10 Most Affordable Master’s in Educational Leadership Online 2021

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Updated July 2, 2021

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Penciling advanced study into a jam-packed teaching schedule is often easier and cheaper in online master's in educational leadership programs. According to the ASCD, educational leadership is a senior-level specialization where PK-16 educators control school department or building operations to exceed pupil achievement goals. Virtual classrooms offer flexible 24/7 access to educational leadership master's online degrees to help post-grads make the grade in administrative roles. Most school boards now mandate that leaders have one to three years of post-baccalaureate courses and state certification. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 52 percent of America's 3.3 million public school teachers have finished master's curricula. Since the number of education master's awarded dropped from 167,500 in 2005 to 146,600 in 2015 though, enrolling in graduate school can give a leg's up for promotion competition.

The Grad School Hub staff utilized the College Navigator database to design the following lesson on cheap online master's in educational leadership offerings. Our search terms seeking advanced education degrees available solely by distance learning returned 247 results. We filtered through these online colleges to eliminate any on educational administration instead of leadership. Academic quality is foremost in our book, so each prospective program had to meet regional or national accreditation standards. Besides price, preference was given to graduate schools with discipline-specific approval from the Council on Accreditation for Educator Preparation and rankings from respected magazines like the U.S. News & World Report. Lastly, we ordered the universities from highest to lowest mean in-state master's tuition and kept the 10 most affordable under $5,000.

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Most Affordable Master’s in Educational Leadership Online 2021

  1. Wayne State College

    Wayne, NE



    Labeled a "College of Distinction," Wayne State College is a public, civic-oriented master's teaching school that's produced alumni like Brian Wansink and Hilda Neihardt since its 1910 inception. Charging 3,571 Wildcats our list's cheapest in-state price of $3,600, WSC stretches beyond its 128 rural acres in Northeast Nebraska with online learning on Sakai. According to Niche, Wayne State has America's 159th best professors and 191st most liberal curriculum. Washington Monthly named WSC the 19th best buck while College Factual ranked its education programs 92nd for value added.

    Graduating one in 10 Nebraska teachers, the CAEP-accredited School of Education and Counseling is headed by Dr. Nicholas Shudak with an Online Master of Science in Education – Instructional Leadership available. The 36-credit, thesis-optional degree suits PreK-12 teachers seeking senior authorities over curriculum design. Core courses like instructional theory are specialized in 13 emphasis areas, such as Mathematics Education, Reading Specialist, Exercise Science, and Music Education. Aspiring leaders must enter the community-based cohorts with cumulative GPAs above 2.75 and teaching endorsements.

  2. Midwestern State University

    Wichita Falls, TX



    Following the motto "Per Scientam ad Excellentiam," Midwestern State University is Texas' sole public, nonsectarian COPLAC liberal arts school that was called Hardin College until January 1950. Sitting upon a 225-acre, red-brick campus in Wichita Falls near Sheppard Air Force Base, MWSU offers online study on Desire2Learn for 6,080 Mustangs in 17 programs. In Washington Monthly, Midwestern State was lauded for producing the 149th most alumni with PhDs nationally. The U.S. News and World Report ranked MWSU as the West's 91st best university and 35th top public institution.

    Featuring a below-average cohort default rate of 6.9 percent, the Gordon T. and Ellen West College of Education awards the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership Online with an optional Bilingual Education/ELL track. Organized by Dr. Kym Acuna, the 36-credit curriculum provides Texas Principal Certification with in-depth school business skills. Live online courses utilize video conferencing for teachers with 2+ years of experience to discuss personnel management, finance, curriculum assessment, and more. Before the TExES exam, educators tackle 12-week internships and impactful capstone projects.

  3. University of Texas of the Permian Basin

    Odessa, TX



    Admitting its first "Pioneer Freshmen" in Fall 1991, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin is a public, Hispanic-majority research institute affiliated with the Center for Energy and Economic Diversification. Booming 15 percent growth has led to a record-high 6,050 Falcons learning at the 644-acre Midland-Odessa Metro campus and online via Canvas. Niche distinguished Permian Basin for America's 31st best online programs. UTPB was ranked the 105th top value college by The Economist with the 45th highest graduation rate in Washington Monthly.

    Placed #6 for student services by the U.S. News and World Report, the CAEP-accredited College of Education has six start dates for the Online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership. Aligned to the Texas State Board for Educator Certification, the 36-credit degree directed by Dr. Ann Marie Smith takes just 12 months for mastering organizational behavior theories. Engaged, eight-week courses like school human resources, conflict resolution, and cultural proficiency lead to semester-long practicum in students' home districts. The 16-credit University of Texas Online Program for Superintendency (UTOPS) could be added too.

  4. Southeastern Oklahoma State University

    Durant, OK



    Serving 5,237 Savage Storm, 22 percent of whom are Native American, Southeastern Oklahoma State University is a public, regional master's branch designated by the Oklahoma State Regents Board in 1968. With a 19:1 student-faculty ratio, SOSU maintains courses in Durant, Idabel, Ardmore, McAlester, Tinker Air Force Base, and online on Blackboard. Washington Monthly selected Southeastern Oklahoma for America's 123rd best financial aid. SOSU is also congratulated for the 123rd most focused teacher education on College Factual and ninth highest Oklahoma ROI by PayScale.

    Given the Kappa Delta Pi Achieving Chapter Excellence Award, the CAEP-accredited School of Education & Behavioral Sciences has a Master of Education in Educational Leadership Online taught by faculty with 20+ years of experience. Directed by Dr. Stewart Mayers from Morrison Hall, the 30-credit, 12-month curriculum forgoes internships for a coursework-only academic track. Modules start six times annually for post-grads with minimum 2.75 GPAs to study topics like operations management, school law, and community relations. There's also an Online M.S. in Sports Administration – Educational Leadership.

  5. Taft University System

    Lakewood, CO



    Reaccredited by the DETC in 2013, the Taft University System is a private, for-profit multi-campus academic institution established for CPAs in 1976 and named for the 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft. Attracting 922 post-grads for 100 percent admission on $75 applications, Taft is headquartered on the Rocky Mountains' Front Range with online study via Blackboard Collaborate. Declared a GetEducated "Best Buy," the Taft University System was ranked 14th by College Values Online. College Factual also recognized Taft for America's eighth highest male-female diversity.

    Providing the 40 percent Tuition Opportunity Grant, the Boyer Graduate School of Education advances teachers with the Online Master of Education (M.Ed.), Leadership Emphasis. Chaired by Dr. Barry Resnick from Brigham Young, the 34-unit program spans three 16-week semesters full-time to enhance administrative techniques. Boasting 1:1 faculty interaction, the master's emphasizes Montessori education in courses from school diversity to instructional evaluation. Self-paced students begin the 15th of any month year-round and progress toward the culminating research project.

  6. North American University

    Houston, TX



    Approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, North American University is the Lone Star State's youngest private, nonprofit vocational college established in April 2007 as the Gulf Institute. Occupying a nine-story headquarters on Airport Blvd. just 19 miles from Downtown Houston, NAU instructs 800 adults from 50+ countries online using Moodle. North American is declared America's 71st most focused education school on College Factual. Known for winning the 2013 ICPC South Central Regional Contest, NAU landed among Victory Media's "Military Friendly" schools.

    Coordinated by Dr. Halil Tas, the ACICS-accredited Education Department has an average cohort size of 14 for completing the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Leadership Online. Certified teachers with 2+ years of classroom experience take three courses per term to finish the 36-credit, non-thesis degree within 18 months. Courses span from campus business to school public relations with 135 internship hours in students' own communities. Post-bachelor's applicants submitting the $60 application need two recommendations, curriculum vitae, and letters of intent.

  7. Arkansas State University

    Jonesboro, AR



    Linked to 36,858 LinkedIn alumni, including Dave Wallace and Kellie Suttle, Arkansas State University is a flagship public, research-intensive master's institution founded by Missionary Baptists in 1909. Endowed for $54.9 million, A-State educates 14,085 Wolves with a median GPA of 3.48 from its 145-building Jonesboro Metro campus and online on Blackboard. The U.S. News and World Report applauded Arkansas State for the 180th best online teacher preparation. ASU also has America's 34th most research expenditures in Washington Monthly and 222nd highest starting salary on PayScale.

    Employing the 2017 A-State Excellence in Diversity Award recipient, the College of Education & Behavioral Sciences created the Online Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership. Authorized in 47 states except Georgia, Illinois, and Iowa, the 36-credit, CAEP-accredited program develops the dispositions for school management. Headed by Dr. Mary Jane Bradley of Dixie Public Schools, the curriculum requires LiveText for seven-week courses like community relations and resource allocation with a capstone internship. There's also an Online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership for Superintendency.

  8. Henderson State University

    Arkadelphia, AR



    Approaching its 130th year, Henderson State University is a public, civic-oriented liberal arts COPLAC member of the Great American Conference that's named for Arkansas entrepreneur Charles Christopher Henderson. Enrolling 3,981 Reddies, HSU makes a "School with Heart" accessible at a 151-acre Clark County campus and online with Blackboard Learn. Henderson State is declared America's 97th best teachers' value on College Factual. HSU also boasts the 94th most community service in Washington Monthly with a "B" from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

    Aligned to the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC), the Teachers College immerses Henderson post-grads into the Master of Science in Education Leadership Online program for 18 months full-time. The 30-credit, CAEP-accredited curriculum has licensure tracks for Building-Level Leadership, Curriculum Leadership, Educational Technology Leadership, or District-Level Leadership. Chaired by Dr. Kenneth Taylor, the synchronous online degree develops educators' ePortfolios with courses like school governance, at least 217 internship hours, and the action research project.

  9. University of Arkansas-Monticello

    Monticello, AR



    Awarding $17.6 million in annual financial aid, the University of Arkansas-Monticello is an affordable public, close-knit master's liberal arts institution opened in 1910. Headquartered on a 1,600-acre, 80-building Tree Campus USA winner in the Timberlands, UAM maintains the 15:1 student-faculty ratio for training 3,925 on-site or online via Blackboard. Arkansas-Monticello is recognized for the 38th highest graduation rate in Washington Monthly. UAM also features America's 418th best faculty on Niche and 679th most popular education programs on College Factual.

    Partnered with Drew Central School District, the UAM School of Education in Willard Hall has experienced a 34 percent enrollment increase since 2014 in six graduate programs, including the Online Master of Educational Leadership. Led by Dr. Denise Baldwin, the 11-course, CAEP-accredited curriculum produces rural teacher leaders with a 100 percent Praxis pass rate. Open for admission until July 21st yearly, the online M.Ed. spans topics from school improvement to instruction supervision before the 200-hour internship and capstone seminar.

  10. Stephen F. Austin State University

    Nacogdoches, TX



    Named for the Texas Revolution leader and empresario in 1921, Stephen F. Austin State University is a public, independent teacher's college endowed for $74.3 million. SFA extends beyond its 406-acre Greater Houston campus to offer 12,954 Lumberjacks online education on Desire2Learn. Granted its fourth Southland Conference Commissioner's Cup in 2016, Stephen F. Austin State has the 224th best online graduate programs according to the U.S. News and World Report. SFA also landed as America's 244th best master's institution in Washington Monthly and 203rd top public school on Niche.

    Reporting a 90 percent TExES pass rate, the CAEP-accredited James I. Perkins College of Education launched the Master of Education in Educational Leadership Online. Directed by Dr. Barbara Qualls, the 30-credit, scholar-practitioner program integrates principal certification into empirical-based leadership development. Virtual courses like school law and instructional design have 160 total practicum hours before the capstone. Certified teachers with minimum 2.5 GPAs can submit the $50 ApplyTexas application until August 15th or December 15th annually.

Our Methodology, Explained

Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Why Consider Online Educational Leadership Master's Study Over On-Campus?

Educational leadership master's online programs typically employ the same PhD-level, tenure-track faculty to teach the same quality courses with more convenient classrooms. Online grad schools allow educators to keep working full-time while advancing leadership acumen during nights, weekends, and perhaps summer residencies. The U.S. News & World Report found consensus that school districts respect face-to-face and online master's instruction equally. Rural and suburban teachers can choose from online colleges nationwide without lengthy commutes. Accessing content via the Internet cuts extraneous costs like room and board and sharpens important educational tech skills. Accredited online programs may still qualify high-need educators for the $4,000 TEACH Grant. Master's in educational leadership online platforms also archive all lectures and discussions for easy referral later.

Which Careers Benefit Most from Educational Leadership Master's Online Degrees?

Going 30+ credits beyond the baccalaureate for a master's in educational leadership online opens most upper-level schooling professions, except college professor or dean. Educational leadership jobs exist in various disciplines from reading and special education to athletics administration. Master's training makes grads eligible for administrative endorsements that vary greatly by state. For example, the New York State Department of Education confers the School Building Leader (SBL) distinction for master's-level professionals with 3+ years of teaching experience. The Texas Education Agency developed the Advancing Educational Leadership (AEL) credential for passing seven principal competencies. Let's review five example jobs where master's in educational leadership online degrees are esteemed:

Teacher Team Leader- Certified veteran teachers with master's degrees are ideally suited for mentoring fellow educators as elementary or secondary team leaders. This role's duties include developing instructional initiatives, sharing lesson resources, coaching pedagogical strategies, evaluating teachers for feedback, planning professional development days, maintaining supply inventories, and serving as liaisons to administration.

School Principal- The Center for Education Reform reports that a principal shortage is affecting America's 129,189 schools serving 54.87 million K-12 pupils. Master's education prepares principals for supervising all building personnel, developing curricular programs, setting the financial structure, facilitating school efficiency, retaining quality teachers, keeping classrooms supplied, making grounds remediations, and disciplining students.

Childcare Center Coordinator- Marrying early childhood (Birth-Grade 3) experience with an online master's in educational leadership would qualify grads for leading staff as childcare center coordinators. Daily responsibilities will include creating preschool policies, setting safety standards, guiding curriculum development, preparing budgets, passing facility inspections, communicating with families, adhering to HHS regulations, and training teachers.

Student Affairs Director- The U.S. Department of Education recognizes 7,236 Title IV colleges, many of which need student affairs directors to organize engaging residential and recreational activities. Educational leadership master's grads could be perfect for promoting student retention, overseeing academic advising, planning orientations, coordinating honor society chapters, allocating club budgets, and posing recommendations to deans.

Training and Development Manager- One of the outside-the-box careers taking master's in educational leadership online grads into the corporate sector is training and development manager. Within HR departments, these leaders oversee employee workshops, establish professional development goals, select training manuals, design curriculum, hire instructors, allocate education budgets, and evaluate workers' learning.

How Much Do Online Master's in Educational Leadership Graduates Earn?

Although Monster Worldwide Inc. ranked education as the fifth worst-paying master's degree, earnings potential in leadership jobs can skyrocket above the average master's income of $69,732 on SmartAsset. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the 242,970 PreK-12 school administrators bank median pay of $92,510. College administrators bring home a higher average wage of $105,770 each year. Childcare center directors in the 90th earnings percentile make over $84,340. Corporations pay training and development managers handsomely with mean annual profits of $105,830. Salary.com recognizes curriculum managers, school superintendents, and Chief Academic Officers for median six-figure compensation of $102,644, $154,457, and $172,675 respectively. Athletics directors also lead students' sports programs for pay ranges of $63,805 to $185,801.

What is the Job Forecast for Master's in Educational Leadership Online Programs?

In August 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that total PK-16 enrollment hit 77.2 million for 9.9 percent growth over the last two decades. As pupil retention rises, educational leadership master's online graduates are vital to pilot successful curricular programs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects overall job growth of 9 percent for 876,800 openings across education disciplines by 2026. Demand for daycare directors will spike faster-than-average by 11 percent. Hiring of college administrators will pick up by 10 percent for 18,000 jobs. Training and development management positions are predicting favorable 10 percent increases. Ten-year growth of 7 and 8 percent is forecasted for teacher leaders and school principals respectively too. Brighten your outlook further by adding a master's in educational leadership online program to your teaching résumé.


National Center for Education Statistics
College Navigator
Council on Accreditation for Educator Preparation

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GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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