5 Best Grad Schools with Online Doctorate in Elementary Education

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Updated: March 14, 2024, Reading time: 13 minutes

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We’ve all gone through elementary school. If you had good teachers, you might remember those times filled with wonder and excitement as you learned and played.

You may be thinking about making it your life’s work to provide elementary pupils with that same fulfilling experience. The US Labor Statistics Bureau says employment for elementary teachers is expected to grow by only 1 percent from 2022 to 2032.

While a doctorate in Elementary Education is not a requirement to become an elementary educator, a doctorate will help you apply for leadership roles in the field. The positions you can find with a doctorate allow you to influence educational policies, put new ideas into effect, and significantly impact elementary education.


An Elementary Education doctorate best suits professionals in grades K–6. As the highest level of education, doctorate graduates can use their advanced degrees to apply for leadership positions.

Many people consider doctorate-related careers to be personally and financially gratifying, and they allow you to assist young people in overcoming today’s issues.

Developing a Culture of Learning, Conflict Resolution, Leadership, Student Learning, Mentoring, Curriculum Development, Philosophical Foundations, and Educational Technology may all be topics in the elementary education doctorate curriculum. Students will typically also need to do research for, write, and defend a dissertation.

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Each of the following online Doctor of Elementary Education programs was picked based on the following attributes:

Please take a look at our Methodology page for more details.

Top 5 Online Doctoral Programs in Elementary Education

Ball State University

Ball State University

Doctorate of Education in Elementary Education

Ball State University, approved and in good standing with the Higher Learning Commission, offers one of the best online Elementary Education EdD. Students can complete all the required coursework of the program 100% online since this online program was specifically designed for working adult students in the education industry.

The program’s curriculum allows graduates to pursue various positions in academic and academic-related institutions, including becoming university-level educators, policymakers, administrators, and education specialists.

In addition to core courses in education, online students with a concentration on elementary education can further tailor their degree programs by choosing electives within the field.

They can focus on diversity, literacy/reading, curriculum development and assessment, early childhood education, technology, and more. Online EdD students will also have the opportunity to engage in Field Experiences, where they’ll develop practical knowledge and skills in their field of interest.

Applicants must be holders of a master’s earned from a regionally accredited university and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2. Additional application requirements include a resume or CV, an intent letter, two letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and official transcripts.

As part of the application process, candidates will be scheduled for an interview through an online platform.

Liberty University

Liberty University

Doctorate of Education in Elementary Education

Liberty University’s online Doctorate in Elementary Education program is designed to help students gain the necessary abilities for positions as experts in child development, classroom management, elementary education, and curriculum development.

This EdD in elementary education has been known to produce graduates capable of solving real-world educational issues and helping mold young students’ learning through customizing effective learning environments. It aims to develop EdD students’ knowledge of administration, research, learning theory, and curriculum creation.

Featured courses of the elementary education concentration include Foundation & Theories of Literacy Instruction, Instructional Methods for Behavior & Learning, Curriculum Development, and Elementary Curriculum & Methods.

The program’s core courses allow students to build on the knowledge they’ve obtained in their master’s degree programs, covering the fundamental topics in curriculum and instruction. Students will gain an understanding of delivering education using online and face-to-face interactions.

Interested applicants must show proof of their accredited master’s degree, pay a $50 application fee, and mail official college transcripts. Students who are yet to earn their master’s degree can also enroll as long as they are within 6 or 9 credit hours of completing a master’s. Liberty University is officially the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges-accredited.

Georgia State University

Georgia State University

Ph.D. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education

Students who want to focus their studies on research can enroll in Georgia State University’s Ph.D. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. This is a hybrid degree program, meaning students must take classes online and on campus—however, courses are mainly taken on campus.

The program requires Ph.D. students to fulfill residency requirements to provide students with practical and hands-on development of knowledge and abilities. The residency program promotes mentoring, instruction, and research. GSU is acknowledged by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

In addition to the program’s research, required, and core courses, this Ph.D. in elementary education provides eighteen electives. Some electives students can choose from to tailor their degrees include Geometry and Measurement in the Elementary Classroom, Teacher Development, Data Analysis and Probability in the Elementary Classroom, and Early Literacy Learning.

Research courses are Quantitative Methodology, Qualitative Methodology, Single-Case Methodology, Measurement Methodology, and Mixed Methodology.

GRE scores are required for this online program for elementary education. Competitive applicants have at least 155 on the verbal section and 151 on the quantitative section. Additional admission requirements include an accredited master’s degree, a $50 application fee, a goals statement, a resume, a writing sample, and two recommendation letters.

Brenau University

Brenau University

Doctor of Education in Elementary Education

Brenau University, acknowledged by the SACSCOC, offers a Doctorate in Elementary Education that allows working adult students to complete coursework 100% online.

The program will require students to attend two virtual residencies, which will serve as a platform for them to connect with their cohort members, fostering important professional relationships. During these residencies, students will engage with experienced faculty who bring diverse expertise from various educational settings, including elementary and college teaching.

Students in this degree program receive a comprehensive and rigorous curriculum covering various topics related to elementary education.

This fully online program focuses on curriculum development, instructional tactics, educational leadership, research methodologies, educational diversity, technology integration, and assessment procedures. The program’s focus allows students to dive into the complexities and issues faced in elementary teaching.

Admissions to Brenau’s online doctor in elementary education degree require applicants to have a master’s in education degree from a regionally accredited university with a minimum GPA of 3.25, an in-person or virtual interview, a clear and renewable teacher certificate, letters of recommendation, plus a writing sample.

A criminal background check may also be necessary to qualify for the doctoral program.

University of Mississippi

The University of Mississippi

Doctor of Education in Elementary Education

The University of Mississippi is known for offering several online programs accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College. Olemiss’ EdD in Elementary Education is a top-tier doctorate degree that mixes online courses with on-campus courses and intensives. The majority of the classes in this EdD program are conducted on campus.

To influence creative leadership and practice, the Elementary Education program incorporates 18 hours of advanced content knowledge relating to research, diversity, and pedagogy. Measurement & Eval for the Classroom Teacher and Advanced Curriculum & Theory Practice are two of the courses elementary education students study.

Moreover, doctorate students can incorporate educational leadership and/or educational psychology courses to gain additional skills necessary for leadership positions within an academic institution.

Admission requirements include an accredited master’s degree with a 3.5 GPA, two years of teaching experience, an AA License, a writing sample, and a written exam and interview.

What To Expect From an Online Doctorate in Elementary Education 

What To Expect From an Online Doctorate in Elementary Education

Online doctorates are designed to help working education professionals pursue the highest degree while juggling multiple responsibilities outside their studies. Online degree programs use virtual learning environments that give students easy access to readings, lectures, and homework.

However, because doctoral programs are intensive degrees, considering that this is the highest degree one can earn, prospective students should expect to have synchronous classes where they’ll be required to attend classes at a given time. 

The curriculum of an online doctoral program in elementary teaching is carefully designed to provide advanced information and abilities specific to the discipline. Common courses in these programs could include:

Advanced Educational Research Methods: This course equips students with the necessary quantitative and qualitative research methods, data analysis methods, and study design knowledge. This builds students’ capacity to do their own research and data analysis.

Issues and Trends in Elementary Education: The topics, trends, and difficulties in elementary education are examined in this course. Education reforms, educational technology, diversity and inclusion, and equity in education are a few examples of such topics. Students investigate relevant research, theories, and best practices.

Instructional Strategies for Elementary Education: This course emphasizes efficient teaching techniques for elementary school students. Different pedagogical methods, differentiated education, classroom management measures, and student engagement tactics are all covered.

Curriculum Design and Development: This allows students to explore theories and methods of curriculum development, assessment, and design. Topics of this course include curricular concepts, teaching techniques, and evaluation methods. 

Literacy Development and Instruction: This course explores theories and methods for teaching and developing literacy skills in elementary schools. It aims to address issues in literacy evaluation, literacy treatments, and reading and writing education.

Educational Policy and Leadership: In the context of elementary education, this course examines ideas and fundamentals of educational leadership, administration, and policy. Topics involved in this course include organizational management, policy formulation, leadership philosophies, and academic governance.

Admissions Requirements of Online Doctorates in Elementary Education

Admission requirements for doctoral programs in elementary education can differ among universities. But some of the most common requirements include:

Elementary Education Doctorate Graduates Careers and Salaries

Elementary Education Doctorate Graduates Careers and Salaries

Earning a doctorate degree in elementary education can lead to several career opportunities, from leadership roles to curriculum development. While figures can vary on several factors, including location and experience, here are some of the most common career paths and salaries for doctorates in elementary education. 

Elementary School Principal

You could be eligible for managerial roles like elementary school principal with a doctorate in elementary education. The elementary school principal oversees the comprehensive administration, management, and leadership of an elementary school. Their primary objective is to provide guidance and support to teachers and staff, maintain the efficient functioning of the school, and establish a conducive learning environment for students.

The Labor Statistics also reported that elementary and secondary school principals made an average yearly salary of $101,320.

School District Administrator

A school district administrator is an educational professional responsible for overseeing the overall administration and management of a school district. These professionals collaborate with other education professionals to ensure the efficient implementation of educational programs and policies within the district.

School district administrators have an average median annual salary of $85,160. The average salary range is between $75,818 and $96,534. 

Curriculum Specialist

A curriculum expert is a vital member of the education community. They focus on creating, implementing, and assessing curricula and teaching methods in a classroom setting. They make sure that the curriculum is constantly updated to fit the requirements of students, encourage effective teaching and learning, and adhere to academic standards.

According to Zippia, the average median annual salary of curriculum specialists is $50,949, and the typical annual salary ranges between $36,000 and $70,000. 

Curriculum Adaptation Specialist/Special Education Specialist

The major responsibility of this professional is to assess the degree to which a curriculum fulfills the needs of each student before tailoring it to maximize success. They primarily comprehend how a student’s limitations may affect their emotional, physical, social, cognitive, and communicative growth.

The annual salary of these specialists varies. However, the average annual wage is $80,003.

Educational Consultant

After earning their doctorate, some elementary education teachers become educational consultants. These professionals are motivated by a passion for K–12 education and a desire to impact student progress positively. Education consultants work to improve the chances of student achievement by providing solutions and connecting with students, teachers, and institutions of higher learning.

According to Glassdoor, educational consultants’ average median annual salary is $75,560

Online Doctorate in Elementary Education - fact

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does an online Doctorate in Elementary Education cost?

The exact cost of an online elementary education doctorate varies depending on the required credit hours, institution type, and whether the program follows a flat rate fee. However, the average cost of an EdD is $150,835, while a PhD is $106,860. 

How long does it take to earn an online Doctorate in Elementary Education?

The length of an online doctorate may vary. However, students in an EdD can typically complete coursework in three years, while those in a PhD may take longer. 

Is a Ph.D. in elementary education better than an EdD in Elementary

The better option depends on your personal interests. PhDs are best for students with research interests, while EdDs are for those who want to emphasize practice more.

Are there professional organizations for Elementary Education professionals?

Yes, several professional organizations support students and professionals in elementary education. The two most popular are the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI). 

Key Takeaways

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