Academic drift, institutional production, and professional distribution of graduate degrees in educational leadership

Bruce D. Baker, Margaret Terry Orr, Michelle D. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Purpose: This article sheds light on some basic questions about the distribution of educational leadership preparation degree programs among different types of institutions and the distribution of advanced degrees, by type, exploring change over time and the relationship to regional labor market estimates. Method: We used data from five major national data sets (Institutional Postsecondary Education Data System, Survey of Earned Doctorates, Schools and Staffing Survey, National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data, and Census data) to explore the production of graduate degrees in educational leadership by institutions of higher education and the distribution of graduate degrees across building level leaders in K-12 public education systems. We used two institutional classification systems the Carnegie Classification and the U.S. News World Report higher education classificationto group postsecondary institutions by resources and rank. The time period for our analysis is 1990 to 2003. Findings: On the production side, we found that the number of graduate degree programs and degrees granted in educational leadership increased considerably from 1993 to 2003, with master's degree programs increasing by 16% and the number of master's degrees granted increasing by 90%. Degree production shifted by institutional type, with the role of research universities in producing master's, specialist, and doctoral degrees declining dramatically and Comprehensive colleges and universities showing over a four-fold increase in the share. Degree production fluctuates widely among states, unrelated to school population estimates, suggesting areas for further research and policy analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-318
Number of pages40
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Public Administration


  • Higher education
  • Policy
  • Preparation programs


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