School District Administration College Education and Degree Programs

Although there are no degree programs specifically in school district administration, there are graduate programs in educational administration that provide the necessary background for a career in the discipline.

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Essential Information

Many schools offer educational administration programs at the master's and doctorate levels, which prepare graduates to pursue licensure in school administration. School district administrators often work for individual schools before being promoted to district positions. The coursework in educational administration master's degree programs emphasizes theoretical concepts related to running and maintaining schools and school districts. Students in educational administration doctorate programs learn about advanced educational research methodology, educational statistics, and management concepts relevant to education.

In order to be accepted into a master's program, students need to have a bachelor's degree and meet a certain undergraduate GPA. Doctorate programs require a master's degree and a large amount of education work experience. Both programs require students to have satisfactory GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and personal statements of intent. The average length of a master's degree is two years, while doctorate programs vary depending on your studies.


Master's Degree in Educational Administration

The most common master's degree program in educational administration is the Master of Education (M.Ed.), though some schools offer a Master of Arts (M.A.) as well. Students learn about educational leadership, educational research and statistics, human resource management, and teaching theory.

Students learn about the research methods that are used to assess learning, techniques for instructing students, and strategies used to attract and retain quality teachers. Programs usually require students to complete the following types of courses:

  • Educational human resource management
  • Curriculum design
  • Educational ethics
  • Instructional supervision
  • Educational policy making

Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration

Doctor of Education and Doctor of Philosophy programs in educational administration emphasize advanced concepts in educational research and school district maintenance. Graduates should be able to conduct and understand complex research on learning, behavior management and organizational leadership. Doctoral candidates must complete and defend dissertation projects before earning their degrees.

In addition to instructing on research and theory, programs teach students ways to apply what they've learned to real-world situations. Students generally take classes on the subjects noted below:

  • Educational administration theory
  • Politics in education administration
  • Business administration for schools
  • Education finances
  • Educational public relations

Popular Career Options

While most school district administrators have doctorates, some can advance to district jobs by earning a master's degree and performing well as individual school administrators. Those who enter the workforce after earning a master's degree in educational administration often hold the following positions:

  • School principal
  • Vice principal
  • Curriculum design expert

People who earn Ph.D.s or Ed.D.s in educational administration should have skill sets applicable to several advanced careers in the field. Graduates can work for individual schools, school districts, government agencies, or private research groups. The careers mentioned below are popular options:

  • School district superintendent
  • Educational consultant
  • Educational researcher

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

From the years 2014-2024, job openings for principals at the elementary, middle and secondary school levels are projected to increase by 6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). More openings are expected to arise in the southern and western parts of the country, where increased student enrollment is predicted. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for elementary and secondary school educational administrators was $90,410 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

Most administrative positions at individual schools and with school districts require state licensure. Administrators usually need at least a master's degree to qualify for licensure and often need to complete written examinations. Additionally, many states require administrators to ensure that their knowledge is current by completing continuing education classes.

A master's or doctoral degree focused on school district administration teaches students how to effectively run a school or an entire school district. Job opportunities are numerous, from school leadership to superintendents to researchers, and usually require licensure and continuing education courses.

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