PhD in Educational Technology

Who Gets One & What to Expect

A Ph.D. in educational technology online allows graduates to pursue a variety of advanced opportunities, including prestigious careers featuring the field's highest pay brackets. Individuals seeking an educational technology career with high earning potential should consider pursuing a doctoral degree in the field.

In this guide, learners can review everything they need to know about earning an educational technology degree, including what career paths to consider, salary data, program requirements and outcomes, common coursework, what skills and competencies the degree develops, and potential professional organizations to join.

Reasons to Pursue an Online Ph.D. in Educational Technology

Students might pursue online doctoral degrees in educational technology for personal, educational, and/or career-related reasons. Potential benefits of the degree include:

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    Career Advancement

    A Ph.D. in educational technology qualifies graduates for the largest scope of career opportunities available in the field. Many learners earn doctoral degrees to increase their career opportunities in educational technology.

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    Skill Development

    Some students choose to advance their education into doctoral-level programs to expand their skills and knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of the educational technology field. This elevates professionals' credentials.

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    Higher Salary Opportunities

    Professionals with doctoral degrees enjoy access to the highest salary opportunities in educational technology. Many students pursue doctorates to increase their earning potential, with potential roles for graduates earning annual salaries of more than $100,000.

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    Specific Career Opportunities

    Many students pursuing doctoral degrees in educational technology do so to pursue specific career outcomes. For example, many colleges and universities require instructors to hold doctorates to qualify for tenure.

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    Mastery of the Field

    A doctoral degree represents the highest level of education, so many learners pursue their doctorates to advance their skills, knowledge, and experience as much as possible.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Educational Technology?

Graduates who earn their Ph.D. in educational technology online can explore a variety of prestigious career opportunities, depending on their particular area of interest.

Doctoral graduates qualify for the widest possible range of career opportunities, including some of the highest-paying roles in educational technology, some of which earn more than $150,000 annually. Professionals with doctoral degrees in educational technology often pursue career opportunities in the higher education field, working as administrators or professors.

Common Career Paths and Salaries

Educational technology graduates interested in research-oriented work can consider roles as survey researchers. Individuals interested in managerial roles can pursue opportunities as training and development managers or chief learning officers, while those interested in higher education might become postsecondary teachers or postsecondary education administrators.

Survey Researcher

Responsible for conducting research on survey topics, these professionals test surveys to ensure respondents understand the questions. Survey researchers also track survey data.

Average Annual Salary: $57,700

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers supervise staff members to assess employees' training needs. These managers make sure training programs align with their company's goals.

Average Annual Salary: $111,340

Postsecondary Education Administrator

In charge of determining how many students to admit to a college or university, postsecondary education administrators analyze applicant data and review applications to decide which students make the cut.

Average Annual Salary: $94,340

Chief Learning Officer

Chief learning officers come up with strategies to drive corporate learning direction, policies, and goals. They supervise their company's learning programs and strategies to support the organization's goals.

Average Annual Salary: $152,225

Postsecondary Teacher

Focused on teaching courses in specific areas of study at colleges or universities, postsecondary teachers create lesson plans and develop assignments. They also review student progress by grading exams and assignments.

Average Annual Salary: $78,470

Educational Technology Ph.D. Program Requirements and Outcomes

Each college and university features its own unique admissions requirements and criteria. At the doctoral level, applicants must meet a minimum GPA requirement, typically between 3.0 and 3.5. All applicants must complete admissions applications, as well, and submit official transcripts from their master's programs.

Program length varies depending on requirements and enrollment status. Part-time students often take three to four years to earn their doctoral degrees, while those enrolled full-time take around two years. Some programs feature accelerated opportunities, which allow learners to complete their degrees in under two years.

Some online programs feature fully online formats, while others might require students to complete some in-person or on-campus components. These may include internships, field experience, and on-campus courses.

Common Courses

Course topics vary between schools, but learners pursuing doctoral degrees in educational technology often encounter similar course topics. These courses equip students with the skills and knowledge to succeed in advanced educational technology careers.

Designing Technology Rich Curriculum

This course focuses on building a framework for designing curriculum to support the use of technology and minimize learning barriers. Learners analyze lessons and review how to incorporate technology to improve them.

Issues and Trends in Educational Technology

Students in this course conduct in-depth research in educational technology, learning about the foundations and research design methods to evaluate educational technology and derive more effective research efforts.

Designing Integrated Media Environments

During the designing integrated media environments course, students explore the foundations and introductory topics that educators, instructional designers, and trainers must understand to create technology-enhanced content for students across a variety of disciplines.

Managing Educational Projects

In this course, students review the foundations of budgeting, preparing proposals, planning, scheduling, risk management, and cost control for instructional projects. Students develop plans that meet certain specifications.

Distance Education Leadership and Management

The distance education leadership and management course explores what makes up quality online programs across disciplines. Learners in this course learn to apply educative practice to the development, implementation, and planning of online programs and courses.

Other Requirements

In addition to coursework requirements, learners must complete additional components at the doctoral level. These often include dissertations, final projects, final exams, internships, and field experience. Additional requirements vary by college or university, but students should expect to satisfy components other than traditional coursework.


Doctoral-level educational technology students must complete a dissertation in addition to coursework. Dissertations require students to complete original, in-depth research on a specific topic, allowing them to contribute to an original theory or practice. The final product of a dissertation is a lengthy, formal written document.


Some educational technology doctoral programs require learners to complete an internship component. These programs typically approve internship locations and provide students with assignments and written elements to coincide with their internship experiences, outlining what they learn throughout their experience.

Field Experience

Doctoral students studying educational technology must often complete field experience components in addition to coursework. Programs requiring field experience provide guidelines on how much experience learners need and where they should complete it.

Skills and Competencies

Students pursuing doctorates in educational technology online develop a variety of advanced skills and competencies. These may include analytical, problem-solving, critical-thinking, communication, and technological skills, plus an ability to pay close attention to detail.

Analytical Skills

Graduates develop the ability to apply statistical techniques to data and interpret the results of their findings, also understanding how to use statistical software to analyze and track data and conduct in-depth research.

Problem-Solving Skills

During their educational technology program, learners focus on developing problem-solving skills, working to identify common problems and propose effective solutions and preventative measures to keep the same problems from occurring again.

Critical-Thinking Skills

Professionals with doctoral degrees in educational technology should boast strong critical-thinking skills. These professionals must review complex issues in the field and understand the best approaches to take.

Communication Skills

Educational technology professionals often work in higher education and must know how to communicate with students, other faculty members, and researchers to conduct their daily work responsibilities.

Technological Skills

Educational technology combines the use of technology with education, so during their program, students build on advanced technological skills. They work to understand how to incorporate various aspects of technology into curriculum design.

Attention to Detail

Ph.D. graduates learn to pay close attention to detail, researching and analyzing situations closely to avoid mistakes.

Educational Technology Professional Organizations

Graduates who earn their Ph.D. in educational technology online might consider joining a professional organization to develop their skills, knowledge, and expertise in the field. These organizations provide members with access to events, such as seminars and other professional development opportunities.

Professional organizations offer networking possibilities, as well, allowing members to connect with others in the field and build lasting professional connections. Networking can create job opportunities and allows professionals to share ideas, expanding their knowledge and skills. When choosing an organization, educational technology professionals should outline their career goals and review the mission of each prospective organization to see if it aligns with those goals.

International Society for Technology in Education

  • A nonprofit organization dedicated to educators who incorporate technology into their work, the International Society for Technology in Education serves over 100,000 education stakeholders around the world through organizational and individual membership.

Association for Educational Communications and Technology

  • Functioning as an international organization promoting diversity in culture, people, and thought, the Association for Educational Communications and Technology acts as an academic and professional association focused on leadership.

International Society for Performance Improvement

  • The nonprofit International Society for Performance Improvement promotes performance improvement professionals as they work to improve societal, organizational, and individual functioning and productivity.

International Technology and Engineering Educators Association

  • This organization improves engineering and technology education through the use of design, engineering experiences, innovation, and technology. The International Technology and Engineering Educators Association represents more than 35,000 technology educators around the world.

International Society of the Learning Sciences

  • The International Society of the Learning Sciences functions as a professional society focused on exploring learning through work settings. It also reviews how learning can best happen with and without the use of technology.