Online School District Administration Degree Program Overviews

Dec 04, 2019

Find out about online school district administration programs and in which degrees they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and career options to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

Online master's and doctoral degree programs in educational administration are commonly available. Most programs are conducted entirely online, although a few hybrid programs may require internships and meetings that must be held in person.

A master's degree in educational administration is sufficient training for a career as a school district administrator at the elementary and secondary levels, but many school district administrators also hold doctoral degrees. Many states also require education administrators to meet certain licensure requirements.

Master's Degree in School District Administration

Instruction in school district administration is attainable through online master's degree programs in educational administration. Master of Education, Master of Science and Master of Arts in Educational Administration degree programs are all available through entirely online formats. Concentrations such as P-12 administration, higher education administration and student affairs administration are also offered to provide students with a more customized and specialized degree program.

Program Information and Requirements

The master's degree programs in educational administration are primarily intended for currently practicing licensed teachers with bachelor's degrees looking to advance to administrative positions. Students acquire knowledge and skills necessary to motivate other teachers, conduct central office business and operate effectively at the managerial level of the school district. A master's degree program in educational administration ranges from 30-45 credit hours depending on the school and concentration area.

Course Topics

The curriculum consists of core courses, concentration courses and occasionally, a small number of electives. Additional credits come from practicum or internship field experiences, final research projects and creation of a professional portfolio.

Principles and Foundations of Educational Administration

This course summarizes the foundational theories and principles of educational leadership and administration that students will encounter over the course of the entire program. A variety of subjects are covered, including organizational models, team building strategies and human resource development. Future leaders meditate on their own leadership qualities while surveying the styles of other leaders.

Educational Funding and Finance

School funding and financial topics are studied from political and economic perspectives. The processes involving the calculation, appropriation and disbursement of state and federal aid to the school systems are analyzed. Budgetary concerns are also discussed.

Legal Issues in Education

Students examine the legislative concerns facing school systems and all their component parts. Skills are acquired involving the identification, avoidance and resolution of potential legal issues. Other topics covered include the separation of church and state, students' rights and collective bargaining.

Doctoral Degree in School District Administration

Licensed teachers looking to advance their career to a school district administrative position may do so by earning a doctoral degree in educational administration. Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Administration degree programs are available through entirely or mostly online means. An Ed.D. program is generally more focused on professional application than the Ph.D. program. Both of these degree programs provide students with leadership and research techniques involving the management and improvement of educational institutions.

Program Information and Requirements

A doctoral degree program in educational administration requires 48-96 credit hours. Many schools offer these degrees entirely online, though sometimes the Ph.D. requires a small number of credit hours be earned on campus. Additionally, many doctoral degree programs require an in-person internship for field experience. The online components of the degree program are accessible 24 hours a day so that students can earn their degree while maintaining their current schedule and employment status. Some universities put their students into learning teams to help encourage collaboration and facilitate learning.

Course Topics

The doctoral degree programs in educational administration have a curriculum containing core, specialization and elective courses. Senior dissertation research is also usually required of all doctoral students as well as internship, practicum, seminar or final project credits.

Critical Thinking and Decision Making for Educational Leaders

This course focuses on problem solving through the use of data-informed decisions. Students are trained to question their own beliefs and traditional ways of thinking to achieve personal growth. The techniques, styles and tools involving critical thinking in a variety of creative situations are highlighted.

Supervision, Evaluation and Assessment Methods

The strategies for management and appraisal of learning institutions and faculty are analyzed as well as the pros and cons of such strategies. The ways in which appraisal methods are affected by leadership style are also examined. Other subjects discussed include accreditation concerns, outcomes-based evaluation and techniques for improving student learning.

Planning, Leading and Managing Change

Students learn how to implement change as well as how to hinder opposition to change. The politics and economics of change are studied. An emphasis is placed on the application of theories and research to real-world situations.

Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May of 2018, there were 263,120 education administrators at the elementary and secondary levels earning an average yearly salary of $98,750 ( The BLS also predicted an occupational growth of 4% for elementary and secondary school education administrators between the years 2018-2028.

A doctorate degree in educational administration is more commonly held by postsecondary school district administrators than elementary or secondary school district administrators. O*Net reported that 37% of postsecondary education administrators received a doctorate degree compared with only 9% of elementary and secondary education administrators ( According to the BLS, there were 192,600 postsecondary education administrators earning $111,210 per year in May 2018, on average. An occupational growth of 7% was expected for postsecondary education administrators between the years 2018-2028 (

Continuing Education Information

Some states require that their school district administrators complete a certain number of continuing education credits within a specified amount of time to maintain their licensure. Administrators have the option of earning these credits through online sources. Classes covering areas such as block scheduling, data utilization in the classroom and effective teaching in diverse classrooms are available through entirely online means.

For those looking to train online for a career as an administrator in an educational setting, there are several programs in educational administration at the master's and doctoral degree levels. These programs emphasize areas of educational leadership such as foundations of administration, funding and finance, legal issues, supervision and evaluation of staff and planning and leadership.

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