30 Best Online Masters in Education Administration [2021 Guide]

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Getting an online masters in education administration can help give you the foundation you need to launch a dynamic career leading educational services in K-12 or postsecondary school settings.

Online Masters in Education Administration

Typically, you’ll need a Master of Education Administration degree and several years of teaching experience to move into a demanding role as a school site or school system administrator.

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Pursuing an online masters in educational leadership means learning from seasoned educational professionals about trends and best practices in the areas of curriculum design, school law, administrative operations, community networking, and building up organizational capacity.

Online Masters in Education Administration Programs

Education Administrator working in her office

School administrators today wear many hats. Students, families, the larger community, and staff to school administrators for inspiration, guidance, and support.

And, above all, they look to them to foster dialogue and community in support of positive change. Second, school administrators are in charge of establishing and maintaining equitable policies and fiduciary oversight in compliance with a range of education laws and regulations.

They also oversee other staff, supervising curriculum practices and ensuring effective systems for hiring, training, and evaluating teachers, and for monitoring and measuring student learning.

They have the opportunity to oversee staff in measuring, reporting, and responding to academic results, while helping all stakeholders to identify, embrace, and implement evidence-based practices and methods.

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Online masters programs in education administration that focus on K-12 leadership are designed to make sure that students develop foundational knowledge in all these areas. Instructors in these programs are typically seasoned professionals ready to equip students with proven practices based on current research and direct experiences in the field.

If you decide to pursue this field of study, you should finish your program knowing what leadership models are most effective for leading complex systems and for sparking positive change agency.

If you wish to find a job in a large school district or in postsecondary administration, you’ll find these jobs may also offer opportunities for change-oriented leadership, but more often focus on management and oversight, whether in instructional services or other departments, such as HR or accounting.

For most of these jobs your graduate degree in school administration along with relevant work experience, and in some cases state-mandated certifications or licensure, will be key requirements.

Master of Education Administration Careers & Salaries

Master of Education Administration Careers & Salaries

An online masters in education leadership program can a great way to get qualified for succeeding in dynamic and challenging education administration roles.

If you have teaching and instructional expertise and wish to transition into a leadership role, an education administration masters is probably an excellent choice. An education administrator degree can help you gain insight into all the ins and outs of education sector administration.

You can develop a grounding in complex and wide-ranging education laws. You can learn strategies for building change agency through effective networking, investments in professional capital, and shared leadership structures.

With this kind of training from experienced education-sector leaders and researchers, you can hit the ground running and pursue a career as an effective and successful principal (or assistant principal) at the elementary, middle, or high school level.

A graduate program in educational leadership or doctoral program in higher education can also be a fit for people with backgrounds in curriculum and instruction, IT, or business administration who want to help manage a large school or school system.

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Common school district positions include roles such as director of K-8 education, director of secondary education, student services director, special education coordinator, instructional technology lead, director of ELL services, and human resources director.

Postsecondary administration jobs will typically align with specific operational functions: admissions, community outreach, human resources, academic affairs, athletic programs, facilities maintenance, and so forth.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics an online education administrator degree opens doors to opportunities in teaching, instructional leadership, principal jobs, and diverse postsecondary administration roles.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Human Resources Manager $121,220
Training and Development Manager $115,640
Administrative Services Manager $98,890
Elementary, Middle or High School Principal $98,490
Postsecondary Education Administrator $97,500
Instructional Coordinator $66,970
Education Consultant $62,980
Training and Development Specialist $62,700
Special Education Teacher $61,420
School and Career Counselor $58,120

Schools are everywhere and, as you can see, K-12 school systems and postsecondary school systems both offer a range of challenging and well-paid administration jobs.

Choosing an Online Masters in Education Administration Program

Masters in Education Administration student studying online

An online masters degree in educational administration might be one person’s stepping stone to becoming a director of admissions at a small private college, while another person seeks work as a special education administrator in a large public school district.

With this in mind, you’ll want to choose a program with the courses, concentrations, and pathways that align with your own prior experience and future professional goals. When comparing online masters in educational administration programs, we recommend sticking with fully accredited schools. In addition, you’ll probably want to consider:

  • the education sector and kinds of services you want to specialize in
  • program support for any relevant state-mandated certification or licensure
  • possible benefits of attending school in the state you plan to work in
  • field study or internship opportunities
  • if a thesis or other capstone project is required
  • flexible study options based on your individual needs

By focusing on programs aligned with your professional interests and past work experience and keeping in mind these key considerations, you’ll be well on your way to choosing a program that’s best for you.

Masters in Education Administration Curriculum & Courses

Training and Development Managers teaming up during a seminar

Here are some of the types of courses you’ll likely frequently encounter as you compare programs:

  • Education Law: Provides a thorough overview of the federal education laws and policies administrators need to monitor for compliance and for guiding school policy and reform, including academic accountability, ethical practices, and student policies.
  • Systems Leadership: Learn how to be a leader who builds organizational capacity and collaborative networks to leverage resources and foster institutional learning and innovation.
  • Education Finance and Accounting: An introduction to federal and state education funding concepts and frameworks, including categorical fund accounting, and fiduciary oversight and transparency.
  • Theories of Education: This course can help you situate present pedagogical practices and competing education reform models within larger ideological, sociological, and historical perspectives on education and pedagogy as a foundation for exploring effective models for innovation-oriented school governance.
  • Leadership for Diversity and Equity: In this course you can expand your awareness of diverse communities and perspectives while exploring the role leaders play in supporting inclusive, participatory, and cohesive educational environments.
  • Curriculum Supervision: Learn methods for effectively designing and aligning curricula objectives, content, methods, and assessments in order to implement effective curriculum supervision and curriculum policies.
  • Digital Innovation: Explore the IT tools, innovations, concepts, and resources that can help you be an informed and effective facilitator of digital innovation for improving administrative operations and classroom or remote instruction.
  • Systems for Staff Development and Supervision: This course can provide you an understanding of methods and best practices for monitoring and improving mechanisms for effective staff recruitment, training, advancement, and evaluation.
  • Student Services: Learn how to ensure you and your organization meet legal and ethical standards for supporting all students, serving the needs of exceptional students, and promoting student wellbeing, safety, and equity.
  • Research Practicum: Learn how to carry out your own research and accurately evaluate others’ research, to further your professional learning for leadership and for your master’s thesis.

Your Masters of Education Administration program can help prepare you to get the job you want and be equipped to help navigate many organizational dynamics and leadership challenges.

Admissions Requirements

To gain admissions to most online masters in educational leadership programs, you’ll need to have already completed a bachelor’s degree.

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Here’s a list of what you’ll probably need when you apply:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Satisfactory GPA
  • Transcripts for all prior college coursework
  • GRE scores, if required
  • One or more letters of recommendation

In most cases, you’ll need a state teaching certification, prior teaching experience, and a graduate degree to work in education administration. Some online masters in educational leadership may also make teacher certification a pre-requisite for admission.

Accreditation

Online Masters in Education Administration Accreditation

We recommend you only apply to fully accredited schools and programs. By choosing a fully accredited school and program, you can be more confident that your academic qualifications and investments will be honored by other schools and prospective employers.

The accreditation process involves reviews of school resources and evaluations of academic quality and student services. The reviews are carried about by the department of education or another recognized third-party organization.

The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has resources for people interested in learning more about accreditation or wanting to identify accredited schools.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

financial aid for Masters in Education Administration students

We encourage you to consider your future career prospects and earnings potential when weighing educational expenses. Also, remember that most students who demonstrate financial need, will qualify for low-interest student loans. You may also be eligible for merit-based or need-based scholarships or school-based financial assistance programs.

If you already work in education, you may be able to take advantage of an employer-based tuition assistance program. You may qualify for loan forgiveness programs that allow you to more quickly reduce your education debt in return for working in defined, high-demand education jobs.

For both loans and many other forms of needs-based financial assistance, you’ll need to submit an application for federal student aid (FAFSA).

What Can You Do With a Masters in Education Administration?

Education Administrators working in the office

If you’re already a credentialed teacher with three or more years of teaching experience, getting an online masters may qualify you for leadership positions. Your masters may also reward you with an immediate salary boost or additional annual stipends if you’re already working in education.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with your masters in education administration, you can qualify for leadership and administration jobs at public, private, or charter K-12 schools, in K-12 school districts or networks, and in postsecondary education administration roles.

Keep in mind that the administration jobs you’re seeking may also require state credentialing or certification just as most teaching jobs do.

How Much Does an Online Masters in Education Administration Program Cost?

In an online masters in education leadership, you should be paying to connect with professors and mentors who are veteran educators or organizational leadership experts. Although tuition costs and fees vary, you can expect tuition at many universities to fall in a range between $350 and $1,200 per credit hour.

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You should be able to find detailed information regarding fees and tuition for schools that interest you using the school’s online resources or with the help of admissions officers.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Online Masters in Education Administration?

Masters in Education Administration researching online

Getting your Master of Education Administration should take you about two years. Keep in mind that projects such as a master’s thesis (if one is required), may take additional time. It also can be hard to predict exactly how long a project like writing a thesis may take.

Some online masters in education administration programs offer accelerated study timelines to help you finish more quickly.

When following a more traditional 16 week semester and attend full-time, master’s programs in this field usually take about two years. Following an 8 week semester with continuous, year-round enrollment may allow you to finish in less time.

While time can be an important consideration, we recommend you always choose a fully accredited program and one with course concentrations supporting your professional goals.

Are There Any Affordable Online Masters in Education Administration?

Masters in Education Administration student studying on her laptop

Yes, you can definitely find a number of affordable programs. Some schools design their online education degree programs to provide students greater flexibility and more affordable tuition rates.

Typically, the more competitively priced programs will get you in the door for as little as $350 to $500 per credit hour in direct tuition costs. Your masters program will most likely require 30 to 38 credit hours.

We also recommend you consider state colleges and universities offering discounted tuition rates for students who meet state residency requirements. In addition, a number of universities offer discounted e-tuition rates for online students. This can be an opportunity to get into a great program at affordable tuition rates.

What is a Masters in Education Administration?

School Counselor talking to college students

A masters in education administration qualifies students with a background in education or management to work in school site and whole-system educational administration.

Some programs may offer concentrations for particular kinds of education management settings, such as charter networks, public or private K-12 schools or school districts, or public or private postsecondary schools or school systems.

In most cases and regardless of concentration, a masters in education will provide you foundational knowledge of education laws, education policy, regulatory frameworks, and specific concepts and methods for oversight of school personnel, student services, and school accounting.

Some programs have a lesser or greater emphasis on concentrations that develop expertise in instructional supervision for K-12 instructional coordination, curriculum design, and ongoing staff development.

What is the Difference Between a Masters in Educational Leadership vs. Education Administration?

Training and Development Specialists in a meeting

In many cases, the terms educational leadership and educational administration are used interchangeably. That said, a masters in educational leadership is more likely to emphasize expertise for leading policy and curriculum reform.

With this kind of concentration, you can learn best practices for driving innovation and for building human capacity across your school or school system in order to drive deeper reforms and maintain a strong focus on improving instruction and academic outcomes for all students.

In some cases, this focus on change-oriented leadership will align with professionals pursuing leadership positions in private or charter school networks focused on more entrepreneurial innovation.

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That said, it’s certainly true that public K-12 school systems in many states are also actively experimenting with change-oriented leadership and governance frameworks in order to address achievement gaps, learning outcomes, or to improve school climate.

A masters in education administration, on the other hand, may indicate a program emphasizing more business-related administration competencies, for overseeing human resources, facilities management, budget offices, and so forth.

Is a Masters in Education Administration Worth it?

Education Administrators listening to a speaker during seminar

Yes, a masters in education administration is worth it for many students. In education, training, and library field, jobs are projected to grow at a rate of 5% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), faster than the average overall growth. Common education administration careers in this field include K-12 school system principal, school district administrator, instructional coordinator, and postsecondary education administrator.

Based on your individual interests, you can find different types of administration roles to pursue. Many education leaders serve in roles as supportive and vision-oriented leaders who pursue change-oriented agendas or in some way challenge the status quo.

Their role includes management functions but focus primarily on fostering positive school climates, driving professional learning, and engaging community networks with a focus on improving academic outcomes.

Others take roles making valuable contributions in more business-related administration roles. These professionals  may oversee an HR, accounting, or IT department, for example, or supervise student services or instructional resources for a large school or school system.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Education Administration Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Angelo State University

Angelo State University campus

The Master of Science in Educational Leadership program at Angelo State University also includes a Texas principal certification component.

The program requires 36 credit hours for completion, and the course curriculum focuses on topics like data literacy, human capital management, leadership development, school improvement initiatives, instructional coaching, and curriculum oversight.

Angelo State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Ball State University

Ball State University campus

Ball State University offers an online Masters in Educational Administration and Supervision program that can also lead students to a principal’s license certification. BSU’s program is the largest of its kind in the state of Indiana, and its 2 semester principal internship is highly regarded.

Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Capella University

Capella University campus

Students in Capella University’s Master of Science in Education program can choose a concentration in Leadership in Educational Administration.

It takes 46 quarter credits to graduate. Notable courses include assessment and improvement of instruction, school leadership and management practices, strategies for eliminating the achievement gap, and education and the law.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Chadron State College

Chadron State College campus

Chadron State College’s Master of Arts in Education program has five concentrations students can choose from, including one in Education Administration.

Students can further narrow their focus by choosing between the special education supervisor track and the elementary or secondary principal track. Both tracks require students to pass the Praxis to graduate.

Chadron State College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Dallas Baptist University

Dallas Baptist University campus

The Master of Education in Higher Education program at Dallas Baptist University allows students to choose from administration or instruction concentrations.

The administration track requires 24 credits in core courses as well as 12 credits in the concentrations of distance learning specialization, community college leadership, student affairs, leadership studies, or interdisciplinary studies.

Dallas Baptist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Drexel University

Drexel University campus

Drexel University offers an online Masters in Education Leadership program that allows students to work towards their school principal certifications or their supervisor of special education certifications.

Students may also choose to pursue both certifications or even a non-certification path. Students learn to become mentors, to collaborate, to actively listen, and to resolve conflicts.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Emporia State University

Emporia State University campus

Emporia State University’s Master of Science in Educational Administration program includes accelerated courses and can be completed in 12 months.

The curriculum prepares students for K-12 principal licensure, helps them gain knowledge of educational methods, trends, classifications, and terminology, and teaches them to develop specific skills needed in the field.

Emporia State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Fordham University

Fordham University campus

Students in Fordham University’s Master of Science in Education program can select a concentration in administration and leadership, specifically Catholic Educational Leadership.

It’s a 30 credit course that incorporates the Catholic mission and culture into teaching students to become empathetic, technologically-sophisticated, and globally-minded. It can be taken full- or part-time.

Fordham University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the Middle States Association.

Fort Hays State Univeristy

Fort Hays State University campus

Fort Hays State University’s Master of Science in Educational Administration program offers a concentration for students hoping to become building principals.

Notable courses in the curriculum include school law, supervision and evaluation of personnel, curriculum planning and evaluation, educational leadership, cultural diversity, school and community relations, and data analysis and assessment.

FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Franciscan University of Steubenville campus

Franciscan University of Steubenville offers a Masters in Education program that exemplifies Catholic educational and ethical ideals.

Students can choose to take classes year round and earn their degrees in only a year. The curriculum is a mixture of content-based coursework, team teaching, interdisciplinary collaboration, and practical, hands-on training.

Franciscan University of Steubenville is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

George Washington University

George Washington University campus

Students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration program at George Washington University can learn to design effective curricula, motivate and support educators and students, and provide innovative solutions to practical problems.

The program has NCATE accreditation and is recognized as one of the country’s premiere programs.

George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University campus

Georgia Southern University offers a Master of Education in Educational Leadership that helps prepare students for entry-level leadership positions in K-12 schools. It requires 12 courses for completion and 250 hours of clinical practice and field experience. The program can lead to Tier 1 level certification under Georgia state requirements.

Georgia Southern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

The Master of Education in Educational Administration program at Grand Canyon University is an advanced program for current educators who want to move into administration positions in public, private, or charter K-12 schools.

The curriculum is flexible and focuses primarily on issues of educational law, management styles, and strategic leadership.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University campus

At Louisiana State University, students can earn their Masters in Educational Leadership in as few as 15 months. The program is designed with working professionals in mind and includes a comprehensive but flexible curriculum. Graduates should leave with improved leadership, teaching, administration, and research skills. No GRE scores are required.

Louisiana State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University campus

The Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration in Higher Education at New Mexico State University is entirely online and requires 33 credits for completion. There are several required courses on administration and leadership. Other core courses include ones on finance and funding, educational law, and elements of research.

NMSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

Northern State University

Northern State University campus

Northern State University’s Master of Education in Leadership and Administration program is both flexible and affordable, and it aligns with the national standards put in place by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council. A high premium is placed on the importance of understanding school culture, safety in schools, and educational ethics.

Northern State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University campus

Old Dominion University offers a Master of Science in Education program with a concentration in Educational Leadership.

It’s a cohort-based, 30 credit program designed to provide students with theoretical and conceptual knowledge and hands-on experience. Leadership, data analysis, decision making, and human resource management are all covered in the curriculum.

Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Saint Joseph’s University

Saint Joseph’s University campus

The Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Administration program at Saint Joseph’s University teaches students to teach, inspire, and change the communities in which they work.

The program can lead to several licenses, including Administrative I Principal PK-12, Instruction Supervisor PK-12, and Supervisory I Special Education PK-12 licenses.

Saint Joseph’s University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Texas A & M University

Texas A and M University campus

Students enrolled in Texas A&M’s Master of Education in Educational Administration program can select the K-12 Educational Leadership concentration if they’re hoping to move into leadership positions within their schools.

It’s a 2-year program designed to improve educators’ knowledge of the fiscal, political, moral, social, legal, and cultural aspects of education.

Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Houston – Victoria

University of Houston Victoria campus

Students at University of Houston – Victoria looking for educational leadership programs have several options.

UHV offers four concentrations within its Masters in Administration and Supervision program: Principalship, Superintendency, Non-Public Administration, and Organizational Leadership. Certificate options for principals and superintendents are also available. The college offers several financial aid options to those who qualify.

The University of Houston-Victoria is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Kansas

University of Kansas campus

The Master of Education in Educational Administration program at University of Kansas offers students two tracks: the building leadership track, which can lead to licensure, and the non-licensure track. GRE scores aren’t required for admission, and the program can be completed in 2 years. An internship is required for graduation.

The University of Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell campus

The University of Massachusetts – Lowell offers a Master of Education in Education Administration program online. It’s a 30 credit program that boasts an excellent faculty, ultimate flexibility and convenience, and a comprehensive curriculum. A practicum must be completed to graduate, but students can complete it in their current school settings.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma campus

University of Oklahoma’s Master of Education in Educational Administration program features a concentration in curriculum and supervision for current educational professionals hoping to take on leadership roles within their schools.

The program requires only 12 courses for completion, and they include ones on instructional leadership, strategic thinking, and organizational capacity.

The University of Oklahoma is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina campus

The Master of Education in Education Administration program at University of South Carolina seeks to transform students into “equity-focused, transformative leaders.” Credits are broken into 21 core credits, 9 content-focused credits, and a 6 credit hour practicum. The instructors are skilled at online instruction, and the program is highly interactive.

The University of South Carolina is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota campus

University of South Dakota’s Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Leadership program has quality faculty and advisors that are highly accessible, small class sizes, and flexible, convenient scheduling options for working professionals.

There’s an Adult and Higher Education specialization and a K-12 Principal specialization from which students can choose.

The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Tennessee – Knoxville

University of Tennessee - Knoxville campus

University of Tennessee – Knoxville offers several licensure and non-licensure concentrations as part of its Master of Science in Educational Administration program.

Some of these include the Higher Education Administration concentration, the Online Leadership Studies licensure specialization, and the Leadership Academy specialization. Common course topics include law, policies, curriculum design, and leadership.

University of Tennessee – Knoxville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Texas – Permian Basin

University of Texas Permian Basin campus

At the University of Texas – Permian Basin, students can enroll in the accelerated Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program and finish in as few as 12 months. The program has CAEP accreditation and meets the standards set by the ELCC. The program can lead to principal certification for some students.

The University of Texas Permian Basin is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee campus

Students in the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s Masters in Educational Administration and Supervision program have several licensure options available to them, including school principal, superintendent specialist, and school business administrator among others.

Faculty members have over 10 years of online teaching experience, and the program’s curriculum is both rigorous and rewarding.

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming campus

The Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in Educational Leadership program from the University of Wyoming is accredited by NCATE and NELP. The program aligns with national standards, is flexible, is 100% online, and has faculty who are also practitioners with over 60 years of combined K-12 leadership experience.

The University of Wyoming is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University campus

Western Carolina University offers an online Master of School Administration program through its partnership with Western Region Education Service Alliance. It provides a way for students who don’t already hold masters degrees to earn their principal licenses. There are 12 total courses in the program, and an internship is required.

Western Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Masters in Education Administration Online

Masters in Education Administration student studying online

At the intersection of shifting cultural trends and disruptive technological forces, education systems are facing massive change pressures and opportunities for creative innovation. It’s hard to imagine a time when a career in educational leadership and administration would require so much knowledge and leadership awareness.

If you want to be part of an emerging wave of education sector reform and transformation, there’s no better time to explore accredited universities and find an exciting online program in educational leadership.

We think you might be surprised to discover that a job in educational leadership could turn into the ride of a lifetime!

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Keith Nickolaus
WRITTEN BY
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a B.A. in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in education leadership, innovation, and policy.