The best educational leadership degree programs give future leaders in education the tools they need to manage one of our nation’s most important resources: the education of our children. Educational Leadership is an incredibly important field. A school with the best teachers may return unsatisfactory results if the administration isn’t supportive, innovative, and motivated.
For this article, we chose the fifteen most affordable online graduate programs in educational leadership from the thirty top ranked schools according to U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of Online Graduate Programs in Education. We ranked the schools according to raw affordability. Only schools with a dedicated online educational leadership program were chosen from the list, and all schools on this list were ranked in the top 60 in the national overall for online graduate education programs. At the end of the ranking, we included three schools that didn’t make the list due to not being as affordable as other options, but were such impressive schools we had to mention them.
Ball State University, located in Indiana, has become a major force in online education over the last several years. The school offers both Master’s and Doctorate level programs in educational administration and supervision. These programs are designed to prepare students to take the next step in their career, and meet the requirements for the K-12 administration and supervision license.
U.S. News Ranking: #11
This program is state specific, offered to North Carolina educators. The reason we included this program even though it is not a national program, is because it is an example of many state based programs that are available, but may be beyond the scope of this list. The goal of the program is to help students meet the North Carolina state requirements for school administrators, while training those administrators to have a positive impact on the educational quality of their schools, and the educational experience of their students.
U.S. News Ranking: #16
The Educational Studies: Specialization in Educational Leadership and Higher Education ED.D. program offered online by the University of Nebraska is paving the way for doctorate level online education. The program is fully online. Students may also, as a part of the program, earn a Specialization in Educational Administration and Supervision Certificate with a Superintendent Endorsement, which is a particularly strong option for students seeking a Superintendent level position.
U.S. News Ranking: #11
Education professionals desiring to grow into the role of school principal will find this program particularly attractive. In addition to the general program, there are two possible areas of specialization: Charter School Leadership, and Site-Based Leadership. The program is also a strong choice for those that wish to remain teachers, but desire a greater understanding of how schools operate, and seek to apply this knowledge in other leadership positions.
U.S. News Ranking: #3
The University of Northern Colorado offers both MA and EdD programs in educational leadership. The MA program also comes with the option for Colorado students to enter a special track that prepares them for principal licensure in the state of Colorado. Both programs are designed with application in mind, making them the ideal choice for students looking to enter a leadership position in education, rather than a higher education teaching or research position.
U.S. News Ranking: #8
Both the M.Ed. and Ed.D. programs in educational leadership are strong choices depending on your current level of education and current career. Both prepare students for administrative roles. The Ed.D. is specifically designed to prepare students to assume a leadership position in either traditional K-12 school systems or higher education while the M.Ed. is designed specifically to provide opportunities for education professionals to advance to the next level of administration.
U.S. News Ranking: #42
This program’s purpose is to develop leaders who will play a role in building strong communities of learning for all students. The program’s core content is designed to help students integrate information garnered from education research into their leadership style. The course can be completed in as little as 18 months. Lamar also offers a wide range of certificates in various areas of educational leadership that the student can use to specialize in their particular area of interest.
U.S. News Ranking: #55
This program, offered by SHSU, is designed for educators pursuing principal certification. School administration and organization, effective leadership strategies, campus business management, and federal, state and local school regulations are the primary emphases of this program. The program also trains administrators to be able to evaluate programs and apply research for the overall improvement of the school and curriculum.
U.S. News Ranking: #20
The M.Ed. online program prepares students to assume the role of principled leader in education. The program focuses on empowering the student with the knowledge to help create schools that will in turn, empower their students. Students must have three years of verified teaching experience on a valid teaching certificate in a K-12 school.
U.S. News Ranking: #7
This private, Jesuit university is ranked by U.S. News as having one of the top ten online graduate programs in education in the United States. Most schools so highly ranked, especially private universities, have higher costs, but at just over ten thousand per year, this is also one of the most affordable online graduate programs in education available today.
U.S. News Ranking: #9
In addition to Gardner-Webb’s already low tuition, current teachers in the Educational Leadership doctoral program may be eligible for loan forgiveness and other financial perks. The core of the program is designed to help emerging leaders in education develop the skills necessary to adapt to the constant change in the education system as a result of economic, political, social, and technological environments within which they exist.
U.S. News Ranking: #55
The Master of Education in Educational Administration program at Angelo State University aims to help students with the career goal of becoming school administrators. Applicants to this program must hold a Texas Teacher Certificate or an equivalent certificate. The program is specifically designed for students interested in school principalship within the state of Texas.
U.S. News Ranking: #36
This Marianist Roman Catholic University offers a non-licensure program designed to help students prepare for the next step in their education career. The benefit of the program being non-licensure is that its design focus is on broadly applicable theory and practice, making it a better fit for non-regional distance students. The University of Dayton is a private school, and all students regardless of location pay an incredibly low annual tuition.
U.S. News Ranking: #55
The goal of the Educational Leadership program at Concordia is to prepare students for teaching students the best in both theory and practice. This instruction will prepare them to become effective leaders in the field of education. Concordia’s M.Ed. degree is both affordable and effective, making it an attractive choice.
U.S. News Ranking: #55
The focus of this program is on principalship. Thus, if becoming a school principal is not your aim, you might want to look elsewhere. For those that do desire to assume the role of principal, this program’s focus makes it a great choice. The tuition is wonderfully low for such a well respected state university.
U.S. News Ranking: #25
These three honorable mentions had high enough tuition that they didn’t make our master list, but we decided that the schools were too good to leave off. Thus, we mention them honorably at the end of our article. These are the three best schools that only miss the mark on affordability. Many would argue that they’re worth the extra bucks.
While not nearly as affordable, or even as highly ranked for its online programs as some of the schools on our list, the University of Florida is a big name in education. The school is considered to be one of the top schools, public or private, in the United States, and the existence of a strong Educational Leadership program there seemed worth mentioning.
U.S. News Ranking: #47
This is an honorable mention because its tuition, while higher than any on our list, is still not unreasonable. The tuition is especially not unreasonable for a respected private university with the fifth best online graduate education programs in the United States.
U.S. News Ranking: #5
The final school on our list of honorable mentions is the #2 ranked school in the country for graduate online programs in education. This ranking is a strong indication that IA is practicing on the cutting edge of online education, so students looking for an innovative and up-t-date program shouldn’t ignore this option.
U.S. News Ranking: #2