Although a master’s degree is considered the minimum qualification for positions in the field of educational leadership, students can further boost their standing in the job market by earning an online Doctorate in Educational Leadership. This specialized academic field is dedicated to the administration and management of learning institutions at all grade levels, from universities, colleges, and other postsecondary education providers to pre-K and elementary schools. Professions in educational leadership include curriculum developers, admissions officers, college deans, school superintendents, vice principals and principals.
The skills and knowledge gained from a doctoral degree in educational leadership can help education professionals enact necessary change in their school systems and schools. Graduates of these programs enhance their ability to effectively lead districts, schools, teachers, and programs as well as implement development and reform programs. If you are considering this career path, read on for the top 40 most affordable online Doctorate in Educational Leadership programs that can help you to reach your professional goals.
We understand that the process of choosing the right college for one’s career goals can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of the industry in which one wishes to work. Not only must prospective students consider the cost of tuition and length of the program, but the specific program details are also vitally important as some may offer a path to licensure and others may not. Therefore, in order to develop the following list of institutions and rank them appropriately, we first conducted a search for the term “Doctorate in Educational Leadership degree online” using the College Navigator Tool at the National Center for Education Statistics. Our search results included 50 of the most highly ranked institutions for this particular program in the country, and we then narrowed the initial pool down to the top 40 most affordable colleges and universities based on in-state graduate tuition for the entire length of the program. They are ranked below in order from most expensive to least expensive.
Ranking Low-Cost Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership
40. Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Human Resource Studies – Higher Education Leadership Specialization
The School of Education at Colorado State University offers an online Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Human Resource Studies with a specialization in higher education leadership. The program utilizes dissertation research, hands-on learning via an internship, and in-depth coursework to develop advanced skills and knowledge in higher education leadership. The curriculum examines fundamental topics such as professionalism and ethics, leadership models, higher education administration, higher education law, and more. Students are required to complete 60 credit hours as well as comprehensive exams, several brief residencies, and a dissertation and defense. Graduates are prepared for a number of leadership roles in higher education settings, including housing and auxiliary services, academic support leadership, higher education administration, student services, and enrollment management.
39. East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, Tennessee
Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership With a Concentration in School Leadership
East Tennessee State University offers an online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with concentrations in school leadership, higher education leadership, and administrative endorsement. The programs blend hands-on learning and coursework through in-depth research, internship, and a dissertation project, allowing students to develop the comprehensive knowledge required to succeed in the field. The curriculum covers areas such as administrative theories, leadership models, legal and ethical concerns, and other key topics in educational leadership. Students must complete 66 credit hours of coursework as well as a cognate in an area outside of educational leadership.
38. Samford University
Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
Samford University offers a 36-credit-hour Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership that is available in multiple formats: predominantly online, face-to-face, and a hybrid format consisting of both online and on-campus classes. The curriculum includes the study of educational policy development and analysis, the emerging school superintendency, educational inquiry, and strategic planning. Coursework is divided into five categories as recommended by the NCATE: field-based research, political and community leadership, organizational leadership, strategic leadership, and instructional leadership. Distance learners can complete the program in three years, meeting two times per semester for on-campus studies.
37. Gwynedd Mercy University
Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania
Online Executive Ed.D. Program: Doctorate in Education Leadership
The executive Ed.D. program at Gwynedd Mercy University consists of a doctoral degree in education leadership. The program is available in an online and/or accelerated format and can be completed within three years. Throughout the 54-credit-hour curriculum, students learn how to administer and facilitate programming at nonprofit, government, and educational policy organizations that support educational institutions at all levels. The research-focused program features courses in executive functions and policy analysis, and each student can choose to specialize in leadership in higher education, leadership in special education, or pre-K leadership. Students must also complete practicum experiences and a doctoral dissertation prior to graduating.
36. Lipscomb University
Online Doctor of Education in Learning Organizations and Strategic Change
Lipscomb University offers an online Doctor of Education in Learning Organizations and Strategic Change that includes capstone research, in-depth coursework, and hands-on learning through an international experience and on-campus learning intensives. The program develops the advanced skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in numerous educational leadership roles. Coursework emphasizes areas such as legal and political issues in leadership, fostering positive change and growth, models of leadership, and ethical decision-making and leadership. Students must complete 54 credit hours, including coursework, a capstone research project and defense, three on-campus weekend intensives, and one 10-day international experience. The program may be completed in three years.
35. Texas Tech University
Online Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership
Students may pursue a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Texas Tech University. This online degree program is intended for professionals working in K-12 educational settings who are looking to advance their careers. The program utilizes a practice-focused approach, developing advanced skills and knowledge in educational leadership through a dissertation in practice, a practicum experience, two one-week residencies, and comprehensive coursework. Areas of study include social justice and equality, diversity and multicultural issues, the implementation of school reform, issues in educational leadership, and policy and law. Graduates who complete the 72-credit-hour program are prepared for roles in district administration, counseling, instructional direction, school administration, and more.
34. Union University
Online Doctor of Education in P-12 School Administration
The Doctor of Education in P-12 School Administration at Union University features an online non-licensure specialization in leadership in school reform. This program develops skills and knowledge in educational leadership via a unique focus on school reform solutions and issues. The curriculum blends hands-on research with in-depth coursework, covering topics such as teacher leadership, ethics and law, accountability, and superintendent roles. Students must complete 60 credit hours of coursework as well as a dissertation and comprehensive exams. Other concentration areas include a non-licensure teacher leadership track and a licensure instructional leadership track.
33. Ball State University
Online Doctor of Education in Educational Administration and Supervision
Ball State University offers a 90-credit Doctor of Education in Educational Administration and Supervision that is provided in a blended format. The program is designed to satisfy licensing requirements in Indiana for the school superintendency, and areas of study include required courses in statistical methods, educational research, and educational decision-making. Students may also examine ethnographic research, tests and measurements, and survey research methods to fulfill the research component of the program. Students must also complete a doctoral dissertation on an approved topic. Applicants should hold a master’s degree in order to be admitted into the program.
32. Mercer University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership
Mercer University offers a 63-credit Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Research that provides students with a strong foundation in educational applications, research, and theory. Students may choose from a track in either PK-12 school leadership or higher education leadership. Both tracks share coursework in the ethics of leadership, current issues in educational leadership, organizational theory and behavior, and advanced leadership theory. All students must complete two dissertation-focused courses. The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership is available in a hybrid format, with students meeting for three weekends in Atlanta each semester. Mercer also hosts an academy session each March, during which students network with their peers and learn from experts in the field.
31. University of New England
Online Doctor of Education in Transformative Leadership
The Doctor of Education in Transformative Leadership at the University of New England is available entirely online and does not require on-campus orientations. The Ed.D. is taught in a cohort model, and the curriculum focuses on the field of transformative leadership, covering areas such as policy analysis, managing change, technology and organizational transformation, and interpreting empirical data. Students are required to complete 51 credit hours to finish the program, including dissertation writing and research as well as core courses in leadership training. Part-time students have up to five years to complete their degree, while full-time students can graduate in just three years.
30. St. Cloud State University
St. Cloud, Minnesota
Online Ed.D in Higher Education Administration
The Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration at St. Cloud State University prepares students for advanced leadership positions at universities and colleges. The program is available entirely online, and courses are offered in eight- and 16-week delivery formats. Students may earn their degree in four years, and the program consists of core coursework as well as a final culminating project in the form of a doctoral dissertation. Students also benefit from several program distinctions, including the opportunity to gain cultural experience via an optional Education Abroad trip to Italy. Through the school’s Leadership Institute, students may also explore current research and practices in the field, thus further developing their degree.
29. East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
East Carolina University offers a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership degree that is designed to prepare experienced educational leaders for senior-level leadership positions in K-20 settings. Program studies include political systems analysis, curriculum and instructional leadership, planning studies, policy analysis, organizational theory, human resource development, and leadership theory. Students must complete 60 semester hours beyond the master’s degree. The program is organized into a cohort, and students must complete a dissertation before graduating. After completing the program, students with a North Carolina supervision and/or administrative license are eligible to upgrade their license(s).
28. Trident University
Online Ph.D. in Educational Leadership Degree
The online Ph.D. in Educational Leadership at Trident University is offered entirely from a distance with no required residency or travel. Students learn advanced consulting skills, engage in leadership roles in teaching, learn how to develop subject matter expertise, and learn the skills necessary to conduct high levels of research. Four concentrations are available in higher educational leadership, health education, educational technology, and teaching, learning, and development. Students are provided with many opportunities for collaboration with faculty members, including research and a culminating dissertation. Students also benefit from an active Career Services Center that provides career development support and resources.
27. Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
Central Michigan University offers a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership that covers key topics such as organizational leadership and ethical leadership in education as well as niche topics in specialization areas. Students may choose from four concentration options: Educational Technology, Higher Education Leadership, K-12 Curriculum, and K-12 Leadership. Courses are mostly asynchronous, with a synchronous meeting every other Saturday. Students must also attend one face-to-face meeting with their cohort each semester. The program also consists of comprehensive exams and 15 credits of dissertation research as well as an oral defense of the research. Students must also complete a cognate in an area other than educational leadership.
26. Grand Canyon University
Online Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership With an Emphasis in K-12 Leadership
Grand Canyon University’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in K-12 leadership is offered in small online or evening classes. Students can expect to study the politics and history as well as the structure and governance of the modern K-12 educational system. Through scholarly research and theory, students will examine how to build a qualified community that drives student achievement. The program consists of a total of 60 credit hours of coursework, including a doctoral dissertation. Students may complete the program in 39 months, and graduates are prepared for advanced positions such as higher education consultants, counselors, teachers, and school administrators in community colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools, and other educational agencies.
25. University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Online Doctor of Education in Educational Administration – P-12 School Leadership
The University of Nebraska Lincoln offers a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration with a concentration in P-12 school leadership. It is specifically designed for the professional practitioner seeking credentials for P-12 administration. Students must complete 45 semester hours of coursework, and they are required to attend one-week residencies in Lincoln during the first, second, and third summers of enrollment. Areas of study include issues in system-level administration, cross-cultural leadership studies, system-level school improvement, and business management of schools. Students are required to complete comprehensive examinations as well as an internship and a doctoral dissertation prior to graduation.
24. University of Northern Colorado
Online Educational Leadership Doctor of Education
The Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership at the University of Northern Colorado prepares students to assume roles in advocacy, applied research, P-12 district leadership, and teaching in higher education. The program consists of content courses in individualized areas of concentration as well as critical reading, analysis of data, and original research. Concentrations are available in research, administrator licensure, and principal licensure. Students may complete the program within two and a half years, and the program is delivered primarily in a face-to-face format over six Saturdays per semester with online components. Post-Ed.S. students must complete 42 hours of coursework, including a dissertation, and post-master’s students must complete 64 hours of coursework, including a dissertation.
23. Liberty University
Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
The online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership at Liberty University engages students in key topics such as current issues and trends, conflict resolution, and public relations in educational leadership, allowing them to develop advanced knowledge through theoretical coursework and hands-on research. Students must complete 60 credit hours of coursework as well as a comprehensive exam and a dissertation project and defense. Part-time students have up to seven years to graduate, while full-time enrollees can complete their degree in nine semesters. Although courses are available online, students may choose to visit the campus three times throughout their education for programmatic intensives.
22. Concordia University Portland
Online Ed.D. in Administrative Leadership
The Doctor of Education in Administrative Leadership at Concordia University Portland is designed for working professionals who already have some experience in their field. The curriculum is organized into four phases, the first of which builds foundational knowledge in leading organizational change, qualitative research methods, the ethical educator, and transformational learning. The second phase involves the specialization, including the study of education policy and practice, and the third consists of research and religion. Students devote the fourth and final phase to the research and writing of a doctoral dissertation. Distance learners may graduate in three and a half years.
21. Indiana State University
Terre Haute, Indiana
Online Ph.D in Educational Administration
Students pursuing the Ph.D. in Educational Administration at Indiana State University can choose from two specializations: Leadership in Higher Education or School Administration. Students may complete the program online, on-campus, or a combination of both formats. The cohort-based program is taught on an accelerated schedule, meaning full-time students can graduate after five semesters, or two years, of study. A minimum of 72 credit hours of graduate work beyond the bachelor’s degree is required, and core areas of study include statistical inference and methods, a research seminar, inquiry in higher education, and advanced leadership governance, theory, and external relations.
20. Morgan State University
Online Ed.D. in Community College Leadership
Morgan State University’s online Ed.D. in Community College Leadership is available in five-week blocks, allowing students to take three courses per semester. The program is designed to prepare students for senior-level professional positions and leadership roles within the community college setting, and students examine areas within this field such as professionalism, collaboration, communication, resource management, leadership development, organizational strategy, and community college advocacy. The program is organized into a cohort model, and students work collaboratively to research issues and trends that will help community colleges resolve the problems they are facing. Online students also benefit from a range of student support services, including career counseling, academic advising, tutoring, technical assistance, and a digital library.
19. Wilmington University
New Castle, Delaware
Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Wilmington University is a doctorate in education that provides three pathways of study: the district leader track, the school leader track, and the teacher leader track. Students may complete the 49- to 51-credit program within three years, and the total credits required vary based on the concentration selected. Students may take classes either on-campus or via a hybrid format that consists of both face-to-face meetings and online coursework. The face-to-face component features simulations, problems, and case studies that stem from the research and theory presented in the online phase. Other requirements include the completion of a field component, a capstone project, and a nationally normed School District Leaders Licensure Assessment.
18. Florida State University
Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy
The Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at Florida State University offers an online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy program designed for working professionals. Students advance their knowledge through dissertation research and in-depth coursework that covers a comprehensive range of topics such as research methods, implementing policy, key literature in the field, administrative models, and more. Students must complete 69 credit hours of coursework as well as comprehensive exams, a dissertation and defense, and three face-to-face sessions each summer. Graduates are prepared for roles such as policy researcher, policymaker, superintendent, and school principal.
17. University of South Alabama
Online Executive Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership
The University of South Alabama offers an executive doctoral program in educational leadership. This 60-credit-hour, cohort-based program is designed for educators seeking a terminal degree in the field of educational leadership. The program is delivered in an executive format, allowing students to maintain their current employment while pursuing full-time studies. Two tracks are available — one for higher education administrators and one for P-12 administrators. Coursework is delivered using a combination of face-to-face, intensive classes on the school’s campus, fully online formats, or via a hybrid method. Courses include mixed, qualitative, and quantitative mixed methods research, legal issues, global education, ethics, finance, and assessment and evaluation.
16. Carson-Newman University
Jefferson City, Tennessee
Online Ed.D. With a Concentration in Administrative Leadership
Carson-Newman University offers a Doctor of Education with concentrations in both curriculum and instruction and administrative leadership. The program is designed for students who have completed a master’s and/or Ed.S. degree and who wish to further extend their research expertise. Courses are offered individually in eight-week blocks, allowing students to complete the program in three years of full-time study. Areas of study include organizational leadership, research design, legal ethical issues, foundations of leadership, and emergent educational leadership trends and topics. In addition to completing core coursework, students must also complete an educational leadership portfolio, practicum project, licensure assessment, dissertation, and comprehensive exam for a total of 57 credits.
15. University of Kentucky
Online Ph.D. in Educational Sciences With a Specialization in Educational Leadership Studies
The Ph.D. in Educational Sciences at the University of Kentucky includes a specialization in educational leadership that is designed for professionals looking to advance in leadership positions in school districts and schools. Students benefit from a practice-oriented approach to the field, focusing on key elements, in-depth coursework, and hands-on dissertation research. The 45-credit-hour curriculum develops students’ understanding, skills, and knowledge through a focus on staff development, creative problem-solving, organizational learning, and more. Students must complete comprehensive examinations and a dissertation and defense. Graduates are prepared for a number of administrative careers in K-12 settings, including curriculum director, school principal, school district board member, and superintendent.
14. Oakland City University
Oakland City, Indiana
Online Doctor of Education
Students pursuing the online Doctor of Education degree from Oakland City University must complete at least 90 credit hours of coursework. The program follows a cohort model and offers specialization options in three areas, including organizational management, the superintendency, and curriculum and instruction. The specific degree requirements and courses offered will vary depending on the specialization chosen. Each curriculum is delivered in a hybrid format that consists of online courses and an on-campus summer residency, and each cohort consists of no more than 16 students. Graduates garner complex problem-solving and enhanced leadership skills to benefit the community, schools, and organizations.
13. Lamar University
Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
The online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Lamar University consists of a concentration in global educational leadership and requires no residency or travel for completion. The program focuses on key aspects of the field as well as core values of quality, service, respect, integrity, excellence, and commitment. Throughout the 60-credit-hour program, students can expect coursework in multicultural education, global communication, professional ethics and values, and contemporary issues in the field as well as dissertation work. Courses are delivered in eight-week increments and are designed to be completed in eight semesters, including summers. Graduates are prepared for careers in areas such as policy-making, non-profit organizations and advocacy, school and district administration, and more.
12. North Greenville University
Tigerville, South Carolina
Online Doctor of Education
The Doctor of Education program at North Greenville University provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to attain leadership positions in either higher education or K-12 settings. The program consists of 60 credit hours of study, and it is organized into eight-week terms. Some classes are provided entirely online, in hybrid formats, or in one-week intensives. Areas of study include systems thinking, social intelligence, professional development, problem-solving, higher-order cognitive skills, and applied research. Teaching experience is not required for admission, but those who are working may benefit from the flexibility of the program.
11. William Carey University
Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership
A community of learners who blend education and faith, William Carey University offers flexible learning options to meet the needs of nontraditional students, including a fully online doctoral degree in educational leadership. This 68-credit program uses a cohort model to promote community and cooperation, and students learn how to apply research to practice, engage in visionary planning, and study effective leadership and management skills. The advanced core covers subjects such as advocacy for the school and community, how to develop a culture of learning, and data analysis for performance and instruction improvement. The program also includes a series of courses in research in educational administration. The final phase of the program consists of a dissertation and a comprehensive exam.
10. Kennesaw State University
Online Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership
The Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership at Kennesaw State University is intended for students who wish to direct and guide school systems after graduation. Coursework is divided into sections, including research, teaching and learning, curriculum development, leadership, and a capstone/residency component. Students who are debating an online-only degree may use the school’s Course Tour feature to gain a better understanding of the distance education experience. Students must complete a minimum of 45 hours of study as well as a six-month residency. Students then present their residency project and capstone portfolio prior to graduation.
9. Delta State University
Online Doctor of Education in Professional Studies
The Doctor of Education in Professional Studies at Delta State University trains professionals to excel in responsibility, leadership roles, service, and teaching. Students may choose from three tracks, each which its own specialized program of study: Curriculum & Instruction, Educational Leadership, and Higher Education. Those pursuing the educational leadership track must complete 39 credit hours of study as well as 63 credit hours of track courses for a total of 102 hours. In addition to coursework, students research, write, and present a dissertation and participate in a doctoral seminar. Students who have NISL certification are granted 15 hours of graduate credit to apply toward the degree requirements.
8. University of Wyoming
Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at the University of Wyoming is designed to prepare students for continued growth and learning and for service as an educational leader. Students must complete 77 to 80 credit hours, 30 of which may be applied from a relevant master’s degree, including coursework, internship, educational research courses, and a comprehensive examination. A doctoral dissertation is also required during the final component of the program. After successfully completing the educational leadership core courses and internship, students may choose to apply to the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board to earn their Wyoming School Superintendent’s Endorsement.
7. Northwest Nazarene University
Online Ph.D. or Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
The College of Adult and Graduate Studies at Northwest Nazarene University offers an online doctoral degree in educational leadership that results in either a practice-based Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or a theory-based Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Students engage in in-depth dissertation research and advanced coursework to develop knowledge of the field. Courses cover key topics such as the application of research and data, ethical leadership, managing change in educational institutions, and policy influence. The program requires 36 credit hours for the Ed.D. and 41 hours for the Ph.D., and students must complete a dissertation and defense as well as one on-campus, two-week residency with a learning cohort. The program can be completed in 26 months of full-time study.
6. University of the Cumberlands
Online Doctorate of Educational Leadership
The University of the Cumberlands offers a doctorate in educational leadership that consists of eight specialty areas: religion, psychology, math, history, English, education, counseling, and business. Key aspects of the field are emphasized through core coursework, and students engage in topics such as program evaluation, learning in adulthood, higher education in America, online teaching and learning, proposal development, the implementation of change, and leadership models as well as a dissertation project. Students can complete the 60-credit-hour online program in three years, and graduates are prepared for careers as superintendents, school principals, departmental heads, and roles in nonprofit organizations.
5. University of Missouri
Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
Practicing leaders in education can receive specialized training through the University of Missouri’s online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program. This 46-credit-hour program allows educators to continue their employment while acquiring knowledge they can immediately use. The program begins with an on-campus orientation in the spring, and the curriculum requires both synchronous online learning and on-campus sessions. It does not lead to certification. Students focus on research design, leadership theory and practice, organizational analysis, education policy, and the context and content of learning. Students move through the program as a cohort, and graduates lead across a PK-20 context as faculty, university administrators, directors, superintendents, principals, and more.
4. University of Massachusetts – Lowell
Online Doctor of Education in Leadership in Schooling
Through the Division of Online and Continuing Education, the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell offers an online Doctor of Education in Leadership in Schooling degree for those employed in PK-12 education districts. Designed for professionals looking to advance their careers as leaders in administration and education, the program incorporates practical and theoretical approaches through comprehensive dissertation research and in-depth coursework. Areas of study include leadership models, implementing change, ethics and ethical concerns, and law and policy. Students must complete 42 hours of study as well as a dissertation and defense, two comprehensive exams, and a one-week summer residency each summer of the three-year program.
3. University of Arkansas
Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
The online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership at the University of Arkansas consists of both qualitative and quantitative research track options. The program blends dissertation research with in-depth coursework in a cohort learning model. Students will examine areas such as educational policy and research methods and applications as well as topical seminars that cover key issues and aspects in educational leadership. Students must complete 42 credit hours of coursework as well as a dissertation, comprehensive exams, and brief on-campus residencies that take place once per semester. Each intensive weekend focuses on a theme that connects practice with theory and includes mini-lectures by practitioners and scholars in the field as well as lively debates of critical issues facing school leaders and facilitated discussion groups.
2. New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Online Educational Leadership Doctoral Program
New Mexico State University offers both an online Ed.D. and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration, and requirements for the degrees range from 63 credits for the former and 78 credits for the latter, including 15 credits of cognate courses in areas such as sociocultural theory, research methods, communication, social justice/critical theory, or child and family development. The program is delivered in a cohort format and consists of both online coursework and face-to-face learning. Prospective students must have five years of relevant professional experience or be practicing educational administrators.
1. Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina
Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
As a terminal academic degree, the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Appalachian State University is a natural extension for driven students looking to enhance their leadership capabilities in administration, research, and teaching. Through research and core leadership courses, students learn to apply theory to practice with the goal of making educational systems more sustainable, equitable, and effective. Concentrations are available in educational administration, literacy in exceptionalities, instructional technology leadership, higher education, and interdisciplinary studies. The face-to-face instruction of the hybrid cohort is supplemented by online work, and the online cohort can expect two multi-day, on-campus residencies as part of the program requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership Degree?
Common career paths for students who have earned an online Ph.D. in Educational Leadership degree include administrators, curriculum specialists, college deans, school superintendents, vice principals, and principals. However, students should keep in mind that individual job eligibility will depend on the licensure requirements in their state of employment as well as their specialization of choice. Programs with practicum courses and/or capstone projects give students the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge they have gained to tackle issues and problems in real-world classrooms. Doctoral students who continue to teach typically advance to school leadership or head teaching positions after a few years of demonstrated experience in the field.
Four of the most common career pathways in the field of educational leadership are:
- Instructional Coordinator: Instructional coordinators develop and implement curricula at private and public schools. They are also responsible for evaluating current standards with the goal of identifying areas in which a school can improve. Instructional coordinators may need to hold an education administrator or teaching license.
- Preschool and Childcare Center Directors: These professionals manage learning facilities and schools designed for pre-elementary students. Most states require preschool and childcare center directors to earn a state-issued license and undergo a background check. The educational minimum for these roles is typically an associate or bachelor’s degree.
- Postsecondary Administrator: The occupation of a postsecondary administrator is a wide one that covers a number of careers such as faculty researcher, student administrator, registrar, and dean. Although licensure is not typically required, candidates who hold a Ph.D. or other doctoral credential are preferred over those without a terminal degree.
- K-12 Principal: Principals oversee daily operations at private and public high, middle, and elementary schools. They are responsible for a number of duties, including managing administrative activities, monitoring students and faculty, and approving the curriculum. Most principals begin this career path as teachers and continue by earning a master’s and/or doctoral degree in educational leadership. All 50 states require principals to be licensed.
How Much Can You Earn in This Field?
Graduates of doctoral degree programs can expect to earn higher salaries than those who have earned a master’s or bachelor’s degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average weekly salary for a professional with a doctorate was $1,743 in 2017. By comparison, master’s degree-holding professionals earned $1,401 per week in the same year, and bachelor’s degree recipients earned $1,173 per week.
The BLS also indicates that, in 2017, education administrators at elementary and secondary schools reported a median annual salary of $97,440, while education administrators at postsecondary schools earned a median salary of $92,360 per year. Keep in mind that one’s salary will not only depend on the type of school in which one is working but also one’s level of experience and specialization.
What Are the Qualities of a Successful Educational Leader?
All educators are leaders in some form or another. Principals lead their schools. Teachers lead their classrooms. Every administrator and educator plays a part in leading tomorrow’s future. No matter what your specific role in educational leadership, you make a difference in the lives of students on a daily basis. To ensure you are successful at your job, there are five critical characters that every educational leader should possess and demonstrate on a daily basis:
- Believe in the power of learning and teaching.
- Lead by example.
- Be resourceful.
- Demonstrate excellent communication skills.
- Be self-aware.
Above all, successful leaders, both inside and outside the field of education, know where they want to go in their careers, and they never lose sight of that, regardless of how insignificant their goals may seem. They offer support and insight that reveals and awakens qualities deeply buried inside their students and coworkers. They are the ultimate capacity-builders, uncovering and nurturing the capacity of others to discover hidden talents and develop the skillful use of them. They lead by example, using any and every resource available to them to ensure the setting in which they work is the best it can possibly be.
Are There Any Professional Organizations for Educational Leadership?
Learning about different educational approaches and making professional connections are critical to succeeding in this field. Those who wish to learn more about their chosen career path would greatly benefit from the entry point offered by membership within a professional organization. Below are three of the most prominent organizations in the U.S. that were established for educational leadership professionals. These organizations maintain active job boards, provide online training, host networking events, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources and opportunities such as these are invaluable for students as they complete their graduate degrees and prepare to enter the field.
- Association of Deans & Directors of University Colleges & Undergraduate Studies: This organization represents administrative personnel and deans at postsecondary schools throughout the U.S. The AD&D offers both institutional and individual memberships, and it hosts an annual conference at a different location in the U.S. each year.
- National Association of Elementary School Principals: Founded in 1921, the NAESP serves elementary administrative personnel and elementary school principals overseas, in Canada, and in the U.S. The organization operates an online learning center that features links, tutorials, and webinars for classroom-based training programs. Members may also take advantage of the organization’s online resource library.
- National Association of Secondary School Principals: For more than 100 years, the NASSP represents assistant principals, principals, and other middle/high school administrative personnel across 35 countries. It offers continuing education programs, hosts networking functions, and allows members to become advocates in various key areas of administration at the secondary school level.
What is the Difference Between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership?
Doctorates in educational leadership are typically classified into two categories: Ed.D. programs, which focus more on practical training and administration, and Ph.D. programs, which concentrate on academic research and are geared toward those who wish to pursue teaching careers. In either program, the curriculum will generally cover topics such as curriculum development, instructional technology, leadership methods, and educational law and philosophy. Most doctoral programs in educational leadership also include practicum courses in which students work in educational facilities and schools, benefitting from hands-on, supervised training from experienced professionals. Some schools may also require a capstone project.
Many students are now choosing to earn their doctoral degree in educational leadership online versus the traditional on-campus method. Web-based students are required to follow the same rigorous curriculum as brick-and-mortar students, resulting in the same number of job opportunities upon graduation. The self-paced, or asynchronous, format and study-from-home schedule are also ideal for students with childcare duties, part-time jobs, or other responsibilities that may interfere with campus-based learning.
Will an Online Doctorate Work With Your Schedule?
Online doctoral degrees are designed to be a flexible alternative to traditional, brick-and-mortar education. Students are able to access readings and course lectures, participate in online discussions with their fellow students, submit assignments, communicate with their professors, and take exams — all from the comfort of their home. Students may also utilize current technology to study on the go via a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other WiFi connected device. For added convenience, online students may often arrange onsite requirements such as practicum courses at locations within a reasonable distance of their current location.
Will an Online Ph.D. in Educational Leadership Program Provide You With the Skills You Need to Further You Career?
Online doctorates in educational leadership are designed to build on the advanced foundational knowledge students developed during their master’s degree program. Most students seeking this terminal degree will have the opportunity to select a specialization based on student age such as postsecondary (college), secondary (middle and high school), elementary, or early childhood. In addition to receiving a doctoral degree, some personnel in this field, including public school vice principals and principals, must become licensed in the state in which they plan to work. Although licensure requirements vary by state, they typically include a set number of post-college training hours, a background check, and a comprehensive exam. The best online Ph.D. in Educational Leadership programs prepare students for these post-degree requirements, including additional training and the licensure exam.
Regardless of the specific setting in which you plan to work, whether it be a public or private school at any given grade level, pursuing an online Doctorate in Educational Leadership can help you reach your career goals. From principals and vice principals to other administrative personnel, every individual within the school setting has the responsibility to help the school be the best it can be. School districts cannot function without educational leadership, which goes to show how utterly critical these professions are to the education of students everywhere.