Should I Earn a Master’s in Educational Administration or Leadership?

female educational administrative leader working in office

The College of Education at Grand Canyon University offers students a variety of degree programs. Among the many master’s programs GCU offers, both the Master of Education in Educational Administration and the Master of Education in Educational Leadership programs enable students to encounter professional and ethical educational best practices through a Christian worldview. So how do these two programs differ?

Master’s in Educational Administration

The Master of Education in Educational Administration program was designed for students interested in pursuing a principal’s license and working as an educational administrator in a K-12 setting.

Students in this program study subjects such as administrative and leadership foundations, creating and sustaining positive school cultures, finance, K-12 legal issues, curriculum, professional development and the empowerment of teachers as instructional leaders. Graduates of this program are well-equipped for administrative and leadership positions in public, private and charter schools. Leadership courses and modern education-related coursework provide them with the skills required to succeed in their field.

Since each three-course block concludes with an internship, students gain hands-on experience and finish the program with 270 internship hours. This valuable experience gives students myriad opportunities to apply the concepts they learn in the program to real-life situations.

Jobs You Can Get With a Master’s in Educational Administration 

With a Master of Education in Educational Administration, you can pursue several career paths. Many of these careers are set in the field of education.


Principals serve as the primary leaders of their schools; they oversee the staff of teachers, substitutes and other educational professionals. They play a critical role in setting academic goals for both the students and the school in its entirety. This can include focusing on disciplinary subjects, budgeting for the school’s operations and hiring new teachers. Other responsibilities include monitoring students’ improvements and achievements to ensure their success.

Essential skills for principals include time management skills and the ability to prioritize, make quick decisions, communicate effectively and motivate others.

School District Superintendent

The superintendent is the top executive of a particular school district. Superintendents help to create and maintain the school’s vision by making decisions regarding education, facilities, budgeting, teachers and staff.

These professionals must be detail-oriented and organized. In addition, they must possess strong communication skills to lead important meetings. Finally, they must be effective problem-solvers and utilize their extensive financial knowledge to create strong funding for events and programs.

School President

The school president observes the school board’s relations, finances, operations and fundraising. The president also oversees the curriculum, academics, lessons and instruction, financial aid and marketing. The role is thus diverse and involves working with students to solve problems, overseeing school events, and leading staff meetings. Leadership skills, especially management and organizational skills, are crucial for this role.

Educational and Academic Consultant

This career field focuses on advising and communicating. Educational and academic consultants provide counseling to school faculty, including teachers, on lesson styles, curricula and resources, such textbooks and novels. Consultants aim to promote the school’s academic excellence and develop strategies to achieve this goal.

Master’s in Educational Leadership

The Master of Education in Educational Leadership program provides students with the tools to advance their careers within the hierarchy of educational leadership. This master’s degree is designed for students who intend to become prepared and informed educational leaders in public and private schools but do not require a principal’s license.

Many of the subjects students study in this program overlap with those of the master’s in educational administration, such as leadership foundations, finance and K–12 legal issues. However, the education leadership program focuses on developing strong instructional leaders to improve curriculum, promote continuous improvement in schools and enrich teaching and learning experiences.

Students in this program also explore leadership best practices and learning strategies, such as cognitive coaching, collaborative decision-making and the need to create a supportive learning culture in the classroom.

Graduates of this program become well-rounded in various subject areas and gain the confidence to be effective educational leaders. In addition, they possess valuable experience from the practicum and field experience hours embedded in the program. Overall, both of these programs prepare students to become strong leaders in the field of education. Graduates of the Master of Education in Educational Administration and Master of Education in Educational Leadership possess the knowledge and hands-on experience required for career success.

Jobs You Can Get With a Master’s in Educational Leadership

You can pursue many career fields with a master’s in educational leadership. Many of these careers are set in higher education environments.

University Registrar

The university registrar serves within an educational institution’s management system. Registrars process registration records for future students who wish to enroll and maintain current students’ academic records. Registrars keep these records safe and make sure they are professional and accurate.

College Provost

This career field involves providing the primary direction for and evaluation of all of a university’s academic actions. Provosts also assume the university president’s responsibilities if the president becomes unavailable.

Dean of Students or Faculty

The dean of students or faculty bears responsibility for all student programs at a university. Deans fulfill this role by helping to meet students’ needs, overseeing admissions records and collaborating with various educational departments.

The teaching and learning cycle of Grand Canyon University’s College of Education provides a structure in which teacher and principal candidates can reflect on best practices. Grounded in our rich Christian heritage, GCU’s master’s in educational administration and master’s in educational leadership programs offer professional guidance based on research regarding the teaching and learning process. Learn more about earning your education degree from GCU.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.