Master of Arts in Educational Leadership Additional Information

Performance driven leadership: offering an “edge” for students

The Master of Arts in educational leadership degree in the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology at Western Michigan University is based on a performance-driven leadership model in which students actively participate in a variety of activities designed to prepare them for the challenges faced by today’s educational organizations.

The performance driven leadership model provides students with the opportunity to merge cutting-edge theory into pertinent practices; an approach that represents a blending of an experiential program with theory-based instruction. Performance-driven leadership addresses many of the problems that have plagued traditional educational leadership programs.

The overall program is focused on preparing leaders ready to serve within the accountability era facing educational institutions today. Course objectives are based on input from superintendents, principals, master's graduates, current students, NCATE and other exemplary programs around the country. Key foci include transformational and balanced leadership, systems thinking, change, and data-driven decision-making. The goal is to create effective leaders knowing not only what to do, but also knowing when, how, and why to do it.

Students demonstrate their competency by writing reflective essays, creating models, conducting administrative tasks through simulation activities and completing projects for each content area of the curriculum.


The program includes a leadership core, a capstone experience and one of four specialty concentrations:

  • Higher education and student affairs leadership, 39 credit hours offering a unique focus on diversity and multicultural issues through specific required courses as well as an individualized diversity cognate.
  • K-12 school principal leadership.
  • K-12 principal and interscholastic athletic administration
  • Educational and global leadership.

Performance-driven leadership portfolio

The performance-driven leadership model provides students the opportunity to merge theory into practice. Students develop a portfolio throughout their entire Master of Arts program by completing activities for specific classes and then packaging these products and reflections as part of a comprehensive electronic portfolio. The entire performance-driven leadership portfolio is thoroughly reviewed during the capstone experience (EDLD 6792), and serves as one method of demonstrating competency in each of the content areas. Graduates from this program use their portfolios as a resource in addressing their respective leadership responsibilities.

Student feedback

Here's what some of our students had to say about the educational leadership program in a recent student satisfaction survey:

"The program gave me a well-rounded knowledge base. One of the most valuable things I walked away with was the opportunity to learn among other educators. I learned a lot from instruction, but  I think I learned more from the classroom discussion listening to teachers talk about their experiences. It was valuable to me, as a current school administrator, to hear the perceptions of school administrators from my classmates."

"I feel that the overall offering of classes was very good, and I was able to take a class every semester that I wanted to.  I live in Portage, so I did travel to Battle Creek and Grand Rapids (most often), but I took a class in Benton Harbor too.  I felt it was great that I had the same professors out of town as on the main campus."

"I enjoy having courses taught by instructors who have served leadership roles in public education. They have insight and practical experience that moves beyond text material. Many of the assignments relate directly to those required of principals or others in educational leadership roles. In particular, the assignments requiring personal reflection about my leadership styles have allowed me to define and fine-tune the kind of leader I want to become."

Why our program?

The master's program can prepare you to become a leader in a variety of roles in the private and public sectors. Graduates of this program hold positions of prominence as principals, superintendents, higher education administrators and executive directors of nonprofit organizations.

With a strong mix of experience and knowledge, our faculty members know what it takes to be a successful leader in today’s educational organizations. WMU maintains strong ties with the field.

The program is designed to support working professionals with all classes taught using an evening, weekend or concentrated summer format. In addition, our regional locations have learning environments tailored to the adult student.

WMU master's credits can count towards the WMU doctor of philosophy and education specialist degrees in educational leadership. Consider WMU before enrolling in universities not offering advanced graduate degrees.