20 Best Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Graduate Schools

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Updated: March 12, 2024, Reading time: 34 minutes

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A Doctorate in Education or an Ed.D. (or D.Ed.) degree encompasses several educational focus areas beyond teaching. It does include teaching strands as well.

A Doctor of Education (EdD) degree is a type of advanced professional doctorate degree that prepares individuals for roles as education leaders, researchers, and educators within both K-12 and higher education settings.

EdD programs typically require students to have prior knowledge of teaching and educational policies before admission, so it is usually ideal for individuals with an educational background, such as teaching experience or credentials or an advanced degree in the field of education.

Students enrolled in an EdD program will be expected to study and research curriculum design, assessment, and leadership development. The degree program typically takes three to four years to complete, with coursework being tailored to the specific field or focus of the student’s interest.

With an EdD degree, graduates will have the necessary credentials to pursue opportunities in teaching, administration, and research within public schools, universities, companies, or government organizations.

For professionals aspiring to hold positions as university or college presidents, college deans, provosts, administrators, K-12 principals, district superintendents, curriculum designers and consultants, program implementors and evaluators, or work for the government as policymakers, or non-profits as policy advocates and analysts, then a doctorate in education is the way to go.

Quick audio summary:

Best Doctor of General Education Graduate Schools - fact

The National Center for Educational Statistics suggests that education is one of the top five doctorate degrees conferred from 2022 to 2032. In fact, if professional doctorates such as those from the health sciences and legal studies were excluded, education doctorates rank atop and have seen a slow but steady rise in the number of graduates over the ten-year period. 

So, why is this? Why the apparent growth?

One can infer that this is because most higher-learning institutions require their faculty to have advanced degrees. A master’s degree would only get an educator so far. The next sensible option is earning a Ph.D. or an Ed.D. in education and related strands, like higher education, educational policy, leadership, administration, K-12 leadership, curriculum, instruction, etc. 

To avoid confusion between a Ph.D. in education and an Ed.D., the table below summarizes the differences between the two:

Ed.D. in Education (or related programs like Leadership, Administration, Policy or Higher Education)Ph.D.  in Education(with or without a sub-specialty like STEM, arts, or health education)
FocusResearch, adult teaching, leadership and solution pipelining and  implementation to educational issuesResearch and higher academic education
Who is it for?Aspiring leaders (deans, presidents, chancellors), principals, administrators, policymakers and analysts (research), research educatorsK-12 teachers aspiring to teach in higher education and aspiring  researchers
Post-graduate marketabilityAcross industries, not just in the field of educationAcademia, whether as a researcher or educator

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The Best Doctor of General Education Graduate Schools were picked based on these factors:

  1. Only in-campus and hybrid programs were included in the list. 
  2. Preference was given to programs that offer more strands or concentrations leading to the Ed.D. degree. This indicates the department or the school’s recognition of the other facets of education and that different skill sets and knowledge bases are required for each sub-discipline. 
  3. More than the research centers and institutes, preference was given to schools with existing collaborations or partnerships outside their mother universities. Community and interschool partnerships are essential to education programs, as this paves the way for students to land reputable and valuable internships, research opportunities, or even paid work. 
  4. Other standout features such as immersion opportunities, both local and abroad, the publication of peer-reviewed journals, or other relevant initiatives are also considered.


Columbia University – Teacher’s College

Columbia University Teacher's College

New York, NY

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Teaching (Ed.D.)

The Teacher’s College (TC) was founded in 1880, but it wasn’t until the last decade of the 19th century that it would be related to its current parent school, Columbia University. It also quickly transformed from being a purely normal school to include other programs, such as health sciences, psychology, and social sciences, for a more holistic approach to education, or, in the school’s own words: “how people learn, and how they should be taught, in all fields.”

Standout Features of the Program:

In true TC fashion, the school has close to 80 research centers and labs that combine interdisciplinary studies and innovations in education, health science, psychology, information science, and social science. 

TC has various initiatives in partnership with Columbia University, the National Science Foundation, and other renowned institutions and agencies that highlight the vital role of education on relevant topics like climate change, gun control, and national security.

University of California Berkeley

University of California Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Leaders for Equity and Democracy (LEAD)

Berkeley’s Department of Pedagogy was instituted in 1892. In 1900, the department was integrated into the graduate school division, thus, the name “Graduate School of Education” (GSE). The Ed.D. degree was launched in 1922. In 2021, GSE revamped the Ed.D. program, which used to focus solely on Educational Leadership. The program was enhanced and is now known as the Leaders for Equity and  Democracy, or LEAD.

Standout Features of the Program:

The program is highly selective and only 12 students are accepted for every cohort. Since the program is both intensive and supportive (not spoon-feeding), having a small cohort ensures that each student is well taken care of by the LEAD faculty to graduation. 

Berkeley GSE is home to six research centers, including the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). The school also regularly publishes the peer-reviewed journal, Berkeley Review of Education, which tackles educational issues and innovations, and other relevant interdisciplinary topics.  

University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

The School of Education was established by the University of Pittsburgh (or “Pitt”) in 1910. In the 1930s, the school began offering advanced degrees, such as an M.Ed., Ph.D., and Ed.D. degrees. Today, it houses three departments, focusing on pedagogy and its leadership and policy facets.

Standout Features of the Program:

The School of Education houses the Center for Urban Education and the Office of Child Development, which could be instrumental to Ed.D. students writing up their research projects. Both centers encourage collaborative efforts between Pitt and the community to transform educational delivery for the ever-changing profile of Pre-K-12 students.

The Falk Laboratory School used to be known as The School of Childhood during the 1920s, which taught English to immigrants. Today, the Falk School serves two main purposes: to educate K-8 students and serve as a training ground for aspiring teachers (undergrad and master’s degree students) enrolled at Pitt. 

University of Pennsylvania (Penn GSE)

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Doctor of Education (Ed.D., various programs)

Penn GSE was officially instituted in 1914, although Education courses were taught at Penn as early as 1893. Graduate degrees were first offered and conferred in 1943.

Standout Features of the Program:

Penn GSE currently has 38 research centers that foster constant collaboration between the school, the community, and the government through research and dialogue. An example is the Office of School and Community Engagement. The centers are helmed by Penn GSE faculty.

The Educator’s Playbook is a live collection of all published research from Penn GSE faculty and students. The resources posted are free to access by anyone. A free and regular subscription service is also available, so new posts and resources can be directly sent via email.

University of Washington – Seattle

University of Washington - Seattle

Seattle, WA

Doctor of Education (Ed.D., various programs)

University of Washington (UW) pioneered the concept of a “Normal curriculum” in 1878, leading to the institution of a “Normal College” in 1892, an educational institution specifically designed for grooming aspiring teachers. The official establishment of the College of Education at UW was in 1914. 

Standout Features of the Program:

There are several ways students can explore to help with their funding, such as scholarships and fellowships. As for research work, UW Education houses 33 centers and institutes and 25 research areas, which include studies on Technology in Teaching and Learning, Multicultural Education, and Educational Policy, to name a few. 

UW Education holds regular podcasts that are posted on Soundcloud. Topics are usually about faculty and student research projects and insights on issues and challenges currently plaguing the field of education. Innovations within the field are also discussed on the platform. Previous students are also invited for their insights from their capstone experiences. This is a valuable reference for current students who are currently preparing for their dissertation work.

University of Virginia

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

Doctor of Education (Ed.D., various programs)

John D. Rockefeller, Sr., doled out the funding for a School of Education to be established specifically – upon Rockefeller’s request – at the University of Virginia in 1905. At present, it is known as the School of Education and Human Development  (SEHD), which houses four departments, including the Departments of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education (CISE) and Education Leadership, Foundations and Policy (ELFP). 

Standout Features of the Program:

The University of Virginia-University of Melbourne partnership allows students of the former to apply for UVa’s Ed.D. – C&I program even before they complete their master’s degree. They must be enrolled in the Master of Education in Evidence-Based Teaching program at UM to qualify for application at UVa. 

UVa’s SEHD houses six research centers, including the acclaimed EdPolicyWorks. It also houses 25 research labs that combine education studies (traditional, health, advanced, and special), social justice, psychology, physiology, and design thinking or modern problem-solving.

University of Georgia

University of Georgia

Athens, GA

Doctor of Education (Ed.D., various programs)

The University of Georgia (UGA) is the first publicly funded higher learning institution in the country, founded in 1785. The UGA Graduate School was formally opened in 1910. Today, it currently offers seven doctors of education programs, with areas of focus ranging from leadership to educational policy.

Standout Features of the Program:

Students can utilize UGA Elements, the university’s web-based repository of all student and faculty output, such as research and editorials. It also houses information on scholarships and funding, as well as other activities within and involving UGA. 

The UGA Advantage (also referred to as “Double Dawgs”) is a 4+1 program designed for exceptional students seeking to complete their undergraduate and graduate studies in five years (or less). It is essentially a  dual-degree program that is beneficial to students both time-wise and cost-wise. To date, more than 100 programs are available in the Double Dawg catalog.

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota

Vermillion, SD

Doctor of Education (Ed.D., various programs)

The University of South Dakota came to be in 1862. Today, it boasts seven schools, including the Schools of Law and Medicine, the lone institutes of its kind in the state, and the School of Education (SoE). The SoE has five divisions, with the Division of Curriculum and Instruction and the Division of  Educational Leadership offering the Ed.D. programs of the school.

Standout Features of the Program:

Graduate assistantship work is very much welcome in the SOE. Each division hires its assistants who help the faculty in research, teaching, lab work, curriculum and course design, grant application reviews, and other related tasks. Assistants receive a stipend along with tuition discounts. TAs get paid per course.

Students can apply for administrative internships, which allow them to do supervised work in K-12 principal, superintendent, curriculum director, or SPED director roles. Applicants must be currently enrolled in the respective Ed.D. program and have teaching experience of no less than three years. 

Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University Bloomington

Bloomington, IN

Doctor of Education (Ed.D., various programs)

IU’s School of Education (SoE) has been around since the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until 1923 that it grew into its own when it became independent from the College of Arts and Sciences. It would soon confer degrees in the field, with the Ed.D. degree being conferred for the first time in 1932. 

Standout Features of the Program:

Ed.D. students can engage in the three research centers of the SoE, which focus on three main areas: educational policy, research, and innovations. The SoE also plays an active role in research initiatives. For example, since 2015, the Carnegie Classification of Higher Education (CCIHE) is now located within the Center for Postsecondary Research, one of the three SoE research centers.

IU’s external immersion for teachers, or the Global Gateway, is one of the most acclaimed in the field of education and teaching instruction. Opportunities are available for aspiring teachers to gain experience with different cultures, such as the Navajos,  and locales, such as urban locales or overseas.

Vanderbilt University – Peabody College

Vanderbilt University Peabody

Nashville, TN

Doctor of Education in Leadership and Policy (K-12 or Higher Education) (Ed.D.)

Peabody College was established in 1785 under a different name. In 1889, it changed its name to Peabody Normal College to honor its benefactor, George Peabody. The name change also signified the school’s heightened focus on teaching education-related degrees. In 1979, for financial reasons, Peabody merged with Vanderbilt University, its longtime educational partner.

Standout Features of the Program:

Aside from the capstone partners, Ed.D. students can choose one of Peabody’s nine research centers. Among these are the IRIS Center and the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention (NCLII), funded by the Department of Education.

Peabody College faculty are making their mark in education research and policy. The Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations faculty, which houses the Ed.D. degrees, comprises 15 fellows of the American Educational Research Association and four members of the National Academy of Education.

The University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi

University, MS

Doctor of Education (Ed.D., various programs)

Ole Miss School of Education (SOE) was established in 1903. Today, it offers undergraduate and graduate programs focusing on the various levels of education, educational counseling, and educational leadership.

Standout Features of the Program:

SOE houses several research centers, four of which are closely related to the aforementioned Ed.D. strands. These are:

SoE is home to the Willie Price Lab School, a preschool facility for students aged 3 to 5, and a practicum site for SoE students focusing on early childhood development and learning.

Harvard University

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.)

Founded in 1920, HGSE is the first Harvard school to confer degrees to female students. One year later, HGSE became the first school in the country to offer and confer the Doctor of Education degree (Ed.D).

Standout Features of the Program:

Third-year students must choose an HGSE partner organization to do their 10-month paid residency as part of the capstone requirement. They are expected to be involved in the organization’s management, strategic, administrative, and planning activities (and other related activities) and create their written capstone from experience. There are currently more than 20 organizations included in the list (which grows by the year), which includes public schools, private organizations, and government agencies related to educational policy.

HGSE has its publishing group, the Harvard Education Publishing Group (HEPG), which houses the Harvard Education Press, Harvard Educational Revie, and Harvard Education Letter (bi-monthly newsletter). HGSE also has its weekly podcast called Harvard EdCast, which features discussions on how education can be transformed to impact learners of every age. 

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

University of California

Los Angeles, CA

Doctor of Education – Educational Leadership Program (Ed.D.)

UCLA’s School of Education & Information Sciences (Ed&IS) was established in 1881 under a different name. It took on its present name in 1994, with separate departments for Education and Information Studies. The Department of Education currently offers more than 10 degree programs, with a concentration in graduate studies. 

Standout Features of the Program:

There are close to 25 Ed&IS research centers, with more than half dedicated to education research. However, the research centers are complementary and integrative. Thus, it manifests the goal of transforming education through information infrastructures. This synergistic relationship is best exemplified by the Center for Knowledge Infrastructures and the Digital Cultures Lab, to name a few. 

UCLA-Ed&IS has several partnerships with local community schools where evidenced-based practices are employed. These include the UCLA Lab School and the UCLA Community School, to name a few. 

University of Texas Austin

University of Texas Austin

Austin, Texas

Doctor of Education-  Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

The University of Texas (UT) Austin’s College of Education was instituted in 1891. Today, it houses five departments that tap into the several facets of education, especially modern facets such as Health Education, Educational Psychology, and Special Education. 

Standout Features of the Program:

DELP is home to five research centers and institutes that focus on student engagement, organizational development, education innovations, and policy analysis. It also hosts Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success), dedicated to uplifting the Latino student demographic through mentorship and support.

UT Graduate students can participate in the “Present Your Ph.D. Thesis to a 12-Year-old” initiative. The program seeks to engage K-12 students by using simplified versions of dissertations. This would hopefully get young students interested in research and educational studies. 

University of Southern California (USC) – Rossier School of Education

Rossier School of Education

Los Angeles, CA

Doctor of Education – Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

USC was established in 1880, while its Department of Pedagogy was established a decade later. It then changed its name to the Department of Education in 1909. Another decade later, the School of Education was launched, later named the Rossier School of Education to honor its biggest benefactor, Barbara, and Roger Rossier.

Standout Features of the Program:

The dissertation requirement to complete the program can be done in practice (at work). Doctoral candidates must identify current challenges in pedagogy and educational administration and use these as their dissertation topic. The output may then come in any of the following forms: a dissertation that is five chapters long, a curriculum design addressing the problem, or a visual presentation.

The Rossier School embraces diversity and inclusivity. Only 34% of its student population are Caucasians. The rest of the population comprises other minorities of Hispanic, African American, Asian, and Pacific Islander ethnicities. Also, 46% of enrolled students are first-generation students, indicating Rossier’s meritocratic attitude toward admission. 

Ohio State University

Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

Doctorate of Education in Educational Studies (Ed.D.)

Ohio State University was established in 1870. In 1895, the College of Education and Human Ecology (CEHE) was formally launched. Today, it houses three departments, with the Department of  Educational Studies offering the college’s two of three Ed.D. degrees.

Standout Feature of the Program:

The faculty of the HESA and EA tracks are active in research. 13 EA  and 10 HESA faculty members have published their studies on the different facets and issues in education. This is a testament to the research expertise of both faculties, of which students under both programs can take advantage.

The CEHE offers the First Education Experience Program (FEEP), an elective course open to undergraduate and graduate students who are curious about what being a student of education is like. The course, which could last from eight to thirteen sessions, is conducted through any department’s partner schools. 

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

Doctor of Education – Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

UNC-Chapel Hill has been grooming aspiring teachers since its establishment in 1795. In  1913, the School of Education was formally launched. Today, it offers programs that tap into the various aspects of modern education – policy, technology, health and safety, pedagogy, and physiology. 

Standout Features of the Program:

The School of Education has partnerships with other UNC-Chapel Hill schools, such as the School of Science and Mathematics, to promote STEM education research. The School of Educational Research is also a hub for students preparing for their research work.

UNC-SoE regularly publishes a peer-reviewed journal entitled “Edge: Carolina Education Review.” This journal is the landing spot for research done by SoE faculty.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University

State College, PA

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Pennsylvania State University, or Penn State, was established in 1855 as the sole land-grant university of the state. The College of Education was officially launched in 1923. Today, it houses four departments, three of which offer programs that lead to the Ed.D. degree.

Standout Features of the Program:

The College of Education houses 14 research centers, which Ed.D. students can engage in for their dissertations. Many of these centers and institutes are funded through government grants. Research and initiatives from these government-funded centers are coordinated with the respective federal or local agencies for implementation on the ground, i.e., schools and districts.

Penn State has a long history of pumping out research instrumental to public service. The College of Education follows this tradition with its long line of active research projects from the faculty of each of the four departments. Many of the research studies tackle STEM education, school-community collaborations, the evolution of American policies for all levels of education, and many more. 

University of Michigan – Dearborn

University of Michigan Dearborn

Dearborn, MI

Doctor of Education  (Ed.D.)

The University of Michigan was formed in 1817 in the city of Ann Arbor. While it is the oldest university in the state, its Dearborn campus was established in 1952, making it the second youngest of the three UM campuses (UM-Flint was established in 1956). The Dearborn campus houses the College of Education, Health, and Human Services, which offers the lone Ed.D. program.

Standout Features of the Program:

UMD has a dedicated resource that houses all possible research topics and funding that Ed.D. students may need to write up their dissertations. The Office of Research also assists students in their grant letters and proposals.

Talent Gateway, UMD’s version of the career services center typical of other colleges and universities, serves that exact purpose – job placement or career network connection for UMD graduates. In addition, it also helps graduates to be career-ready by training them to develop marketable soft skills, as prescribed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education & Human Development

NYU Steinhardt School of Culture

New York, NY

Doctor of Education – Educational Leadership & Policy Studies (Ed.D.)

The NYU Steinhardt School is the US’ first school dedicated to teaching and education. Established in 1890, it currently encompasses other disciplines beyond educational leadership, administration, and policy, such as the liberal arts and allied medical professions.

Standout Features of the Program:

Steinhardt offers eight research centers available to Doctor of Education students undertaking dissertations or research work. These centers  collaborate across the Steinhardt ecosystem to provide tangible insights on relevant  topics like:

Execs from two Steinhardt research centers partook to give their  expert insights in the recently concluded NYC Racial Justice Commission symposium entitled “Eradicating Education Inequity for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).” This is reflective of the school’s active involvement in community policy analysis and transformation, especially in education.

Who can apply to the Education degree program? 


Who can apply to the Education degree program? 

Applicants with a minimum of 2 to 5 years of experience in teaching or educational administration, back-office work (assistant to the dean/principal/president), or other related roles (assessor, evaluator, etc.) are encouraged to apply. Most of these programs employ a hybrid format to accommodate working professionals.

Other programs are purely residential, although the in-campus sessions are scheduled sparingly, usually, on weekends or once a week. So, students’ professional lives are not disrupted.

Are GRE scores required? What are the other admission requirements?

Because of the pandemic, GRE scores for doctoral programs are optional for now. Other admission requirements include the usuals like transcripts, a resume, an essay, and letters of recommendation, and teacher applicants must also submit proof of their state licensure to teach. 

What are the usual EDD degree requirements? 

Since this is a doctoral program, the most common degree requirement to close out the program is a dissertation, usually centered on an actual problem apparent in the candidate’s current workplace (school, district, community) or elsewhere. The dissertation should provide the solution(s) to this identified problem by combining the concepts learned via the required coursework.

Most Ed. DD. curriculums will also require specific coursework, usually divided into core courses, research courses, and concentration courses. As mentioned, Ed.D. programs are usually offered in strands or areas of focus, so this is where the difference in curriculum usually lies.

What are the advantages of earning a Doctor of Education degree? Will it help my career?

Yes, earning a Doctor of Education degree can significantly boost your career opportunities and help you stand out in the competitive education landscape… and here’s how:

Key Takeaways

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