What is an Educational Administration Degree?

Gandhi said, ‘By education, I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man – body, mind, and spirit.’ That definition presents an imposing mandate to educational administrators, whose job it is to lead teams to design curriculum, resources, technologies, and policies which will impact learners at all levels.

From elementary and high schools to colleges, universities, business settings, and government agencies, educational administrators are the facilitators of educational change and progress. Their profession and that of the educators they oversee create all the other professions. Together, they are undeniably the builders of society.

Degree programs in educational administration examine and explore education and social change, learning assessment, instructional development, human resource management in education, school finance and operations, and school-community relations and partnerships. In short, they prepare students to be the future architects of education as a system, teaching as an action, and learning as a process.

Program Options


  • Degree programs in educational administration may also be offered under the name ‘educational leadership’ or ‘educational leadership and administration.’ Some programs are designed to prepare students for careers as principals and administrators at the elementary, middle, and secondary school levels, while others focus on higher education administration.
  • It is important to choose an educational administration / leadership program that is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Master’s Degree in Educational Administration – Two Year Duration
The typical master’s program in educational administration comprises core education courses, core administration courses, and internships focusing on specific aspects of the discipline:

Core Education Courses

  • History and Philosophy of American Education – the major philosophical, historical, and social influences affecting education in American society; professional ethics and values for administrators
  • Organization of Educational Systems in the United States – relationships of the federal, state, and local governments to public and private education; administrative functions in the elementary, middle, and secondary school; multicultural implications
  • Educational Research / Educational Research Project and Paper – methodology of educational research, statistics in research, locating educational research

Core Administration Courses

  • Supervision of Instruction and Staff Personnel – study of supervision processes with emphasis on accountability and utilizing supervision for individual professional growth; practical application of state mandated instructional policies and processes
  • Principalship – administrative theory and practice relating to the role of the principal; changes in the role of principal resulting from demographic changes in society, state and local regulations, and in schools; standards for school leaders as outlined by the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC)
  • Administration of Pupil Personnel – administration of pupil personnel services and pupil accounting; responsibilities of the director of pupil personnel; systemized records management
  • Political Structure and School / Community Relations – effective use of public relations media: press, radio, and television; the political system, structures, and schools
  • School Finance, Business Affairs, and Physical Facilities – budgeting, purchasing, food, supplies, equipment and machinery, school insurance, maintenance and repair, pupil transportation, utilization of facilities; review and analysis of the school construction process
  • School Law – legal framework within which schools operate; federal and state precedents, state code, legal provisions for school finance
  • Policy, Planning, Evaluation, and Assessment – strategic planning, assessment, and evaluation of educational programs and student achievement
  • Curriculum Design and Teaching Strategies – theory and practice of curriculum design, development, and evaluation; teaching strategies based on curriculum

Sample Internships
Students choose their internship based on the specific license they wish to pursue. Internships generally fall into three categories:



  • Staff Personnel
  • Curriculum, Instruction, and Staff Development
  • Pupil Services
  • School / Community Relations
  • Research


Post-Master’s Certificate in Educational Administration – One Year Duration
The Post-Master’s Certificate in Educational Administration is designed for students who have earned a Master’s Degree in Education and wish to pursue roles in educational leadership. Most certificate program focus on the K-12 (kindergarten and the first through the 12th grade) setting. Programs that award this certificate are accelerated programs which position students to apply for administrative licensure. The curriculum is structured around coursework, projects, and internships and covers leadership and administration, change management, communication, supervision, human relations, resource allocation, and policy and legal issues in diverse learning communities.

Here is a sample curriculum:

  • Supervision of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
  • Foundations of K-12 Educational Leadership
  • School Law and Policy
  • Instructional Leadership
  • School Finance and Resource Management for School Leaders
  • Administration Internship

Doctoral Degree in Educational Administration – Three to Five Year Duration
Doctoral programs in educational administration prepare students for senior leadership roles in policy-making, university or college teaching, and research. The curriculum varies from school to school, but often focuses on advanced topics such as:

  • Financial Management in Higher Education
  • Advanced Qualitative Research
  • Formal Organizations in Education
  • Research Design and Educational Policy
  • Law and Higher Education
    -Public Policy, Politics, and Higher Education
  • Diversity in Higher Education: Race, Class, and Gender
  • Leadership
  • Educational Psychology
  • Educational Ethics
  • Comparative Higher Education

Degrees Similar to Educational Administration

Business Administration
Business administration is about overseeing a business’s finances, staffing, and contract negotiations. Degree programs in the field, therefore, teach students how to plan, organize, and direct all the activities of an organization.

Curriculum and Instruction
Curriculum and instruction (C&I) are the interrelated cornerstones of education. Curriculum or course content is what is taught. Instruction or implementation of curriculum is how that content is taught.

C&I specialists are the architects of teaching and learning. Their ultimate goal is to improve education systems by finding ways to help students better engage and achieve. At its core, their work is about asking questions, the answers to which are always evolving. What to teach, why to teach a topic, how to teach, how to assess and evaluate, and how to use technology in the classroom are the consistent drivers of the field of curriculum and instruction.

Students who major in education study the learning and teaching processes. Among the courses they take are educational psychology and teaching techniques.

Elementary Education
Degree programs in elementary education prepare students to teach children in their first stage of formal education, after preschool and before high school. They cover instructional techniques, curriculum development, and study of the subject areas to be taught.

Healthcare Administration
Degree programs in healthcare administration prepare students to manage the business aspects of medical facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and private practices. These programs provide training in basic medical and health knowledge and terminology, as well as in the clerical tasks of maintaining patient medical records, managing billing, and overseeing staff.

Public Administration
Public administration degree programs teach students how to make and direct policy at various levels of government. These policies can involve a wide spectrum of public concerns, from healthcare to social programs to the environment.

Typical courses for public administration students include community analysis, economic development, grant writing, local politics and administration, organization theory, public budgeting and financial administration, public policy, structure of government, volunteerism and the non-profit sector.

Skills You’ll Learn

Graduates of educational administration programs come away from their studies with a set of skills that is transferable to other administration and leadership roles:

  • Communication – knowing how to convey information to different kinds of audiences
  • A Multidisciplinary Approach – the ability to draw from multiple disciplines to explore problems and reach solutions
  • Flexibility and Negotiation Skills – open-mindedness that will secure the most desirable outcomes
  • Collaboration – capacity to work with many different parties (school boards, teachers, students, families)
  • Critical Thinking and Creativity – the ability to think critically leads to successful analysis, creativity, and ultimately to solutions
  • Cross-Cultural Appreciation – appreciation for different values and cultural expectations facilitates collaboration
  • Organizational Leadership / Project Planning and Implementation
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Educational and Business Software

What Can You Do with an Educational Administration Degree?

Here is an overview of the fields and roles in which educational administration graduates typically work:

Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools

  • Principal
  • Vice Principal / Assistant Principal

School Boards

  • District Administrator (example areas of administration: policy, scheduling, budgets)
  • Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator / Specialist
  • Superintendent

Higher Education

  • Academic Dean (leads or develops educational strategies for a specific school within their university ore college)
  • Chief Academic Officer (directs and oversees the academic program of a university or college; leads policy development in student learning, academic programs, teaching, research, and other student success areas)
  • University Registrar (reviews and analyzes the registration process)
  • Vice President of Admissions / Enrolment Management (orchestrates the recruitment of students)
  • Director of Student Financial Aid
  • Academic Advisor (counsels students about course selection, academic majors, strategies for resolving academic problems)
  • Director of Alumni Relations
  • Director of Career Services
  • Athletic Director (ensures that recruitment, athletes, and teams are compliant with conference rules and regulations)
  • Director of University Marketing and Communications
  • Fundraising Officer
  • Residential Life Coordinator (creates and supervises residential activities and social programs)

Private Organizations

  • Business Manager
  • Training and Development Director
  • Tutoring Company Manager

Government / Research Institutes / Professional Associations / Not-for-profit Settings

  • Education Program Officer (works on initiatives that will improve education throughout a specific state, or across the nation, if the position is with the federal government)
  • Education Policy Consultant
  • Education Policy Researcher
  • Community Education Director


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