What Does an Education Administration Degree Program Offer?

educational administrators meeting to decide new classroom construction
educational administrators meeting to decide new classroom construction

If you are a teacher and want to enhance your career by moving into education administration as a K-12 principal or some other high level management role, or if your dream is to become a university dean or other administrator, finding the right degree program is essential.

There are many programs that will set you on the path to a great career in education administration, but sorting out what they offer can be confusing. We’ve made your search easier by offering all the information you need to know about education administration degrees and educational leadership programs.

Bachelor’s Degrees and Related Programs

A bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate are fundamental to starting a successful education administration career. Most people working as education administrators, such as middle school and high school principals, or even pre-school administrators, started out as teachers.

In most states, a bachelor’s degree is the foundation on which an education career is built, whether the degree is in childhood development, education, or a non-teaching major in a subject such as English or history. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, teacher certification requirements must also be met to teach in public schools.

Post-Professional Certificate

After gaining experience as a teacher, further education is necessary for you to move on to the next level as an education administrator.

Continuing education such as post-professional classes in education administration or leadership will help you gain the knowledge you need. Programs are usually offered through university or community college education administration programs. Often these classes can be taken at night, and certification can be completed in one to two years.

If you are curious about education administration but you aren’t sure if it’s right for you, you’ll want to research educational leadership programs and post-professional certificates to get answers to your questions quickly.

Master’s Education Degrees and Graduate Programs

To qualify for more advanced education administration positions, you will need to earn your master’s degree. Master’s degrees usually take two years to complete, and you can expect a range of educational challenges:

  • Courses in leadership and case-studies in school administration
  • An integrated practicum or internship, which typically involves working with a case-study school to develop your leadership skills and demonstrate that your competencies are aligned with national standards
  • A Capstone experience, which usually includes designing and implementing an educational project in a school that you are working with, or writing a paper that includes research into a chosen area of education administration or leadership

Right now, to meet the growing need for K-12 principals, more master’s level educational leadership degrees are becoming available.

Educational Specialist (EdS)

If you have a master’s degree in education and want to continue your development but don’t want to complete a doctorate, the Educational Specialist degree provides growth and opportunity in a shorter period of time.

The EdS certificate is essentially a second master’s degree. It allows you to focus on an additional education specialty, widen your experience and broaden your resume to show the breadth of your experience and knowledge.

Courses may include studies in advanced teaching, theories of school reform, leadership for teachers and advanced research methods. For more information, see our educational specialist degree article.

Doctorate in Education (EdD)

If you are interested in working at a university in education administration as a dean or chief academic officer, a doctorate in education (EdD) or doctorate of philosophy in education degree (PhD) is required.

A doctorate in education administration or educational leadership (EdD) usually takes an additional four years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree and does not require completion of a master’s degree.

Doctoral degrees usually include two years of general courses in theories of education and advanced research methods, and then requires hands-on practicums in particular areas of education, such as arts, sciences or technology, as well as internships in educational institutions.

During your EdD degree program, you will develop the leadership skills you need to lead a team in curriculum development, professional development, educational research or academic excellence.

With an EdD degree, you will gain the experience you need to pursue education leadership positions as a university dean, chief academic officer, director of development, director of continuing education or other administrative position in a university setting.

Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)

Depending on which career path you want to pursue, you should choose your doctoral program accordingly.

Prospective principals and department directors might prefer EdDs because of the practical element of the degree, but educational researchers would do better with a PhD because of the theoretical knowledge required for the degree.

With a PhD, you might pursue a position as a school district or university policy maker, teacher educator or educational theorist.

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