Online PhD in Education

Educators must stay on the cutting edge of policy reform and research-based instructional strategies designed to give their students the best opportunity for a bright future.

January 5, 2022

reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online PhD in Education

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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.

Ph.D. in Education Frequently Asked Questions

true 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.

true 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.

true 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.

true 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.

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Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

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.

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.

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

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.

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.

Scholarships for Education
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

AASA Educational Administration Scholarship

$2,500 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.

Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship

$1,000 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.

National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program

$27,500 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.

Online Ph.D. in Education 2021

Allen College View School Profile Waterloo, IA $13914
Ball State University View School Profile Muncie, IN $8386

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 View School Profile Irvine, CA $11160
Central Michigan University View School Profile Mount Pleasant, MI $12232

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 View School Profile Seattle, WA $15940
Clarkson College View School Profile Omaha, NE $10008
Columbus State University View School Profile Columbus, GA $5706
East Carolina University View School Profile Greenville, NC $4656
East Tennessee State University View School Profile Johnson City, TN $7992
Gratz College View School Profile Melrose Park, PA $16452
Hampton University View School Profile Hampton, VA $10776

At Hampton University graduate students can complete their PhD in education management in as little as 30 months. With accelerated online courses, students complete a class every 9 weeks and will earn 66 credits to graduate. The program has 4 specializations available, including special education. Tuition for the program is the same affordable rate for all students, regardless of their residency. To gain admittance, students need a minimum 150 GRE score and a bachelor degree with a cumulative 3.0 GPA.

Indiana State University View School Profile Terre Haute, IN $7128
Lamar University View School Profile Beaumont, TX $6048
Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA $8051

Liberty University's fully online doctor of education program has specializations available in educational leadership and curriculum and instruction. Students can further focus their curriculum and instruction studies in specific grade levels from elementary to secondary education. The EdD program usually takes 3 years to complete and students only have to come to campus if they wish to participate in optional seminars. To start the program, applicants must hold a master's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA.

New Mexico State University-Main Campus View School Profile Las Cruces, NM $4088
Oregon State University View School Profile Corvallis, OR $12150
Pennsylvania State University-Worldwide View School Profile University Park, PA $19964
Regent University View School Profile Virginia Beach, VA $12726

With 12 concentrations to choose from in areas such as adult or christian education, doctorate education students at Regent Universityhave flexible options for completing their PhD. The PhD in education degree is a 75-credit online program, requiring a 4-day residency each summer. Courses operate on 8-week semester cycles and tuition is the same for all online students. As part of the school's Ph.D. requirements, students complete a hefty amount of research imbedded in the program curriculum.

Southeastern University View School Profile Lakeland, FL $12269

Professionals in education looking to increase their career potential can begin with a doctorate program in education from Southeastern University. The blended program includes 2 concentrations and prepares graduates for roles in school administration as university professors and curriculum specialists. Students in the program spend 3 to 4 years completing the 54-credit degree, focusing on 1 course at a time for 8 week periods. To be accepted, applicants need a 3.0 GPA, at least 3 years' work experience and 2 written statements.

Texas A&M University - College Station View School Profile College Station, TX $5784

Texas A&M's online EdD in curriculum and instruction program provides all curriculum in a digital format and generally requires 4 years to complete. In addition to web-based learning, students will complete 300 hours of an internship spread across 2 semesters. This program operates as a cohort with new groups starting each spring. To enroll, students need a master's degree, GRE scores and at least 5 years of education experience.

Texas Tech University View School Profile Lubbock, TX $5400
The University of Alabama View School Profile Tuscaloosa, AL $10470

The University of Alabamahas a hybrid EdD program, combining online courses with evening and weekend face-to-face classes, taken at the university's Gadsden Center. The doctor of education in educational leadership program prepares students for upper-administration positions in K-12 schools. Students complete 72 credit hours, 12 of which are spent on dissertation development. To enroll, applicants must have earned a master's degree in either instructional or educational leadership with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

The University of West Florida View School Profile Pensacola, FL $7088
Trevecca Nazarene University View School Profile Nashville, TN $9743

Open to professionals hailing from diverse fields, the EdD in leadership and professional practice from Trevecca Nazarene University gives graduates advanced leadership skills to work in business, healthcare, education or nonprofits. The program is offered online through an accelerated format, requiring 27 months to complete 57 credits. To successfully graduate, students perform on-going research leading to a final dissertation. One online tuition rate is set for all students and federal financial aid is available. Students must have a completed master's degree and 3.0 GPA to apply.

Union Institute & University View School Profile Cincinnati, OH $18636
University of Arkansas View School Profile Fayetteville, AR $7379
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus View School Profile Denver, CO $6714
University of Florida View School Profile Gainesville, FL $10770
University of Louisiana at Monroe View School Profile Monroe, LA $6490
University of Memphis View School Profile Denton, TX $8820
University of Nebraska-Lincoln View School Profile Lincoln, NE $7134
University of Northern Colorado View School Profile Greeley, CO $9774
University of South Carolina-Columbia View School Profile Columbia, SC $12398
University of the Cumberlands View School Profile Williamsburg, KY $5670

Full-time educators can complete their doctoral of educational leadership degree entirely online from the University of the Cumberlands. Designed for working students, all courses are offered online with the possibility to attend weekend classes for those who wish. The program consists of 60 credit hours and can be finished within 3 years. Applicants to the program must have a master's degree with a 3.5 GPA and recent GRE scores with at least 300 points.

University of West Georgia View School Profile Carrollton, GA $3996
University of Wisconsin-Stout View School Profile Menomonie, WI $6878
William Carey University View School Profile Hattiesburg, MS $8400
Wilmington University View School Profile New Castle, DE $8190

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