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Consider pursuing an online Doctor of Education (EdD) degree if you work in the education field and want to strengthen your credentials for possible career progression.
You can work at all levels of education, from primary schools to universities, if you have a doctorate in education. The Labor Statistics data indicate that postsecondary teacher occupational opportunities will grow 12 percent from 2021 to 2031. Aside from teaching, you can pursue professions in education, research, and policy.
- Best Grad Schools with Online Doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction
- Best Grad Schools with Online Doctorate in Early Childhood Education
- Best Grad Schools with Online Doctorate in Training and Development
A Doctor of Education program or EdD is a terminal degree in education earned after completing a dissertation on educational theory and practice courses. Online EdD programs frequently use synchronous and asynchronous courses with a cohort structure. You can anticipate taking fundamental coursework and classes relevant to your chosen concentration as a doctorate student. In addition, a dissertation, residence, or internship are often requirements for doctoral degrees. Some universities expect you to finish all three.
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Intending to help working adults pursue valuable advanced degrees for career advancements, each of the 10 Best Online Doctor of Education programs have met the following criteria:
- The university and program have received accreditation from regional and programmatic accrediting agencies,
- Offers a curriculum that teaches students how to create educational policies and strategies at an organizational or community level,
- Help students develop mastered skills in leadership, policymaking, organizational and institutional change, curriculum organization, and technology integration,
- Allow online students to learn from the same distinguished on-campus faculty and experts,
- Offers various student services to help with students’ success,
- It has several financial aid opportunities to reduce educational costs.
Please check out our Methodology for more details on our ranking process.
Top 10 Online Doctoral Programs in Education
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Walden University offers a Doctor of Education program that can be completed online. Students can use the online platform from any location with an internet connection to access course materials, participate in discussions, and engage with classmates and professors. This online EdD program is designed to help students prepare for careers as leaders and innovators in education.
Walden’s EdD program is considered one of the best online EdDs, thanks to its wide array of specializations. Students can choose from the following thirteen specializations:
- Community College Leadership
- Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
- Early Childhood Education (Non-Licensure)
- Educational Administration and Leadership (for Administrators)
- Educational Administration and Leadership (Non-Licensure)
- Educational Technology
- Higher Education (Self-Designed)
- Higher Education and Adult Learning
- Higher Education Leadership and Management
- Organizational Leadership and Development
- P–20 Education (Self-Designed)
- Reading, Literacy, and Assessment
- Special Education
All specializations will require students to complete core courses, readings, assignments, conversations, and core and research courses connected to their field. While some courses can be completed online, doctoral students must fulfill a few on-campus residencies for in-person communication, networking, and group learning with instructors and other students. Students work on a doctoral research project or dissertation focusing on a subject they are passionate about within their field of study.
University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
Home of top-ranked online graduate programs, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign offers a Doctor of Education focusing on Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership. Online students learn from and collaborate with the same on-campus faculty and receive the same curriculum and academic rigor as their on-campus counterparts. Faculty members contribute to the program with scholarly knowledge, research skills, and real-world experience. UIUC, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, also provides students with significant research facilities, libraries, and resources.
The program offers five concentrations:
- Diversity and Equity in Education
- Global Studies in Education
- Human Resource Development
- International Education Administration and Leadership
- Learning Design and Leadership
To earn the degree, students must complete 64 credit hours, written qualifying examinations, preliminary and final oral examinations, and a doctoral dissertation. Upon enrollment, students should expect support and guidance from a faculty advisor in creating a study plan to help them achieve their unique objectives and general degree requirements.
As a leading online higher education institution, Liberty University offers a top-notch online program in education and has the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges seal of approval. The online Doctor of Education at Liberty is a 54-credit hour program that can be completed in 2.5 years through 100% online learning, with no campus visitation requirement. One of the best features of this online education doctorate is its accelerated, 8-week courses with no set log-in times.
Liberty’s online EdD program offers fourteen possible concentrations in the fields of Curriculum and Instruction, Higher Education Administration, and Educational Leadership:
- Administration and Supervision – Educational Leadership
- Curriculum and Instruction – Educational Psychology
- Curriculum and Instruction – Elementary Education
- Curriculum and Instruction – Instructional Design and Technology
- Curriculum and Instruction – Middle Grades Education
- Curriculum and Instruction – Online Teaching and Learning
- Curriculum and Instruction – Secondary Education
- Curriculum and Instruction – Special Education
- Higher Education Administration – Assessment and Evaluation
- Higher Education Administration – Educational Leadership
- Higher Education Administration – Organizational Leadership
- Higher Education Administration – Student Affairs
Each concentration will have its own set of required courses. But regardless of which concentration prospective students choose, they will be required to conduct original research for a capstone project that will offer workable solutions to problems in the field of education. Each concentration course aims to equip doctoral students with the skills necessary to work as a university professor, senior-level educational leader, or educational policymaker.
Educators who want to pursue advanced degrees in education focusing on understanding and facilitating learning processes within organizational settings can consider pursuing Baylor University’s online EdD in Learning and Organizational Change. This online EdD program is designed to help seasoned educators and other learning and development professionals gain advanced knowledge and skills to drive and oversee positive change in various organizations, from nonprofits and businesses to private and governmental organizations.
The 54-credit online EdD in learning and organizational change program can be finished in 36 months or on a flexible timetable based on the student’s needs. The course of study includes core, organizational change, research methodology, and problem of practice dissertation and capstone courses. The curriculum of the doctoral degree will help graduates take on cross-functional issues, influence chances for systemic growth, and create productive learning environments based on data-driven procedures.
The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate, a preeminent provider of doctoral education, ranked Baylor’s online EdD in Learning and Organizational Change as a top-ranking education doctorate. With this acknowledgment, doctoral students can expect to have a degree that is highly valued in the job market. Baylor also provides online students with various student services, such as networking, academic advising, and research opportunities.
Baylor is a university approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota, approved by the Higher Learning Commission, offers an intensive 90-credit EdD in Educational Leadership that takes 3 years through a 100% online learning format. This doctorate is among the best online programs for professionals in n P–12, early childhood, and higher education. Online students pay the same per credit hour cost regardless of residency, making this program one of the country’s most cost-effective online EdDs.
Action research, classroom-based inquiry, program assessment, and learning analytics are some of the research avenues that students might choose from in this Doctor of Educational Leadership program. Moreover, UND aims to provide students with maximum flexibility; thus, allowing students to choose between synchronous and asynchronous specialization tracks. Students can choose to focus on the following:
- Education Policy, Reform, and Equity
- Higher Education
- Instructional Design and Technology
- School Leadership
- Special Education
- Sport Leadership
- Teacher Education
In addition to offering an affordable doctoral learning experience, UND provides its doctoral students with more than 60 free workshops that will sharpen students’ professional abilities. These workshops will help students and graduates in their job search. To fulfill the needs of various educational environments, the interdisciplinary core focuses on innovation, equity, and leadership.
Arizona State University
HLC-approved Arizona State University offers an online Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation that is best pursued by education professionals who want to immerse in a curriculum focused on comprehending and assisting learning processes in organizational contexts. ASU’s online EdD program provides students with a curriculum that blends ideas from education, psychology, leadership, and organizational development.
Some of the program’s courses include Innovation in Teaching and Learning, Systems Change and Leadership, Collaborative Approaches to Data-Informed Decision-Making, and Leadership for Organizational Change.
The average time to accomplish an online EdD in educational leadership is three years. Students will immerse in coursework that teaches them how to execute beneficial and long-lasting change in the classroom and throughout entire institutions. Doctoral students will graduate with the ability to spot areas that require improvement to enhance student achievement.
Furthermore, students can customize their degrees by focusing on Change Leadership: Prekindergarten–Grade 12, Leadership for Change in Higher Education, or Systems-based, qualified, and re-envisioned change leadership. Students will receive guidance from their faculty advisor in choosing which track to take. Additional support will be given through an online library, technical support, and career counseling.
John Hopkins University
Recognized for providing unique and comprehensive online education degree programs, John Hopkins University’s online Doctor of Education provides students with the most cutting-edge, demanding, and student-centered curriculum. Online students complete a demanding course of study that integrates the recent findings in technology, data and measurement, entrepreneurship, mind, brain, and teaching.
An exceptional faculty and practitioners from various educational fields will direct each program’s coursework. JHU is a Middle States Commission on Higher Education-approved higher education institution.
The curriculum of JHU’s EdD encourages students to approach problems with an open mind and to spend time comprehending them rather than jumping to conclusions. As a result, students will complete a “dossier-style project” instead of the traditional dissertation. Students begin the project by determining their audience. Students can decide how to write their dossier in a way that will connect with and appeal to their target audience. Dossiers can be delivered in various ways, including a formal written document, a graphic novel, an audio tale, and more.
Students can further tailor their doctorates by choosing a specialization. Mind, Brain, and Teaching; Entrepreneurial Leadership in Education; Urban Leadership; and Instructional Design in Online Teaching and Learning are the program’s concentration areas.
MSCHE-accredited Drexel University offers a doctorate designed for those who want to develop advanced educational leadership, management, and administration abilities. Drexel’s online EdD in Educational Leadership and Management offers students a curriculum that fosters leadership abilities, strategic planning, policy creation, organizational management, and sound decision-making in educational contexts. The program aims to produce leaders who can successfully lead educational institutions, effectuate change, and advance academic achievement.
Students will have various opportunities to tailor their doctorates, including being able to choose a concentration that aligns with their professional and personal goals. They’ll receive individualized academic and career counseling to identify and work toward their goals. Students can focus on any of the following specializations:
- Creativity & Innovation
- Educational Administration
- Education Policy
- Global & International Education
- Higher Education Leadership
- Human Resource Development
- Learning Technologies
- Nursing Education
- Special Education Leadership
- Sport Leadership
Furthermore, online doctoral students can pursue the program in an accelerated three-year format or a five-year, extended part-time delivery. The three-year track will require students to take two courses per semester, while the extended track allows students to pursue one course at a time. The extended track can help students and their employers access more affordable education options and prospects for tuition reimbursement.
Pennsylvania Western University
Pennsylvania Western University’s Doctorate in Educational Administration and Leadership is an online program for education professionals seeking to secure leadership positions in educational institutions. The program’s curriculum is geared toward helping professionals become superintendents of schools, colleges, and universities. PennWest is in good standing with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
PennWest’s online EdD gives students a unique Superintendent Letter of Eligibility certificate. Students will immerse in generalist concentration courses, such as The Superintendency: Theory and Organization, Personnel Leadership for District Improvement, and District Leadership for Legal Issues in Education. In addition to its online coursework, students must complete Superintendent Internships under the supervision of a qualified mentor in various contexts. The internship entails a field placement with a carefully selected and trained superintendent/mentor in a K–12 school district who shares the SLE program’s belief.
Once you’ve finished, you can apply for the PRAXIS School Superintendent Assessment (SSA) and start working as a Superintendent of Schools.
Ball State University
Ball State University offers one of the best online education doctoral programs designed for professionals committed to developing the field through effective teaching, research, and service. This online degree can be earned upon completing 90 credit hours, which can take up to five years through an online asynchronous format.
This online doctoral program in education is a specialist degree designed to prepare students to lead as a superintendent or district-level leader in their state. The program’s curriculum offers many educational administration courses, such as school law, money management, public relations, and other topics. Additionally, thanks to the program’s scholar-practitioner orientation, students will receive an education that balances academic learning and practical experience to help them become successful practitioners with advanced literary knowledge.
In addition to online coursework, students may need to fulfill 15 residency credits beyond their master’s degree. The Higher Learning Commission approves Ball State University.
What are Doctorates in Education?
Doctorates in Education are professional/terminal degrees focused on practice-based learning. Programs often include several scholarly modules and a time for individual study leading to a unique doctoral dissertation. EdD programs provide students with advanced training that prepares them for original doctoral research that will reflect on their professional work.
EdDs are designed specifically for professionals with significant teaching experience and are:
- seeking new positions in the field of educational policy with governmental entities, think tanks, academic institutions, or other organizations,
- wishing to join a network of similar institutions in a top leadership or managerial position,
- interested in using educational experiences while contributing to pedagogical theory research and/or professional practice in Education.
Each college and university has its own admission requirements; however, they may involve some or all of the following:
- Master’s degree: Although some programs accept applicants with graduate degrees unrelated to Education, it may boost your application if it is relevant to your professional practice and/or research interests.
- Proof of your research capabilities: This might be based on your master’s thesis or some other piece of writing. Your application may also need to include a research proposal.
- Teaching/Education-related Professional Experience: Most programs require three to five years of experience teaching or working in another field of Education.
Curriculum in an Online Doctorate in Education Program
There are several specializations in an online doctorate in education. As a result, curriculum and flow may vary. But the following are some typical elements and classes that you might find in an online EdD program:
Core courses are essential in EdD programs, and regardless of their specialization, students will be required to complete these. Core courses often explore the foundation of leadership, theory, and educational research. Education policy, data analysis, research methods, educational leadership, organizational change, and ethics in education are some topics that may be covered in core courses.
Specialization courses teach students advanced information and abilities in that particular topic while delving deeper into their chosen specialized field. For instance, you could take courses in instructional leadership, strategic planning, personnel management, and school improvement if you specialize in educational leadership.
Courses on data analysis and research techniques are integrated into EdD programs. These courses rigorously prepare students to perform in-depth research, comprehend the research literature, and put what they have learned into practice. Students gain knowledge of survey design, statistical analysis, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and dissertation proposal writing.
The dissertation plays a big role in an EdD program. Under the supervision of a faculty advisor, students conduct original research on the subject of their choice. Students must choose a research question, review relevant literature, gather and analyze data, and present their findings in their dissertations. It is a thorough research project that advances knowledge or understanding in the field of education.
Some EdD programs offer elective classes that let students explore different areas of interest or learn more about a particular subject. Electives may cover curriculum development, diversity and inclusion, educational technology, or policy analysis. These flexible courses let students customize their education to address their unique interests and career goals.
Practicum or Field Experience
Some online education doctorate programs include one or more practicum or field experience requirements. Students do this to get real-world experience in settings related to their field of study. They could collaborate closely with mentors or experts in their area and use their knowledge and abilities in practical situations.
It’s important to remember that different universities and programs may have additional specific course offerings and curriculum layouts. To understand the particular courses, sequencing, and requirements of the online EdD program they are interested in, prospective students should carefully review the curriculum.
Specializations for Online Doctorate in Education Programs
Doctoral degrees in education are renowned for their flexibility in terms of content. These choices enable students to concentrate their academic efforts on a specific field of study. In some circumstances, teachers encourage students to create their own unique course of study. The following are some popular specializations available through the online EdD programs:
This concentration prepares students for leadership positions in institutions of higher learning, nonprofit organizations, the public sector, and private businesses. These programs cover adult learning subjects like group dynamics, conflict resolution, adult learning theory, organizational behavior, and systems learning. They also cover topics like human resource development.
Curriculum and Instruction
Curriculum and Instruction doctoral specialization emphasizes advanced study and research in curriculum creation, instructional techniques, and educational leadership. This emphasis is intended for educators who want to improve their instructional strategies, curriculum building, and academic program development knowledge.
Diversity and Equity in Education
Students can prepare for leadership positions in educational environments ranging from prekindergarten through postsecondary education through this EdD specialization. These programs’ multidisciplinary curricula encompass subjects including diversity in education, leadership and policy, social justice, and concerns of equity in education, among others.
The program strongly emphasizes the study of higher education administration, theory, and practice. It focuses on acquiring in-depth knowledge and abilities in fields relevant to the higher education industry, like organizational management, leadership, policy analysis, student affairs, and curriculum development. Students can learn about the organization and management of institutions of higher learning, budgeting and financial management, strategic planning, enrollment control, accreditation, and the legal and moral concerns associated with higher education.
Students who pursue education degrees with literacy education concentrations are prepared to work as, for instance, directors of literacy programs, reading specialists, language education specialists, and writers of instructional materials. These programs include reading and literacy program evaluation and improvement, grant writing, reading and literacy program policy, and literacy education research.
Special education students can anticipate studying subjects like particular education theory, advanced educational administration, special education program evaluation, and special education research. Their coursework will equip them for careers as lead special education teachers, learning advocates, curriculum developers for special education, policymakers, and special education consultants, among other related roles.
The superintendency specialization trains teachers for leadership positions as district or school superintendents. This concentration aims to acquire the sophisticated knowledge, abilities, and competencies required for successful leadership in educational institutions.
Career Opportunities for Doctorate in Education Graduates
The BLS predicts that occupations in the education, training, and library sector will grow 7% from 2021-2031, leading to 929,900 yearly job openings. Furthermore, management occupations will grow 8% within the same decade, with an expected 1.1 million openings yearly.
Some of the most common career paths for education doctorates include:
K-12 principals oversee a K-12 institution’s daily administration, management, and instructional leadership. They are frequently the top administrators in the institution and are essential in fostering a supportive school climate, a positive learning environment, and student success.
Median Annual Wage: $98,420
The school superintendent is the public K–12 system’s chief executive officer. They are responsible for overseeing the functioning of the school system and making strategic choices regarding budgeting, hiring, educational initiatives, personnel, and buildings.
Median Annual Wage: $106,690
College professors create the course curriculum and instruct students in their academic fields. They can also regularly conduct research in their field of interest and publish books and articles. Some college professors work another job besides teaching part-time, while others may devote all their time to academic research and teaching.
Median Annual Wage: $79,640
Higher Education Administrator
A person who works in a leadership or administrative capacity for a higher education organization, such as a college or university, is known as a higher education administrator. These experts oversee all parts of the institution’s operations and regulations to ensure that academic programs, student services, and administrative duties run without a hitch.
Median Annual Wage: $96,910
By offering design expertise and measurement tools, educational researchers collaborate with academic teams that support scholarly research and discovery. They frequently conduct educational research projects, develop research programs, and work in universities. They suggest adding current research findings to curricula and independent research projects for potential classes.
Median Annual Wage: $57,220
Training and Development Manager
Training and development managers increase employee output. Their duties can include developing in-house training programs, producing training materials, buying supplies, and informing staff members of the training’s date, time, and location. They then carry out post-training evaluations to determine whether the program was beneficial.
Median Annual Wage: $120,130
Professional Organizations in Education
Professional organizations are excellent places to find resources for educational materials, networking, and professional development opportunities. They can also provide information on job openings. Their membership costs are typically reasonable, especially considering the contacts and services they provide.
- National Education Association (NEA)
- Association of American Educators (AAE)
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
Early Childhood Education:
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
- National Head Start Association (NHSA)
- Childhood Education International (CEI)
- National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
- National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
- American Council – Teaching of Foreign Languages or ACTFL
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I pursue an online EdD while working full-time?
It depends on the university’s curriculum and requirements. While some programs require students to study full-time and work part-time, others allow students to work full-time and study part-time. But in most cases, online EdDs enable students to enroll in one course per semester.
Is an Education Doctorate Degree Worth It?
Yes, many students find a doctorate in education to be worthwhile. Pursuing an online EdD prepares you for high-paying educational leadership roles and gives you the rare opportunity to influence others’ learning experiences.
What’s it like to study for an EdD?
While the EdD functions comparable to that of other professional doctorates, other aspects are more particular. For instance, your curriculum can require significant practice-based work in schools, colleges, or other educational institutions.
- Online doctorates in education are the most convenient way to pursue advanced study. They employ the same on-campus curriculum.
- Earning a doctorate in education qualifies you for various educational leadership opportunities in the public and private sectors.
- While there are several specializations in an EdD program, the core will teach you critical theories, skills, and knowledge you can apply to K–12 classrooms, academic institutions, community colleges, and other organizations.