Study Education Management: PhD, Masters Degree & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in an education management graduate degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of master's and doctorate degrees and potential careers.
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Education Management Master's and Ph.D.: Degrees at a Glance

Graduate programs in education management prepare you to take on various leadership roles within school districts, grade-level schools, or postsecondary schools; possible job titles may include principal, administrator, superintendent, dean, or university president. Before acquiring one of these administrative positions, you may want to consider becoming a teacher first, since many state certification departments and/or employers require prior teaching experience.

Additionally, some education management positions have more favorable outlooks than others. The 2010-2020 projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated average growth rates for postsecondary education administrators (19%) and grade-school principals (10%). However, prospects may be contingent on regional budgets. Slower-than-average growth rates (5%) are expected for top executives in education, such as superintendents and university presidents, as well as fierce competition due to the status and wealth that typically accompany these positions.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? Current educators and certified teachers who want to transition into administrative positions Professionals in the education field who want to obtain top-level education positions or become scholarly researchers
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Grade-school administrator ($87,000)* - Superintendent ($141,000)**
- Provost ($132,000)**
- University president ($245,000)**
Time to Completion 1-2 years of full-time study or 2 or more years of part-time study after earning a bachelor's degree 2-5 years of full-time post-master's study or up to 10 years for part-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Approximately 30-33 graduate level credits
- Practicum or research project
- Roughly 60-66 graduate level credits
- Ph.D. qualifier paper or exam
- Independent research
- Dissertation
- Comprehensive exam
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- Current teacher certification
- Bachelor's or master's in education field
- Professional experience in education
- Teacher certification
Online Availability Yes Yes

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 stats), **Salary.com (April 2012 stats).

Master's in Education Management

Commonly designed for certified teachers in the K-12 education system, education management master's degree programs teach leadership theories and education policy through coursework, field experience, and research. You may find programs that prepare you for principal certification, and other programs that offer concentrations or allow you to customize your curriculum.

Some programs are designed so you become part of a cohort, but there are also programs that allow you to complete coursework independently. Coursework will typically compel you to evaluate current issues in education, and your research may focus on ways to solve various education-related problems. Programs are often designed so you can continue working full-time while pursuing your degree.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Degree can usually be completed while working full-time
  • Program can often be completed within two years or less
  • Online programs are common
  • Specialized programs are designed for specific career goals, such as becoming a principal
  • Teachers may qualify for advancement opportunities with this degree

Cons

  • Current teaching certification and experience is commonly required for admission
  • Study time can accumulate to 15-20 hours per week
  • Employment of public school administrators depends on government budgets
  • Administrators are held responsible for ensuring all school standards are met
  • Principals don't typically have summers off like teachers do

Courses and Requirements

The curriculum can vary according to the program's goal. You may learn a general overview of the education management field, or you may have the option to choose a concentration, such as education technology or transformational leadership. Likewise, some programs prepare you for principalship. Regardless of which program you choose, effective leadership strategies and national and state educational policies are commonly covered. You may also learn research methodologies so you can conduct research on various issues in the education field.

Classes may cover topics such as these:

  • Curriculum design
  • Overseeing school personnel
  • Education budgets
  • Evaluating teachers
  • School diversity

Many programs allow you to gain hands-on learning in work settings, such as a school's administration department, research center, school district office, or other education facility. You may need to prepare written or oral statements on your field experience. Midterm and final exams may also be required.

Online Degree Info

Online programs for this degree are prevalent because they offer flexibility for individuals who work full-time. Some programs offer a combination format where a portion of the program is offered online, and the other portion is offered on-campus. Whether programs are based online or on-campus, curricula are similar. Depending on the online program, you may be organized into cohorts that provide communication opportunities with other students, or the program may be designed for individual study. Live sessions are offered in some programs so you can interact with professors, while other programs may allow you to contact program facilitators whenever needed.

How to Stand Out With This Degree

You can enhance your professional development and leadership skills while earning your degree by joining relevant student organizations. You may be able to participate in research studies and outreach programs or learn new technologies. Some schools have groups that are specific to education policy where you can discuss relevant issues with peers, or you may be able to join groups that are specific to education issues, such as diversity. Another option is to check if your school allows students to act as representatives on a curriculum committee. Your participation may allow you to provide input on course information within the education department.

Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education, is open to education students and professionals, including administrators. As a member, you can participate in volunteer opportunities and other events that may provide networking opportunities. You also have access to various education resources, publications, scholarships, awards, and career information.

Finding ways to enhance your technology skills can prove beneficial. According to the U.S. Department of Education, integrating or upgrading technology in schools is a main priority. You can check what kind of technology or computer organizations are available at your school or within your community and take advantage of the resources they offer. Additionally, check if your school offers continuing education or professional development courses related to education technology.

Other Degrees to Consider

If you would prefer a career where you're more involved with designing the curricula for school districts, consider earning a master's degree in curriculum and instruction or a related field. Although instructional coordinators earn less than school administrators, employment is expected to grow twice as fast, at 20%, during 2010-2020, according to the BLS.

You could also earn a master's degree in instructional technology and learn ways to incorporate technology into classrooms and curricula. This degree can also be useful if you want to acquire an administration or instructional coordinator position. You may also qualify to become a teacher leader or technology coordinator.

Doctorate in Education Management

At the doctoral level, you engage in coursework, research, and field work that prepares you for top-level state or national administrative positions or those at colleges and universities. Programs often last 2-3 years. You may be organized into student cohorts where you study current issues affecting the field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Some programs accommodate working professionals
  • Online and on-campus programs are available
  • High salaries associated with advanced education careers (approximate median salary between $141,000 and $244,000)**
  • Helping improve education can be rewarding
  • High social status often associated with jobs

Cons

  • Degree programs include an intense workload
  • Long working hours that include nights and weekends are typical for relevant careers
  • Intense job competition
  • Slow anticipated employment growth (5% between 2010 and 2020)*
  • Can be stressful in order to meet performance standards

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com.

Courses and Requirements

Programs generally include 60-66 credits, which are acquired through courses, seminars, internships, and research. A core set of classes may be required for all students, but you typically have the opportunity to select classes or choose from concentrations that focus on a specific area of education that interests you. Topics that may be covered include the following:

  • Educational diversity
  • Financial aspects
  • Educational policy
  • Program evaluation

In order to gain official acceptance into the doctoral program, you may have to pass a comprehensive exam, which is normally given after the first year. Many programs require you to attain internships under the supervision of education leaders. You may also learn research methodologies so you can conduct independent studies on an education topic of your choice. This research typically leads to your dissertation, which is often presented and defended at the program's end.

Online Degree Options

Although many doctoral programs in education administration take place on campus, there are online options available. These programs can provide you with the flexibility you need to earn your degree while working full-time. Additionally, some campus-based programs may include an online component.

How to Stand Out With This Degree

While earning your degree, you may have to choose a specific aspect of the education management field in which to conduct your research. By choosing a technology-focused topic, you can show that you have expertise on a current, pertinent issue within the education field. You may also be able to score some publication points by applying to have your dissertation reviewed for publication.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.Ed. in Educational Administration
      • M.Ed. in Educational Leadership
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
      • M.Ed. in Elementary Education
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Higher Education - College Admin./Leadership
      • Master: Higher Education - Student Affairs
      • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)
      • Master: Higher Education - College Teaching/Learning
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Teaching and Learning
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Arkansas State University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership
      • Master of Science in Education in Educational Theory & Practice
      • Master of Science in Education in Curriculum & Instruction
  • Campus and Online Programs
    5. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Instructional Design and Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Brenau University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Education - Middle Grades
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Concordia University Portland

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - Educational Technology Leadership
      • M.S. - Educational Leadership
      • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Methods & Curriculum
      • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification
      • MS in Organizational Development and Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    9. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Educational Leadership and Administration
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Educational Technology Leadership
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
  • Online Programs Available
    10. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Instructional Design and Learning Analytics

Featured Schools

Grand Canyon University

  • M.Ed. in Educational Administration
  • M.Ed. in Educational Leadership
  • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University Global

  • Master: Higher Education - College Admin./Leadership
  • Master: Higher Education - Student Affairs
  • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)

Which subject are you interested in?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Teaching and Learning

What is your highest level of education?

Arkansas State University

  • Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Science in Education in Educational Theory & Practice
  • Master of Science in Education in Curriculum & Instruction

What is your highest level of education completed?

Full Sail University

  • MS - Instructional Design and Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Brenau University

  • Master of Education - Middle Grades

What is your highest level of education completed?

Concordia University Portland

  • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - Educational Technology Leadership
  • M.S. - Educational Leadership
  • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification
  • MS in Organizational Development and Leadership

What is your highest level of education completed?