Best Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Programs

Our experts have ranked the top online doctorate in educational administration programs. Compare schools by cost and convenience to find the right Ph.D. for you.

portrait of Heather Mullinix
by Heather Mullinix

Updated July 9, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Samantha Fecich

Our Review Network

BestColleges is committed to delivering content that is objective and accurate. We have built a network of industry professionals across healthcare and education to review our content and ensure we are providing the best information to our readers.

With their first-hand industry experience, our reviewers provide an extra step in our editing process. These experts:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Our growing Review Network currently consists of professionals in fields like business, nursing, social work, and other subject-specific industries; professionals in higher education areas such as college counseling and financial aid; and anti-bias reviewers.

Reviewers typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for BestColleges as a side project. Our reviewers are members of the Red Ventures Education Freelance Review Network and are paid for their contributions.

See a full list of our Review Network contributors.

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
Share this Article

Schools across the country have struggled to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years. School administrators lead these efforts in elementary and high schools, colleges, and state and federal education departments. A 2021 report by the Learning Policy Institute highlights the critical role well-prepared principals play in student achievement and teacher retention.

Becoming an education administrator requires a minimum of a master's degree, though many positions require additional education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects that jobs of school principals will grow by 8% from 2020-30, with about 22,100 job openings each year as principals retire or move to other jobs. Principals earned a median salary of $98,490 in May 2020. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

A doctorate in educational administration builds upon earlier graduate education. Doctoral students gain educational leadership, change management, and instructional excellence expertise. These skills allow teachers to take leadership positions in their schools and school systems and move into other growing careers, such as corporate training, educational policy development, or postsecondary teaching and administration. Many top online schools offer flexible programs for aspiring educational leaders.

What Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Program?

Education administrators lead educational institutions. They handle tasks such as hiring staff, ensuring facility upkeep, and managing budgets. These professionals also stay up-to-date on academic standards, curriculum changes, and accountability measures like student testing programs. Finally, they interact with the community to build partnerships or engage parents in their children's education.

An online doctorate in educational administration builds skills in organizational leadership, strategic planning, and team building. Doctoral students also learn data analysis, coaching, and conflict resolution skills.

An online doctor of education (Ed.D.) in educational administration focuses on applied research, building leadership skills, and analyzing educational policy. This degree differs from a Ph.D. in educational administration, which often focuses on research and theory. Both degrees require a rigorous academic commitment.

A full-time student may complete their degree in three years. Part-time students may require up to five years to complete the 48-72 credits required. In addition to courses, most programs require a capstone experience. This experience could include a dissertation or thesis, a professional project, or a residency or internship.

Students should think about their career goals and academic interests when considering graduate study. Many schools offer concentrations in specific areas of education administration, including school leadership, administrative endorsement, and higher education leadership.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

Popular Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Program?

Public Policy and Administration

Educational leaders must understand public policy and implementation. This course looks at educational legislation and regulations, building skills in decision-making and innovation. Reading assignments, case studies, and data analysis allow students to analyze policy models, formulate implementation tools, and evaluate policy effectiveness.

Educational Statistics

Much of accountability in education relies on the statistical analysis of student and school performance. This data helps inform policy decisions and measure the effectiveness of educational initiatives. This course covers the fundamentals of descriptive and inferential statistics, teaching students how to retrieve information from various data sources.

Designing for Learning in Communities

Students explore various methods of creating community-based learning opportunities. Key components of the course include creating an inclusive and learner-centered curriculum and instructional techniques. This course can also include elements of instructional design using technology or programs to spark community engagement.

Ethics of Leadership

This course offers an opportunity for self-reflection as students discuss ethical decision-making in educational administration. Students will examine their belief systems by reading and discussing philosophical texts and case studies.

Technology Applications for Education Leaders

Technology continues to impact educational systems and instructional methods. This course helps administrators understand the role of technology in teaching while discussing issues such as school policies, strategic planning, and technology investment to support digital-age learning.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Program?

Before applying for a doctorate in educational administration, you must complete an undergraduate degree and a master's degree. Your master's degree should focus on educational practice, such as curriculum and instruction. Many doctoral programs in educational administration online cater to working educators and may require classroom teaching experience.

In addition to the items below, the application process may include admissions interviews and samples of published academic writing. Schools may also charge a fee to process your application packet. The application fee can cost anywhere from $50 to more than $100 per school.


The application comprises your basic information: name, address, the program you are applying to, and an overview of your qualifications. While many undergraduate programs accept submissions via an application system, such as the Common App, most universities have their own procedures for graduate applications.

Test Scores

Test requirements vary by school. Some accept the GRE or other standardized tests. The GRE measures quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and critical thinking. You may have taken these tests as part of the application process for your master's degree. Typically, scores remain valid for five years.

Letters of Recommendation

Ask for letters of recommendation from supervisors, mentors, and professors. These individuals can speak to your work ethic, professionalism, and commitment to the rigors of a doctorate program. Be sure to give each person ample time to complete the letter on your behalf.

Resume and Work Experience

While your academic transcript will detail your success in the classroom, your resume can detail your professional accomplishments. Include your professional teaching experience and school leadership positions, such as leading a professional learning community within your academic department. Also, include extracurricular involvement or community volunteerism.


The essay portion of the application allows you to share why you want to take on education administration challenges. It also allows the school to evaluate your writing. Some schools may also request a portfolio of writing samples that include research reviews or academic analysis.

Official Transcripts

You must request official transcripts from all colleges or universities you attended. Transcripts record classes you have taken, grades received, and degrees awarded. Most programs require an overall 3.0 GPA in graduate study. Most graduate programs offer only limited credit transfer options.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Degree?

Career Outlook

Education administrators work in every school, leading their teachers, support staff, and students. They also work at local school districts, helping guide educational policy and ensure instructional excellence. Others work in state and federal government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Educational administrators also work in higher education as college deans or presidents. Graduates can also work as postsecondary teachers or help companies design and implement training and professional development programs.

The BLS projects that jobs for principals will grow by 8% from 2020-30, with about 22,100 openings each year. Much of the job growth depends on student enrollment, with more opportunities available in fast-growing school districts as they open new schools. Principals reported a median salary of $98,490 in May 2020. Principals in the 90th percentile of earners earned upwards of $152,500.

Training and development managers earned a median salary of $115,640 in May 2020. The BLS projects an 11% growth in employment from 2020-30, faster than the average job growth of 8% for all occupations. These professionals work in various industries, helping companies equip their workforce with new skills.

See where a doctorate in educational administration can take you. Learn more about education careers.

Career Paths

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal

Principals serve as the leader of their schools, overseeing staffing, budgets, facility planning, and community relations. Principals must interview teachers and staff, organize class schedules, and meet with parents regarding student performance or discipline. Principals also coordinate with their district office on educational initiatives and curriculum, facilitate staff training, and analyze student data.

Median Annual Salary: $98,490

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators help schools and districts evaluate curriculum and instruction. These administrators act as coaches to classroom teachers, helping them refine their lessons and drive student success. They assess student test data, perform teacher observations, and plan teacher training and workshops.

Median Annual Salary: $66,970

School Superintendent

School superintendents lead a school district. They often work for local education systems and answer a school board or trustees. Superintendents hire and oversee school district administrators and principals. They implement district-wide education initiatives, develop an annual budget, and manage school resources, including facilities and equipment.

These educational leaders often have many years of experience in teaching and administration. Many superintendents hold a doctorate.

Median Annual Salary: $121,930

Postseondary Education Administrator

Postsecondary education administrators may specialize in academic subjects, enrollment, budgeting, and student affairs. These educational leaders may hold dean, provost, or president positions. Most work at colleges and universities, though there are career opportunities at junior and community colleges, career colleges, or other organizations of higher education.

Median Annual Salary: $97,500

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers use their educational expertise and business skills to develop training programs for businesses or organizations. The BLS projects employment will grow by 11% from 2020-30, with about 4,300 openings each year. Training managers make use of educational technology to engage remote workers.

Median Annual Salary: $115,640

Educational Administration Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

An online doctorate in educational administration serves as a terminal degree in the field. However, educators never stop learning. If you hold an administrative education license from your state department of education, you likely have ongoing professional development requirements to meet. These requirements may include continuing learning credits through workshops or conferences or locally developed in-service programs on academic standards or instructional development.

How Do I Choose an Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Program?


U.S. colleges and universities charged an average of $19,310 in tuition and fees to graduate students in 2018-19. Costs can vary depending on the type of institution you choose. Public institutions charged an average of $12,170, compared to the average private school tuition of $25,930. Some schools waive out-of-state fees for fully online students.

However, earning a doctorate represents a significant investment. Students seeking a doctorate in 2015-16 borrowed an average of $74,510. In addition to tuition, consider other costs of attendance, such as books, technology, or required travel.

Program Format

Schools may choose a variety of structures for their program, including part-time and full-time enrollment options, accelerated classes, or cohort models. Accelerated formats feature shorter terms that allow students to focus on one or two courses. Schools may offer asynchronous online learning with no scheduled meetings. Some programs may require scheduled classes with technology facilitating group discussions or lectures.


While online learning allows you to seek the online doctorate in educational administration that best meets your interests, many students still prefer to choose schools close to them. Many online doctorates in educational administration require on-campus meetings with professors and fellow students. A nearby campus can reduce travel costs for any in-person requirements and give you access to on-campus services.


Look for schools that hold institutional accreditation from a regional board and programmatic accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Accreditation serves as a quality assurance of academic rigor and allows you to access federal student aid programs. If you plan to use your degree to enhance your educational license, you must also ensure the school holds approval from your state's board of education.

Student Support

Student support services for online learners can include dedicated librarians to assist in accessing research materials, online networking opportunities, and online career counseling or tutoring services. In recent years, many schools have enhanced their support for distance learners, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic required moving to primarily online services.

Best Accredited Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Best Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Programs

  • Andrews University

    Berrien Springs, MI

    Andrews's 60-credit doctorate in educational administration features a focus on globalization, with required study abroad trips and an internship that promotes cross-cultural experiences.

    Learners study online and at the main campus in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Doctoral candidates take 5-7 years to complete the program. Graduation requirements include 28 credits in research methods, academic writing, and applied statistical methods. All students must submit a dissertation and an article for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

    The curriculum prepares graduates for national and international careers in university administration, research, teaching, and policy leadership. A 480-hour internship also asks students to apply educational theory in the field.

    Applicants need a master's degree from an accredited college, a minimum 3.30 GPA, three professional recommendations, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Andrews accepts applications for the Ed.D. program in the fall, summer, and spring.

  • Arkansas State University

    Jonesboro, AR



    A-State's online doctorate in educational administration, led by former superintendents and principals, prepares master's degree-holders for leadership roles in academia in about 40 months.

    The 60-credit program suits professionals working in education who need a flexible online format. Students complete nine pre-doctoral credits, 24 leadership credits, and 27 leadership and dissertation credits.

    Courses include advanced organizational theory and inquiry, education policy and the law, politics of education, and schooling in a pluralistic society. Students complete a dissertation that begins in the fifth semester. The dissertation defense takes place online.

    A-State offers three start dates. The admissions department selects students based on their published work, academic background, research papers, and career goals. Applicants must hold a master's degree from an accredited college and a current teaching license.

  • Belhaven University

    Jackson, MS

    Belhaven's doctorate in educational administration helps leaders in education to take their careers to the next level. The curriculum prepares graduates for positions at elementary and secondary schools.

    Students complete 60 credits, including a 12-credit dissertation. Courses take place entirely online, except for three residencies at Belhaven's main campus in Jackson, Mississippi.

    In the program's first phase, students complete 33 credits online. The second phase includes dissertation preparation and an orientation with a residency requirement. The third phase focuses on statistics and research design. Ed.D. candidates in the last phase complete two residencies that focus on researching, writing, and defending their dissertations.

    Belhaven seeks applicants with a specialized degree in education, a minimum 3.0 GPA, a current teaching license, and three years of teaching experience. Prospective students must also submit an essay on a current educational issue, three letters of recommendation, and GMAT or GRE scores.

  • Central Michigan University

    Mount Pleasant, MI



    Founded in 1892 as a school for teachers, CMU now offers a 63-credit online doctorate in educational administration that prepares working professionals to solve current issues in education. The program offers concentrations in K-12 leadership, K-12 curriculum, and higher education leadership.

    Ed.D. candidates study in a cohort that meets live every Saturday online and twice in person during the summer semester. Program requirements include 15 core credits in ethical leadership, organizational culture and change, organizational theory, and a doctoral seminar.

    Degree-seekers also complete a 45-hour internship. Graduates can take the Michigan school superintendent assessment and pursue state licensure.

    CMU accepts up to 24 transfer credits from students who hold an Ed.S. degree. Applicants must have a master's degree and three years of professional experience. The program begins every fall.

  • City University of Seattle

    Seattle, WA

    CityU offers a doctorate in educational administration with concentrations in higher education and organizational leadership. Students can also create a specialized study option.

    Degree-seekers develop their skills in culturally and ethically responsive leadership, strategic thinking, and qualitative and quantitative research skills. The 90-credit program takes place completely online, with optional residencies in Seattle or San Diego. The program's three residencies, which students complete either on campus or online, focus on research and writing the dissertation.

    Ed.D. candidates pursuing a specialized concentration often focus on strategic innovation and decision-making, adult education and online learning, global leadership, or entrepreneurship.

    Applicants need a master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  • Clark Atlanta University

    Atlanta, GA

    CAU offers an online doctorate in educational administration that students can complete in two years. The 60-credit Ed.D. features asynchronous and synchronous coursework. Online learners complete on-campus summer residencies and an internship.

    The curriculum focuses on strategic planning for systemic reform, instructional leadership, economics of educational equity, community educational leadership, and qualitative and quantitative research. Graduates can become principals and superintendents.

    The program's seven-week semesters allow students to complete the Ed.D. degree more quickly and save money on tuition.

    Prospective students can apply on a rolling basis. Applicants must have a master's degree, a teaching certificate, and experience working in education, with a preference for higher education. They must also submit a writing sample and complete an interview.

    New cohorts begin every fall. Incoming students must take the Georgia Ethics for Educational Leadership Assessment.

  • Concordia University Irvine

    Irvine, CA

    Founded in 1976 on Lutheran principles, CUI now offers an online doctorate in educational administration that allows working professionals to graduate in 33-36 months.

    The 45-credit Ed.D. program offers tracks in educational administration, organizational change, and special education. Eight-week terms allow degree-seekers to complete their Ed.D. in three years. Students can take courses completely online through asynchronous and synchronous formats or through a blended program with on-campus courses.

    The program also includes travel experiences to Washington, D.C., and China. These trips promote a better understanding of diverse educational settings and how policy, law, and practice intersect.

    Applicants need a master's degree in education or a related field with a minimum 3.5 GPA. Prospective students must submit a resume, three letters of recommendation, a statement of intent, and a seven-page writing sample.

  • Drexel University

    Philadelphia, PA

    Drexel, which has offered higher education since 1914, allows part-time students to earn an Ed.D. in 3-5 years. The program features no residency requirements and a fully online dissertation process.

    Drexel's online doctorate in educational administration offers 10 concentrations: athletic administration, creativity and innovation, educational administration, educational policy, global and international education, higher education, human resource development, learning technologies, nursing education, and special education leadership.

    Students can take one course every term and complete their Ed.D. in five years. The program requires 60.5-61.5 credits, which degree-seekers complete over four 10-week quarters. The core curriculum covers educational leadership, creative strategies, educational research, and program evaluation.

    Graduates can launch careers as superintendents, principals, higher education administrators, and community program organizers. Drexel also offers hybrid programs with in-person courses at the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., campuses.

  • East Tennessee State University

    Johnson City, TN



    ETSU, established in 1911 as the East Tennessee State Normal School, now offers a doctorate in educational administration that focuses on professional development. Graduates gain skills in leadership, theories of administration, educational statistics, and research.

    The cohort-based program requires students to take at least six credits in the fall, spring, and summer semesters for a total of 66-78 credits. The program requires 18 core credits, 15 concentration credits, 15 electives, 12-24 dissertation credits, and six cognate credits. Degree-seekers also complete an internship as a part of the dissertation process.

    To complete their dissertation, students work with a committee during the entire process, including the topic proposal, research, and writing portions.

    Applicants can apply with a bachelor's degree or a master's degree. Incoming students who hold an Ed.S. only need to complete 42-52 credits to earn an Ed.D.

  • Edgewood College

    Madison, WI

    EC offers an online doctorate in educational administration that students can complete in 3-4 years. Learners may attend optional on-campus residencies in downtown Madison, Wisconsin.

    Degree-seekers begin their studies in the fall and complete 54 credits by taking two courses every semester. Courses take place completely online in asynchronous and synchronous formats.

    Students take a course in doctoral writing and research in their first semester. Subsequent courses teach learners about inclusive leadership, law, and organizational development. The dissertation process culminates in a defense, during which students meet with committee members to create a slideshow that presents their research and argument.

    The program offers students the chance to work with leaders from the Wisconsin Technical College system and other institutions, nonprofits, and agencies.

    EC requires incoming students to hold a master's degree from an accredited school with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional requirements include a letter of intent, a resume, and two letters of recommendation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Educational Administration Programs

Is a doctorate in educational administration worth it?

Continuing your education with an online doctorate in education requires a significant amount of time and money. The average doctoral student borrowed $74,510 in 2015-16. However, earning your doctorate in education can prepare you for new challenges and new positions in your career, including principal, superintendent, or college provost roles.

The doctoral curriculum prepares you to tackle challenges facing educational institutions. You can specialize in school leadership, higher education leadership, or earn your administrative endorsement. The curriculum may also prepare you for positions in nonprofit administration, corporate training, or early education administration.

What can I do with a doctorate in educational administration?

An online doctorate in educational administration equips you with an in-depth understanding of education policy, team building, and data analysis. These skills can help you advance your career in education and gain your administrative license. Opportunities include superintendent, college president, or academic dean.

You can also find opportunities with educational companies, nonprofits, or in other industries. Training and development managers work in various industries to help ensure workers have the skills to excel in their field. Nonprofit managers engage policy leaders and help shape new educational initiatives.

How long does it take to get a doctorate in educational administration online?

You need 48-72 credits to complete your online doctorate in education. These may include a capstone project such as a dissertation, thesis, or professional project. Full-time students often complete requirements in three years. Part-time students may need up to five years to graduate.

Many schools offer accelerated class formats. You can focus on one or two courses for an 8-10-week term. This allows part-time students to earn more credits during the academic year.

How much money can I make with a doctorate in educational administration?

Potential salary depends on several factors, including years of experience and location. School superintendents earned an average of $121,930 in 2021, according to PayScale. Top earning superintendents earned more than $194,000.

Elementary, middle, and high school principals earned a median salary of $98,490 in 2020. New York reported the highest average salary for school principals with $141,020. Modesto, California, reported the highest average pay for metropolitan areas, at $154,970.

What are the highest paying jobs with a doctorate in educational administration?

Your online doctorate in educational administration also prepares you for other high-paying opportunities. Training and development managers earned a median salary of $115,640. Postsecondary administrators earned a median salary of $97,500.

Your doctorate in educational administration can also prepare you for management positions in nonprofit organizations or educational companies. Management positions paid a median salary of $109,760 in 2020.

Image Source: alvarez, Getty Images is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.