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Southern New Hampshire University

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School Administration Degree Program and Courses

If you're a licensed teacher, you can enroll in a master's or doctoral degree program in administration or leadership and become a school administrator. Read on to learn about available degree programs and what courses you can take.

What You Need to Know

As a school administrator, one of your duties is to ensure that your school is meeting state and accreditation standards. These professionals also monitor student achievement, maintain budgets and observe and evaluate teacher performance. In elementary, middle and high schools, you could find an administrative position as a principal or assistant principal. At the college level, you could oversee school functions as a provost or dean. As a field of study, school administration is typically studied at the graduate level.

Degree Programs Master of Science (M.S.) in Education or a Master of Education (M.Ed.) with a specialization in educational administration, policy or leadership; Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education, Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Courses Curriculum Assessment, Multicultural Students, Teacher Supervision, Educational Leadership
Careers Principal, Admissions Director, Dean, School Administrator, Superintendent

What Programs Are Available To Me?

You might choose to enroll in a Master of Science (M.S.) in Education or a Master of Education (M.Ed.) program with a specialization in educational administration, policy or leadership. A thesis may be required for M.S. programs, while M.Ed. programs may include a project or require additional courses. In either type of program, you can expect to complete a field experience or internship in a school and pass a comprehensive exam.

Many administration programs require you to have a teaching license and experience in the classroom before you're accepted. Since so many master's degree programs are intended for working teachers, these programs are often available online for increased flexibility. You may be able to complete a program online or choose a combination of online and on-campus courses; however, you'll have to complete an internship in-person in a school setting. Whether your chosen program is online or on-campus, it should be approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

What About Doctoral Programs?

If you wish to become an administrator in a higher education setting, you may want to pursue a doctoral degree in education administration or leadership. If you're interested in conducting research in educational policy and theory, consider enrolling in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education program. Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) programs are more suitable if you want to work in a leadership role.

What Courses Will I Take?

Administrators are in charge of educational standards, resources and extracurricular activities, so you can expect to study policies related to education and community relations. Additionally, there may be business-related courses, like organization, management and finance. In a Ph.D. or Ed.D. program, you'll conduct original research. Even in a master's degree program, you'll study how research affects the classroom and the education field. Your course topics may include the following:

  • Teacher supervision
  • The principal's role
  • Communication
  • Instruction evaluation
  • Education law and ethics
  • Community leadership
  • Evidence-based research in education
  • Curriculum design
  • Leading educational organizations

What is Required to Get a Job?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most administrators begin their careers as teachers (www.bls.gov). After that, you'll generally need to earn a graduate degree in school administration or educational leadership.

If you want to become a public school administrator, you may be required to take a teacher's licensing exam or complete an in-service residency. Requirements vary, so you may want to research your state's licensing requirements. For instance, to become a principal in North Carolina, you must pass the School Leaders Licensure Assessment, which is made up of multiple-choice questions and written responses. Alternatively, in New Jersey, you must complete a residency in a school before you can become fully certified as a principal.