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Master of Education inEducational Leadership

Program summary

Broaden your leadership potential as a teacher or administrator and meet your professional development goals with one of the three educational leadership options offered in this online master's degree program.

Flexible Format

Complete most courses 100% online, with the option for an in-person internship.

Application deadline

Apply by July 1 to start August 26

Credits and costs

30 Credits$1,017 per credit

Nationally Recognized

US News and World Report graduate education leadership badge
Our graduate education programs are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Prepare for Your Role as an Education Leader

  • Inspire and encourage fellow teachers and students.

  • Expand your knowledge about schools, teachers, and student learning.

  • Integrate your teaching experience while honing your leadership skills.

  • Renew your passion to work on behalf of public education.

Course Work That’s Applicable to Your Career

The course work in this program is designed to prepare you to be an outstanding leader who:

  • is committed to continual improvement in education
  • believes higher levels of learning are possible for all students
  • supports the ideals of equity, inclusivity, and social justice

Relevant Course Work

Penn State's 30-credit online master of education degree in educational leadership emphasizes the knowledge and skills that you need as a teaching professional to achieve a supervisory role in your school. Each course in the program focuses on helping you to integrate your teaching experience while honing your leadership skills.

Once you are accepted into the program, you may begin your course work at the start of an academic semester. The typical student course load is expected to be three to four courses per year.

Collaborative Experience, Practical Applications

The master's degree curriculum uses a blend of web technology, print, and other media to maximize flexibility without sacrificing professor and student interaction.

Communication tools, including bulletin boards and email, are used to foster a collaborative environment, providing you with the opportunity to learn from one another. The curriculum and course format can help you develop practical applications of the topics you study. Learn online when it is convenient for you, and immediately apply what you've learned to your job.

Teacher Leader Emphasis

Course work in the teacher leader emphasis for the master’s program in educational leadership provides for core knowledge and skills to be explored through five required courses (15 credits) and for individualized program study to be explored through five elective courses (15 credits).

Teacher Leader Required Courses (15 credits)

  • 3

    This course focuses on understanding teacher leadership and its function with the school system.

  • 3

    This course focuses on understanding schools as learning organizations and how teacher leadership works in such organizations.

  • 3

    Focuses on several general models developed for school improvement purposes.

  • 3

    Provides aspiring leaders with learning opportunities and activities authentic to school leaders and leadership roles in educational organizations.

  • 3

    Completion and public presentation of an inquiry project reflecting an understanding of the five leadership strands. Taken in the final semester of the program.

Teacher Leader Electives (15 credits)

Selected by the student with support from their program adviser.

  • Two EDLDR electives (6 total credits) at the 500- or 800-level 
  • One EDLDR elective (3 total credits) at the 500-level
  • One open graduate elective (3 total credits) at the 500- or 800-level
  • One open graduate elective (3 total credits) at the 500-level

School Leader Emphasis

School Leader Required Courses (30 credits)

The course work for the school leader emphasis is based on Pennsylvania standards and can help prepare you to become an effective school administrator. You will take specially designed courses along with a dedicated internship with a mentor from the field of education.

  • 3

    The analysis and use of the foundations which underlie models of curriculum design.

  • 3

    Development of educational leadership. Relationships among local, state, and federal agencies. Introduction to current concepts and theories.

  • 3

    This course serves as an exploration of the school leaders' role in promoting equity and diversity for all members of the school community.

  • 3

    Focuses on the development of skills related to data use that will help inform administrative and leadership decisions in school settings.

  • 3

    Focuses on several general models developed for school improvement purposes.

  • 3

    Provides aspiring leaders with learning opportunities and activities authentic to school leaders and leadership roles in educational organizations.

  • 3

    The principalship course provides students with knowledge specific to the role of the principal in K–12 schools.

  • 3

    This course gives students an overview of the values and policies shaping school finance in the United States, with a special emphasis on the relationship between education funding and equity.

  • 3

    Provides an overview of major issues in school law. The course will focus primarily on case law including U.S. Supreme Court decisions as well as relevant state and federal lower court opinions.

  • 3

    Required field experience across a calendar year for students in order to receive their principal certificate from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students earn 1 credit for each of 3 consecutive semesters for a total of 3 credits.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Advance Your Career

A group of educators collaborating as they review documents at a table

You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

The following roles are often held by people with this type of degree:

  • Education Coordinator
  • Education Director
  • Lead Teacher
  • Principal
  • School Administrator
  • Student Services Director

Employment Outlook for Occupational Fields Related to This Degree

Estimates of employment growth and total employment are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to change. While these occupations are often pursued by graduates with this degree, individual outcomes may vary depending on a variety of factors. Penn State World Campus cannot guarantee employment in a given occupation.

Education Administrators, Postsecondary

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Education Administrators, Kindergarten through Secondary

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Education and Childcare Administrators, Preschool and Daycare

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State master's degree?

Apply by July 1 to start August 26. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way

A figure walking on a path that includes a certificate part of the way through their progress

The educational leadership curriculum is part of a larger portfolio of professional graduate degrees and certificates. Thanks to shared courses across programs, students can often earn a graduate certificate along with their master’s degree in less time than if they earned them separately.

Certificate Programs Related to This Degree

The following certificates can be earned while completing this degree program:

Earn the certification needed for educational administration and principal positions in Pennsylvania. This 18-credit online program meets the current requirements established by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Educational Leadership Constituent Council.

Learn more about the Graduate Certificate for Principalship

Develop the professional knowledge, skills, and competencies required of candidates for Pennsylvania Department of Education Teacher Leaders Endorsement. Continue teaching in the classroom while you pursue additional roles such as lead teacher, mentor teacher, or department head.

Learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Teacher Leadership

Customize Your Program

Quality educational leadership is vital to the overall success of an individual school or entire school system. As a strong academic leader, you can help orchestrate school reform, serve as a motivator to fellow teachers and students, and be key to high-performing schools.

Switching from one emphasis area to another is not permissible once you’ve been accepted into a specific program emphasis. Choose from three emphasis areas:

You can continue teaching in the classroom while you pursue alternative roles, such as a lead teacher, mentor teacher, or department head. In your course work, you will explore topics that include learning theory, teacher leadership, teacher inquiry, and curriculum design. Interested in Teacher Leader Endorsement in Pennsylvania?

Approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the school leader emphasis meets Pennsylvania state educational requirements for school principal certification and offers an internship under the supervision of an approved on-site mentor principal. The internship allows you the opportunity to integrate the specialized knowledge learned through course work into the field and must span a full calendar year.

This emphasis area does not include the principal certification and is best aligned to students in international and private schools, domestic and abroad. The internship, which is the capstone assignment for the degree, is modified accordingly.

Benefit from an Internship

You'll have the chance to gain real-world experience thanks to an immersive internship experience.

Internship Requirements

If you are applying for the principalship certificate or the school leader emphasis of the Master of Education in Educational Leadership and you are interested in becoming a certified principal, please note that there are additional considerations regarding your internship.

Pennsylvania-Certified Educator

Your mentor needs to be a Pennsylvania-certified principal who has practiced in Pennsylvania as a principal (not an assistant principal) for at least 3 years.

Who Should Apply?

At this time, only Pennsylvania-certified educators are eligible to apply for the school leader emphasis of Master of Education in Educational Leadership. Our teacher leader and school leader (without principal certification) emphases are open to educators from other states and countries.

Act 48 Approved

Penn State is an Act 48–approved provider for Pennsylvania educators, so the courses for the Master of Education in Educational Leadership may count toward your professional development hours.

Set Your Own Pace

Adult student doing course work online while a child plays nearby

Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Degree in One to Two Years

  • Take 3–4 courses each semester

To Finish Your Degree in Two to Three Years

  • Take 2–3 courses each semester 

To Finish Your Degree in Three to Four Years

  • Take 1 course each semester

Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

Penn State students wearing caps and gowns at their commencement ceremony

Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

Professional Licensure / Certification


Many U.S. states and territories require professional licensure/certification for employment. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map for more information.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by July 1 to start August 26

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by July 1 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by November 1 to start January 13
  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by March 15, 2025, to start May 19, 2025

Steps to Apply

  1. For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates. 

    GPA — A successful undergraduate record with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

    Prior to submitting an application for the program, please be aware of the following:

    • If you are considering applying to the School Leader emphasis, you will need to have a minimum of three years of school related experience by the time you start or complete the program. 
    • At this time, only Pennsylvania-certified educators are eligible to apply for the Graduate Certificate for Principalship and/or the School Leader emphasis of Master of Education in Educational Leadership. You must have the capacity to complete a required, (calendar) year-long internship with a qualified mentor principal (who has been a Pennsylvania principal for at least three years) for the School Leader emphasis.
    • Our Master of Education in Educational Leadership program with the Teacher Leader emphasis is open to educators from other states and countries. Please note that switching from one emphasis area to another is not permissible once the student has been accepted into a specific program emphasis.
  2. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

    Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

    Test Scores — No tests scores are required.

    English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

    References (3) — you will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of three references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.  

    Ask for letters from recommenders who can make a strong case for your commitment to success in an online program of graduate study. At least one of these recommenders should be your current school principal/supervisor. Remaining references should include individuals who have supervised you in an academic or professional setting, who can speak to your intellectual ability, communication and problem-solving skills, creativity, sensitivity to others, and educational leadership potential.

    Ask for recommendations (completion of an online form and an attached recommendation letter) well in advance of the application deadline. Notify all recommenders that they must submit their recommendation in order for your application to be complete.

    Program-Specific Questions/Materials

    Statement of Purpose  Write a brief statement, of about 1000 words, describing your reason for applying for the Penn State World Campus Master of Education in Educational Leadership program and any experiences that have contributed to your commitment to education.


    Writing sample

    • Select an article from a current education journal or peer reviewed journal, such as Education Policy/EPX (Sage), Educational Administration Quarterly (UCEA), International Journal of Educational Policy and Leadership (electronic journal), Educational Leadership (ASCD), or another similar option.
    • Briefly summarize, in a maximum of three pages, the main points of the article and then critique the content from the vantage point of your experiences as an educator.
    • Your critique can include agreement as well as disagreement with author's perspective.
    • Include a complete citation for the article in your writing sample.
  3. To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

    Create a New Penn State Account

    If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

  4. You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

    • Choose Enrollment Type: "Degree Admission"
    • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

    Checking Your Status 
    You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form. 

    Technical Requirements  
    Review the technical requirements for this degree program. 

    Applying as a Nondegree Graduate Student

    To begin taking courses right away, you may apply as a "nondegree" graduate student. You may take up to 6 credits in nondegree status before submitting your application portfolio. Only students matriculated into the educational leadership program as a student completing a degree or certificate program are permitted to take the EDLDR 595, Internship for Principals course.

    Note: If you apply and enroll as a nondegree graduate student, you must re-apply to the degree/certificate program to be considered for admission into the Master of Education in Educational Leadership degree program. This new application includes a second application fee. Application/enrollment as a nondegree student does not guarantee admission to the program. Acceptance to the educational leadership degree program is contingent upon approved (by faculty panel) application to a selected program. If you plan to enroll as a nondegree student, you must contact an adviser in the program for guidance prior to beginning course work. No more than two courses (6 credits) are permitted in nondegree status before acceptance to the program is required.

    In the graduate school application:

    • Select "Nondegree Admission"
    • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
  5. 5. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

Contact Us

Customer service representative wearing a headset

Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

To learn more about the Master of Education in Educational Leadership, fill out the form below.

For questions regarding the program and how to apply, please contact:

Mark Ivicic
Administrative Support Assistant
Educational Leadership Program
The Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814-865-1487
Email: [email protected]

Learn from the Best

Offered by Penn State's College of Education and delivered online through Penn State World Campus, this program is taught by the same nationally recognized faculty who teach our rigorous, high-quality residential program.


  • Gerald K. LeTendre

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Education, Stanford University
    • Degree
      M.S., Sociology, Stanford University
    • Degree
      B.A., Sociology, Harvard University

    Dr. Gerald K. LeTendre is the Harry Lawrence Batschelet II Chair of Educational Administration at Penn State and co-editor of the American Journal of Education. His current research focuses on the impact of online learning and other information technologies on teacher-led professional development and teacher work roles. Dr. LeTendre has published on a broad range of topics in educational policy and comparative/international education. He is co-editor (with Motoko Akiba) of the International Handbook of Teacher Quality and Policy (Rutledge, 2017).

  • Tiffany M. Squires

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation, Syracuse University
    • Degree
      M.S., Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation, Syracuse University
    • Degree
      M.S., Education, Canisius College
    • Degree
      B.S., Elementary Education, State University of New York at Fredonia

    Dr. Tiffany M. Squires is an assistant professor and serves as assistant director of Online Programs for Education Leadership. Dr. Squires has more than 15 years of experience in K–12 education as a teacher, principal, and professional development facilitator. Her dissertation research focused on the perceptions of principals regarding the role of the school leader in the implementation of curricular and instructional change associated with standards-based reform. Her research continues to focus on school systems reform/improvement and highly effective leadership practice.


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State master's degree?

Apply by July 1 to start August 26. How to Apply