School Administration Degree Program Overviews

Graduate degrees in educational administration are available as master's degrees or doctoral degrees. While some of the material covered in the two degrees are similar, they each cover a variety of different material.

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Essential Information

Ph.D. degrees in school administration often offer more training in business, research and leadership. Doctoral candidates are expected to produce a dissertation, which is a book-length work of original research. In a master's degree program, students may spend lots of time researching and critiquing various educational models and techniques. Also, master's degree programs may include a research project or thesis. Requirements for admission varies by school, but typically includes a bachelor's degree, teaching certificate, SAT scores and letters of recommendation. Many Ph.D. programs require applicants have a masters degree and teaching experience.

Master's Degree in Educational Administration

Master's degrees in educational administration are usually available to those who hold teaching certificates or have substantial teaching experience in a private education setting. It is designed for teachers who want to expand their role into educational leadership. Students gain an advanced knowledge of educational theory, curriculum development and instruction. More importantly, students learn how to impart these skills to other teachers and implement them into best practices. These programs usually take two years to complete and are sometimes offered online.

Some programs may also require standardized test scores and letters of recommendation for admission. If a teaching certificate is required, letters of recommendation from an employer may be requested. Coursework in these programs is mostly didactic in nature with an emphasis on research. Here are some classes that might appear in the curriculum:

  • Organization of school systems
  • Diversity issues for school leaders
  • School law
  • Educational finances
  • Planning and technology

Ph.D. in Educational Administration

In addition to studying curriculum development and instruction techniques, doctoral degree programs often offer in-depth study of finance, accounting, budgeting and resource allocation. Many times, programs offer specialties in these areas. Some programs also offer training in counseling and leadership.

Applicants to Ph.D. programs in educational administration must hold at least a bachelor's degree; in some cases a master's degree is required. Like master's degree programs in the field, most programs are available only to teachers or those with teaching experience. Coursework typically focuses on research and theory. Students often collaborate or participate in simulations in preparation to serve on educational boards or committees. Here are some courses that might be included in the curriculum:

  • Race, class and gender in education
  • Professional development
  • School communications and public relations
  • Organizational change and improvement
  • Instructional leadership

Popular Career Options

A master's degree in educational administration qualifies graduates for various careers. Graduates may work in a variety of environments, such as government, private education and public education. Possible job titles available to those who complete this degree program include:

  • Assistant principal
  • Principal
  • Educational board member
  • Faculty advisor
  • Curriculum consultant

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the employment rate for elementary, high school and middle school principals would increase 6% between 2014 and 2024. In the same decade, the BLS expected that postsecondary education administrators would have 9% job growth for the years 2014 through 2024. The median annual salary for elementary and secondary school administrators in 2015 was $90,410 while that of postsecondary school administrators was $88,580 in 2015.

Educators wanting to increase their leadership role and advance their career should consider applying to a graduate degree program in school administration. Students in master's degree programs study and research educational models and techniques, while Ph.D. students study these topics in addition to the business aspects of the education field.

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