Educational Administration & Principalship: Masters Degree, Doctorate & Online Info

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What kind of job can you get with a master's degree or a doctorate in educational administration? Find out master's degree and PhD requirements, online options and information on courses and educational administration degree programs.
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Study Educational Administration & Principalship: Degrees at a Glance

Most educational administration degree programs are designed to prepare students for a variety of careers in educational administration. In such a program, you can expect to study education law, finance, school supervision, conflict management, leadership and many other related areas. In the principal positions you'll likely be applying for, you'll be expected to design curricula, staff and train teachers, balance school budgets and deal with parents and school boards. Competition for many principal and postsecondary academic positions may be intense.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the number of jobs available for elementary, middle and high school administrators will increase by about 14% from 2010-2020. Unfortunately, 10% is the level of growth for principles. However, this is fairly average when it comes to job growth across all industries. If you aim to be a postsecondary administrator, you can expect job growth to be around 17%.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? People who want to have a career as a K-12 administrator Individuals interested in working in academia as professors or researchers
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Elementary, middle and secondary school administrator ($90,200)*
- Technical or trade school administrator ($79,400)*
Religious learning organization administrator ($60,300)*
- Residential care facility administrator ($71,800)*
- Postsecondary administrator ($101,800)*
- Community/junior college administrator ($84,500)*
- Trade or technical school administrator ($79,400)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 3-5 years after the master's degree
Common Graduation Requirements - Approximately 6-8 graduate courses
- Master's thesis
- Master's exams
In addition to all or most of the master's degree requirements:
- About 4-6 doctorate-level courses
- PhD qualifier exams
- Dissertation proposal
- Dissertation
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree in education administration or a related field Bachelor's or master's degree in education administration or a related field
Online Availability Yes Yes, but limited

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master's in Educational Administration

If you want to pursue a career in educational administration at the K-12 level, enrolling in an educational administration master's degree program can be a solid option. Students with strong communication skills and natural leadership abilities often have the best chances of completing the degree requirements and becoming a strong educational administrator. Skills you can expect to study to become a principal include, but certainly aren't limited to, communicating effectively with various administrative staff, hiring and developing administrative staff and teachers, overseeing school budgets and making curriculum revisions when necessary.

Many master's degrees are aligned with state or national education core standards. When this is the case, gaining academic administration licensure or certification might be a possibility. You'll also choose whether you want to enter a terminal master's degree program or one geared towards setting you up to earn your PhD. Even with a degree, you will need educational experience before obtaining administrative positions.

Pros and Cons


  • As far as your level of education goes, this degree will qualify you for K-12 principal positions, as well as positions in some junior colleges
  • With this degree, you'll have the skills and knowledge to professionally and creatively manage a school
  • You can secure a larger salary with a master's degree in education administration than with a bachelor's degree


  • In order to gain a position as a principal, you'll probably need several years of experience as a teacher and a lower level administrator before being considered
  • Without considerable work experience, you could find yourself educationally overqualified and under qualified experience-wise
  • Because some programs are geared more towards PhD candidates, it can be difficult to get funding for a terminal master's degree in educational administration

Courses and Requirements

While enrolled in a master's program in educational administration, typical course topics you may encounter include:

  • Research techniques
  • Community college leadership
  • Collective negotiations in education
  • Community relations
  • Politics of education
  • School leadership ethics and principles
  • Student enrollment strategies
  • Negotiating and mediating

You'll also be required to complete master's exams and research and write a master's thesis for review.

Online Degree Options

If you're currently working as a teacher, administrator or in a related field, you may not have the time to attend an on-campus program. In this case, there are online master's degree programs in education administration. Most of the requirements for such programs are similar to on-campus programs.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

There are a number of things that you can do while earning your master's degree in order to get ahead when it comes time to search for a job. For example, staying on top of the latest classroom and management technologies is a solid way to stand out in today's job market. Webinars, e-textbooks and virtual online lessons are all useful educational technologies that you can utilize.

You might also consider becoming a principal in an international or American school abroad. The university that you attend could possibly have an international job placement program. There are also a number of international school job fairs that you can attend throughout the year within the U.S.

Doctorate in Educational Administration

When choosing a PhD program in educational administration, you usually must first decide if you'd like to become a K-12 principal or a postsecondary administrator. You'll choose your area of specialization and work closely with your professors to complete an intense amount of study and research. If a professor has a similar area of expertise, you could end up assisting them with their research as well. Getting into a PhD program in educational administration is often a very difficult and fiercely competitive process.

Pros and Cons


  • You'll be able to enter a career at the K-12 or the postsecondary level
  • If you become a postsecondary administrator, you'll probably have a lot of travel, research and professional development opportunities
  • Your PhD research will have the potential to influence education policies and techniques used by principals


  • Entering a PhD program is very competitive and requires the highest level of academic achievement and excellence
  • Getting a job as a K-12 principal or postsecondary administrator can be an arduous, difficult task
  • Because, administrative jobs are located all over the country and world, there's a fair chance that you'll be required to relocate

Courses and Requirements

Although there are a few general courses in most programs, many of the classes will be based on your chosen area of research and expertise. These are just a few classes you might take:

  • Dissertation research methods
  • Student affairs administration in higher education
  • Statistical research
  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • School business management
  • Administrative ethics
  • Human resource management
  • Creating curriculum

In addition to the coursework and postgraduate exams, you'll most likely be required to present a dissertation proposal before a board. Once it's approved, you'll research and write your dissertation and then defend it. You may also be required to complete an internship.

Online Degree Options

While there are online doctoral degree program options in education administration, you'll still probably be required to complete a good deal of work on-campus or in the field. This is because a PhD is research-intensive, and you'll need to work with advisors, professors and even working administrators in some cases.

Stand Out With This Degree

Whether you're looking to become a principal or go into academia as a professor or researcher, the job market is competitive. The following are a few ways that you can stand out:

  • As is the case with a master's degree in education administration, keeping abreast of the latest developments in education technology is a solid way to stand out in the job market.
  • Wherever you're planning to work, getting administrative licensure from your state can be helpful.
  • Try to get your dissertation or any other writings that you've produced published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. This will look good on your resume and help you to begin building a professional reputation.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Walden University

    Program Options

      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (For Administrators)
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (Non-Licensure)
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Community College Leadership
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Higher Education Leadership & Management
      • PhD in Education - Early Childhood Leadership & Advocacy
      • PhD in Education - Education Policy, Leadership & Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Northcentral University

    Program Options

      • PhD in Education - Organizational Leadership
      • Ed.D. - International Education
      • Ed.D. - Educational Leadership
      • PhD in Education - Higher Education Leadership
      • Doctor of Education in Learning Analytics in K-12 Education
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

      • Education Specialist in Teaching and Learning
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Featured Schools

Walden University

  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (For Administrators)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Educational Administration & Leadership (Non-Licensure)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Community College Leadership

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Northcentral University

  • PhD in Education - Organizational Leadership
  • Ed.D. - International Education
  • Ed.D. - Educational Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • Education Specialist in Teaching and Learning

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