Pursuing either an online Ed.D. or an online Ph.D. in Online Teaching can be affordable for teachers dedicated to building flexible, innovative classroom alternatives that nurture learning on the Internet. Although these two types of graduate degree programs are often used interchangeably and share a similar curriculum, there are slight differences between the two. Many Ph.D. in Education candidates strive to put their theoretical knowledge to use by working with other researchers, while Ed.D. candidates often have specific career plans in mind, including becoming a curriculum designer, principal, or school superintendent as well as other types of faculty and administrative positions. Both Ph.D. and Ed.D. in Online Education programs aim to advance knowledge of eLearning for various disciplines, including technology integration, virtual reality, educational apps design, computer learning metrics management, and course development.
If you are considering a career in online teaching and are struggling to find the best doctoral program to meet your needs, or you are confused about whether you should pursue a Ph.D. or Ed.D. program, check out the following list of the top 20 most affordable programs for online teachers to help narrow down your search.
An increasing number of schools are making it possible for graduate students to earn a Ph.D. in Online Teaching online, which is why it is important to consider all of your options before deciding on the program that is right for you. We used data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics and conducted a search for the term “Ph.D. in Online Teaching degree online” and “instructional design and technology degree online” using the site’s College Navigator database. We then narrowed the initial pool of 25 schools down to the 20 most affordable institutions based on in-state graduate tuition costs for the entire length of the program.
Ranking Low-Cost Online Ph.D. in Online Teaching Degrees
20. Duquesne University
Online Ed.D. in Instructional Technology & Leadership
Located in Pittsburgh, Duquesne University offers an online doctoral degree in instructional technology and leadership. This 57-credit program instructs students in the most effective ways of using technology to create positive change across various educational settings. All courses emphasize access to equality and opportunity in topics such as classroom and design, electronic literacy, digital media, and instructional technology. Classes are offered Monday through Thursday evenings and are delivered online via Blackboard, making it easy for professionals to further their education while still upholding their work and family responsibilities. Students are required to attend an on-campus, two-week residency prior to the start of the program. To be considered, applicants must submit official GRE scores, have high-speed Internet access, be proficient in using technology, and show evidence of a master’s degree in an education- or technology-related field with a minimum GPA of 3.5.
19. Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Online Doctor of Education With a Concentration in Instructional Technology and Distance Education
The Doctor of Education with a concentration in Instructional Technology and Distance Education from Nova Southeastern University prepares students seeking careers in leading and training organizations in the best ways to improve teaching and learning through instructional technology. Students can expect a curriculum that offers instruction and experiences in areas such as research-based instructional decision-making, instructional design, instructional media, and distance education. At the end of the 54-credit program, students are required to complete an applied dissertation that contributes practical and theory-based knowledge to the field of distance education and instructional technology.
18. Capella University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Instructional Design for Online Learning
The online Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Instructional Design for Online Learning degree at Capella University expands students’ expertise in managing instructional design challenges in both online and traditional settings in healthcare, corporations, educational institutions, and more. The 90-credit curriculum focuses on instructional design leadership and theory, including conducting and applying instructional design research, leading the implementation of solutions and strategic instructional design initiatives, and creating and applying instructional design models. Students must complete six core courses, eight specialization courses, three electives, three six-week residencies, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation.
17. Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
Online Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology
Michigan State University offers a hybrid Doctor of Psychology in Educational Philosophy and Educational Technology degree program that provides students with the experience, knowledge, and skills needed to use technology to transform virtual, university, and K-12 learning environments. The five-year program is mainly comprised of online coursework, but students are required to attend an on-campus, two-week summer session. Students take a curriculum consisting of courses in areas such as the creation of technology-rich learning, data analysis, and research design. Students work with faculty members on research projects that generally focus on teacher education and professional development. Prior to graduation, all students are responsible for creating and defending a dissertation — a process that comprises the entire fifth year of study. Applicants must hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, submit GRE scores and several strong recommendations, and show evidence of professional and academic accomplishments to be considered.
16. Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Education — Educational Technology & Online Learning
Regent University in Virginia Beach offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Education with a concentration in educational technology and online learning. Throughout the program, students seek publication in journals, use analytical and research methods to address problems, and conduct their own research. The curriculum features courses on educational statistics, research design and analysis, instructional design, strategic planning and evaluation, and advanced leadership practice. During the final year, students mainly focus on a dissertation that they must then present to a committee prior to graduating. Applicants must hold an undergraduate and a master’s degree from regionally accredited schools and provide a current resume, GRE scores, a completed admissions questionnaire, and a peer-reviewed scholarly paper.
15. Northcentral University
San Diego, California
Online Doctor of Education in e-Learning
The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) with a specialization in e-Learning at Northcentral University prepares students for the ever-evolving field of education for businesses, nonprofits, and educational institutions. The curriculum explores and provides students with hands-on training in the e-Learning environment, including web-enhanced, on-campus classrooms, hybrid classes, and fully online class offerings. Students will cover instructional design for e-learning, teaching and learning in asynchronous and synchronous environments, technology resources, the legal aspects of e-Learning, and the visioning, planning, and designing of an e-Learning environment. Students may complete the 18-course, 54-credit-hour program in 40 months.
14. University of Memphis
Online Doctor of Education Degree in Instructional Design and Technology
Students pursuing the Doctor of Education in Instructional Design and Technology from the University of Memphis are prepared for successful careers as school administrators, researchers, human resource professionals, corporate trainers, and professors. The program emphasizes both the examination and the research of practical applications of various technologies in the learning environment. Students take an online 54-credit curriculum that features a cohort model, with students taking the majority of their classes with the same group of other students. Each semester consists of two seven-week classes and one 14-week class, creating a flexible, manageable schedule for working professionals. Prior to graduation, each student must complete a dissertation and research project, which must be presented to a committee of faculty members. To be considered, applicants must submit a resume, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and hold a master’s degree from an accredited college or university.
13. Concordia University – Chicago
River Forest, Illinois
Online Ed.D./Ph.D., Leadership: Education Technology Specialization
Located in the suburban community of River Forest, Illinois, Concordia University Chicago offers a doctoral degree in leadership with a specialization in educational technology. The program focuses on learning in the digital age while preparing the next generation of university, K-12, and other educational leaders. Students pursuing this online program can expect 61 to 67 credit hours of coursework on topics such as curriculum development, school district improvement, technology department management, learning environment design, and data management. Students may also select electives that emphasize learning in corporate, higher education, or K-12 settings. Applicants must demonstrate familiarity with commonly used presentation applications and word-processing spreadsheets and hold a master’s degree in a related discipline from a regionally accredited institution.
12. Texas Tech University
Online Ed.D. in Educational and Instructional Technology/Ph.D. in Educational Psychology With Instructional Technology Specialization
The instructional technology program at Texas Tech University was founded to provide instructional technology professionals with the skills and knowledge in evaluation, management, utilization, development, and design of resources, processes, and materials to enhance learning in business and educational settings. Texas Tech offers two doctoral programs at this level: a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and a 93-credit-hour Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Both programs include a solid foundation in teaching, curriculum, and research with an emphasis on educational technology and instructional design. Graduates are prepared for leadership roles in distance education, for training positions in business and industry, and for leadership roles in college-level and public education. Applicants must submit a resume, writing sample, recommendations, GRE scores, and an applicant statement, and they must hold a master’s degree from an accredited institution to be considered.
11. Boise State University
Online Doctor of Education in Educational Technology
Boise State University in Boise, Idaho offers a Doctor of Education in Educational Technology degree that teaches students how to implement emerging technologies into university and K-12 settings. The program covers various topics, including digital games and activities, mobile applications, software development, and academic technology leadership. Students enroll in courses focused on contemporary theories of technology and learning, statistics, research, website creation, and instructional design. Prior to graduation, all students must complete a final portfolio and thesis that they are required to present to a committee of faculty members. Applicants must submit GRE scores, three professional references, and a scholarly paper, and they must hold a master’s degree from an accredited university or college.
10. University of Illinois
Online Doctor of Education in New Learning
The Doctor of Education in New Learning at the University of Illinois is designed to help teachers integrate new media technologies into the classroom and to create more engaging learning environments for their students. The program focuses on the ways in which students use new digital media to enhance the ways in which they understand and learn, thus improving the learning process. Students are required to take courses in e-Learning ecologies, learning and human development, and new learning as well as two research methods courses, educational statistics, and program evaluation. Students round out the degree with four electives and three independent study courses. Prior to graduation, students are required to complete two dissertation courses in thesis research and thesis seminar.
9. University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Online Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction — Educational Technology Concentration
The University of South Carolina offers a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in educational technology. The 36-month program is designed to prepare students to become the next generation of postsecondary and K-12 school leaders. Students may complete most of the coursework online, but they are required to visit the school’s Columbia campus for a brief orientation prior to starting the program. The online doctoral degree in educational technology consists of 60 credit hours and covers topics like technology resource management, educational technology research, instructional design, applications of learning principles, and diversity in the curriculum. Students spend the final 12 credits preparing a doctoral dissertation. Applicants must submit academic writing samples, a resume, GMAT or GRE scores, a letter of intent, and hold a master’s degree in a related field from a regionally accredited university or college to be considered for admittance.
8. University of North Texas
Online Ph.D. in Learning Technologies
The online Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas was developed with the goal of producing scholar-practitioners who have the knowledge and skills to expand the synergy of instructional IT for academic success. The 69-credit, cohort-based program requires Adobe Creative Design Suite and can be completed in five years of part-time study with face-to-face meetings in Denton every summer. Students will take 15 hours of core courses, 21 hours of topic courses, 12 hours of research courses, nine hours of tool courses, and 12 hours of dissertation. Areas of study include synthesis, theory, and philosophy of the relationship between technology and theory in learning technologies contexts, data management/analysis and research methods, and advanced instructional systems design.
7. Old Dominion University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Education in Instructional Design & Technology
The Doctor of Philosophy in Education with a concentration in Instructional Design and Technology at Old Dominion University is a flexible 60-credit program. Students are able to explore a number of areas, including instructional message design, distance education, research, human performance technology, and technology-mediated instruction. Although courses are delivered on a predetermined schedule, students also have the option to access course materials and digital content on their own time. The curriculum includes core courses on multimedia design, instruction and cognition, and instructional systems design. The dissertation encompasses the final 15 credits of the program. Applicants must submit GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal essay, a writing sample, and hold a master’s degree from an accredited university or college.
6. Sam Houston State University
Online Doctorate of Education in Instructional Systems Design and Technology
Located in Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston State University offers a Doctorate of Education in Instructional Systems Design and Technology through its College of Education. The program is available entirely online and is offered in part by the school’s computer science department. The post-master’s, 60-credit degree is designed to prepare teachers for implementing, assessing, and designing learning software for the 21st Century. Primarily, students develop their abilities to become leaders of instructional technology who will guide their schools and businesses toward achieving meaningful integration of technology. In order to graduate, students must complete a 150-hour internship and doctoral dissertation.
5. Indiana University
Online Ed.D. in Instructional Systems Technology
Located in Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University offers one of the highest-rated, most affordable online Ed.D. programs in educational technology in the country. The 60-credit-hour program takes a hands-on, practical approach to education as it prepares students to develop instructional materials that can apply to a number of different settings. This program is best suited for students who wish to become applied researchers, focusing on areas such as learning and cognition, adult learning, qualitative inquiry in education, intermediate statistics, and doctoral readings. The program’s final nine credits include a dissertation, and the student must present his or her findings prior to graduation. Applicants must submit a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and hold a master’s degree from an accredited university or college to be considered for admittance into the program.
4. University of Wyoming
Online Ed.D. Degree in Education: Learning, Design, and Technology
The Ed.D. in Education degree with a focus on learning, design, and technology at the University of Wyoming prepares students for careers in instruction, communication, and design in settings such as higher education institutes, corporate and government centers, and K-12 education. Throughout the program, students study the work of numerous theorists and researchers working within the fields of design, information, communication, learning, and instruction. Students can expect to move beyond the foundations of technology integration, instructional design, and distance education to focus on advanced research and application. Although the majority of the coursework is available online, students are required to attend at least two on-campus Ed.D. orientation sessions. Applicants must submit GRE scores, a resume, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and hold a master’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution.
3. University of Florida
Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction With an Emphasis on Educational Technology
The Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on educational technology at the University of Florida is a program that emphasizes integrating various applications and tools into corporate, postsecondary, secondary, and elementary learning environments. Although the majority of courses are delivered online, prospective students should plan to attend two summer sessions on-campus in Gainesville. The online doctorate program covers topics in areas such as educational statistics, instructional design, and curriculum and instruction as well as a practicum in digital media. The program concludes with a dissertation. Applicants must hold a master’s degree from an accredited university or college and submit GRE scores, two recommendation letters, a writing sample, and a statement of purpose to be considered.
2. North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
Online Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences, Learning Design and Technology
Renowned for the William & Ida Friday Institute of Educational Innovation, the College of Education at North Carolina State University offers a Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences with a specialization in learning design and technology. The 60-unit curriculum trains educators for utilizing mobile applications, social media, video games, and other virtual resources for instruction. The coursework emphasizes digital-applied research methods, learning theories and processes, and technology cognate areas selected by the student for emphasis such as technology in the disciplines, digital media design, game/educational software design, instructional design, and distance education. Students are required to complete a nine-hour dissertation prior to graduating, and they have the option of earning course credit for supervised teaching/research projects, a practicum, or independent studies.
1. University of West Florida
Online Doctor of Education in Instructional Design and Technology
Located in Pensacola, Florida, the University of West Florida offers an online Doctor of Education in Instructional Design and Technology that emphasizes ethics, communication, critical thinking, and project management. The program is designed for students who wish to use technology to drive productivity, change, and innovation in education. The online Ed.D. program offers two concentrations: performance technology and distance learning. The former focuses on using technology to enhance the performance of organizations and individuals, while the latter emphasizes online learning methods in business, postsecondary, and K-12 settings. All students, regardless of concentration, must complete a dissertation and research project, which covers the final 18 credits of the program. Applicants must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution and submit a statement of intent, three professional references, a resume, and GMAT or GRE scores to be considered for entry into the program.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Ph.D. in Online Teaching Degree?
Earning a Doctor of Education degree is a major accomplishment that indicates a student has completed 10 or more years studying the various aspects of education. Those who choose to earn a doctoral degree in education are committed to spending their lives in this field and also boast a love of leading, teaching, and learning within the school and educational systems.
A Doctor of Education can encompass a wide range of areas, and specialties can include early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, adult education, and online education. The degree comes in two forms: a Ph.D. and an Ed.D. Both forms can lead to higher-paying, education-related careers such as:
- Program Director
- Academic Coach
- Board Member
Specifically, in the field of online teaching, graduates with a doctoral degree can bring to life the standards of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) with unlimited PreK-20 career possibilities. Since doctorates are the most prestigious, highest degrees, preparing students for any and all computer-oriented education careers. The niche of online education can even blend the convenience of telecommuting from home with the salary and challenge of upper-level leadership jobs. Here are several descriptions of jobs where an online Ph.D. or Ed.D. in Online Education would be beneficial:
- Chief Technology Officer: School districts hire chief technology officers (CTOs), usually those who have CETL certification, for a cabinet-level, executive job in which the CTOs supervise the integration of electronics into the PreK-12 curriculums across the campus. Reporting to superintendents, CTOs assess computing policy goals, train teachers on new technology, lead district IT initiatives, purchase digital media, allocate budget resources, and design systemwide teach plans.
- Online College Professor: Graduating with an online doctoral degree in online education may inspire students to pass on what they have learned to college students at institutions that offer virtual courses on Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard, and more. Online faculty coordinate campus residencies, maintain progress reports, grade assessments, connect with students via Skype and email, supervise discussion boards, record lectures, find multimedia content materials, and plan the curriculum.
- Director of Distance Education: As more programs go virtual, more colleges and secondary schools are in need of instructional technologists to oversee the delivery of hybrid, iTV, and online courses. Directors of distance education are responsible for reporting eLearning problems to the Dean, conducting faculty evaluations, designing online scheduling, developing annual budgets, hiring support staff, choosing LMS study platforms, and developing teaching policies.
Students may also be prepared for careers in instruction, administration, and education supervision at the university level or be prepared for administrative and policymaking roles at the elementary and secondary levels.
How Much Can You Earn in This Field?
Choosing an affordable online doctoral degree in online education is a great investment since doing so ultimately unlocks profit potential that is significantly higher than the average teacher’s salary. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on a number of important factors, including certifications, education, additional skills, and the number of years an individual has spent in the profession.
Whereas postsecondary teachers earned an average salary of $76,000 per year in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information research scientists earned an average salary of $114,520 in 2017. The BLS does not yet separate data on online instructors from traditional ones.
According to Salary.com, the average salary for a Distance Learning and Education Director is $96,448 as of October 2018, but the range typically hovers between $78,562 and $115,626. Online professors earn the highest salaries in the fields of business, engineering, and law.
How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online Doctoral Degree in Educational Technology?
Typically, students can expect to spend at least three years studying to earn a Doctor of Education degree, though some online programs in educational technology may be completed sooner if they are available in an accelerated format. Completion times are also affected by a number of factors, including how often the classes are available, whether a student attends part- or full-time, and the structure of the program.
Ed.D. programs may be available in either a cohort or individual learning style; the former groups students together to facilitate a collaborative learning environment, while the latter offers students maximum flexibility in a self-paced program they can complete when it is convenient for them.
The average Ph.D. in Educational Technology degree requires anywhere from 54 to 66 credit hours of study, possibly including summer sessions, and most likely ending with a dissertation or thesis. In addition, doctoral programs are known for offering customizable options such as independent study opportunities and internships in order to prepare graduates for professional practice.
What is the Difference Between a Ph.D. and an Ed.D. Degree?
Deciding between a Ph.D. in Education and an Ed.D. degree throws many graduate students for a loop. However, with some thought about the future and a little introspection, the decision might not be as complicated as one would think.
The primary difference between the two centers around creating new research for the field and solving problems. The easiest way to think about it is that the Ph.D. in Education is learning for the joy of learning, while the Ed.D. degree is for candidates looking to immediately apply what they have learned to their careers.
There are many similarities in terms of coursework between the Ph.D. and the Ed.D. The courses offered at the beginning of both programs are nearly identical and designed to give students a broad background of certain topics of interest in a particular area such as special education or early childhood education. As the student continues through the program, he or she begins to realize the depth of the program, usually as he or she is nearing the end of his or her specialization.
Students who are completing doctoral dissertations for the Ph.D. program are often required to create new research in their field. In general, the dissertation topic for a Ph.D. in Education degree is based on an area of interest. On the other hand, students pursuing the Ed.D. in Education typically look at a particular problem facing a school system or individual school and determine the best, most effective way to address and solve it. Is one degree easier than the other? Although both programs require gathering data and researching, some feel that the added layer of the Ed.D. program — coming up with a solution to address a problem — makes it slightly more complex than the Ph.D. program.
Both the Ph.D. in Education and the Ed.D. in Education have their benefits, and students should make their choice depending on their goals. Most Ph.D. students aim to pursue careers in research and science, while many Ed.D. students strive to obtain positions within the school systems as principals, superintendents, and curriculum designers. Regardless of the program you choose, completing an Ed.D. or a Ph.D. in Online Teaching online creates a path for you to make a difference in the lives of students everywhere.