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Educational Administration and Leadership

Become an innovative scholar-practitioner and transformational leader who uses evidence based research and critical thinking to be an effective school administrator.

Master Your Educational Leadership Skills

As an educational administration and leadership (EAL) student at USD, you will become a reflective leader and skilled educator whose practices and decisions draw upon the best available theory, research and experiential wisdom. Reflective decision-making engages administrators in cycles of thought and action based upon theoretical, ethical and professional knowledge. 

The EAL programs have been accredited by CAEP (formerly NCATE) since 1956 and are designed for school district superintendents, elementary and secondary principals, special education directors, curriculum directors, adult educators, and higher education administrators and classroom instructors. Offered at master’s, educational specialist and doctoral levels, the programs can be taken on-campus, online or via a hybrid learning environment. 

Our expert professors will provide mentorship as you design an individualized plan of study that specializes in an area that is most important to you. Choose from adult and higher education, curriculum director, pre-K-12 principal, pre-K-12 educational leadership, director of special education and school district superintendent.

Grow upon your past knowledge and skills and prepare for your future in an administrative position as an educational administration and leadership graduate student at USD.

Degrees & Offerings

EAL: Adult and Higher Education (M.A., Ed.D.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

The adult and higher education specialization challenges you to explore core themes and content to provide a breadth of exposure pertinent to both professional and academic objectives in the field of adult and higher education. USD also has a special partnership with the Learning Resources Network (LERN) with an additional path to this M.A.

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View Admissions Requirements

EAL: Curriculum Director (M.A., Ed.S.) 

  Online and Vermillion Main Campus

Our programs to become a director of curriculum have been developed to meet your specific needs and backgrounds. The specialization provides a general background in educational administration and leadership as well as specific preparation that may be unique to the field curriculum administration.

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EAL: Director of Special Education (Ed.S.) 

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

Learn to become an administrator, supervisor and coordinator of programs for students requiring special needs through our director of special education program. You will develop curriculum, create in-service for staff, monitor service delivery models and more.

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EAL: Pre-K–12 Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) 

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

Specifically designed for current school administrators, principals or superintendents who want to earn their educational doctorate (Ed.D.), but do not need the degree for licensure. This alternative pathway is offered online and provides a general background in leadership, as well as coursework in theory, statistics and methods of educational research.

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View Admissions Requirements

EAL: Pre-K–12 Principal (M.A.) 

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

The Pre-K–12 school principal and specialization has been developed to meet your specific needs and background. It provides a general background in educational administration and leadership as well as specific areas such as law for school administrators, community relations, school improvements and an internship.

Explore this specialization

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EAL: School District Superintendent (Ed.S.) 

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

This specialization provides aspiring school leaders with a purposeful balance of academic preparation and field-based practical experience to meet their specific needs and backgrounds. The coursework is offered on campus or online for convenience, while the practical field-based internship is completed under the supervision of experienced school administrators.

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Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

An Affordable Education

Gain valuable real-world, professional experience while enjoying paid employment and discounted tuition rates as a graduate student at USD. The affordability you gain through graduate assistantships and fellowships will equip you with valuable, professional-level skills that will set you apart after graduation. 

Teaching and research assistantships are awarded by individual departments. If you do not receive an assistantship within your department, you are eligible for an assistantship outside of your academic program or within support offices (non-academic units) at USD. Further inquiries should be directed to the graduate director of the department.

Learn More

At USD, our graduate students are actively pursuing unique research and presenting at local and national conferences exploring innovative areas of interest to them. Additional research and grant opportunities include:

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®)

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition provides the opportunity to communicate the significance and impact of your research project in just three minutes.

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Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities

Each semester students may apply for grants through the USD Graduate School, faculty and students pursue research in virtually all academic departments on campus, and in many cases, it is a required portion of a graduate degree program.

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IdeaFest is an annual event celebrating student research, creative scholarship and academic engagement. Undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines present their work in oral and poster presentations, live performances, readings, exhibits and displays.

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USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several that are housed in the School of Education. You may be interested in creating projects and hosting outreach opportunities to make friends, developing new skills and exploring your interests.

Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community.

Join Now

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in educational leadership.
Educational leadership students paying attention in a classroom.

Educational Leadership

Preparing education leaders to be effective educational administrators.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know your professors in the Division of Educational Leadership.
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Barker

David Barker

Assistant Professor of Practice
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mejai Avoseh

Mejai Avoseh

Bio Image for Faculty Member Gary Cheeseman

Gary Cheeseman

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Vassa Grichko

Vassa Grichko

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Wendy Knutson

Wendy Knutson

Senior Secretary
Bio Image for Faculty Member Erin Lehmann

Erin Lehmann

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jesse Sealey

Jesse Sealey

Division Chair
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Swank

David Swank

Assistant Professor of Practice
A teacher speaking to a student.

Tailor the Program to Your Interests and Career Goals

Graduate with a degree that reflects your passions, prepares you to lead and sets you apart.

USD's graduate degrees in educational leadership are unique in that you can craft the program to fit your interests and career goals. You'll learn from supportive faculty and take classes from other departments across campus to expand your skillset and knowledge. This unique structure provides a versatile and supportive climate that prepares you for success in today's information-rich society.
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Take Your Classes Online

We're committed to bringing our knowledge to you. USD serves the largest number of online students in the state of South Dakota. With competitive online tuition rates, we offer the same price whether you’re out-of-state or an in-state resident.

USD maintains a challenging and rigorous curriculum focused on preparing you to move forward in your career.

Take classes at your own pace. Enroll in an online class today! 


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Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 

Graduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs Detailed page for program specific costs and fees.

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.

Graduate Assistantships

USD offers opportunities for grad students to earn a reduced tuition rate in exchange for their teaching, research and service efforts to the university.


Alum success story

Success story Jared Cook smiling.
Teaching classes while I am working on my doctorate degree in educational administration and leadership will allow direct application of class materials to help me expand my comprehensive understanding of adult learning theory and distance education experience.

Jared Cook, Ed.D.

Ed.D. Educational Administration & Leadership '19
Vermillion, South Dakota

Take the Next Step