Online Education Administration Degree Programs Resource

An education administration degree focuses on the administration and management of education systems. Education administrators work in many areas, including admissions and data management, guidance and career services, and finance and human resources. The goal of an education administrator is to organize and manage their administrative department while facilitating the goals of the institution for which they work. Administrators work in daycares, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities, both private and public. An education administrator commonly has experience working as a teacher and in most cases has earned a master’s degree in education administration or a related subject. Read more about how to launch a career in this field on our guide to becoming a school administrator.

Education Administration Degrees & Certification

A master’s degree in education administration or a closely related subject is typically the entry-level requirement for this career. Previous experience as a classroom teacher is required by some school districts. Common job titles in school administration include principal, assistant principal, academic director, superintendent, dean, and provost. K-12 administrators must usually be licensed by the state in which they work. Individuals pursuing this career should be organized, detail-oriented, innovative, and enthusiastic. An education administrator should also have strong communication and interpersonal skills and able to work closely with staff, students, and parents.

Top-Ranked Education Administration Degree Programs

The following schools were ranked by US News as having the best education administration graduate programs (2017).

1. Vanderbilt University (Peabody)
2. University of Wisconsin—​Madison
3. Harvard University
4. Michigan State University
5. Teachers College, Columbia University
6. University of Texas-Austin
7. Stanford University (tie)
7. University of Washington (tie)
9. Pennsylvania State University-University Park
10. University of Virginia (Curry)

Best Value Education Administration Schools with On-Campus Programs

The table below shows the best value schools in the United States with programs in education administration. All schools on our list are non-profit, either private or public. To compile our list of best value schools, we chose schools that have a high graduation rate (of 80% or above), which is typically an indicator of a school’s success. We cross-referenced those schools with price, and further narrowed our list to schools offering a net price of less than $20,000 per year. In addition to these criteria, we included other helpful information, such as each school’s retention rate, transfer out rate, student loan default rate, percentage of tenured faculty, and US News & World Report rankings. To sort the table by any of these criteria, click on the corresponding column header.

SchoolGrad Rate1Retention Rate*1Transfer Out Rate**1Student Loan Default Rate1% Tenured Faculty2US News National Rank3US News Undergrad Teaching Rank4Net Price1
University of Washington-Seattle Campus84%94%N.Av.2.5%51%#59 tieN/A$9,443
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill91%96%3%1.5%43%#30 tie#34 tie$11,100
University of Florida88%96%3%1.9%52%#35 tieN/A$15,283
University of Georgia85%95%6%2.4%54%#46 tie#34 tie$15,934
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor92%97%N.Av.1.5%35%#27 tie#19$16,408
Florida State University80%94%7%3.4%43%#70 tie#52 tie$16,450
University of Virginia-Main Campus95%96%3%0.9%54%#25 tie#24 tie$16,594
Binghamton University82%91%14%1.8%39%#80 tieN/A$16,775
Harvard University96%98%N.Av.1.2%45%#2#34 tie$17,030
University of Connecticut83%94%12%2.5%39%#63 tieN/A$18,699
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University84%93%N.Av.1.8%59%#76 tieN/A$18,700

*See Table Notes and References at bottom of page.

Profiles of Traditional Education Administration Programs

Pennsylvania State University

Through its Department of Education Policy Studies, Pennsylvania State University offers a Master of Higher Education degree program as well as two doctoral programs in higher education that give students the knowledge needed to research, analyze, and manage others in postsecondary education. Graduates are prepared for careers as administrators, researchers, faculty, and staff officers in higher education institutions and in public and private organizations. Students work closely with program faculty and university professionals throughout the curriculum and also find opportunities through the school’s Center for the Study of Higher Education. Also housed at the College of Education are the Krause Innovation Studio for emerging technologies in education and the Institute for Research in Training & Development, which focuses on workforce preparation in Pennsylvania communities and beyond. The faculty of the College of Education are recognized for their editorial and research contributions, and US News & World Report has consistently ranked this master’s degree program among the top of its class.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education offers a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration that prepares students to assume leadership roles in postsecondary institutions. The theories that support current practice are emphasized throughout the program with a further focus on organizational and environmental factors that influence postsecondary institutions, including political and social forces. Full- and part-time options for study in the MEd program are available; with full-time study, the 36-credit hour degree can be completed in as little as one year. The cohort-based program includes a capstone project centered on original research in a topic of the student’s choosing. In addition to the core curriculum, students can choose from electives in specialist topics like Legal Aspects of College Administration or Entrepreneurship in Higher Education. Full-time students also complete a one-year internship in an area of student affairs administration.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University awards a Masters of Education in General Higher Education Administration that takes a generalist approach to the administrative specialization, allowing students to gain a broad overview of the field to prepare for careers in administration. Core courses in higher education administration, general higher education, access to higher education, and managing institutions culminate in a practicum and comprehensive examination prior to graduation. Individualized specialist courses of study can also be developed within the general administration track. The curriculum reflects the College of Education and Human Development’s mission to understand and enhance the various contexts in which learning takes place through research, new program implementation, and policy work. Graduate students may have the opportunity to pursue participation in the school’s various research centers, including the National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools, the National Center on Performance Initiatives, and the National Center on School Choice.

Profiles of Hybrid and Online Education Administration Programs

University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts maintains an online Master’s in Education Administration that requires 30 credit hours to complete. The program is designed for those with experience in school settings who have a current teaching license or who have taught in private education settings. Courses in the program include Leading the Professional Learning Community; Principles of Supervision; and Principalship PK-12. Matriculated students will also complete a capstone project that culminates in a professional teacher work sample. Admission to the program is competitive and candidates are encouraged to apply early. Due to legislative rules, the University of Massachusetts does not accept students to the online master’s program who currently reside in Arkansas, Kansas, or Minnesota. The Graduate School of Education at the University of Massachusetts is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

University of Cincinnati

The online Master of Education in Educational Leadership at the University of Cincinnati consists of 10 courses (30 credit hours), with students taking two courses per semester – meaning that the degree program can be completed in as few as 21 months. The program is completely online and does not require campus visits. Courses offered include Educational Leadership Theory, Human Resources Administration in Education, and Curriculum Development & Data Analysis. Ohio residents who complete the program are eligible to sit for the exam for principal licensure in the state. The University of Cincinnati also offers online master’s in education programs with concentrations in gifted, creative, and talented; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); and special education. The Master of Education program at the University of Cincinnati is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota offers an online Master of Arts in Educational Administration that is designed to offer flexible schedules for working professionals. Students can choose a concentration in Adult & Higher Education; School District Superintendent; or PreK-12 Principal. Each track is designed around core courses in the designated administrative specialty area, providing students with in-depth preparation for their desired career track. While the majority of coursework can be completed online, each track includes at least one field-based internship. Admission is competitive and requires that students hold at least a bachelor’s degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher and have a minimum of three years of teaching experience, among other requirements. The University of South Dakota also offers an online Master of Science in Technology for Education and Training, as well as an online graduate certificate in literacy leadership and coaching.

Education Administration Degree Requirements and Coursework

A degree in education administration is a good fit for those who are seeking administrative roles in education, both in educational institutions and in public or private organizations involved in education and policy. An education administration degree program can also be a good fit for those looking to change careers from another field and enter the education space. As most education administration programs lead to a graduate degree, students typically have earned a bachelor’s degree prior to beginning the course of study.

Teaching and Education Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Do I need to have teaching certification to pursue an education administration degree?

Answer: Many education administration degree programs are open to students of all academic backgrounds, including those who obtained an undergraduate degree in other fields and have not earned teaching certification. However, most K-12 school districts look for administrators who have prior teaching experience.

Question: Are education administration degrees offered in an online format?

Answer: Yes, many schools have recognized the need for flexibility for working professionals by implementing online programs. Many programs are offered fully online or in online/traditional classroom hybrid formats.

Question: What career opportunities are opened by a degree in education administration?

Answer: A degree in education administration can open the door to many career opportunities, including school administration, advising and counseling, and consulting. This type of degree program can also lead to administrative specialist certification in some states.

Question: How can I see if an education administration program is accredited?

Answer: There are two main types of accreditation for education administration programs: regional accreditation or national accreditation. Regional accreditation is typically preferred for earning certification. Additionally, there is a highly-regarded national certification given in addition to regional certification for teaching programs through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Table Notes and References:
All data is based on undergraduate statistics.
*The retention rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who continued to a second year of study at the same institution.
**The transfer out rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who transferred their credits to another institution within 150% of the normal time to complete their degree.

1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/
3. US News & World Report National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
4. US News & World Report Best Undergraduate Teaching National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/undergraduate-teaching