Experienced teachers who transition into the principal role can have a significant impact beyond the classroom. School leaders, from assistant principals to program and campus directors, are essential to schoolwide success. They oversee budgeting and curriculum design, manage staff and direct facility operations. They also help create good working relationships between parents, teachers, and students and serve as a key liaison to the local community.
If you're drawn to leadership, a master's degree in educational administration can be the start of a rewarding career. You'll gain the knowledge and experience you need to meet state certification requirements and succeed as a school administrator. Some graduates even go on to work for school boards or educational agencies. An ed admin degree is the first step no matter which path you choose, and online study can fast track your goals. Follow the links below to learn more.
What Is a Master's in Education Administration?
It's a graduate degree designed for K-12 educators who plan to work in campus-wide management and leadership. Program grads may become principals, school administrators, campus coordinators or take on other important roles. Whether you're interested in working with elementary, middle school or high school students, an educational administration degree will develop your abilities in organizational and instructional leadership. You'll also learn the most effective strategies to promote teacher and student success.
The online Master of Science in Educational Administration at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) is designed for educators with a Texas teaching certificate who are seeking in-state principal certification. In addition to management experience, TAMIU master's students gain advanced skills in organizational and instructional administration. They also learn how to work closely with teachers as part of a collaborative team. Graduates are prepared to lead K-12 schools with vision and provide hands-on support that can help students succeed.
What Will I Learn in an Educational Administration Master's Program?
School administrators wear a lot of hats. They understand curriculum development, resource management and operational organization. They hire and supervise staff, implement student evaluation strategies and lead community outreach. They also ensure that their school is in compliance with state and federal education laws. While there's a lot to learn in an education administration program, master's courses are designed to build on your experience.
You'll study a broad range of instruction and assessment practices, and their impact on student achievement. You'll also learn to apply the principles of effective leadership, ensuring a safe and productive learning environment. Administration practicums are built into the curriculum as well, so you'll have the opportunity to apply your coursework in the field.
[Principal] candidates will apply knowledge of education policy, public financing and school accountability to develop and implement effective campus teaching and learning processes.
Which Courses Will I Take for My Master's in Education Administration?
Ed admin curriculum can vary among universities, but you can count on a big-picture approach to elementary and secondary education. Courses address different areas of school governance, instruction, human resources and operations, as well as law and public policy. Graduates gain leadership skills for multiple campus and community settings.
TAMIU's online MS in Educational Administration program is closely aligned with principal certification requirements in the state of Texas. Courses address the practical challenges associated with learning and assessment while also helping future K-12 administrators build the skills required to achieve campuswide goals. After completing 30 hours of coursework, you'll be equipped with key knowledge and hands-on applications that can improve learning outcomes for diverse student populations. In addition to two practicum classes focused on field experience, you'll study:
- School Administration
- Organization and Evaluation of Curriculum
- Administration of School Facilities and Finance
- Public School Law
- Advanced Problems in Supervision
- Administration of Special Programs
- Data Driven Decision-Making in Education
My teaching philosophy is informed by the truths and principles of being a first-generation college graduate who has developed as an educator, researcher, public servant and mentor.
What Are the Admissions Requirements for Online MS Programs in Educational Leadership?
Every university sets its own admission policies, and requirements can change from program to program. Education administration curriculum is often tailored to meet principal certification standards in the state where the college or university is located. Sometimes this means applicants need teacher certification in the same state to apply.
With that caveat aside, admissions requirements generally include an accredited bachelor's degree, official transcripts showing your courses and GPA, a minimum GPA, teaching experience, and a valid teaching license. Letters of recommendation, personal statements and GRE scores are often requested as well.
Applicants to TAMIU's online Master of Science in Educational Administration program must have a valid Texas teaching certificate, two years of teaching experience and a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of their bachelor's degree. However, they are not required to provide letters of recommendation, personal statements or GRE scores. See the full admissions requirements for additional information.
How Are Educational Leadership Degree Programs Accredited?
Programmatic accreditors examine faculty credentials, curriculum content, credentialing exam pass rates and other areas related to the quality of instruction. Universities are reviewed by separate accreditors, who also examine areas such as operations, finances and employment outcomes for graduates. In each case, accreditation helps ensure that your degree meets professional standards, and that your school is operating in an ethical manner.
TAMIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The M.S. in Educational Administration program is offered through TAMIU's College of Education, which is accredited by the Texas State Board for Educator Certification.
Why Does Accreditation Matter?
Accreditation guarantees the value of your education, for both you and your future employers. If your degree program isn't properly accredited, you probably won't qualify for state principal licensure. Most school districts won't hire graduates with an unaccredited master's degree, and the same applies for acceptance into a reputable doctoral program.
Accreditation ultimately supports your educational and career goals. It can also be essential to financing graduate study. Military education benefits, federal financial aid and government loan forgiveness programs aren't options for students enrolled in an unaccredited university.
Do Principal Licensure Requirements Vary by State?
Yes. States set their own licensure and certification requirements. The Education Commission for the States serves as a helpful resource to compare policies, but your best bet is to check with your teachers' association or state's department of education.
That said, the core requirements for principal licensure are similar, no matter where you live. You'll probably need a master's degree in educational administration or educational leadership. A principal practicum or internship is often incorporated into the curriculum, and that's because many states require field experience for licensure.
If you have a different graduate degree, you'll likely need to complete a board-certified program in ed admin to meet licensing requirements. Policies can differ on this point, and many states will differ when it comes to the certification exams required for principals. Some administer their own tests. Many use the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA). A few states require more than one type of exam or assessment.
If your ed admin curriculum doesn't meet your state's licensure requirements, you may not be able to complete principal certification. This is why it's important to find a master's program that supports your career goals. Coursework should align with standards for the state where you plan to work as a principal.
Learn more about our MS in Educational Administration online program!
How Do I Qualify to Become a Principal in Texas?
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has five requirements for educators who plan to seek principal licensure in the state:
- A valid classroom teaching certificate
- Two years of creditable teaching experience
- A master's degree from an accredited university recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
- Completion of a TEA-approved principal educator preparation program
- Passing marks on the TExES Principal as Instructional Leader (268) exam and the Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL)
TAMIU’s online MS in Educational Administration program offers prospective principals a clearly defined pathway to certification in Texas. Coursework prepares students to take the state certification exam upon graduation. Once graduates pass the exam and meet PASL requirements, the program then recommends them to the state for final certification.
Spotlight on Texas Certification Exams
Texas' principal certification process was redesigned in 2019 to align with new state standards, as well as the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System. Candidates now complete two separate assessments that demonstrate their preparation for the role in different ways.
The PASL is scored like an exam, but it's more of a formalized documentation process. You'll submit tasks completed during your principal internship for review, along with the written responses and video evidence that supports your work. TEA-approved principal preparation programs like TAMIU's online MS in Educational Administration are designed with PASL requirements in mind. You'll be ready to complete this portion of your certification upon graduation.
The TExES Principal as Instructional Leader (268) exam is a computer-administered test consisting of 70 multiple choice questions and four essay questions. There are six subject categories, each covering a different percentage of the exam.
- Leading Learning: 42%
- School Culture: 22%
- Human Capital: 18%
- Executive Leadership: 6%
- Strategic Operations: 6%
- Ethics, Equity and Diversity: 5%
Sample questions and study guides are available on the Texas Educator Certification Examination Program website at no cost. You can purchase access to interactive practice tests as well. The passing score is 240, and you'll receive your results in about a month. Candidates can take the TExES exam up to five times.
Authenticity and trust are synonymous. Leadership must provide a clear message that is understood by the stakeholders.
What Is the Principal Practicum and Internship?
The principal practicum offers a series of structured, hands-on experiences to prepare you for a career in school administration. It's often required for licensure and certification. You'll shadow current administrators, solve problems and complete key tasks to demonstrate core competencies in educational leadership. You might develop an action plan for campus improvement, create and implement a staff development program, or create an instructional portfolio.
As part of their practicum, master's students in TAMIU's educational leadership program complete 160 hours of field work, including an 80-hour internship guided by university professors and school administrators. You'll work in elementary, middle school and high school settings, gathering a range of administrative experience.
Students will complete 160 hours of field work, including an 80-hour internship in TAMIU's online MS in Educational Administration program.
How Do Internships Work for Online Students?
Some programs will help arrange an internship location for you. Others will require you to do the legwork, then submit your site and preceptor for approval. Either way, you'll complete internship hours in a school that's convenient to where you live. Throughout your internship, you'll create written and video documentation to both reflect on your experiences and prepare for certification.
TAMIU's online MS in Educational Administration program arranges principal internships for ed admin students to ensure TEA compliance. You'll be placed in local a school district, so you won't have to commute too far.
Can I Conduct Internship Hours at My Place of Work?
In many online master's programs, you can complete your internship hours at your place of work. Some programs may require a new setting for your internship, however, or for other field hours you complete. Check with master's programs you are considering for their requirements.
Working with a variety of student populations does have its advantages. It can help prepare you to take on the principal role in any setting. This approach allows you to develop a versatile skillset, and you'll be more competitive in the job market too.
Spotlight on the Principal: Impactful Leadership
Great principals create a supportive educational environment. Their efforts can even be so impactful that student achievement rates rise faster than expected. After reviewing educational databases compiled by TEA and the University of Texas at Dallas, Education Next reporters concluded that students with exceptional principals can acquire between two to seven months of additional learning in a single academic year. The reporters also noted that the students with ineffective principals experienced the opposite effect. Their achievement was lowered by the same rate.
These outcomes could be connected to teacher retention rates as well. As the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) notes in Leadership Matters, great principals help ensure great teachers stay in the classroom. NAESP examined several research studies on retention rates and found that number of effective teachers rises under strong leadership and falls under poor leadership. While that may seem intuitive, the reason behind this outcome is surprising. According to the NAESP, the principal's role is evolving.
Research shows that effective school leaders spend less time on duties related to instruction, such as teacher observation or professional development. Instead, they focus on student supervision, building safety, managing resources and addressing teacher concerns. This approach creates the conditions essential to a learning-focused environment, and one that allows teachers and students to shine.
Navigating through my teaching experiences, I have learned the importance of developing self-efficacy, sustainability [and] advocacy, as well as leadership for yourself, your students and their communities.
Which Careers Are Available to Educational Leadership Graduates?
A master's degree in educational administration traditionally leads to principal certification. Graduates often work as assistant principals, vice principals or full principals. If you take the same position in a private school or charter school, sometimes your title will be dean, academic dean or assistant dean. Either way, you'll be leading your campus to success.
Alternate career paths include positions such as campus director or program director. Some grads find careers in curriculum or test coordination, while others work for state education agencies.
If you find success in the principal role, you could go on to study for certification as a superintendent. You might even earn your doctorate and teach or lead the next generation of school administrators.
As a school administrator, I was always interested in facilitating teachers and students. In essence, I never stopped teaching and learning. My experiences as a student have always driven me to teach.
How Much Do Principals Make?
According to 2018 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), principals in public elementary, middle and high schools earn a median annual wage of $95,310. Your actual salary will depend on your role, years of experience and school district.
Administrator pay can also fluctuate with school performance. In fact, some districts tie bonuses or financial incentives to academic achievement and other leadership benchmarks. Districts may increase the salaries of administrators serving at high-need campuses as well. Houston ISD, for instance, offers a $20,000 stipend for principals working in high schools identified as "hard to staff."
How Much Can A Principal's Annual Salary Change by District?
Principal and school administrator salaries can fluctuate significantly by district, just as teacher salaries do. The following table lists average base pay for principals and assistant principals in the state of Texas. While these salaries will give you a good idea of what to expect, high-performing administrators can make more. Exemplary high school principals in Dallas ISD, for instance, are paid $145,000 – more than $40,000 above the district average:
|School District||Average Base Pay:
|Average Base Pay:
Pay rates in this table are taken from the Texas Education Agency's Staff FTE Counts and Salary Reports database for the 2018-2019 academic year. If your district isn't included above, it may be listed there.
What's the Career Outlook for School Administrators?
Nationally, K-12 principals can expect steady job growth in the years ahead. States with large or quickly-growing populations have the best job outlook for school administrators. In fact, the BLS reports that Texas has the highest rate of employment for principals in the entire country. Employment forecasts in the state are equally bright.
In a 2019 analysis of job postings for Texas educational administrators, Burning Glass Technologies predicted that the state will add close to 3,700 new positions for school admins through 2028. Furthermore, job growth is set to expand at a rate of 21% over the same timeframe.
Which Texas Cities Have a High Demand for K-12 Principals?
While the hiring outlook for Texas administrators is the second best in the nation, demand will vary from city to city. Based on job data from September 2018 to August 2019, Burning Glass Technologies found that school administrators are needed most in the following metro areas (percentages indicate increased demand when compared to the national average):
- College Station-Bryan: 280%
- Laredo: 160%
- Texarkana: 110%
- Killeen-Temple: 80%
- Amarillo: 50%
- Waco: 40%
How Much Will a Master's in Educational Administration Cost?
At first glance, calculating tuition seems fairly simple. You multiply the cost per credit hour by the number of credit hours required to graduate. But credit hour requirements may be misleading. Some ed admin programs list their degree requirements at 30 credit hours, but add another three to six credits for your principal internship. TAMIU's 30 credit hour requirement includes the internship component.
Many universities have fees on top the cost per credit hour as well, and this can add hundreds to your out-of-pocket costs. The chart below compares in-state tuition and fees for educational admin programs in Texas:
|University||In-State Tuition and Fees Per Credit Hour||Credit Hours Required||Additional Internship Hours Required||Learning Format|
|Texas Woman's University||$505.69||30||0||Hybrid|
|University of Texas Rio Grande Valley||$458.33||30||6||Online|
|University of North Texas||$408.20||30||3||Online|
|Texas A&M International University||$335.81||30||0||Online|
Prices taken from university websites
All fees included, the total cost of TAMIU's online MS in Educational Administration is $10,074.
Is Financial Aid Available to Online Students?
As long as your school is accredited, you can apply for financial aid. It doesn't matter if you study online, on-campus or in a hybrid format.
Make sure you meet federal aid eligibility requirements (including U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizenship). Then fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Federal Student Aid website.
Learn more about our MS in Educational Administration online program!
Can I Fill Out a FAFSA if I Already Have Student Loans?
Yes. If your existing federal loans remain under the debt limit and you're not currently in default, you can apply for additional funding.
Once you're enrolled in a school leadership master's program, you can also apply for loan deferment, which allows you to suspend payments on your federal student debt while you're in school. Students must attend an accredited college or university at least half time to qualify.
Are There Any Grants or Scholarships for Future Principals?
Unlike federal loans, scholarships and grants don't need to be repaid, which makes them a great source of funding. U.S. News & World Report offers a helpful guide to these resources for all grad students. Future Texas principals may be eligible for the TEA Principal Preparation Grant as well. The Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) guide also provides information on grants and loan forgiveness for Texas educators.
Can I Apply My Military Education Benefits to an Online Degree?
Like federal financial aid, military education benefits are applicable as long as your university is accredited. Confirm your university's eligibility with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Then check out the GI Bill Comparison Tool to estimate your benefit payouts. While the application process can be complicated, some universities offer military support services to help ensure that your tuition benefits are approved.
TAMIU's Office of Veterans Affairs works with service members, veterans and their families. In addition to application assistance, they can certify your enrollment and advocate on your behalf should any payment issues arise. The office additionally aids in the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, and is available to help with Dependents Educational Assistance or Hazlewood Exemption applications.
Can I Complete My Education Administration Degree in Less Than Two Years?
Yes. Your path to graduation depends on your program and your schedule, however. A traditional master's degree will take at least two years, but an online degree can be completed in less than half the time. Accelerated online courses are five to eight weeks in length. Traditional courses, on the other hand, last up to 16 weeks.
Online classes for TAMIU's MS in Educational Administration run for seven weeks. Fall, spring and summer semesters are split into dual sessions, so you can enroll in one class at a time while completing two courses every traditional semester. You can graduate in as few as 10 months by taking two courses each seven week term.
Is It Possible to Earn My Degree While Working Full Time?
Yes! Online degree programs are designed for working adults. You can log in and complete coursework whenever it's most convenient for you. That could be at night after the kids are in bed, or it could be during your lunch break. You might prefer to study over the weekend or early in the morning. You might even find yourself studying when you're on the go. Course materials are accessible from your phone or tablet.
The flexible nature of online study allows you to maintain your employment, make time for family and friends and earn your degree.
How Many Hours Will I Need to Study Each Week?
Accelerated online courses cover subject material at twice the pace of traditional courses. To stay on schedule, try to set aside 10 hours a week for every three-credit class. You can adjust your hours up or down from there. Every student excels in different subjects, so some courses may require more time, and others may require less.
While you might study over the weekend, or whenever your schedule allows, it's still a good idea to log in to your online courses daily. That way, you can keep up with any announcements and stay involved in class discussions.
What's the Difference Between an Online Degree and an On-campus Degree?
If your university and school leadership program are accredited, you'll get the same quality education online that you would on-campus. Online professors hold the same qualifications as on-campus faculty, and many professors teach in both mediums. The curriculum for accredited online and on-campus programs is equally rigorous, and your diploma will not indicate how you studied.
Some of the differences, aside from the actual modality, are that online programs are typically accelerated and asynchronous, meaning they move quickly, but more at your own pace. You don't have to in a certain place or online at a certain time – a huge benefit for busy teachers.
What Can I Expect in an Online Course?
Online classes are often administered through a learning management system (LMS). It's a bit like online banking. You log in to your personal account, but instead of choosing links to your savings, checking or retirement funds, you'll select links to your active courses. From there, you'll enter your digital classroom. Additional links will lead to class discussion forums or video lectures. You can download the syllabus and reading materials or upload assignments.
Assignments should immediately be considered as ways to engage self to educate others, including presentations and publications.
Will I Need a New Computer to Study Online?
Probably not, if the computer you have is reliable. You'll need to access and browse the internet, play videos, and download and upload documents. You'll also need to run basic software for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. You'll likely also need a webcam so you can engage in video chats and presentations. If your current computer can handle these tasks, you're ready to get started.
Many universities, including TAMIU, offer tech support for online students. Should any technical issues arise over the course of your master's studies at TAMIU, you can reach out to the Help Desk for assistance.
Are Student Services Available to Online Students?
Many universities with online degree programs offer tech support, digital library privileges and research assistance. Online TAMIU students have access to these and other student services.
In addition to TAMIU's online library catalog, TexShare connects students to research databases across member universities. You can also use this resource to borrow library books from schools in your area. Interlibrary loans for electronic articles are an option as well. Research assistance is also available by phone, email and live chat.
TAMIU additionally sets itself apart by providing online students access to career services. You can take advantage of TAMIU job boards, request a resume review, or speak with a counselor for additional support. Students who live near the Laredo campus are invited to attend on-campus recruitment events and job fairs as well.
How Do I Communicate With My Professors?
You have several options when it comes to interacting with your professors. Faculty members can always be reached through the LMS, and by email. Some professors are available by text. Many welcome phone or video chat appointments too.
Communication preferences will vary, but most online professors are accessible to students. That's because they understand the demands of balancing graduate study and full-time employment. Professors know that online students require a prompt response to stay on track. Most will reply within 24 to 48 hours.
How Long Will I Have to Wait to Enroll?
Traditional on-campus degree programs accept new students once or twice a year. Accelerated online programs, however, offer rolling admissions, so you can get started on your degree without waiting for the next full semester to begin.
TAMIU accepts applications year-round for master's students in educational administration. You can begin in August, October, January, March, May or July. The program calendar is regularly updated with course start dates and other important milestones.
Learn more about our MS in Educational Administration online program!
Texas Educator Certification Examination Program:
Principal as Instructional Leader (268) Preparation Materials
TExES Principal as Instructional Leader (268)
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
Education Administrators: Geographical Data
Elementary, Middle and High School Principals: Job Outlook
Elementary, Middle and High School Principals: Pay