In December 2012, two studies on international education, the 3rd International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) showed that the United States has made some gains against its international counterparts in both math and reading. For example, in both the fourth and eighth grades, American students’ math scores were above the international average, with American fourth graders ranking within the top eight countries. In reading, students scored 56 points higher than the national average, which put the U.S. in 11th place.
Even though American students are making good progress, these statistics show that the U.S. is not near the top of the list in terms of educational achievement. People who choose to earn a degree in educational leadership are entering the field at an exciting time. While pressure to increase academic achievement is undeniable, principals, superintendents and other administrators have a tremendous opportunity to change education for the better. For those who want to powerfully influence educational outcomes within their school districts, an educational leadership degree is a crucial step forward.
What to Expect When Earning An Educational Leadership Degree
Depending on their current educational levels, educational leadership candidates can earn certificates, master’s degrees or doctoral degrees in the field. Certificate programs can require as little as one year of time, while a master’s or doctorate can require several years to complete. Usually, certificate program exit requirements include coursework and an internship. On the other hand, master’s degrees require a thesis or comprehensive examination, and doctoral degrees require a research-intensive dissertation.
For candidates who want to earn a doctoral degree, many universities offer both the Ed.D. and the Ph.D. Ed.D. degrees tend to allow for more flexibility because they focus on the application of research in the practice of education. The Ph.D. conducts more research and may be more employable if he or she wants to work at the university level.
Distance Learning As an Option
More and more educational leadership programs provide online coursework for students. Distance learning allows teachers and administrators to construct their coursework around their school year schedules. For instance, some distance learning programs may allow for less intensive coursework during the school year while requiring more engagement during the summer break. Also, distance learning means that students aren’t limited to the schools in their geographic areas. This flexibility means that teachers or administrators who live in rural or economically depressed areas can still earn degrees from well-established schools anywhere in the U.S.
Job Opportunities For Educational Leadership Graduates
Educational leadership credentials from the certificate to the doctorate allow teachers and other professionals to become principals or district-level administrators. Degrees in curriculum and instruction focus on on leadership in certain academic areas, while the educational leadership degree focuses more on school environment and overall management. The mathematics department chair in a school district may have a curriculum and instruction degree, while the superintendent probably has an educational leadership degree.
Who Should Earn a Degree in Educational Leadership?
The best candidates for educational leadership degrees have a vision for what they want a school or a district to be. They are programmed to work tirelessly to see both teachers and students succeed. They understand that administrative positions require a significant time commitment, and they have the tools to manage both stress and emotions. Good administrators also enjoy being active in their communities, and they make themselves both visible to and communicative with parents, staff and community leaders. In short, the best administrators are educators first. They want to make a measurable difference in the lives of those they serve.