Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership Programs

Sponsored Schools
Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleDoctoratein Educational Leadership2017
See MethodologyGet Ranking Seal

Educational leadership is a specialized academic field dedicated to the management and administration of learning institutions at all grade levels, from pre-K and elementary to colleges, universities and other postsecondary education providers. Educational leadership professionals include principals and vice principals, school superintendents, college deans, admissions officers and curriculum developers. A master’s degree is considered the educational minimum for most of these positions ― and students can boost their job market standing even further by earning a doctorate in educational leadership.

Doctorate in educational leadership programs are usually classified into two categories: Ph.D. programs, which are concentrated in academic research and geared toward those who wish to continue teaching; and Ed.D. programs, which are more focused on administration and practical training. In either program, the curriculum will cover topics like educational philosophy and law, leadership methods, instructional technology and curriculum development. The majority of doctorate in educational leadership programs include practicum courses, where students can receive supervised training from experienced professionals in working schools and educational facilities; capstone projects are often required as well. Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their doctorate in educational leadership online. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of job opportunities after graduation. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule and study-from-home format are also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other responsibilities that could possibly interfere with campus-based learning.

Learn more about what you can do with a doctorate in educational leadership and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.


Online educational leadership doctorate programs are designed to build on the advanced foundational knowledge that students gain during their master’s degree studies. Most doctorate in educational leadership students will choose a specialization based on student age, such as early childhood, elementary, secondary (middle and high school) or postsecondary (college). In addition to educational credentials, some educational leadership personnel ― such as public school principals and vice principals ― must become licensed in the state where they work; licensure requirements vary by state, but typically include a comprehensive exam, background check and a set number of post-college training hours. The best online doctorate in educational leadership programs prepare students for post-degree requirements, including the licensure exam and additional training.


Online doctorate programs are designed to be a flexible alternative to brick-and-mortar education. Students are able to access course lectures and readings, submit assignments, participate in online discussions with their fellow students, take exams and communicate with their professor ― all from the comfort of their home computer. Current technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone or other device with Wi-Fi capabilities. For added convenience, online students can often arrange practicum courses and other onsite requirements at locations within a reasonable distance of their current residence.


Common career paths for students with a doctorate in educational leadership include principals and vice principals, school superintendents, college deans and administrators and curriculum specialists ― although individual job eligibility will depend on the student’s specialization of choice, as well as the licensure requirements in his/her state of employment. Programs with capstone projects and/or practicum courses give students the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have gained to problems and issues in real-world classrooms. Some doctorate recipients continue teaching; these individuals often move up to head teaching or school leadership positions after a few years in the workforce.

See Methodology
Rank School Name Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
Andrews University 14% Berrien Springs, MI

Located in Berrien Springs, Michigan, Andrews University offers two fully online doctoral degrees in educational leadership. The Ed.D provides a path for students who want to solve problems within the educational system, or oversee a school's academic programs and administration. The school's PhD program is heavily research-focused and geared toward students who want to continue teaching or providing consultation to other teachers. Applicants to Andrews' graduate programs generally must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better; students with lower marks but a GPA above 2.75 during the second half of their time in college are also invited to apply. Most distance learners are able to graduate from either of Andrews' doctoral programs in four years, and the school allows you up to seven to complete your degree.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Carson-Newman University 35% Jefferson City, TN

Carson Newman offers an online Ed.D program, with concentrations available in both administrative leadership and curriculum & instruction. Founded in 1851, the Tennessee-based school is a nationally respected liberal arts institution with an impressive selection of online course and program offerings. CNU's web-based courses maintain an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio and the online school is home to distance learners from all 50 states and 28 different countries. Carson Newman has also been recognized for providing low tuition rates and excellent financial aid: in the 2014-2015 academic year, more than 96% of all students received some form of assistance. Courses within both Ed.D programs are offered individually within eight-week blocks, allowing students to complete the degree in as few as three years. Distance learners who want to study part-time are also welcome to apply.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
City University of Seattle 55% Seattle, WA

Seattle-based City University is affiliated with the National University System and has more than 50 thousand alumni spread across the world. The school's fully online doctor of education in leadership program provides students with the training they need to excel in leadership roles in education. The program offers concentrations in organizational leadership, higher educational leadership, educational leadership, and specialized study. The program can be completed in just two-and-a-half years by students who already have some credits to transfer in. Distance learners must complete 90 credits to earn their doctorate. As part of the curriculum, all online students must take a seminar course that introduces them to the school's web-based tools and degree expectations.

City is held in high regard by its former students: A recent survey found that 92 percent of students were satisfied or highly satisfied with their experience at the school. Most students are enrolled part-time, and the school is a natural choice for distance learners trying to balance school with their personal and professional responsibilities.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Clarkson College 90% Omaha, NE

The online Ed.D in educational leadership provided by Omaha's Clarkson College teaches students the theoretical and practical skills and knowledge they need to be competent and respected educational practitioners. Whether you want to lead a school system, develop a curriculum, or evaluate educational processes, the three-year program at Clarkson College can help prepare you for those roles. Distance learners can study full-time or part-time. As a small, nonprofit institution, online students enrolled at Clarkson enjoy individualized instruction, small student-to-faculty ratios, substantive discussion with peers and professors, and access to a variety of financial aid opportunities. Courses are offered on a traditional semester schedule, and online Ed.D students who want to graduate quickly are encouraged to take summer classes.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Colorado State University-Fort Collins 22% Fort Collins, CO

Nestled in Colorado's breathtaking mountains, CSU is home to thousands of students from all walks of life. The school's PhD in higher education leadership prepares future educational leaders. All students must complete 60 credits, and they can finish in five years of full-time study. CSU uses Canvas to facilitate its online courses. Distance learners split their time equally between classes and research, and they will be required to sit for written and oral comprehensive examinations in order to graduate. All students take classes in a structured sequence in a cohort model; this allows distance learners the opportunity to work together with the same set of peers throughout their time in school. As part of the curriculum, students are expected to complete at least 30 credits of academic administration courses, along with 30 credits of research.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Concordia University-Chicago 53% River Forest, IL

Concordia offers online Ed.D and PhD programs in educational leadership. The school teaches students how to provide ethical leadership and develop effective curriculums. Depending on your academic track, you'll take between 61 and 67 credits, which can be completed in just four years of full-time study. Students who plan to complete their degree while they work have up to seven years to graduate from the time they start. The curriculum covers an extensive range of topics, including supervisory theory and practice, school improvement through data analysis, superintendency, and legal issues for school districts, among others. Concordia has been providing a quality liberal arts education since 1864 and maintains strong ties to The Lutheran Church. In addition to providing excellent educational offerings, the school also prides itself on being a diverse and inclusive campus.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Drexel University 36% Philadelphia, PA

Since 1891, Drexel has provided students with a robust education, and the school has recently prioritized and expanded its online program offerings. In 2015, more than 26,000 students enrolled in both traditional and distance learning classes, including the school's online Ed.D in educational leadership and management. The Ed.D program is taught in a cohort format. It is offered on an accelerated track, and can be completed in three years of part-time study. Applicants must have earned a 3.50 GPA or better in their master's program, and have at least three years of relevant professional experience. The school offers an innovative “Test Drive” to help prospective distance learners determine whether they want to apply. In the test drive, prospective students can submit sample assignments, participate in a discussion thread, use online resources, and listen to online lectures to gauge how well they like the distance format.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
East Tennessee State University 38% Johnson City, TN

Founded as a teacher's college in 1911, East Tennessee State has taught and empowered future educators and educational administrators for more than a century. The online PhD in educational leadership is intended for students who already hold a master's or specialist degree. Distance learners can pursue one of several concentrations, including school leadership, administrative endorsement, classroom leadership, and postsecondary and private sector leadership. ETSU uses the D2L learning platform to facilitate its online curriculum. Students can take classes asynchronously and interact with their peers and professors in a variety of online channels. To graduate, students must also complete a 150-hour internship and defend a dissertation. Admitted distance learners can contact technical support at any time for help with the school's online platform.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Edgewood College 13% Madison, WI

Edgewood's online Ed.D in educational leadership prepares students to work in higher education as administrators, faculty members, or leaders at their school. After being admitted, students are assigned to a cohort with whom they'll follow the same course sequence throughout the three-and-a-half-year program. Distance learners can pursue one of two concentrations: the PK-12 administrative leadership program or the higher education leadership concentration. Approximately 85% of students graduate in three years. In addition to faculty mentoring, technical assistance, and career guidance, students can also take advantage of Edgewood's online research and writing center for assistance with projects and papers. The school currently supports more than 900 graduate students and features an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Seventy-two percent of the school's instructors hold a PhD or terminal degree in their field.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Indiana State University 34% Terre Haute, IN

Founded in 1865 as a teacher's school in Terre Haute, ISU continues to teach the next generation of educators. The school's online PhD in educational administration features a concentration in higher education leadership for students aspiring to work in collegiate settings. The cohort-based program is taught on an accelerated schedule, allowing full-time students to graduate within two years (five semesters). All courses are completed through Blackboard, and online students receive the same and quality of education as their peers enrolled on-campus.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 59% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Founded in 1977, Keiser's mission is to serve adult learners at an affordable price. Keiser's online PhD in educational leadership teaches students the theory, methods, and research skills in educational leadership in an interactive and innovative 60-credit program. Online students also have access to supportive writing, advising, and technology services. As distance learners approach graduation, they have the opportunity to work with a career services counselor to help them find a position suited to their skills and interests. Applicants may transfer up to six credits from previous programs. There are no elective courses in the curriculum. To graduate, distance learners must complete 36 credits and an action research capstone.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Kennesaw State University 100% Kennesaw, GA

Georgia's Kennesaw State is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus and has provided quality online education for more than a decade. One of 70 fully online programs offered, the university's Ed.D in teacher leadership is intended for students who want to guide and direct school systems upon graduation. Coursework for this online degree is divided into sections, including leadership, curriculum development, teaching and learning, research, and a residency/capstone component. Students who are unsure of whether they want to study online or on-campus can use the school's Course Tour feature to preview the distance education experience. Applicants must score well on the graduate aptitude and achievement index, Kennesaw State's preferred metric for evaluating a prospective student's grades and standardized test scores. Once enrolled, online students can access the university's academic advising and career mentoring services.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Liberty University 90% Lynchburg, VA

Liberty launched its first distance learning program in 1985, and was one of the pioneers of online education. Today, the school is America's largest private, nonprofit online university, offering more than 245 web-based degrees. Liberty's online Ed.D in program covers a variety of topics, including learning in leadership, research/evaluation techniques, and educational leadership. Students also take 12 hours of class centered around their dissertation, and they must pass final exams to graduate. Students can complete their degree in just nine semesters, and part-time enrollees have up to seven years to graduate. While most of the curriculum is available online, students must compute to campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, three times over the course of their time in school for programmatic intensives.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Morgan State University 8% Baltimore, MD

Morgan State's online Ed.D in Educational Leadership comes with a focus on community colleges. An HBCU, Morgan State's program also instills the importance of amplifying the voices of minority and female students in its graduates. Classes for this program are offered in five-week blocks, allowing students to take three different courses each semester. All online instruction is facilitated through Blackboard's learning management system. Distance learners will enjoy the benefits of an active online learning community and a range of student support services, including a digital library, technical assistance, tutoring, academic advising, and career counseling. Applicants must already hold a master's degree, and have graduated with a GPA exceeding 3.0. They should also submit test scores from the GRE or the Miller Analogies test.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
New Mexico State University-Main Campus 37% Las Cruces, NM

More than 15,000 students from a total of 90 countries are currently enrolled at New Mexico State, many of whom are in the school's burgeoning online program. NMSU offers both an online PhD and an Ed.D in educational leadership. Required hours for the two degrees range from 63 credits for the online Ed.D program to 78 for the PhD. In addition to providing rigorous teaching and learning opportunities for future educational leaders, the university has also been recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine -- the largest and oldest higher education publication focused on diversity -- for encouraging diversity both on campus and in online classrooms. Applicants must be practicing educational administrators or have five years of other relevant professional experience.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Northwest Nazarene University 30% Nampa, ID

Students can complete Northwest Nazarene's online PhD in educational leadership in just 22 months. Whether you're looking to work in a K-12 school, higher education, or educational research, NNU's excellent faculty can help you prepare for your career. Although the program is available fully online via a cohort program, students interested in traveling to Nampa, Idaho are also welcome to visit campus for two weeks during the summer to better prepare for their dissertation or other research work. Courses at NNU are taught from a Christian perspective. Classes cover conceptual statistical applications for educators, legal and financial issues in education, and how to administer human resources in an educational setting. As part of the curriculum, distance learners must also complete an action research seminar and a six-credit internship or principalship. Students from Oregon may also complete an optional class in Oregon Law and Finance.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Oregon State University 31% Corvallis, OR

Offered through Oregon State's renowned Ecampus program, the school's online doctoral degrees in educational leadership include both Ed.D and a PhD programs that will prepare graduates for managerial and administrative educational roles. Unlike many other online programs, OSU requires students to meet with their learning cohorts two weekends per term during the first two years of the program. At OSU, students can pursue two curricular options, allowing them to prepare to become educational administrators in community colleges or in four-year universities. Distance learners can access a variety of support services, including success counseling, online student groups and communities, tutoring services, academic success courses, and career counseling. To graduate, students must complete 108 or 120 credits, depending on which track they choose.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Regent University 84% Virginia Beach, VA

Regent University offers an online Ed.D in educational leadership with concentrations in Christian education leadership, K-12 school leadership, higher education leadership & management, and advanced educational leadership. Students must complete 31 general credits, and then approximately 35 credit hours in their concentration. While most coursework can be completed online, students must occasionally fulfill campus-based requirements in Virginia Beach. Courses cover school and community relations, supervising teaching methods, leadership, and modern educational technology. Distance learners must also complete a principalship to satisfy graduation requirements. Courses are taught asynchronously. Regent is an interdenominational Christian school that was founded by Pat Robertson. Applicants must submit a writing sample and their college transcripts. In some cases, a 20-minute phone interview might also be part of the admissions process.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Rowan University 16% Glassboro, NJ

Rowan University was founded in 1923 as a teachers college. Now a full service university, Rowan retains the same level of commitment to educating teachers as it did nine decades ago. The school's online doctorate in educational leadership provides four different areas of specialization students can pursue. These tracks include higher education leadership, P-12 leadership, nurse educator leadership, and community college leadership. All of the classes are delivered entirely online through Blackboard in a cohort model. Distance learners are required to attend three campus-based residency meetings over the course of their time in school. Students can either choose to take all other courses online, or in a hybrid or blended format.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Southeastern University 47% Lakeland, FL

Emphasizing a Christ-centered education, Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida has provided students with a rigorous and quality education for more than a century. Recently, Southeastern has expanded its distance offerings, and the school now has an online doctorate in education, with a specialization available in organizational leadership. A perfect option for students who may not have a clear vision of what type of educational leadership they want to focus on, this open-ended degree prepares future educational leaders at all levels. Rowan's program is relatively short, and only requires students to complete 54 credits; most distance learners graduate in two or three years. Although most instruction is available through the school's MyFire learning portal, everyone in the program is required to occasionally attend in-person classes on-campus.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Southwestern College 58% Winfield, KS

Southwestern College offers an online Ed.D in educational leadership through the school's professional studies department, and the program is intended for students looking to obtain licensure as educational administrators in Kansas. The program features two distinct paths for online learners, covering PK-12 leadership and higher education leadership. All courses can be completed online, apart from two residency courses which can be taken in the same summer during two weeks or spaced out across two summers; each course lasts one week. All other classes are taught through Blackboard by the same professors who lead campus-based courses. In addition to small class sizes, online students will also enjoy a dedicated academic success center, technical support, career services, online communities, and a digitized library. Applicants must be licensed K-12 educators.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
St Thomas University 27% Miami Gardens, FL

As an Augustinian institution of higher education, St. Thomas has upheld a faith-based perspective since its founding in 1961. Today, the university caters to students from all backgrounds and locations, thanks in part to its selection of online degrees. With a focus on both theory and implementation, St. Thomas's online Ed.D in leadership and management can be completed with 60 credit hours, and the program prepares graduates for a variety of roles in education, nonprofit leadership, and governmental agencies. In addition to required coursework, students must also complete a dissertation in order to graduate. All online courses, assignments, and discussion can be found on the school's HotChalk Ember online learning system, which functions well on both laptops and smartphones. Core courses cover leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, and human resources development, among other topics.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Union University 20% Jackson, TN

Founded in 1823, Jackson, Tennessee's Union University is the oldest private, nonprofit institution on our list. The university's online Ed.D in educational leadership allows students to focus their interests in either P-12 school administration or higher education leadership, and both specializations are available entirely online. The curriculum's structure requires students to perform well academically before they reach their final exams; all distance learners must earn a 3.2 GPA or better in their first 48 credits before they can proceed to the exams and the dissertation. The dissertation is the final element in the curriculum; with guidance from faculty members, students embark on a research project of their choosing, and ultimately must contribute original scholarly research on the topic of their choice. In addition to providing a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, 85% of all instructors – including those who teach online – hold terminal degrees. All incoming students received some form of financial aid last year.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
University of Arkansas 29% Fayetteville, AR

The University of Arkansas, located in Fayetteville, is home to more than 26,000 students from all 50 states and 120 countries. With each passing year, more and more of UA's students are choosing to complete their degree online, and the school has quickly expanded its distance offerings. One such program is the online Ed.D in educational leadership, which can be finished in just three years of full-time study. To graduate, students must also complete 42 credit hours and a dissertation. In addition to online learning, students are required to visit the campus once per semester for a weekend intensive. Because the program is organized by cohort, students can only start this program during the summer semester. The school also offers and Ed.S in educational leadership program.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
University of Florida 53% Gainesville, FL

UF's online leadership education administration doctorate offering is a popular program, and students who are interested in studying will have to wait to get in: the next cohort isn't available until May/summer 2018. In addition to a range of asynchronous classes delivered online, students are expected to attend up to three weekend intensives per semester while enrolled. The program requires students to complete 90 credits and can be finished in four years of full-time study. Most students spend their final year working on their dissertation.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
University of Massachusetts-Lowell 22% Lowell, MA

UMass-Lowell offers an online Ed.d in leadership in schooling for graduates preparing to work with K-12 school systems. All students begin studying in this cohort-based program during the summer semester. Classes are taught in a structured sequence. Over the course of the three-year degree, online learners are required to visit campus once per summer to complete a residency. Courses cover leadership, qualitative analytical methods and tools, and legal and policy issues in the field. During the fall and spring semesters, full-time students are expected to complete two courses; students who want to take classes part-time are also encouraged to apply. Distance learners who are considering applying are offered the opportunity to test drive a class, to see how well they like the online format and program resources.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 28% Lincoln, NE

Students in Nebraska's online educational leadership program will have the opportunity to conduct research alongside classmates and professors. Distance learners can choose from three different concentrations: educational leadership, higher education administration, or community college leadership. While all courses can be completed online, students are encouraged to attend intensive summer courses to enhance their learning experience. The department estimates that most full-time students can complete the 96 required credit hours – including 12 hours of dissertation research and writing – within four years. Applicants must already hold a master's degree prior to applying; students who want to transfer credits into the program will have their previous work assessed by Nebraska's education department. Distance learners from the state of Kentucky are not eligible for admission into this program.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
University of New England 37% Biddeford, ME

New England's Ed.D in educational leadership program is available entirely online, with no on-campus orientations required. Like any programs of its kind, UNE's Ed.D is taught in a cohort model. Applicants can apply to begin their cohort in the fall, spring, or summer, and they are not required to submit GRE scores. Prospective students should have completed a master's program and have earned at least a 3.0 GPA while they were in school. The curriculum focuses on transformative leadership, and the school's dedicated faculty seeks to inspire the next generation of educational leaders. Students must complete 51 credit hours to graduate, including core courses in leadership training, and dissertation writing and research. Full-time students can graduate in just three years; part-time students have up to five to complete their degree.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
University of North Dakota 34% Grand Forks, ND

The online Ed.D in educational leadership at UND is tailored for students seeking administrative or leadership roles in K-12 schools upon graduation. Meanwhile, the school's online PhD in educational leadership program was developed for students who want to work in research or creative consultancy. Both programs are research-based in nature, focusing on leadership development, method, and theory. Each requires students to complete between 90 and 96 credit hours to graduate; distance learners can transfer up to 30 existing credits from a master's degree program and most students graduate within a year or two. All students can access North Dakota's student resources, which includes advising, career assistance, technology services, and research/writing support. Additionally, all distance learners pay in-state tuition at North Dakota, regardless of their state of residency.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
University of the Cumberlands 66% Williamsburg, KY

The University of the Cumberlands offers online Ed.D and PhD programs in educational leadership. Both programs provide students with holistic, forward-thinking educations that prepare them for careers in K-12 schools, higher education, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations. These programs were designed with the working student in mind, and feature asynchronous classes that can be taken part-time or full-time; full-time students usually graduate within three years. Local students can choose to take classes in a hybrid format, as select courses are offered on campus on Saturday's. Applicants must hold a master's degree, and have completed their master's with a GPA exceeding 3.50. They must also have earned a 400 score or better on the Miller Analogies Test or a 300 on the GRE.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
Wilmington University 50% New Castle, DE

Wilmington is home to more than 20,000 students, 41% of whom complete their degree online. Wilmington offers online Ed.D programs in educational leadership and innovation and higher education leadership and innovation. Both programs are nationally recognized by the Educational Leaders Constituent Council and accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Depending on curriculum requirements, classes are either delivered through 15-week semesters or seven-week blocks via Blackboard. Those who plan to study full-time will graduate within three years; part-time students have up to seven years from the time of enrollment to complete all requirements. Applicants must hold a master's degree and submit GRE test scores on their application; they should also have three years of professional experience in a leadership capacity.

Tweet this Share this School Profile
3 to 4 years
Program Costs (when available)
$10,000 – $25,000
Higher Education Administration, Special Education Leadership, Student Affairs, Curriculum and Instruction, Organizational Leadership, K-12 Leadership, Assessment and Policy Studies in Education, International Education, Preschool Leadership
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Job Placement: Doctorate of Educational Leadership

Doctorate degree recipients typically earn higher salaries than their counterparts with lesser degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the median weekly salary for a doctorate-holding individual is $1,623. Master’s degree recipients earn $1,341 per week, by comparison, which is roughly 21% less than those with a doctorate; and bachelor’s degree-holders earn $1,137, which is nearly 43% lower.

Students who graduate with a doctorate in educational leadership also tend to enjoy stronger job prospects. This is due to the relatively small number of doctorate degrees conferred in this field compared to master’s degrees. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) notes that 3,555 doctorate degrees in educational leadership were conferred during the most recent academic year of record; by comparison, more than 18,000 master’s degrees in this field were conferred during the same timeframe.

Jobs in educational leadership are predicted to experience steady, slightly above-average growth in the years to come. Using BLS data, the table below looks at industry projections for some of these careers.

Occupation Industry Growth Projection (2014-24) Change in Number of Jobs (2014-24)
K-12 Principals +6% +14,000 jobs
Postsecondary Administrator +9% +15,200 jobs
Preschool and Childcare Center Director +7% +4,200 jobs
Instructional Coordinator +7% +10,500 jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

As the table indicates, these four occupations alone are expected to rise by nearly 44,000 positions between 2014 and 2024.

Earning a Living

For those with a doctorate in educational leadership, salary expectations and job availability will vary by employer. The table below features some of the largest employers of educational leadership degree recipients, as well as the median annual salary for individuals that work for these employers.

Employer Number of Current Employees Median Annual Salary
Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools 105,770 $106,650 (for postsecondary administrators)
Elementary and Secondary Schools 230,010 $93,120 (for elementary/secondary administrators)
Educational Support Services 1,460 $87,290 (for postsecondary administrators); $87,400 (for elementary/secondary administrators)
Technical and Trade Schools 3,670 $79,900 (for postsecondary administrators)
Junior Colleges 22,180 $88,990 (for postsecondary administrators)
Local Government (OES Designation) 960 $108,720 (for postsecondary administrators); $96,810 (for elementary/secondary administrators)
State Government (OES Designation) 900 $90,520 (for elementary/secondary administrators)
Child Day Care Services 490 $52,190 (for elementary/secondary administrators)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Elementary/Secondary and Postsecondary School Administrator Data

In addition to individual workplaces, an employee’s professional experience level will also impact their earning potential in the educational leadership field. The next table looks at career salary growth expectations for five of the most common careers in educational leadership.

Job Title Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Elementary School Principal $72,316 $77,515 $82,411 $89,000
High School Principal $78,201 $81,361 $86,673 $92,455
Assistant Principal $65,137 $68,470 $71,742 $76,923
Academic Dean $78,255 $84,642 $90,724 $106,666
School Superintendent $100,000 $120,000 $115,000 $130,000

Source: PayScale

All five occupations listed experience a career salary growth rate of at least 18%. Academic deans placed first, with a 36.3% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career phases. School superintendents placed second with 30% growth after 20 years on the job, followed by elementary school principals with 23.1% growth.

Career Opportunities

Depending on their specialization, graduates with a doctorate in educational leadership may pursue roles at the early childhood, K-12 or college and university levels. Three common career pathways in the educational leadership field are outlined below.

K-12 Principal: Principals oversee daily operations at public and private elementary, middle, and high schools. They are responsible for a wide range of duties, including approving curriculum, monitoring faculty and students and managing administrative activities. Most principals begin their careers as teachers, and go on to earn a master’s and/or doctorate in educational leadership; principals must be licensed in all 50 states, as well.

Postsecondary Administrator: This wide-ranging occupation includes deans, registrars, student administrators and faculty researchers. Licensure is not normally required for these positions, but candidates must usually have a Ph.D. or other doctoral credential.

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors: Preschool and childcare center directors manage schools and learning facilities designed for pre-elementary students. Many states require these professionals to undergo a background check and earn a state-issued license; an associate or bachelor’s degree is considered the educational minimum for most preschool and childcare center director roles.

Instructional Coordinator: Instructional coordinators are responsible for developing and implementing curricula at public and private schools, and also evaluating current standards to look for areas of improvement. These professionals may be required to hold a teaching or education administrator license.

Position Median Annual Salary
Elementary, Middle and High School Principal $90,410
Postsecondary Education Administrator $88,580
Preschool and Childcare Center Director $45,670
Instructional Coordinator $62,270

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different educational approaches is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for education leadership professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • National Association of Secondary School Principals: Celebrating its 100th birthday in 2016, the NASSP is today represented by principals, assistant principals and other middle/high school administrative personnel in 35 different countries. The organization hosts networking functions, offers continuing education programs and gives members the opportunity to become advocates in different key areas of secondary school administration.
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals: Founded in 1921, the NAESP today serves elementary school principals and administrative personnel in the U.S., Canada and overseas. The organization’s online learning center features webinars, tutorials and links for classroom-based training programs; an online resource library is also available.
  • Association of Deans & Directors of University Colleges & Undergraduate Studies: This nonprofit organization that represents deans and administrative personnel at postsecondary institutions across the country. The AD&D hosts an annual conference at a different U.S. location each year, and offers both individual and institutional memberships.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.


Our list of scholarships and grants specifically aimed at education majors includes 43 individual rewards totaling more than $170,000 in financial aid. Browse our database to learn more about accessing free money to pay for your online teaching master’s degree.


Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.