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Top Instructional Leadership Program in Chicago

Several schools in the Chicago area have top ranking instructional leadership programs. Read on to find out more about what these top schools have to offer for instructional leadership, as well as tuition and degree information.

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School and Ranking Information

Chicago has more than a dozen options for those who want to earn degrees in instructional leadership, but the top schools include the University of Illinois - Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, and DePaul University. The graduate education programs at all three schools were ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) in 2014. All three schools profiled below have state-approved principal and superintendent programs that can prepare students for licensure.

  • Winner: The University of Illinois' program ranked in the top 50 in the country in 2014. This public school also has the lowest tuition of the three covered in this article.
  • Runner-Up #1: Loyola University's program ranked in the top 100 in 2014. A private school, Loyola has the highest graduation rate among these three institutions.
  • Runner-Up #2: DePaul's program was in the top 150 in 2014. DePaul is also a private school and has a graduation rate just behind Loyola's.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of Illinois - Chicago Loyola University Chicago DePaul University
Rankings (2014) Graduate education program ranked 32nd best in the country*
Ranked 63rd among public national universities*
Ranked 128th best national university*
Graduate education program ranked #91 nationally*
Named 44th best value national university*
Ranked #101 among national universities*
Graduate education program ranked #141 nationally*
Named 121st best national university*
Location Chicago, IL Chicago, IL Chicago, IL
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $13,122 (undergraduate, in-state),
$25,512 (undergraduate, out-of-state);
$15,467 (graduate, in-state),
$25,763 (graduate, out-of-state)**
$34,578 (undergraduate),
$17,010 (graduate)**
$32,295 (undergraduate),
$5,878 (graduate)**
Instructional Leadership Degrees Offered Master's and doctoral degrees Master's and doctoral degrees Master's and doctoral degrees
Instructional Leadership Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 173** 84** 23**
Most Popular Instructional Leadership Program (2011-2012) Master's Degree in Educational, Instructional, and Curriculum Supervision (173 awarded)** Master's Degree in Higher Education Administration (42 awarded)** Master's Degree in General Education Leadership and Administration (18 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2006 Entering Class 58%** 70%** 68%**

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report rankings, **NCES College Navigator.

Winner: University of Illinois - Chicago

  • Voted 104th best national university by high school counselors in 2014, according to USNWR
  • Member of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

The University of Illinois - Chicago offers master's and doctoral degrees in instructional and educational leadership. There are several concentration options within the master's program in instructional leadership, including early childhood special education, policy studies, literacy, educational studies, science education, and elementary education. The early childhood education, literacy, science, and elementary education concentrations all prepare students to earn state teaching certificates or endorsements in the relevant subjects.

The Doctor of Education in Urban Education Leadership program is designed for those who want to become principals in urban areas. The program prepares students to obtain a state principal endorsement, and it has been recognized by the Illinois education department as a 'model' program. Students are required to complete a yearlong mentored internship in local schools. The doctoral degree in policy studies in urban education includes a concentration in educational organization and leadership that allows students to design a program that relates to their interests.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Adult Education Administration
  • Community College Education
  • Educational and Curriculum Supervision
  • Educational Leadership
  • Higher Education Administration
  • K thru 8 Administration and Principalship
  • Secondary School Administration
  • Special Education Administration
  • Superintendency Education
  • Urban Education Leadership

Runner-Up #1: Loyola University Chicago

  • 95% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid in 2011-2012, according to NCES
  • Almost 90% of freshmen returned to the university for a second year in 2012, according to NCES
  • Accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • Member of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

Loyola University Chicago is a Catholic school with master's and doctoral degrees in instructional leadership. The master's options include cultural and educational policy studies, curriculum and instruction, instructional leadership, and international higher education. The Master of Education in Instructional Leadership program leads to a state principal endorsement and prepares students to become principals in Catholic schools. Candidates in the program are paired with mentors who have worked as leaders in Catholic schools.

The school offers doctoral degrees in curriculum and instruction, cultural and education policy studies, and two administration and supervision programs. One of the doctoral programs in administration and supervision leads to a state superintendent endorsement and prepares students to work as district leaders. The other Doctor of Education in Administration and Supervision program is for those who already hold a state administration endorsement and wish to become principals or superintendents. Students in these programs work with mentors for all four years.

Runner-Up #2: DePaul University

  • Voted 104th best national university by high school counselors in 2013, according to USNWR
  • 96% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid in 2011-2012, according to NCES
  • 85% of freshmen returned to the university for a second year in 2012, according to NCES

DePaul University is a Catholic school with master's degrees and Doctor of Education degrees in educational leadership. The master's-level options are 2-year programs with four concentration options. Candidates can choose to study higher education, physical education, principal preparation, or Catholic principal preparation. The higher education program is an online program that prepares students for leadership positions in universities, and the physical education program prepares students to become leaders of athletic departments. Both principal programs prepare students to obtain state endorsements and require the completion of two internships.

The Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program prepares students to become faculty members in higher education institutions, leaders in education agencies, and policy leaders. The program prepares those who already hold a principal endorsement to obtain a superintendent endorsement. Students in the program who need to obtain a principal endorsement can take additional courses to fulfill the state requirements.

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