Education Administration Degrees

Interested in becoming an educational administrator? This all-encompassing guide will show you what degree you'll need to become a school principal, vice principal, superintendent, or headmaster.

What is Educational Administration?

Encompassing the managerial aspects of the education field, careers in educational administration combine expertise in school politics and budgetary issues with the ability to lead a team. Careers in this field include:

  • School Principal (K-12)
  • Superintendent
  • Vice Principal
  • Headmaster

Educational administrators usually get their start in the field as teachers, then move on to pursue a degree in education administration. These programs teach managerial and leadership skills and fulfill the educational requirements needed to become a school principal or superintendent, two of the leading careers in educational administration. These programs are also suitable for those seeking leadership roles at postsecondary institutions.

Training in education administration is offered through both master's and doctoral programs, with the master's level being the most common option. Courses in educational administration programs cover theoretical concepts of education and learning, and include practical training in leadership, school finance, assessment methods, and curriculum development.

How to Become a School Principal

If you're considering a career as a school principal, you'll need to follow several steps on your path toward one of these leadership positions. The steps to become a principal include:

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree and complete a teacher preparation program
  2. Pass a licensure exam in the state where you want to teach
  3. Find a teaching role and gain several years of experience teaching and assessing students
  4. Complete a master's degree program in educational administration
  5. Acquire a license in school administration in the state where you plan to work

Along with the school principal educational and training requirements, you'll need strong communication skills to interact with students, teachers, parents, and school board members. You also must be able to make decisions effectively, lead your teams successfully, and solve problems efficiently.

Early Childhood Education Administration Degree

Early childhood education administration consists of leaders who run preschools, daycares, and other educational programs for children through age 8. Administrators at these levels don't always need a master's degree, so the programs available for this level of education administration are varied. The following educational options are available:

  • Undergraduate certificates in early childhood education administration
  • Bachelor's degrees in early childhood education administration
  • Graduate certificates in early childhood education administration
  • Master's degrees in educational administration for grades Pre-K through 12
  • Master's degrees in education administration with an early childhood director concentration

These programs all offer training on developmental issues and concerns for children from birth to age 8. Courses in one of these programs can include play-based learning, student diversity, age-appropriate curriculum development, leadership methods, and nutrition.

Master's Degree in Education Administration

Education administration programs require 30-40 credits for completion and can award a Master of Education, Master of Arts, or Master of Science. Geared toward those who want to become principals or superintendents in elementary, middle, or secondary schools, these programs prepare you for state licensing exams, and help you develop the skills needed to lead schools. Master's programs combine theory and practice, and you can expect to participate in classroom training, research, and practical learning experiences, such as internships, practicums, or projects. Course topics in these programs include:

  • Effective leadership methods
  • Legal issues in education
  • Diverse student learning
  • Curriculum design and theory
  • School administration
  • Supervision of teachers
  • School improvement processes

You have several career options with your master's in educational administration, including elementary school principal, secondary school principal, school superintendent, assistant principal, or curriculum director.

Online Master's in Education Administration

Master's programs in education administration are flexible and designed to fit your schedule. If you want to keep working as a teacher while earning a degree, you can find numerous online programs available to meet that need. These programs often offer customized features to improve your educational experience, such as virtual training centers, blended course formats, library resources, and partnerships with educational organizations.

Online courses in education administration cover the same concepts as an on-campus program, and while there are internship requirements, you'll typically be able to complete them in your hometown.

If you hold a master's degree in another field of study, but are interested in pursuing a career as a school principal, you can also find online certificates in school or education administration. These programs require students to complete around 18 credits and an internship.

Master's in Higher Education Administration

Master's degree programs are also available for those who want to pursue leadership roles in postsecondary education settings. These programs commonly offer concentration options in areas such as general administration, student affairs, online program administration, and enrollment. There are part-time, online, and blended program options available, which may be beneficial if you are working or have other obligations. Practical experience makes up a large part of these programs, so you can expect to complete internships, projects, and/or graduate assistantships.

Online Master's in Higher Education Administration

Online master's degrees in higher education administration are taught by the same experts who teach on-campus courses and include the same requirements, such as internships, graduate projects, or comprehensive exams. Coursework in an online master's in higher education administration program includes:

  • Higher education foundations
  • Research applications
  • Higher education student affairs
  • Student diversity

Is a Master's in Higher Education Administration Worth It?

If you want to work in an administrative position at a college or university, you'll need at least a master's degree. Although you won't necessarily need to earn a degree in higher education administration, you may be able to earn a higher salary with this specific degree. For example, assistant directors of admissions with any master's degree earned average salaries of $47,992 in 2018, while assistant directors of admissions with master's degrees in higher education administration earned average salaries of $52,888.

Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration

Administrators in higher education who want to seek even more advanced positions, as provosts or deans, will need a doctorate. Requiring anywhere between 40-70 credit hours, Ph.D. programs in higher education administration explore concepts in policy research, organizational theory, educational economics, educational inquiries, and diversity.

To earn your Ph.D. you'll need to complete a dissertation, which usually includes taking a dissertation seminar and identifying a cognate for your dissertation research. You could also be asked to participate in non-classroom activities, such as presenting a research paper at a conference, working with faculty on research projects, or attending conferences. Heavily focused on research, these doctorate-level programs are also useful for those who plan to pursue careers as policy makers, research specialists, or directors of non-profit organizations.

All statistics come from Payscale.com (2018).