Degrees Designed for the Reform Minded

Most of the small but growing number of universities offering interdisciplinary degree programs in school leadership combine graduate education studies with a master’s in business administration program. With many emerging in the past decade, these programs focus on producing school leaders to carry out education reform in schools and other organizations.

Some examples:

•  Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, enables students to earn an M.B.A. while completing a doctorate in educational leadership. The joint degree program prepares individuals for major leadership posts in schools or with regional, state or federal agencies, research institutions, private foundations, universities, or the private sector.

•  Rice University in Houston, Texas, designed a program that offers an M.B.A. and a business certificate geared toward education leadership in partnership with Houston education organizations. The program, offered through the graduate school of business, is called the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program.

•  University of Michigan offers an educational leadership program that integrates studies in the colleges of business and education. Students earn a master’s in the school of education and M.B.A. in the Ross School of Business. “The program recognizes that talented individuals possessing business expertise and a thorough understanding of educational policy and practice can effect meaningful improvements in our education system,” the university states in its program description.

•  Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., offers a 45-credit, joint M.B.A. and master’s of education that combines core courses developed and coordinated by the College of Business and Economics and the College of Education. The program is designed to prepare school leaders to change the face of education. 

•  The Keller Graduate School of Management — a part-time, evening graduate school and division of DeVry University in Chicago with campuses across the country — began offering a graduate certificate in educational management within its M.B.A. degree nearly a decade ago.

•  Bowling Green State Universityin Ohio offers an interdisciplinary Ed.D. in leadership studies through the School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy. The primary aim of the three-year program, the university states, is “to prepare individuals to exercise leadership that will transform the quality of schools and other human resource institutions.”

•  Long Island University’s School of Educationwill launch this fall a doctor of education in interdisciplinary educational studies, with concentrations in teaching and learning and educational leadership. The 51-credit program, the school writes, takes an interdisciplinary perspective, exploring multiple points of view and methods: historical, psychological, philosophical, sociological, legal, financial, governmental, administrative, ethical and cultural.

•  University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and Curry School of Education joined forces to help principals turn around low-performing schools. The two-year program () does not offer a degree, but it works with principals and three-member leadership teams from the participating principal’s school and district to build improvement plans. Forty school districts in 10 states are involved.

Business school faculty, says LeAnn Buntrock, executive director of the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education, are good at showing principals how to set priorities, develop strategies and analyze data. “We’re not teaching you how to turn around a school,” she adds. “We’re teaching you to think like turnaround leaders … building a culture of professional learning communities, a culture of high expectations.”

Business administration degrees concentrated on school management are not unique to the United States. The Karachi Institute of Economics & Technology offers an M.B.A. in educational leadership on its campus in Pakistan. It, too, aspires to change the landscape of education. According to the school’s website, the objective of the program is to “develop dynamic, visionary and competent leaders in the field of education.”

— Bill Graves