Education Administration Degree Programs

An education administration degree focuses on the administration and management of education systems. Common education administrators include principals, vice principals, and superintendents. This page covers education administration degrees, related certifications, top programs, coursework and other requirements.

Table of Contents

Education Administration Overview

Education or school administrators work in many areas, including admissions and data management, guidance and career services, finance, and human resources. The goal of an education administrator is to organize and manage their administrative department while facilitating the objectives of the institution for which they work. These administrators work in daycares, PK-12 schools, and colleges and universities, both private and public.

An education administrator commonly has experience working as a teacher and typically has earned a master’s or doctoral degree in education administration or a related subject. A degree in education administration is a good fit for those 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. Read more about how to launch a career in this field on our guide to becoming a school administrator.

Quick Facts

  • There are 837 not-for-profit colleges and universities with education administration programs.1
  • 48 schools offer a certificate in education administration.1
  • 7 schools offer an associate’s degree in education administration.1
  • 26 schools offer a bachelor’s degree in education administration.1
  • 795 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in education administration.1

Education Administration Degrees and Certification

A graduate degree in education administration or a closely-related subject is typically the entry-level requirement for this career, so most degrees in the field are at the master’s, specialist, or doctoral, and PhD levels. Common job titles in school administration include principal, assistant or vice principal, academic director, superintendent, coordinator, dean, and provost.

Previous experience as a classroom teacher is required by some school districts and subsequently may be required for entry into some degree programs. PK-12 administrators working in the public school system must usually be licensed by the state where they work. Many states offer an endorsement in administration for certified teachers. Some programs may include specific preparation for this endorsement. Check with your state to see if your education administration degree qualifies you for certification in that area.

Several areas of specialization (also called concentrations, specialties, or emphases) are available for school administration degrees. Some common specializations include:

  • Adult Education: Focuses on preparing graduates to be administrators in adult and continuing education programs.
  • Higher Education: Prepares graduates to work in administrative roles in colleges and universities.
  • Law and Policy: Prepares graduates to work in educational policy positions in settings such as government, academia, or nonprofit organizations.
  • Principal: Prepares graduates to become school principals for PK-12 schools.
  • School District Superintendent: Prepares graduates to become superintendents for PK-12 schools.

Top-Ranked Education Administration Degree Programs

US News & World Report’s Best Graduate Education Administration Programs 2023

  • Vanderbilt University (#1; on campus or hybrid)
  • Michigan State University (#2 tie; on campus or online)
  • Teachers College, Columbia University (#2 tie; on campus)
  • University of Texas-Austin (#4; on campus)
  • Harvard University (#5; on campus or online)
  • University of Wisconsin—Madison (#6; on campus)
  • Stanford University (#7 tie; on campus)
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (#7 tie; on campus)
  • University of Virginia (#9; on campus, hybrid, or online)
  • Ohio State University (#10 tie; on campus)
  • Pennsylvania State University-University Park (#10 tie; on campus)
  • University of Washington (#10 tie; on campus)2

Best Value Schools with On-Campus Education Administration Programs

The table below shows the best value schools with graduate programs in education administration. All schools on our list are not-for-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 at the undergraduate level), which is typically an indicator of a school’s success. We cross-referenced those schools against tuition price and further narrowed our list to schools with a net price of less than $20,000 per year for undergraduates. In addition to these criteria, we included other helpful information, such as each school’s percentage of tenured faculty, degrees offered, and US News & World Report rankings.

SchoolGrad Degree(s)US News Undergrad Teaching Rank3US News National Rank4Grad Rate1% Tenured Faculty5Net Price1
University of Washington-Seattle CampusM.Ed. Education Policy, Organizations and Leadership;
M.Ed. Leadership in Higher Education;
PhD Education Policy, Organizations and Leadership
NR#59 tie84%51%$9,443
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillEdS Educational Specialist;
EdD Educational Leadership;
Master of School Administration (MSA) School Administration;
PhD Education: Policy, Leadership and School Improvement
#34 tie#30 tie91%43%$11,100
University of FloridaMAE Educational Leadership;
M.Ed. Educational Leadership;
M.Ed. Student Personnel in Higher Education;
EdD Higher Education Hybrid;
EdD Leadership Educational Administration Doctorate (LEAD);
EdS Educational Leadership;
PhD Educational Leadership;
PhD Higher Education Administration and Policy
NR#35 tie88%52%$15,283
University of GeorgiaM.Ed. College Student Affairs Administration;
M.Ed. Educational Administration and Policy;
EdD Educational Leadership;
EdS Educational Administration and Policy;
PhD Counseling and Student Personnel Services;
PhD Educational Administration and Policy
#34 tie#46 tie85%54%$15,934
University of Michigan-Ann ArborMA Educational Studies: Educational Leadership and Policy;
MA Educational Studies/MBA
#19#27 tie92%35%$16,408
Florida State UniversityModified Certificate Educational Leadership/Administration (online);
Modified Certificate Educational Leadership/Administration w/ Florida Certification (online);
EdS Educational Leadership w/Florida Certification (online);
MS Educational Leadership w/Florida Certification (online);
EdS Educational Leadership & Policy (online);
MS Educational Leadership & Policy (online);
EdD Educational Leadership/Administration (online);
PhD Educational Leadership/Administration
#52 tie#70 tie80%43%$16,450
University of Virginia-Main CampusM.Ed. Administration & Supervision;
EdD Administration & Supervision;
PhD Education: Administration & Supervision
#24 tie#25 tie95%54%$16,594
Binghamton UniversityAdvanced Certificate: Educational Leadership;
MS Student Affairs Administration;
MS Student Affairs Administration/MPA Public Administration
NR#80 tie82%39%$16,775
Harvard UniversityEdM Education Policy and Management;
EdM Higher Education;
EdM School Leadership;
EdLD Doctor of Education Leadership
#34 tie#296%45%$17,030
University of ConnecticutEdD Educational Leadership;
EdD Executive Leadership;
EdD Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy
NR#63 tie83%39%$18,699
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityCertificate Higher Education Administration;
EdD Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
NR#76 tie84%59%$18,700

Best Value Schools with Online Education Administration Programs

In addition to on-campus programs, there are many schools that offer online graduate programs in education administration. The table below shows the colleges and universities offering the best value in graduate-level education administration programs online. Using the same filtering as the table above, the schools in this table have a combination of a (slightly lower) undergraduate-level graduation rate of 65% or above and an undergraduate net price below $20,000. We have also included graduate degrees offered, US News & World Report rankings, and percentage of faculty with tenure.

SchoolGrad Degree(s)US News Undergrad Teaching Rank3US News National Rank4Grad Rate1% Tenured Faculty5Net Price1
SUNY College at BrockportMSEd Higher Education AdministrationNRNR65%33%$14,723
North Carolina State University at RaleighMaster of School Administration (MSA): Educational Leadership#61 tie#84 tie81%52%$14,771
SUNY CortlandCertificate of Advanced Study (CAS) Educational Administration#17 tieNR71%30%$16,386
University of Nebraska-LincolnCertificate Administrative Certification;
MA Educational Administration-Higher Education Administration;
M.Ed. Educational Administration-
P-12 School Leadership;
EdD Educational Administration-
P-12 School Leadership
NR#139 tie69%55%$17,315
University of Missouri-ColumbiaEdD Educational LeadershipNR#139 tie69%33%$17,833
Colorado State University-Fort CollinsPhD Higher Education Leadership#56 tie#166 tie71%37%$17,914
University of KansasMSE Educational AdministrationNR#130 tie65%49%$18,415
Oregon State UniversityEdD Adult and Higher Education: Leadership in Higher Education (LHE);
PhD Adult and Higher Education: Leadership in Higher Education (LHE)
#76 tie#139 tie67%36%$18,625
Niagara UniversityAdvanced Certificates;
MS Educational Leadership
University of KentuckyGrad Certificates;
EdS Teacher Leadership;
M.Ed. Teacher Leadership;
EdD Educational Leadership;
PhD Educational Leadership
#132 tie66%NR51%$19,762

Education Administration Degree Requirements and Coursework

As most education administration programs lead to a graduate degree, students typically have earned a bachelor’s degree before beginning the course of study. To be admitted into a graduate program in education administration, most candidates need an undergraduate degree with a GPA of around 3.0 or better. It is also common for candidates to submit letters of recommendation and a current resume showing teaching and/or administrative experience, and to undergo an interview. Common courses in an education administration degree program may include:

  • Administration of Continuing Education and Public Service
  • Curriculum Leadership
  • Education Law
  • Educational Finance
  • Educational/Instructional Leadership
  • Internship/Field Experience
  • Policy Analysis
  • Practicum in Student Personnel Administration
  • Research Methodology and Statistics in Education
  • School Community Relations
  • Special Education Law
  • Select Education Administration Degree Programs

    Traditional Master’s Programs

    Pennsylvania State University

    Through its Department of Education Policy Studies, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) offers a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Higher Education degree program that gives students the knowledge needed to research, analyze, and manage others in postsecondary education. Graduates are prepared for careers in postsecondary education in residence life, student activities/orientation, admissions, and academic and career advising, among other areas. Students work closely with program faculty and university professionals throughout the curriculum and may also find research opportunities through Penn State’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 focus 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. Penn State also offers two doctoral programs in higher education (a Doctor of Education (D.Ed.) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)).

    University of Virginia

    The University of Virginia’s (UVA) Curry School of Education offers a Master of Education (M.Ed.) 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 master’s in higher education 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 Master of Education (M.Ed.) in 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 before 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.

    Traditional Doctoral Programs

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) offers a 69-credit hour Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership that can be completed on its Roanoke, Hampton Roads, Southwest Virginia, National Capital Region, and Richmond campuses. With a focus on practical dissertation research, graduates typically seek higher-level educational administration positions. All coursework is offered in the evenings since the program is tailored to full-time educators. Traditional classroom learning is combined with some blended learning, and most students graduate within eight semesters or about three years. Course topics include governance and policy, instructional leadership, theories of administration, and quantitative research methods. Graduates become school principals, office administrators, university faculty, administrators, deans, presidents, and members of state boards of education. Virginia Tech also offers two related Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Higher Education.

    University of Georgia

    The University of Georgia’s (UGA) College of Education offers several programs in Educational Administration: a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Administration and Policy; an Education Specialist (EdS) degree in Educational Administration and Policy; a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Educational Administration and Policy a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership; and a Certificate in Education Law and Policy. The PhD in Educational Administration and Policy offers two core areas of study, law policy or administration and supervision. The PhD degree takes a multidisciplinary approach in educational policy, educational processes, and implementation. Coursework includes nine hours of courses specific to your chosen area of study; 12 hours of research methodology; one dissertation support course, 12 hours of specialization courses; one apprenticeship/internship course, at least three pre-candidacy hours; and 10 hours devoted to the dissertation. The 54-hour program is designed to take about four years to complete, including the dissertation.

    Online and Hybrid Master’s Programs

    University of Massachusetts Lowell

    The University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell) campus maintains an online Master’s in Education Administration (M.Ed.) 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 culminating in a professional work sample. Admission to the program is competitive, so candidates are encouraged to apply early. Due to legislative rules, UMass Lowell does not accept students to the online master’s program who currently reside in Arkansas, Kansas, or Minnesota.

    University of Cincinnati

    The online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Leadership at the University of Cincinnati UC) consists of 10 courses (30 credit hours). Students taking two courses per semester can complete the program 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. UC 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 M.Ed. 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 (USD) offers an online Master of Arts (MA) in Educational Administration and Leadership that is designed to offer flexible schedules for working professionals. Students can choose a concentration in Adult & Higher Education; School District Superintendent; or PreKindergarten-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 most 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. USD also offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Technology for Education and Training, as well as an online Graduate Certificate in Literacy Leadership and Coaching.

    Online and Hybrid Doctoral Programs

    Florida State University

    Florida State University (FSU) offers several degrees in Educational Leadership/Administration, from a modified certificate to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), many of which are offered online. FSU’s Doctor of Education (EdD) program in Educational Leadership/Administration is offered fully online. To be admitted, applicants must have at least 10 years of professional experience in an educational setting with no less than five years of experience in a leadership role. If they do not meet this requirement, they must have a doctoral degree in another field with a 3.0 or greater GPA or have completed a master’s or Educational Specialist (EdS) degree with a 3.75 or greater GPA. Graduates of the program will be prepared to become leaders in educational advancement through research and policy changes at the local, state, national, and even international levels. The EdD degree comprises 69 credit hours; 24 of these are dissertation hours. Students will need three years to complete the degree requirements. Coursework includes Educational Administration and Organizational Practice, Introduction to Policy Studies, Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, and Professional Learning for Educational Practitioners. While the degree can be completed online, there is a scholarly engagement requirement for EdD and PhD students that may require an in-person benchmark component. Other online degrees offered include a Master of Science (MS), Educational Specialist (EdS), a Modified Certificate in Educational Leadership with or without certification, and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Educational Leadership/Administration.

    Additional Resources

    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 another field and have not earned teaching certification. However, most K-12 public school districts look for administrators with 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. However, many of these programs require some field experience and/or an internship component, which will likely require your presence at a physical location.

    Question: What career opportunities are available with a master’s degree in education administration?

    Answer: A master’s in education administration can open the door to many career opportunities, including school administration, advising and counseling, and consulting. This 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: accreditation at the institution level and programmatic accreditation. Accreditation at the institution level is typically necessary for earning teaching certification and for receiving federal financial aid. There are also highly-regarded accreditors that specifically focus on education programs. You can read more about accreditation on our schools page.

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