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What are the Different Education Administration Graduate Programs?

Judith Smith Sullivan
Judith Smith Sullivan

There are basically five degrees in education administration graduate programs: master of education; master of education, concentration in higher education; educational specialist certificate; doctor of philosophy of education; and doctor of education. Common names for degrees in education administration graduate programs are educational administration, educational leadership, higher education, school leadership, student affairs or adult education. This is not an exhaustive list. Every university's graduate program in education administration varies slightly. Schools might have different names for their programs, but they fall into the same categories.

On average, a master's degree takes 36-42 additional course hours after a bachelor's degree. An educational specialist certificate requires a master's degree and an additional 60 course hours. A doctor of education or a doctor of philosophy in education requires 60-75 course hours after a master's degree. It is not necessary to earn an educational specialist degree before earning a doctor's degree.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

A master of education administration equips individuals to work in leadership roles in the public school system. This degree focuses on practical leadership skills, such as assessing teachers, coordinating programs and addressing legislative issues. Principals and superintendents often have a master's degree in education administration. In many regions, they must also complete additional requirements for a government issued certification.

Sometimes it is preferable for superintendents of schools to have a doctor of education degree. This degree requires a master of education degree and many years of experience in school leadership roles. Like the master's degree, a doctor of education degree is focused on practical applications of education leadership. Individuals who have a doctor of education degree might also be instructors in post-secondary schools.

If an individual has already received a master's degree, he can earn a concentration in education with a education specialist certificate. This degree is very rigorous and takes almost as long to complete as a doctor's degree. Some education administration graduate programs combine the required government-issued certification into the specialist certificate.

To work in a college or university, an individual must complete a master of education degree with a concentration in higher education. There are several specializations for this degree, including student services, admissions and policy. Registrars, admission counselors, financial aid directors and other individuals who work behind the scenes of a post-secondary school often have a master of education administration degree.

For those who wish to work as deans or department chairs in a college or university, there is the doctor of philosophy degree in educational leadership. This degree focuses on theory and research, as well as leadership topics. The nature of a doctorate is very specific, so two people with the same doctor's degree, even from the same school, will have different specializations. Each doctoral candidate is required to research and complete a portfolio on a narrow topic.

Degrees from education administration graduate programs create many opportunities. Whether the goal is to work in higher education or secondary education, one's preferred career path should be the determining factor when choosing a graduate program in education administration. Any of the different programs that are available can lead to a rewarding career.

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