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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Educational Administration

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Educational Administration

Value

The University of Massachusetts – Lowell won our award for best value of colleges that offer an online master’s degree program in educational administration. The university’s annual return on investment (ROI), or the amount a student pays for tuition versus how much they receive in lifetime earnings, is 9.6%, according to PayScale.com. If financial aid is considered, the University of Massachusetts – Lowell’s ROI increases to 10.7%.

Flexibility

The University of Phoenix claimed our award for best flexibility. College Prowler gave the University of Phoenix’s online college a grade of “A” for academic flexibility, which indicates the degree to which a school will make reasonable accommodations to work with a student’s daily schedule. To determine the grade, College Prowler also considers class availability, ease of transferring credits and registering for classes, and the amount of time required to complete course work.

Career Support

Drexel University earned our award for best career support. The university’s Steinbright Career Development Center offers students career and educational counseling, pre-professional advising, on-campus recruiting, a graduate job board that enables students to search for full-time three to six month co-op employment, and an employer directed resume search. Most of these services are available through DrexelOne, the university’s online system that allows students to access courses, schedules, and more.

Financial Support

Ashland University claimed our award for financial support. According to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES), 98% of full-time, beginning undergraduate students received financial aid in the 2010-2011 academic school year. The university’s financial aid website includes information on important dates, forms, scholarships, grants, and student loan terms. Students can check the status of their financial aid application by using the university’s WebAdvisor system.

Technology Support

Drexel University won our award for best technology support. U.S. News & World Report placed Drexel University fifth in its rankings of student services and technology of the top online graduate education programs. In addition to providing career placement assistance, the university also offers live tutoring, a smartphone application, and the delivery of course content through live streaming video.

Student Engagement

The University of Phoenix also won our award for student engagement. U.S. News & World Report placed the university 10th in its student engagement and accreditation rankings of the top online graduate education programs. According to U.S. News, students can expect a response to their questions from their professor within 24 hours and the program is approved for initial accreditation by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).

Library and Research Support

Ball State University won our award for library and research support. The university’s online students have access to the library’s online research tools, including articles and databases, electronic course reserves, online references sources, and more. Ball State University also offers research guides for online and distance education students that teach them how to find dissertations, books, and articles, as well as use other research tools and how to get help from faculty.

Learning Support

Ball State University won our award for learning support. The university offers an extensive set of guides for new online students, such as how-to videos for using Blackboard, as well as writing services, online research resources, and programs designed to help a student’s study skills and strategies. U.S. News ranked Ball State University 17th in student services and technology of the top online graduate education programs. The university provides career placement assistance, live tutoring, a smartphone application, and live streaming video.

Faculty Credentials

Jones International University won our award for best faculty credentials. U.S. News placed Jones International University seventh in its ranking of faculty credentials and training of the top online graduate education programs. U.S. News reports that 72% of the university’s professors have at least two years of online teaching experience, and that all faculty must participate in a school-funded online teaching training program.

Alumni Engagement

Capella University won our award for alumni engagement for the benefits and services it offers to its graduates. These benefits include access to the alumni library, career services, development courses, regional events, volunteer opportunities, and the opportunity to network online. College Prowler gave Capella University a grade of “B” for its career services. A high grade in this area indicates how supportive the school is in helping students after they graduate. Grades are determined by the strength of the alumni network, availability of placement and employment services, and the helpfulness of the career center.

New Student Orientation

Ball State University won our award for student orientation for the tutorials it offers students to teach them how to get the most out of their online courses. The university offers a step-by-step guide to getting started in its online program and a live webinar that advises students about how to register for classes, order textbooks, and access technology support. Students can also watch how-to videos for using Blackboard, the university’s web-based system that is used to access all of its online courses.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration

An online master’s degree in education administration is designed for certified teachers or school administrators who wish to transition into administrative positions in their school district. An education administration program should deepen a teaching practitioner’s professional knowledge as well as familiarizing them with the roles and responsibilities of school administrators. Student will learn strategies for leadership, management, and problem-solving as they explore theory and practice of education administration.

Many master’s programs in education administration can be completed in one and a half to two years of full-time study, but each university will require a different amount of credits, so program length can vary from school to school. Students many be able to shorten the amount of time it takes to earn their degree by transferring in credits from graduate work completed at other accredited schools. Some programs are delivered fully online, while others will require occasional campus visits.

Class Curriculum

The curriculum in a master’s degree program in education administration will expose students to theories of leadership, educational research, laws and ethics in school leadership, assessment and evaluation methods, and curriculum and instruction. Students will also learn principles in hiring and supervision of personnel and budgeting for curriculum improvements. While required courses can vary greatly from school to school, a few courses you may take include:

  • Organization of Schools and School Systems. In this course, students learn how schools and school districts are organized from the top down, with emphasis on the unique role administrators play in helping a school organization run smoothly. Students also learn about the role of school boards and state boards of education, and how their decisions affect administrator goals and objectives.
  • Principalship. This course explores the distinct role of school principals in elementary, middle, and high schools. Students learn the qualities of effective principals, leadership skills, and technical skills associated with the job. In addition, students delve into the history of the principal role as well as contemporary issues and ethical dilemmas principals face today.
  • Ethical School Leadership. In this course, students explore more in depth the ethical dilemmas faced by education administrators, and learn about the link between effective school leadership and ethical behavior. Students will investigate different ethical behaviors and learn how to make decisions grounded in ethics.

An online master’s degree program in education administration will require a wide range of homework assignments, projects, practicum requirements, and even internships. Students may be asked to examine a case study and write how they would handle a complex, real-world situation where an administrator needed to show leadership skills. Students may also be asked to critically examine scholarly research and conduct research of their own. Last but not least, most programs conclude with an opportunity to complete an administrative internship, in which they perform many responsibilities, including interviewing, hiring, and training personnel; designing curriculum; and more.

Building a Career

Provided they have the appropriate amount of experience, students who graduate from an online master’s degree program in education administration may qualify for positions as school principals or education administrators at elementary and secondary schools and school districts. Those who seek these positions may also need to be licensed in their state as school administrators. Job titles might include: assistant director of curriculum and instruction, administrative deans, assistant principal, technology coordinator, senior director for specialized education services, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, chief academic officer, and more.

Elementary, middle, and high school principals handle the day-to-day operations of their respective schools, providing oversight for hiring and training of personnel, budgeting and finance, and setting academic goals for the school. They typically require a master’s degree in an area such as education administration or educational leadership, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). School principals reported median yearly salaries of $86,970 as of May 2010.

Education administrators had an estimated median wage of $87,470 as of May 2011, the BLS noted. Top-paying states for these professionals included New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and California. Remember, however, that the salary you earn as a principal or school or district administrator is determined by your experience and education, the size of your school or district, the complexity of your responsibilities, the region of the country you live in, and other factors.

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