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Master's Degree in Instructional Leadership with Career Information

Instructional leadership applies theories and principles from business management to educational administration. A master's degree in instructional leadership prepares graduates for careers in public school classrooms and administrative offices.

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Essential Information

Students of instructional leadership lead both students and faculty colleagues in adopting new, tested educational strategies. Students can choose between the broad Master of Arts in Instructional Leadership or the professionally focused Master of Education in Instructional Leadership. These programs are commonly available online, and usually take two to three years of study to complete.


Master of Arts in Instructional Leadership

Programs awarding Master of Arts (M.A.) in Instructional Leadership degrees teach skills in leadership, management, and education that can be used in a variety of career settings. Though instructional leadership degrees are traditionally used in the education field, some M.A. programs in instructional leadership provide instruction in how to apply the discipline to other fields. This inclusion of other fields into the instructional leadership discipline often sets the Master of Arts degree apart from other master's-level instructional leadership programs.

Applicants to Master of Arts programs in instructional leadership are required to have earned a bachelor's degree. Some programs require the undergraduate degree to be in education or management, while others accept students with a bachelor's degree in any discipline from an accredited institution.

Instructional leadership M.A. programs may allow students to take elective courses in education and management, but the main focus of the program curriculum is the theoretical and practical foundation of instructional leadership. Courses draw from a variety of disciplines and focus on preparing students for leadership roles in education, student advising, extracurricular activities, and coaching. Classes typically cover topics like the following:

  • Legal issues with public schools
  • Effective supervision
  • Education finance and grants
  • Leadership in education
  • Organizational improvement for schools

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Master of Education in Instructional Leadership

The Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Instructional Leadership is a professional degree for education. These programs tend to focus solely on topics related to K-12 education. Students in these programs learn how to apply leadership knowledge and skills in practical educational settings, both in the classroom and in interactions with other teachers.

Admissions requirements for instructional leadership M.Ed. programs are often more professionally focused than those for other instructional leadership master's degrees. Many of these programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in education, and some also require applicants to be licensed teachers at the time of admission. In instructional leadership Master of Education programs that take prior coursework into consideration, classes in leadership and education are considered an asset.

Some instructional leadership M.Ed. programs focus on preparing students for certification as administrators, while others are solely concerned with training teachers to serve in non-administrative leadership positions with students and fellow faculty members. The curriculum of a Master of Education program is generally focused on topics like:

  • Education policy studies
  • Early childhood education
  • Contemporary education theory
  • Supervising instruction
  • Politics, law and ethics in education

Career Information

With an M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership, teachers can include functions other than classroom teaching in their careers. Some career tracks that graduates of instructional leadership Master of Education programs may pursue are:

  • Instructional coaching
  • Teacher development
  • Educational mentoring
  • Adult education
  • Curriculum development for teacher instruction
  • School administration

Though most instructional leadership Master of Arts programs are administered through education departments, career options for graduates of these programs are not limited to teaching and school administration. Some programs allow students to focus on instructional leadership in education or in other fields, potentially leading to careers in the following areas:

  • College and university administration
  • Sports management
  • Public school administration
  • Corporate training leadership
  • Recreation management
  • Educational policy administration

Continuing Education Information

Some institutions offering Master of Arts degrees in instructional leadership also offer Specialist in Education (Ed.S.) degrees for instructional leadership M.A. graduates. These Ed.S. programs may also focus on instructional leadership. Graduates of Master of Arts in Instructional Leadership programs can also pursue doctoral degrees in education or instructional leadership.

Master's degree programs in instructional leadership teach graduates how to combine education and leadership in public school classrooms, administrative offices and other education settings. While an M.A. in instructional leadership prepares students for a broad area of employment, an M.Ed. is for students who want to work specifically in the school settings.

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