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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 Schools with On-Campus Education Administration 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 percentage of tenured faculty, degrees offered, and US News & World Report rankings. To sort the table by any of these criteria, click on the corresponding column header.

SchoolGrad Degree(s)US News National Rank1US News Undergrad Teaching Rank2

Grad Rate3% Tenured Faculty4Net Price3
University of Washington-Seattle CampusMEd Education Policy, Organizations and Leadership;
MeD Leadership in Higher Education;
PhD Education Policy, Organizations and Leadership
#59 tieNR84%51%$9,443
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillEdS Educational Specialist;
EdD Educational Leadership;
MSA School Administration
PhD Education: Policy, Leadership and School Improvement
#30 tie#34 tie91%43%$11,100
University of FloridaMAE Educational Leadership;
MEd Educational Leadership;
MEd 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
#35 tieNR88%52%$15,283
University of GeorgiaMEd College Student Affairs Administration;
MEd Educational Administration and Policy;
EdD Educational Leadership;
EdS Educational Administration and Policy;
PhD Counseling and Student Personnel Services;
PhD Educational Administration and Policy
#46 tie#34 tie85%54%$15,934
University of Michigan-Ann ArborMA Educational Studies: Educational Leadership and Policy;
MA Educational Studies/MBA
#27 tie#1992%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
#70 tie#52 tie80%43%$16,450
University of Virginia-Main CampusMEd Administration & Supervision;
EdD Administration & Supervision;
PhD Education: Administration & Supervision
#25 tie#24 tie95%54%$16,594
Binghamton UniversityAdvanced Certificate: Educational Leadership;
MS Student Affairs Administration;
MS Student Affairs Administration/MPA Public Administration
#80 tieNR82%39%$16,775
Harvard UniversityEdM Education Policy and Management;
EdM Higher Education;
EdM School Leadership;
EdLD Doctor of Education Leadership
#2#34 tie96%45%$17,030
University of ConnecticutEdD Educational Leadership;
EdD Executive Leadership;
EdD Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy
#63 tieNR83%39%$18,699
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityCertificate Higher Education Administration;
EdD Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
#76 tieNR84%59%$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.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Virginia Tech offers a 69-credit-hour 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 of the program typically strive for higher-level educational administration positions. All coursework is offered in the evenings, since the program is tailored for 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 go on to become school principals, office administrators, university faculty, administrators, and presidents, and members of state boards of education.

University of Georgia

The University of Georgia’s College of Education offers several programs in Educational Administration: An MEd in Educational Administration and Policy, an EdS in Educational Administration and Policy, a PhD in Educational Administration and Policy, an EdD in Educational Leadership, and a Certificate in Education Law and Policy. The MEd in Educational Administration and Policy has two tracks: School Leadership (for students who are looking for school leadership positions) and Law & Policy (for students who ultimately want to pursue a doctoral degree or who are looking for positions in government, nonprofits, or academia). Coursework topics include school law, organizational leadership, school business and resource management, and applied projects in educational administration and policy. The Leadership track leads to Tier 1 Educational Leadership Certification in Georgia. An optional certificate in law and policy is offered under the Law and Policy track.

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).

Florida State University

Florida State University offers several degrees in Educational Leadership/Administration, from a modified certificate to a PhD, many of which are offered online. FSU’s 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 be in possession of a doctoral degree in another field with a 3.0 or greater GPA or have completed a master’s degree or Ed.S with a 3.75 or greater GPA. Graduates of the program will be prepared to be 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.

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.

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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.

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