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Best Online Master’s Degrees in Educational Leadership

Best Online Master’s Degrees in Educational Leadership

Future education leaders typically need advanced degrees. See how a master’s in educational leadership can help you hone the skills vital to effective leadership while prioritizing student outcomes. Learn how the best online programs can help you achieve your goals.

Whether you’re a teacher wanting to expand your career options or a busy professional interested in an education career, an online master’s in educational leadership could be your ticket. Beginning your journey toward a leadership role in education means finding the right master’s program that prioritizes your needs academically, professionally, and personally. 

We spotlight schools that offer innovative coursework in educational leadership and a flexible online format that meets the unique needs of busy professionals like you. Additionally, we take a deep dive into what you can expect as a master’s in educational leadership student, the courses you’ll take, and how much it could cost. We also answer our readers’ most pressing questions.

If you’re interested in making meaningful change as a leader in education, keep reading to learn more about this academic pathway and see what it can do for you.

Best Online Master’s Degrees in Educational Leadership for 2024

We have ranked the top schools below. Our Rankings Data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES.) Click the About the Ranking link below for more information about our methodology.


    Base Methodology for OnlineColleges.me’s 2024 Online College Rankings

    1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

    To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

    • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
    1. Assign Weightings

    After creating the list of eligible schools, OnlineColleges.me data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

    Online Program Availability

    • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. Because exact numbers change often and can be difficult to verify, we use a range-based scoring system: 0-5 online programs = 1 star; 6-10 = 2 stars; 11-15 = 3 stars; 16-20 = 4 stars; 21+ = 5 stars. In our design, laptop icons = stars.
    • For degree-specific pages, ex: Psychology degrees, we list the current number of online programs available at that school for that degree type, as self-reported by the schools.


    • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
    • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

    Support Services

    • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
    • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

    About Our Data

    OnlineColleges.me’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: January of 2024

  • Radnor, PA
    Private not-for-profit $

    Cabrini University, a private Catholic university with a Pennsylvania campus, offers a fully online Master of Education (MEd) in educational leadership that can be completed in as little as one year. Although the program is designed to be completely remote, it can also be compelted through a hybrid of online and on-campus coursework. Cabrini strongly encourages students in this program to earn their PreK-12 principal certification program alongside their master’s degree, which will require 180 hours of additional fieldwork. Financial aid may be available.

    Program Highlights:

    Master of Education in Educational Leadership

    • Credits: 33
    • Length: 1-2 Years
    • Cost: $720/credit
    • Mode: Online, Hybrid
    • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)
  • River Forest, IL
    Private not-for-profit $

    At Concordia University Chicago, a private Christian university, the Master of Arts (MA) in leadership with a specialization in higher education can be earned entirely online. In this program, you will be studying both the social and ethical aspects of higher education and leadership, along with the laws and policies surrounding higher education and how they apply to leadership roles. You will also complete a final capstone project before graduating. There is no application fee or GRE requirement to apply, but prospective students should have a GPA of 2.75 or higher.

    Program Highlights:

    Master of Arts in Leadership: Higher Education Specialization

    • Credits: 33
    • Length: 2 Years
    • Cost: $478/credit
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Georgetown, KY
    Private not-for-profit $$

    The master’s in teacher leadership program at Kentucky’s Georgetown College is a fully online graduate degree program with four specialization options: gifted education, instructional computer technology, literacy specialist, and moderate and severe disabilities. Whichever specialization you choose, you’ll be completing both foundational coursework in teacher leadership and specialty-specific courses tailored to your subfield. You may also complete a final capstone project, depending on which program sub-field you choose.

    Program Highlights:

    Master’s Teacher Leader

    • Credits: 30-33
    • Length: 1-2 Years
    • Cost: $410/credit
    • Mode: Online
    • Accreditation: Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • Sioux City, IA
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Orange City, IA
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Ottawa, KS
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Frederick, MD
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Sioux Center, IA
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Philadelphia, PA
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • Ann Arbor, MI
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Baldwin City, KS
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Jackson, TN
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Milwaukee, WI
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Mishawaka, IN
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Charlotte, NC
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Lynchburg, VA
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Surprise, AZ
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • New Ulm, MN
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Jefferson City, TN
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Ashland, OH
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Wheeling, WV
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Lakewood, CO
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Mequon, WI
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Jackson, MS
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Des Moines, IA
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Central, SC
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Denver, CO
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Columbia, SC
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Spokane, WA
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Naperville, IL
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • Pittsburgh, PA
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • Parkville, MO
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Odessa, TX
    Public $
  • Saint Paul, MN
    Private not-for-profit $
  • Immaculata, PA
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Cedar Rapids, IA
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Longview, TX
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • Saint Louis, MO
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Durant, OK
    Public $
  • Magnolia, AR
    Public $
  • Saint Leo, FL
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • Florence, AL
    Public $
  • Nashville, TN
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Plainview, TX
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Las Cruces, NM
    Public $
  • Loretto, PA
    Private not-for-profit $$$$
  • Omaha, NE
    Private not-for-profit $$$
  • Fremont, NE
    Private not-for-profit $$
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Private not-for-profit $$$$
  • Stafford, TX
    Private not-for-profit $

Program Spotlights: Educational Leadership Master’s Degrees Online

The best online master’s in educational leadership offers diverse academic options with varying goals, outcomes, specializations, and course offerings. While each of the best programs provides the tools students need to lead effectively in varying capacities in the education landscape, each program approaches this goal differently.

Some of the best programs, including the ones we spotlight here, emphasize administrative leadership, while others focus on educational policy or instructional leadership. When seeking out the best master’s in educational leadership for you, be sure to take the time to understand the distinct goals and outcomes of prospective programs. Public options like Florida State University offer flexible, 100% programming at an affordable price, while other schools like Chicago’s DePaul University cost a bit more and require some campus attendance.

Join us as we dive into three top master in educational leadership programs, discover what they offer, and learn how they can help you advance your career in education.

University of Florida

Program details: Based in Gainesville, the University of Florida is home to one of the best and most affordable online master’s in educational leadership. The flexible graduate degree option equips students with the skills needed to excel in leadership roles within the education world. This program is recognized for its comprehensive curriculum emphasizing curriculum development, educational law, data analysis, and leadership strategies. Graduates have gone on to secure leadership roles as school principals, school administrators, and education consultants.

  • Admissions: Prospective students must hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA in upper-level coursework. Students pursuing the program’s certification track must have at least two years of teaching experience.
  • Cost: Online learners pay $734 per credit.
  • Length: Full-time online learners can complete this 36-credit program in about two years.
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC

Seton Hall University

Program details: Established in 1856, Seton Hall University is a private Catholic research institution home to one of the best online master’s in education leadership, management, and policy. This New Jersey-based school challenges its master’s students to develop practical leadership skills while tackling classes such as supervision of instruction, technology for administrators, statistical methods, and finance in administration.

While students complete this program online, they must complete two one-day residencies at Seton Hall’s campus. Students can anticipate a flexible curriculum taught by Seton Hall’s experienced instructors and education professionals.

  • Admissions: Prospective students must hold a bachelor’s degree and submit an online application, resume, official transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
  • Cost: Online learners pay $1,397 per credit.
  • Length: Full-time students can complete this 39-credit program in about two years.
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Fitchburg State University

Program details: Based in the northern reaches of central Massachusetts, Fitchburg State University is a public institution home to a flexible and affordable online master’s in educational leadership and management. Fitchburg’s 33-credit, 12-month accelerated program works to help develop the next generation of education leaders. Throughout this 100% online program, students complete 11 classes, including topics such as strategies for effective administrators, school-community partnerships, leading the change process, and using data to improve student learning. Before graduating, students complete a degree-culminating project in educational technology.

  • Admissions: Applicants can apply online and must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.8 GPA. Prospective students must include a professional resume and a personal essay.
  • Cost: Online learners pay $385 per credit.
  • Length: Full-time students can complete this 33-credit program in just 12 months.
  • Accreditation: NECHE

How Much Does an Online Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership Cost?

Tackling an online master’s in educational leadership often involves a significant investment of time and money. As you embark on this phase of your academic journey, it’s vital to have an actionable plan to cover the costs associated with your education. Knowing exactly how much your master’s in educational leadership will cost is essential to making informed decisions.

Financing your master’s in educational leadership can feel like getting all the puzzle pieces to fit. Thankfully, students have access to multiple financial aid options. Securing financial aid typically starts with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Understanding and using federal student aid can result in favorable grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study opportunities. Securing scholarships from academic institutions and private organizations is also an achievable way to help pay for your education.

Additionally, if you’re a current teacher or education professional, employer-based tuition assistance programs can offer generous financial support to employees working toward advanced degrees. Check out the table below as we highlight how much various master’s in educational leadership programs can cost.

How Much Your Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Could Cost

SchoolNo. of CreditsCost per CreditTotal Tuition
University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley30$458$13,740
Seton Hall University39$1,397$54,483
DePaul University60 (quarter hours)$668$20,040
Baldwin Wallace University42$565$23,730
University of West Alabama34$429$14,586

What to Expect in Your Online Master’s Degree Program in Educational Leadership

While the curriculum for a master’s in educational leadership varies between programs, the best programs are designed to equip you with a diverse skillset essential to effective leadership in the field. 

You can expect to encounter topics such as educational policy analysis, organizational management, curriculum development, and educational law. Many students also come away with skills in communication, strategic planning, and data-centric decision-making. University of Florida’s online program students tackle diverse classes such as public-school law, technology leadership, public school finance, and leading change.

Because many students are working professionals, the flexibility and accessibility of online programs are essential. Online master’s in educational leadership programs typically rely on various technologies, including learning management platforms like Canvas or Blackboard, video conferencing, and multimedia resources. In addition to virtual work, some schools, including the City University of Seattle, require students to complete an intensive, year-long internship to develop skills in a real-world setting.

The best standout programs are asynchronous in delivery, allowing you to access assignments, lectures, and other course content entirely online, maximizing flexibility and completing requirements at your own pace.

We break down several typical online master of educational leadership courses below.

Common Online Master’s in Educational Leadership Courses

Educational Leadership and Administration

Throughout this vital course, students explore leadership styles, decision-making, and organizational management in educational settings. Students develop strategies to address real-world academic challenges while honing skills essential to effective leadership within various roles.

Curriculum Development and Assessment

With a focus on curriculum design, student assessment, and educational goals, this course challenges graduate education students to enhance teaching and learning outcomes. Additionally, students evaluate current research and explore the theoretical foundations of curriculum development.

Education Policy

By examining education policy development, implementation, and evaluation, master’s students develop a deep understanding of the vital role policy plays in shaping education systems. Additionally, students learn how policy impacts leadership practices, preparing graduates to navigate the complexities of various educational environments.

Resource Management

This course closely examines the efficient allocation and management of educational resources, including budgeting, personnel, and facilities. Throughout the semester, students learn how to use resources, ensuring that schools operate effectively while developing the skills education leaders rely upon to enhance student outcomes.

Social Justice in Education Leadership

This course explores the intersection of social justice and educational leadership, equipping grad students with the tools to address inequities in various educational systems. Students learn to promote diversity, inclusion, and equitable access to quality education, resulting in crucial skills for future leaders focused on social change in the field.

Job Outlook: What Can You Do with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership

If you’re an education professional interested in enhancing your career options and earning potential, a master’s in educational leadership can open doors to a wide range of career opportunities in the field. Graduates are prepared to tackle diverse roles such as school principal, curriculum coordinator, education consultant, and various other leadership roles with competitive salaries and potential for career growth.

The skills developed during your master’s in educational leadership program—including leadership, data analysis, and strategic planning—are in high demand in education. After completing their program, graduates often qualify for higher-paying leadership roles that may not be open to them with just a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the best master’s in educational leadership programs equip graduates with the expertise to foster change and drive innovation in education environments.

Check out several careers associated with a master’s in educational leadership.

Career #1: School Principal

K-12 school principals oversee their schools’ daily operations, curriculum development, and staff management. These professionals strive to facilitate a positive learning environment, manage budgets, and collaborate with teachers, parents, and other administrators to promote student success and drive educational excellence. Schools like Baldwin Wallace University even offer a principal licensure pathway for teachers with a master’s degree.

10th PercentileMedian Annual Pay90th Percentile

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Career #2: Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators use their academic and professional backgrounds to develop and implement curriculum standards and innovative teaching strategies. These professionals work hand in glove with teachers and administrators to improve instructional materials, assess teaching methods, and ensure that an institution’s curricula align with educational goals.

10th PercentileMedian Annual Pay90th Percentile

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Career #3: Postsecondary Education Administrator

Postsecondary education administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of higher education institutions. Their myriad responsibilities include managing academic programs, admissions, and student services at colleges and universities. These professionals may work in roles such as deans and registrars, ensuring the efficient functioning of their schools while promoting policies that enhance their students’ experiences.

10th PercentileMedian Annual Pay90th Percentile

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

FAQs About Online Master’s Programs in Educational Leadership?

If you’ve read this far, you might still have questions about the best master’s in educational leadership programs. From admissions processes to student services, read on as we answer five of the most pressing questions according to our readers.

  • Are online master’s degree programs in educational leadership entirely online?

    Every online program is unique with its own requirements, but it is quite common for an online master’s in educational leadership to be entirely online. These flexible programs often allow you to access course content on your own time and at your own pace. 

    Still, some programs may require occasional on-campus visits or other in-person expectations. As a result, it’s vital that you review a program’s format and specific requirements before enrolling.

  • What does the admissions process look like for this degree?

    When applying to a master’s in educational leadership program, you can expect to submit an online application, academic transcripts, recommendation letters, a personal statement, and a professional resume. Additionally, some programs might require GRE scores for admission, but it’s increasingly common for schools, including Florida State University, to waive GRE scores.

    In addition to standard admission requirements, it’s common for education programs to require relevant experience in the education field and an active state teaching license. Because each program has its own unique set of admission requirements, be sure to thoroughly review them before applying.

  • How long does it take to complete a master’s degree in educational leadership online?

    The time it takes to complete your master’s in educational leadership can vary by program but typically takes between 1.5 and 2 years of full-time study. Additionally, some key factors can impact your graduation timeline. Part-time enrollment can extend your time in a program, while an accelerated program like Fitchburg State University can shorten the required time to only one year. Be sure to seek programs that align with your personal and professional scheduling needs.

  • What academic and career support services are available to online students earning their master’s in educational leadership?

    The best online master’s in educational leadership typically supply a meaningful roster of academic, career, and support services for online learners. Typical services include online tutoring, access to virtual libraries, technical support, and dedicated advisors who help you succeed throughout your program. Additionally, schools like the University of Central Florida offer success coaches, veterans resources, online access to the university’s writing center, and even experiential learning and internships.

    Similarly, career services often include resume assistance, job placement, and networking opportunities that can help online learners make the most out of their master’s in educational leadership. The best programs also offer additional resources, including mental health counseling, which provides vital support when their services are requested.

  • Can I work while pursuing an online Master’s in Educational Leadership degree?

    The best online master’s in educational leadership are developed with the working education professional in mind. Online classes offer working professionals the flexibility to continue working while keeping up with academic requirements. Asynchronous programs provide the most flexibility, allowing you to complete coursework when your schedule allows.

    Still, online learning is not for everyone. Online learners must have the discipline to manage their time effectively to balance academic, professional, and personal responsibilities successfully.

Other Master’s Degree Options in Education

If you are interested in a master’s degree in education but are unsure what specialization to pursue, check out these other degree pages to learn about your options:

Master’s Degrees in Education – Curriculum and Instruction

Master’s Degrees in Education – Early Childhood Education (ECE)

Master’s Degrees in Education – Higher Education

Master’s Degrees in Education – Library Sciences

Master’s Degrees in Education – Music Education

Master’s Degrees in Education – Special Education (SpEd)

Master’s Degrees in Education – Teaching