Online PhD in Education 2021

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An online Ph.D. in education may suit students who enjoy classroom teaching or prefer the field’s administrative aspects. Educators help students develop their own potential and learning style through cooperative learning, teamwork, projects, and individual work. Educational administrators provide direction and day-to-day management of educational institutions, including preschools and colleges. A doctoral education degree meets qualifications for both.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, postsecondary education administrators and postsecondary teachers both earn higher than average salaries and enjoy faster than average growth projections. The positions earn median annual salaries of $97,500 and $80,790, respectively. The BLS projects 4% and 9% respective growth for these professionals during 2019-2029.

Our guide provides a ranking of the top online education degrees at the doctoral level to help prospective students choose the best fit.

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Ph.D. in Education Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. Is a Ph.D. in education worth it?

    Yes, though it depends on students’ career trajectories and preferences. Mid-career education professionals wanting to advance their salary and impact students’ lives may consider pursuing a Ph.D. in education.

  • Q. What can you do with a Ph.D. in education?

    An online Ph.D. in education satisfies the educational requirements for the highest-paying senior educational leadership positions. Graduates pursue careers as educational administrators, superintendents, researchers, and college professors.

  • Q. How long does it take to get a Ph.D. in education?

    Ph.D. students pursuing an education degree full time can expect to spend about three years attaining a degree. The program involves two years of classes as well as research and a dissertation.

  • Q. What is the difference between a Ph.D. and a doctorate?

    “Doctorate” refers to an umbrella term for a degree or rank. A Ph.D. falls under the doctorate category.

Why Get a Degree in Education?

Students can apply education theory and put it into practice with a Ph.D. in education. Learning these practices gives students credibility, upward mobility, and the technical expertise needed to specialize in the field.

A Ph.D. in education offers students the potential for high earnings. The highest paid postsecondary education administrators earn almost $200,000 annually. Earnings ultimately depend on career choice and the type of educational institution where graduates choose to work.

Ph.D. students who opt for an online education degree can benefit from lower costs, classroom flexibility, and access to faculty. Faculty and students communicate through email, instant messaging, and video chat.

Online Guide to Accredited Colleges and Universities

How Much Does an Education Degree Cost?

Online education degrees can cost less than conventional brick-and-mortar education programs. However, an online Ph.D. in education varies in cost and depends on institutional requirements. Though generally online degrees cost less, that does not necessarily hold true for an online Ph.D. It may cost more than other comparable Ph.D. programs. Tuition, books, online registration, and other fees might cost over $20,000 per year.

Tuition makes up the largest percentage of the cost of getting an online education degree. Learners should compare costs among online universities before committing to one institution. Online degree-seekers save on transportation expenses, school supplies, and housing. The lower cost of online courses and high income potential offers a win-win for many learners.

Prospective students may want to investigate other opportunities to minimize debt. For instance, many universities support doctoral students through tuition waivers and stipends.

Calculating the Cost of a College Degree

The calculation tool below helps degree-seekers estimate how much they can spend annually or monthly on college tuition. Users input their income, cost of living, loans, expenses, and potential scholarship amounts. Students input anticipated financial aid amounts and the cost of equipment and supplies. The calculator helps learners understand how much tuition they can afford without additional loans or grants.

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How Much Do Education Majors Make?

BLS data shows postsecondary education administrators earn annual median salaries of $97,500 and postsecondary teachers earn a median $80,790 annually.

An online Ph.D. in education, a terminal degree, offers the highest level of education possible in the education field. However, learners may need to tap into continuing education, certifications, and licensure requirements to advance their careers and salary. School administrators must stay on top of the latest methodologies and techniques used in education. They must renew their licensing status every 5-6 years, depending on state requirements.

Specific specializations within a Ph.D. program may offer more lucrative opportunities. A Ph.D. in education with a specialization in education policy can lead to a role as a public policy analyst. Specializations include counseling education, curriculum studies, educational linguistics, and research and statistics.

Courses in Education

Learners typically complete approximately two full-time years of coursework, plus research projects, examinations, and dissertation compilation. Students may also complete an individualized research practicum, research assistantship, or a faculty research project.

Degree-seekers gain research and analytical skills. They can align their studies with their research interests and professional goals through specializations, including curriculum and pedagogy, educational psychology, and leadership.

Not all programs offer every course; rather, the three below represent part of a sample curriculum.

  • Higher Education History and Philosophy

    The class offers an in-depth macro view of the historical and philosophical development of U.S. higher education. Participants examine education through political, social, economic, cultural, and intellectual contexts over time. The course directly correlates these tangible educational concepts to learners in the field.

  • Leadership and Organizational Theory

    Leadership and organizational theory summarizes the current educational theories, concepts, and behaviors of effective leadership. The course helps learners develop their own personal beliefs, style, values, and ethics as educators. Students develop a vision and strategic plan for use in their careers.

  • Advanced Educational Psychology

    Pertinent to those in the K-12 education system, the class covers the theory and research related to students’ diverse learning needs. The course highlights practical applications for effective teaching.

Certifications and Licensure for Education

The following certifications and field-related licensure enable students to become exemplary leaders within the education field. Each credential features various requirements, including licensure examinations. Students should learn their state’s specific requirements.

Educational Testing Service (ETS) provides assessments for states to use as the licensure process for superintendents. These tests reflect the most current research on professional judgment and a set of standards for school leaders. The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) and the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL) set the standards. ETS also offers the school leader licensure assessment to help states assess school leaders using a concrete set of standards. The ISLLC and the PSEL also set the assessment factors for these tests. The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) offers current superintendents a curriculum and professional learning opportunity culminating in a capstone project. The capstone challenges existing superintendents to use their expertise to analyze an existing district issue requiring intervention. The program connects superintendents to professional networks, helping practicing superintendents focus on key issues within their districts.

Scholarships for Education

Students pursuing a Ph.D. in education qualify for various scholarships from companies and professional organizations. Learners can also apply for institutional grants and scholarships.

  • AASA Educational Administration Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The chair of the school of education can recommend currently enrolled students. Applicants must write three separate statements about superintendency as a career and submit a recommendation letter and two endorsement letters. Students must become a member of the AASA if awarded this scholarship.

    Amount: $2,500

    Explore Here

  • Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Graduate or undergraduate education majors at U.S. institutions may apply. Applicants submit transcripts and an essay about the problems of compulsory unionism in education.

    Amount: $1,000

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  • National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program

    Who Can Apply: Doctoral students at U.S. institutions demonstrating research experience and future potential in educational research may apply. An applicant’s proposed project must involve an education research project. Fellows may not accept employment other than as described in the application. Group applications do not qualify.

    Amount: $27,500

    Explore Here

Online Ph.D. in Education 2021

See Our Rankings Methodology
  • Allen College

    Waterloo, IA



  • Ball State University

    Muncie, IN



    Prospective doctorate students atBall State Universitycan earn aPhD in educational studieswith 2 specialization options: educational technology or cultural and educational policy studies. The program incorporates both online and in-person courses and takes roughly 4 years to complete. The 91-credit program includes 12 research-based credits leading to a final dissertation. To offset the cost of higher education, graduate students can apply to an assistantship program. Ball State also offers atuition discountfor midwest natives.

  • Brandman University

    Irvine, CA



  • Central Michigan University

    Mount Pleasant, MI



    Prospective doctoral students at Central Michigan University can finish their EdD in educational leadership degree through a hybrid format. Students in the program take courses online and also in-person at CMU's Saginaw Center. The program offers 4 specialization paths and requires 63 credits for graduation. Of those credits, 12 are dedicated to dissertation research and between 3 and 9 credits are reserved for practicum experience. Students who have already earned a specialist in education degree are eligible to apply 27 credits towards their Ed.D. degree.

  • City University of Seattle

    Seattle, WA



  • Clarkson College

    Omaha, NE



  • Columbus State University

    Columbus, GA



  • East Carolina University

    Greenville, NC



  • East Tennessee State University

    Johnson City, TN



  • Gratz College

    Melrose Park, PA



Portrait of Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock worked in college admission for 12 years and writes for numerous publications, including “The Journal of College Admission.” Her website, College Money Tips, helps families smoothly navigate the college search process. She currently works as a freelance writer and financial editor, covering higher education, college savings and personal finance.

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