Online Degrees In Educational Administration

From preschool to college, all levels of educational institutions can benefit from the guidance of qualified administrators. Depending on their position, educational administrators may be responsible for supervisory duties such as measuring the performance of teachers, creating and adhering to a budget, and ensuring students have access to a safe and quality education, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In order to qualify for, and fill these roles, students in educational administration degree programs typically learn the public policies and laws that affect decisions made in schools. They may also study how to collaborate and communicate with teachers and staff, implement new technologies, and properly assess and evaluate school curriculum. Online education degree programs in administration help instill leadership qualities in students, which can help equip graduates to create effective learning and teaching atmospheres through proper management, support and guidance.

Choosing the Right Educational Administration Degree

Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Administration

This online program generally takes full-time students four years to complete, and often includes courses in professional growth, educational leadership, learning assessments and conflict resolution. Other coursework may focus on organizational theory, the fundamentals of school finance and budgets, and family inclusion. With a bachelor’s degree in educational administration, graduates can pursue careers such as preschool or child care center directors. Some states require that administrators in these positions also earn the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification, or the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation. Entry-level postsecondary administration positions may also be attainable for bachelor’s degree holders.

Master’s Degree in Educational Administration

The master’s program usually takes two to three years of full-time study to complete. Students typically learn about the specific administrative responsibilities that school leaders take on, including financial and staffing decisions. Instruction may also cover how to establish networks of communication and collaboration between educators, administrators, and parents of students. The use of technology in the classroom to help assess educator and student performance also tends to be an area of focus. Graduates may be qualified to become K-12 principals, or administrators at a college or university.

Learn more about Online Master’s Degrees in Educational Administration

Doctoral Degrees in Educational Administration:

Students interested in pursuing this degree can choose one of two options: a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Administration or a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Administration. Broadly speaking, the Ph.D. is for students interested in conducting research and publishing scholarly papers, while the Ed.D. is for individuals who wish to be administrative practitioners.

Much of the coursework for the degrees can overlap, as Ph.D. candidates may also wish to move into administrative positions. There is generally a deeper focus on research methods in the Ph.D. path, as well as its dissertation classes. Students earning their Ed.D. may have the choice to complete a doctoral project instead of a dissertation. Graduates of these programs can qualify to become deans or provosts, as well as admissions administrators. Other possible positions include administrators in the registrar or student affairs offices of colleges and universities.

There may also be a residency requirement for students in doctoral degree programs. For more information, contact an admissions counselor or other school representative.

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Career Outlook for Graduates of Educational Administration Programs

As student enrollment increases nationwide, the BLS expects more administrators will be needed to help provide quality educational environments. Preschool and childcare directors are projected to see national employment growth of 1 percent between 2019 and 2029, which is faster than average. In that same span, BLS estimates that demand for K-12 principals and postsecondary education administrators will grow by 4 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Schools of all types, from elementary through postsecondary, require qualified administrators to provide leadership and management. A master’s degree in educational administration may help those looking to become more involved in the processes of maintaining a well-functioning school. It can help students learn the critical-thinking skills administrators use to make effective decisions in areas like the hiring process and curriculum design. Though some positions in administration may suffice with only an undergraduate degree, most positions require a graduate degree to qualify.

Depending on the school, the degree is offered as a Master of Art (MA), Master of Science (MS), or Master of Education (M.Ed.). Though colleges offer the degree with different titles, the curriculum is generally the same from program to program. Students develop instructional, organizational and technological leadership skills in education. They are also taught how to make integral financial and human resource decisions. Some schools offer specialties as well, with concentrations in preschool or postsecondary administration, among others.

What Does a Master’s Degree Program in Educational Administration Entail?

For full-time students, this degree typically takes two years to complete. During their studies, students can gain skills in oral and written communication, collaboration, and curriculum supervision, to name a few. Possible courses include:

  • Policy and Law for School Principals: This course trains students in the proper governance of schools. Topics cover the role of local, state and federal regulations on education, as well as the legal rights of teachers and administrators. Prospective principals also learn about possible pitfalls stemming from minor mishaps. For example, if a student has a headache and asks a teacher for an aspirin, that educator has to know that they are not legally allowed to give that student any medication.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Students learn about effective communication skills, and how to create channels for teachers and other staff to be a part of the decision-making process. Individuals also learn how to interact with and listen to the concerns of the surrounding community, including parents, youth organizations, and school board members. Future administrators are trained to foster an open communication style, building a community around their school. For example, a principal may speak to the local YMCA about helping to start an afterschool program. Parents may be asked to help facilitate this program, creating a collaborative effort between the school, YMCA and families.
  • School Improvement through Technology: This course teaches students how to use data to define needs, assess and evaluate progress, and develop strategies for improvement. Students learn the techniques to measure, evaluate and analyze information, as well as how to use technology to compile and explain data. For example, principals can ask teachers to collect information about student performance, match it against expected outcomes, and, if there is a noticeable gap between the two, figure out an appropriate solution.

In addition to core curriculum, students may need to complete a number of specialized courses in order to increase their competency. Students may also be expected to participate in field experience courses or a capstone project to complete their degree. Field experience may include shadowing an administrator at a local school to receive up-close knowledge and practice. The capstone project can include identifying a problem and coming up with a solution based on research and data. Prospective students should check with an academic advisor about possible courses and projects.

Career Outlook for Graduates of Master’s Degree Programs in Educational Administration

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall increases in school enrollment are expected to spur demand for school administrators. Elementary, middle and high school principal jobs are estimated by the BLS to expand by 4 percent nationally from 2019 through 2029. Principals are responsible for supervising and evaluating staff, setting academic standards, and managing the budget and finances of a school. Principals also serve as the public face of a school. They meet with superintendents and legislators to advocate for needed resources.

Graduates of this program may also qualify to become postsecondary education administrators. Responsibilities vary depending on the exact role these administrators fill. Job duties of admissions professionals include screening students, preparing promotional brochures and videos, and meeting with potential applicants. People who work in the registrar’s office help register and sign students up for classes, plan graduation ceremonies, and prepare transcripts and diplomas. Someone entering student affairs is typically in charge of handling student housing, academic and personal issues, and communicating with parents. According to the BLS, employment of postsecondary education administrators is expected to grow by 4 percent nationally from 2019 through 2029.

Graduate degrees in education administration prepare individuals for advanced administrative duties in an educational institution. Students have the opportunity to take courses from a specialized curriculum and complete a research project in a specific area of concentration, such as K-12 education, higher education, community college administration, or education leadership.

Doctoral programs are generally offered in two different forms: the Doctor of Education in Educational Administration (Ed.D.), or the Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration (Ph.D.). Prospective doctoral students need to decide whether an Ed.D. or Ph.D. is right for them — the choice depends largely on career goals, though, in many cases, the two degrees offer a similar education.

What Does a Doctoral Degree Program in Educational Administration Entail?

Graduate programs in educational administration usually take anywhere from three to seven years to complete. The timeframe depends on the school, whether the student is full-time or part-time, and how long it takes to complete the dissertation or doctoral project. It can also depend on whether the student chooses to earn an Ed.D. or a Ph.D.

Traditionally, the Ed.D. is tailored toward an applied approach to studying educational practice, theory and research. This degree is designed to prepare students to be scholar-practitioners, taking roles as administrators in schools. Ed.D. students may complete an applied doctoral project rather than a traditional academic dissertation, although some Ed.D. programs require a dissertation very similar to that of a Ph.D.. Some programs also may require students who are working on their Ed.D. to take part in internships.

In comparison, a Ph.D. in education administration often requires students to focus on the theory of administrative practice through pursuit of original scholarship. This degree trains students for a career as a scholar and academic as well as a practitioner, preparing them to conduct research and publish papers and reports. The Ph.D. is generally necessary for those who want to go on to become faculty rather than administrators in higher education.

Both types of degrees include courses in core topics such as education policy, education leadership, finance in education, and evaluation and assessment. Most distance learning programs have a residency component, which may vary from a short visit to campus every year to a requirement to take a small number of credits in person. Online coursework is generally structured to allow students flexibility in when and where they learn, and dissertation research and writing are largely performed independently as well.

Some administration positions, such as principal or superintendent, require state licensure. Online colleges offer programs that meet state licensing requirements, but students should confirm that their school of choice meets these requirements.

Career Outlook for Graduates of Doctoral Degree Programs in Educational Administration

Doctoral graduates may qualify for various careers in administration, including positions as school principals or superintendents. The Ed.D. may help individuals aspiring to move into administrative roles at postsecondary institutions as well, with work ranging from student affairs to admissions standards. Graduates may also qualify to work as deans or provosts. Deans are responsible for directing a particular school within an institution, such as the law school of a college or university. Provosts assist school presidents with developing academic policies, deciding which educators have earned tenure, and managing budgets. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all postsecondary education administration positions in the U.S. are expected to grow by 19 percent from 2010 to 2020.

Because Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs offer very similar curriculums, Ph.D. holders can seek out many of the same administrative roles as Ed.D. graduates. Students who earn a Ph.D., however, generally pursue careers in teaching or research. The research-based, critical thinking skills developed in Ph.D. programs may also help graduates pursue positions in government, corporate, or nonprofit educational organizations.

“Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals,” Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics,
“Postsecondary Education Administrators,” Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics,
“Preschool and Childcare Center Directors,” Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics,

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