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Which Master of Education in Educational Leadership Track Is Right for Me — Professional or Academic?

At Southeastern Oklahoma State University, you will find a variety of master's degree programs in education, each designed to prepare you for a different career path. If you know you want to assume a leadership role, the Master of Education in Educational Leadership online program is the right place to start. But which track should you pursue — professional or academic?

How the Professional and Academic Tracks Are Similar

Whether you choose the professional or academic track for your M.Ed. in Leadership, you will be well-prepared to accept several administrative roles. You will have a comprehensive background in educational systems and processes like curriculum development, finance, administration, law and school operations.

Here are some reasons why this degree format might be ideal for you:

  • Classes offered in this all-online program are taught by experienced educators and school administrators who provide lecture materials, rigorous independent requirements, and individualized support for each student.
  • Depending on your ultimate career goals, a teaching certificate and teaching experience may not be required for admission.
  • You won't have to wait very long to begin your pursuit of new career opportunities because SOSU offers multiple start dates for its online degree programs.
  • You can complete the 30 credit hours required for this degree in as few as 12 months.

Once you decide on a career as a leader in education, there are two options: professional track and academic track.

Why Choose the Professional Track?

The professional track is for you if you are interested in pursuing a position in building leadership.

Unlike the academic track, the professional track includes a seven-week internship that is required if you want to take the Oklahoma Principal Certificate exam. During these seven weeks, you will have the opportunity to "demonstrate and apply the knowledge, abilities and dispositions necessary to administer, develop, evaluate, implement, communicate and plan for the responsibilities of school leadership."

In addition to becoming a building principal or assistant principal, the professional track will prepare you for future positions of leadership at the district level up to the level of superintendent. Although a principalship is not always required, many districts consider candidates who have served at the building level first more qualified to assume the responsibilities of a district administrator or superintendent.

Why Choose the Academic Track?

SOSU designed the academic track for those interested in leadership but not in becoming a school principal. In addition, if you are an experienced teacher who would like to update what you already know about school systems and the inner workings of a district, the academic track is right for you.

Instead of the professional track's internship experience, the academic track offers the option of taking one of four specific courses.

  • If the field of counseling is of interest to you, there are two courses you can choose from: School Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice and Assessment in Counseling.
  • In Older, Struggling Readers & English Language Learners you will investigate research findings, the source of reading difficulties, and strategies to support literacy development.
  • The course Teaching Strategies will build your teaching skills in the contemporary school system and also cover problems with classroom instruction and social concerns.

Other jobs available to teachers with a master's degree are:

Instructional coordinator - Working with teachers and other district leaders, the instructional coordinator (or director of curriculum) oversees the selection of curriculum materials. Using data collected on a regular basis, the instructional coordinator ensures effective use of the curriculum and provides teacher training if and when required.

Team leader (grade level or content area) - In larger districts, team leaders are an additional resource for classroom teachers. As a liaison between the school building and the district office, these trained leaders focus on the specific needs of a grade level or content area and offer meaningful support on a regular basis.

What Are Some Career Options Related to This Degree?

There are two important things to remember when discussing degrees and careers in education at any level:

  1. What is required to apply for this degree?
  2. What is required to apply for this position?

First of all, to be considered for the SOSU Master of Education in Educational Leadership degree program, you do not necessarily have to have a teaching certificate or teaching experience. For both tracks, you don't need prior experience in education of any kind to apply.

Secondly, career and educational requirements for positions of educational leadership vary widely from district to district and state to state. In some places, a teaching certificate is required for any professional district position, and in others, job-specific requirements may be more business-related or based on the tasks of the job.

In general, and subject to the individual design of each organization, there are other career opportunities for a graduate with this degree. For example:

  • University registrar - Working with students, academic staff members and building management, the university registrar coordinates class times and locations, keeps accurate student records, and provides statistics to the university administration.
  • Museum educator - With a master's degree in education — and a bachelor's degree in a museum-related subject like history or science — you may be qualified to work as a museum educator. You will develop and facilitate the museum's educational programs, such as lectures, seminars and symposia, as well as programs for school groups.
  • Training and development specialist - If you are interested in education in the corporate world, this master of education program may give you an advantage over other candidates. The coursework will prepare you with the skills in teaching, curriculum development and information gathering required to perform in an adult education setting.

Whether your goals are in the school building, the administrative office or the private sector, either the Professional track or the Academic track of the Master of Education in Educational Leadership offered by SOSU will prepare you as a strong leader and highly qualified educator.

Learn more about SOSU's online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership programs.


Sources:

Chron: Job Qualifications for the Superintendent of a School

School Leaders Now: Am I Ready to Be a Superintendent

Teacher.org: How to Become a Superintendent

Study.com: College Registrar - Job Description, Salary and Requirements

Museum Jobs: Museum Educator Jobs

O-Net Online: Summary Report for Training and Development Specialists

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