. These programs usually meet eligibility requirements for school principal licensure, although some programs are geared toward higher education administration.
To enroll in an online Master of Arts in Education program, schools usually expect applicants to have current or previous experience working in an instructional role in education. The coursework in these graduate programs covers areas such as educational leadership, human resources, legal issues, supervision and education policy.
All coursework may be completed online. Assignments, tests and academic materials are available within the school's virtual classroom or online course management system. These systems also allow classmates to interact with each other and their professors. Some courses may require live participation at a scheduled time. In addition, students in the master's degree program in education administration and supervision must complete an internship in a school setting.
Program lengths vary based on the number of courses students take each term. Students may be able to finish in two years. Some schools offer accelerated tracks that allow students to complete the program in less than two years.
Technical requirements for the online program may include office applications software, a microphone and CD/ROM drive, and Internet access. Additional software programs may be needed for certain classes.
Coursework in these graduate programs combines the field of education with managerial or administrative concepts.
Curriculum and Instruction
Assists in developing an understanding of the administrator's role in overseeing academic curriculum development and instruction. Students learn about government education standards and methods for assessing academic achievement.
School Law and Policy
The school law and policy course covers the legalities involved in the American education system, along with how state and federal laws affect education administration.
This course goes into human resource development and management within school settings. Focus areas include employment law, in addition to all aspects of school staffing, including recruitment, hiring, compensation and assessment.
Graduates of this master's degree program are prepared for positions as school principals or other education administrators. Opportunities are available in K-12 school systems, as well as in postsecondary institutions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job opportunities will be more plentiful in school systems located in the Southern and Western regions of the country due to higher student enrollment increases (www.bls.gov). Positions in colleges or universities are also expected to rise because of the increase in adult student enrollment.
BLS data released in May 2015 shows that education administrators working in elementary or high schools earned a median annual salary of $90,410. Those with administrative positions in colleges and universities earned a median yearly wage of $88,580, according to data from that same year.
Licensure and Certification
Although postsecondary administrators do not need to be licensed or certified, most states require that principals working in K-12 public school systems obtain licensure or certification. Requirements for obtaining school principal licensure vary, but typical state regulations include having prior teaching experience, possessing a master's degree in education administration and passing an examination. Continuing education courses may be required to maintain the credential as well. State education boards provide the rules and applications for licensure or certification on their websites.
Experienced educators who want to redirect their careers toward educational administration can get the training they need through an online MA program, which typically consists of virtual classwork followed by a local internship experience. Depending on the state, they may need to become licensed before they can work as school principals.