masters in organizational leadership vs masters in education

M.ED vs. MSOL: Which Master’s Degree is Right for You?

What does a bachelor’s degree in education, business, communications, English literature, and economics have in common? It might seem far-fetched, but they’re all equally great starting points when it comes to a leadership career in higher education! Not all administration roles in education begin with experience at the front of the classroom. Depending on your unique career goals, your interests, and your skillsets, a Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) or a Master’s in Education (M.ED) can offer similar career outcomes. Whether your skills lie in finance or Foucault, you can pursue a leadership role in the exciting education field with the right Master’s degree. So which Master’s degree route do you choose, M.ED vs MSOL, and why? Aspiring principals, counselors, administrators, trainers, consultants, and more — we’re here to discuss options for your own higher education.


The requirements to apply for Goodwin University’s MSOL program and to apply for Goodwin University’s M.ED program are quite similar. You won’t need to take the GRE to gain entry into either. However, for both, you’ll need to:

  1. Have achieved a bachelor’s degree and a GPA of at least 3.0 from a college or university that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and submit an official or unofficial transcript.
  2. Provide a professional resume.
  3. Include proof of immunizations.
  4. Pay $50 to apply and complete a graduate application form!

Recommendations are also required for entry into either program, however, the focus of those letters vary slightly. M.ED applicants must have recommendations that highlight excellence in previous teaching situations. An interview with program directors and potential faculty is also required. For MSOL applicants, recommendation letters should focus on the aspiring students’ leadership potential, and instead of an interview, applicants must write a personal statement of intent. Each approach allows the applicant a chance to explain their prior experience and how that relates to their professional goals. A background in teaching is important for entry into the M.ED program.


As you can gather from the admission requirements, the M.ED program is directed at individuals with teaching experience. The M.ED curriculum is designed to enhance leadership skills and capabilities for reaching different types of learners. Students will learn all about the UDL (Universal Design for Learning) framework. Coursework includes lessons like:

The MSOL curriculum is all about advancing leadership and management skills. Unlike the M.ED, there is no expectation that students arrive with a specific professional background. Classes, like the following, aim to enhance students’ abilities for leading in a variety of industry settings:

Career Outcomes

Are you still wondering whether MSOL or M.ED is the right choice? This explanation of career outcomes might make things easier. MSOL career outcomes could be as diverse as working for a billion-dollar corporate company, a major non-profit museum, a car manufacturing plant, an ivy league university, or a local government office. Similar organizational leadership skillsets, such as research, data collection, talent acquisition, and performance management are required for a director, president, or C-suite executive job, regardless of the setting. Meanwhile, M.ED career outcomes target education jobs specifically, and could include titles like these:

  • Career Counselor
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Curriculum Specialist
  • Educational Administrator
  • Educational Consultant
  • School Principal
  • Special Education Teacher
  • University Professor

In conclusion, to be a leader in the education field, it might be helpful to have a background in teaching, however, it all depends on the job. For example, certain leadership careers in education might require state licensure, such as teaching special education. Principals are also expected to have taught for several years before rising to the highest level of leadership in a school. Administration, career counseling, and consulting are a few education career pathways that are less likely to expect a teaching background from candidates, and rather may be seeking diversity of experiences to increase the breadth of skills on the team. If education has always been your true passion and you have the experience to show for it, an M.ED program is a fantastic choice. But if education is a newfound interest and you want to break into this field, you can find fulfilling and well-paid leadership roles in this growing industry with an MSOL degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the education occupations are projected to grow 5% from 2019-2029, which is faster than average for all occupations.

The salary for leadership jobs in education is also a bonus to this career path. As a school principal, you can expect to make around $100k annually. Becoming a postsecondary teacher (a university professor) means that you can make about $80k annually. Instructional coordinators, otherwise known as curriculum specialists, make on average $67k annually, or they may work on a per-diem basis at $32.20 an hour. School and career counselors make about $58k annually. All of these roles require a master’s degree. As you can see, the right choice for which master’s degree you choose to pursue, MSOL vs. M.ED, depends on both your career goals and how you’ve already begun your career journey. For example, if you are already a high school teachermiddle school teacher, or elementary school teacher, earning more as a principal is a great goal. If you are working in another field as a coordinator, manager, or associate, becoming a professor, administrator, specialist, or consultant in education could be a great plan for you.

We hope you continue to learn about Goodwin University’s MSOL and M.ED programs and where your future in education can take you, by visiting each program online or calling us today at 800-889-3282!