As an educator, you have a golden opportunity to sharpen your skills in administration and communication, as well as improve your earning potential, by attaining a graduate degree. A Master of Science in Educational Administration (MSEA) is an especially promising option on this front, since it provides the essential instruction and hands-on experience for positions such as school principal or dean of admissions.
Graduate programs and advanced careers in education, at a glance
Education has always been one of the most popular subjects for graduate students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 146,561 master’s degrees granted in the field for the 2014-2015 school year, the second most of any discipline, after only business (over 185,000).
What is driving the persistent popularity of the master’s in education? A MSEA provides a competitive advantage; when senior administrator positions open up, a master’s degree helps set candidates apart. These jobs are both well-paying and in high demand:
- Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that primary and secondary school principals had a median salary of more than $92,000 in 2016, well above the national median. At most schools, principals must have at least a master’s degree. Their total employment was projected to rise a robust 6 percent between 2014 and 2024.
- Postsecondary administrators earned a similar amount in 2016 and were projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all professions. Growing college and university enrollments are the main drivers of the increase, although the actual growth rate will vary by state.
- The most recent BLS population survey estimated that there were 954,000 educational administrators employed in the U.S. in 2016. This is a broad category that includes not only the specific positions we have already talked about, but also jobs at preschools, daycare centers and vocational schools, which may require a master’s degree.
The common thread across these different career paths is the requirement for graduate education. The expected level of education differs slightly between public and private institutions, though.
The 2011-2012 Schools and Staff Survey (SASS) from the U.S. Department of Education revealed that over 60 percent of public K-12 principals possessed a master’s degree as their top credential. Under 2 percent had a bachelor’s degree or less as their highest educational attainment. The remainder was a mix of doctorates (i.e., Ed.D. or Ph.D.) and educational specialist/professional diplomas.
“Over 60 percent of K-12 principals have a master’s degree as their top credential.”
According to the SASS, exactly half of private school principals had finished with a master’s degree, while 31 percent had bachelor’s degree. These principals also averaged slightly more experience (more than 10 years) than their public school counterparts (7.2 years).
The SASS also found that principals across public and private systems typically spend more than 50 hours a week on school-related matters. This level of activity will naturally bring them into contact with a wide variety of potentially challenging situations involving teachers, students and parents, making experience as well expertise essential for navigating these scenarios. For today’s educators, an MSEA is the ticket to developing these crucial capabilities.
What an MSEA offers to education students
Schools that require a master’s degree for would-be principals or deans usually specify that said degree be in a field such as education administration/leadership. You can meet this common requirement by enrolling in the accelerated online MSEA at Gwynedd Mercy University.
The MSEA track at GMercyU features comprehensive preparation for educational administrators, with coursework focused on:
- School budgeting and finance.
- Curriculum development.
- Teacher recruitment and retention.
- Community and business engagement.
- School program development.
As an added advantage, MSEA courses are available online, meaning that you can work toward your degree without having to quit or scale back other commitments you may have, such as a full-time job. They are also led by experienced, credentialed instructors to ensure quality for all students. The degree can be attained with 33 credits and it includes the K-12 principal certification needed to compete for many jobs in the current market.
Gwynedd Mercy MSEA student Casey Wemick stated that the best parts of the program were the “flexibility with online learning and support from faculty.” Fellow student Catherine McCall expressed a similar sentiment, saying “I like that the professors make themselves available even after hours.”
With an MSEA from GMercyU, you can build your leadership skills and get on track for a principal certification in Pennsylvania. Learn more today on the main program page, where you can contact a counselor with additional questions and concerns.