A doctorate in educational administration builds upon essential practices and theoretical concepts, presents opportunities to acquire hands-on professional experience, and fulfills educational requirements to obtain licensure or certification. Prospective students may also personalize a Ph.D. or Ed.D. degree and gain specialized knowledge by selecting a concentration. Online, hybrid, and on-campus programs are available to fit any schedule.
Doctoral program graduates enjoy a thriving job market and many career options, including K-12 leadership positions, higher education administration, and instructional coordination roles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects steady job growth in the field through 2026, with demand for some positions growing more than others. In addition, many educational administrators earn median annual wages that are more than twice the average for all occupations, and sometimes exceed the average salaries for other management positions.
Read on to find out more about program expectations, admissions requirements, and learn how a doctorate in education administration can elevate your career.
Should I Get a Doctorate in Educational Administration?
Educational administration doctoral programs provide essential skills, in-depth knowledge, and job placement assistance. Whether candidates choose Ph.D. or Ed.D. educational administration programs, they open the door to a broad spectrum of research, teaching, and administrative careers. Working professionals may be interested in online degrees, which enhance current knowledge and provide opportunities for career change. Traditional on-campus degrees also hold many advantages, and may appeal to recent graduates who intend to pursue professions that require doctoral degrees.
Students earning a doctorate in educational administration acquire many essential skills, while practicum experiences and dissertation requirements provide opportunities to apply skills and knowledge in real-world settings. Candidates who select a degree concentration can focus on an institution type, particular subject, or student demographic.
Beyond educational administration degrees' substantial academic value, a doctoral degree provides numerous benefits. Candidates develop relationships with faculty and peers, building an industry network with the potential to assist in future job searches. Students also gain hands-on experience through internships and practicums, and often take advantage of their institution's job placement services.
What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Educational Administration?
Doctorate degrees in educational administration lead graduates to a variety of careers. Job options include K-12 administrative positions, postsecondary administration, and a wealth of different teaching opportunities. Most positions, even those in K-12 education, work throughout the year, and positions within public schools often require licensure. As these professionals work with a variety of constituencies such as students, staff, and educators, nearly all of these roles call for strong communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills.
- Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals
Principals manage school operations, coordinate curricula, and oversee faculty and staff. They may also manage budgets, prepare reports, and organize professional development opportunities. Principals usually need teaching experience and a master's degree, and public school principals usually require licensure. Essential qualities include communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills.
Median Annual Salary: $94,390*
- Postsecondary Education Administrators
These administrators work in many areas of colleges and universities, including academic affairs, student affairs, and admissions. While job duties vary greatly based on their area within the institution, all administrators should boast strong interpersonal, organizational, and problem-solving skills. Administrators usually require a master's degree, and deans and provosts often need a doctoral degree.
Median Annual Salary: $92,360*
- Instructional Coordinators
Instructional coordinators develop curricula and supervise program implementation. They may also analyze test data, plan teacher professional development programs, and coach teachers and staff members. Instructional coordinator positions usually require a master's degree in education, curriculum and instruction, or a similar subject area. They are usually required to hold a teaching license, and some states may require an education administrator license.
Median Annual Salary: $63,750*
- Postsecondary Teachers
Employed by colleges, universities, and career and technical programs, these instructors perform duties based primarily on their focus area. Most, however, plan lessons, evaluate curricula, assess student progress, and advise students. While college and university faculty members often need a doctorate, other teachers may only need work experience in their field.
Median Annual Salary: $76,000*
- Training and Development Managers
These managers coordinate and implement their organization's employee training programs. Because they must oversee budgets and staff members, strong communication, instructional, and leadership skills are essential to the role. Some jobs require a master's degree in education, instructional design, business, or organizational development.
Median Annual Salary: $108,250*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Doctorate in Educational Administration Program
Candidates searching for doctoral programs in educational administration enjoy a wealth of options from which to choose. While it is easy to become overwhelmed by so many potential schools, exploring programs based on curriculum can help you to narrow down your options. Some programs allow students to customize their degree through concentrations or specialized academic tracks. Others may offer elective courses related to the candidate's focus area. Curriculum can also impact program length, and those requiring more credits generally take longer to complete. Your enrollment status also influences program duration. While many institutions offer both full- and part-time programs for working professionals, part-time students usually spend more time in school.
Cost is perhaps the most important variable to consider, and tuition rates vary greatly between schools. Public institutions may be less expensive for state residents, while many doctoral programs at private colleges offer fellowships that can further reduce costs. Although some schools offer significant discounts for distance learners, others charge technology or online learning fees. In addition, expenses such as lab fees, books, and housing can quickly add up.
Students seeking a doctorate in educational administration may also select from on-campus and online program options. While some online programs are entirely web-based, others include on-campus requirements, which may include a brief orientation to several residencies each semester. If you are considering a traditional on-campus program, it is important to consider a school's location. Areas undergoing teacher shortages may provide more employment opportunities after graduation. In addition, cost of living is higher in some regions than others, and may add to your total educational costs. Doctoral degrees take several years to complete, and it is crucial to live in an affordable area that enhances your quality of life.
Programmatic Accreditation for Doctorate in Educational Administration Programs
Accreditation is important for several reasons. Programmatic accreditation ensures that a program meets and remains up-to-date on industry-wide and academic standards. A comprehensive accredited curriculum elevates the profession and demonstrates commitment to continuous assessment and improvement in the field. Accreditation also helps the government determine which institutions should receive federal funding. Only accredited schools are eligible to receive government grants, and students must be enrolled in an accredited program to qualify for federal financial aid.
The most common programmatic accreditation agency for educational administration programs is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which consolidated previous programmatic accreditors NCATE and TEAC. Choosing a CAEP-accredited program ensures that candidates receive a high-quality education. In a few states, teachers seeking new licensure or teaching license reciprocity must hold degrees from both regionally accredited institutions and CAEP-accredited teacher preparation programs. CAEP accredits both online and on-campus educational administration programs.
Doctorate in Educational Administration Program Admissions
All doctorate programs for educational administration maintain different admission standards, but many of their requirements are similar. In general, applicants are expected to have completed a master's degree with a sufficient GPA and hold some professional experience. Applicants may also be asked to submit GRE or other standardized test scores. While on-campus and online programs use similar application processes, some online programs hold more stringent admissions requirements.
Most graduate students apply to an average of five programs after carefully considering several variables. Location is an important factor for those interested in on-campus programs, while cost and available concentrations also play crucial roles in the decision-making process. If you intend to seek state certification in a specific field, you should verify that your program of interest meets state educational requirements. Admission requirements, prerequisites, and GPA guidelines are other aspects to keep in mind.
- Master's Degree: Doctoral candidates are usually expected to hold a master's degree, unless their program allows students to earn a master's and doctoral degree simultaneously. Some programs require that applicants have earned their master's in education or a related field.
- Professional Experience: Typically, prospective students must have professional teaching or administrative experience, although the number of hours or years varies considerably. Programs intended for K-12 educators or principals often require a valid teaching certificate.
- Minimum GPA: Many doctoral programs expect candidates to have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their master's program. Applicants with a lower GPA may be considered if they provide adequate standardized test scores.
- Standardized Test: While minimum score requirements vary by institution, many programs require applicants to submit standardized test scores. Test results should be no more than five years old.
- Application: An application usually requests basic biographical information. Most take around 30 minutes to complete, unless students are required to submit an essay at the time of application. While sites like CommonApp allow undergraduates to apply to many schools at once, most graduate programs require prospective students to apply directly through the school's website.
- Transcripts: Students should submit official transcripts from all institutions attended, both undergraduate and graduate. Schools often charge a small fee for sending official transcripts directly to graduate programs. Some programs allow students to submit unofficial transcripts for admission consideration under the condition that they will provide their official transcripts at a later date.
- Letters of recommendation: Most doctoral programs request two or more letters of recommendation. Letters should be obtained from professional supervisors and colleagues or undergraduate or graduate faculty. Personal references are usually not recommended. Those writing letters on your behalf should be given at least two weeks to compose their recommendations.
- Test Scores: Some programs require that applicants submit standardized test scores; typically GRE or GMAT results. Test scores should be no more five years old. Score guidelines vary by program, and some schools waive standardized testing requirements for students with qualifying GPAs.
- Application Fee: Most schools charge an application fee to cover processing costs. Prospective students should submit their payment along with their application. On average, applicants pay around $50 per application, although some institutions charge anywhere from $30 to $75. Some colleges and universities waive application fees for individuals who demonstrate significant financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Doctorate in Educational Administration Program?
Doctorate in educational administration programs provide many opportunities for candidates to explore specific topics and subfields in greater depth. In addition to a core curriculum, many programs offer specialized academic tracks, or concentrations, which allow students to gain expertise in a certain area. While available concentrations differ from school to school, and some programs omit them entirely, the table below describes a few of the most common tracks.
|Higher Education Administration||Students explore the theories and practices involved in higher education administration, as well as topics in diversity, law, and finance. Many classes also present a brief history of higher education. This concentration is ideal for any doctoral candidate planning to work at a two- or four-year institution. Some programs may allow students to further specialize in areas such as student affairs, enrollment management, or institutional research.||Administrator at two or four-year college; professor; education policy analyst; nonprofit manager; athletic administrator|
|School Leadership||This concentration examines policies and practices used in K-12 settings, and may fulfill state requirements for administrative or superintendent licensure. Individuals pursuing a school leadership specialization are often current school administrators, teachers interested in administrative roles, and those seeking district-level positions.||Principal; superintendent; district administrator; school administrator; K-12 educator|
|Instructional Design||An instructional design track focuses on curriculum development, teaching methodologies, and instructional technologies. Candidates learn to create effective, supportive environments that facilitate education in both school and business settings. Some programs provide opportunities to specialize in online learning platform development and distance learning methodologies, performance support, or workplace training and productivity enhancement.||Instructional designer; online learning administrator; postsecondary instructor; instructional coordinator for educational institutions or businesses|
|Special Education||Students acquire the skills needed to direct special education programs, develop curricula for special needs and gifted students, and influence legislation related to special education. Program participants learn to serve as advocates in the field by promoting research in special education instruction, support, and adaptations. Individuals who pursue this concentration are often expected to have completed coursework in child development and special education instructional methods.||Special education teacher; postsecondary instructor; school district administrator; K-12 administrator; communication specialist|
|Curriculum and Learning||Course topics may include the impact of cultural diversity on curriculum development, applying learning principles in the classroom, instructional design, and assessment strategies. Students examine concepts in educational equity, analyze various educational systems, and survey historical and political influences. Some programs may allow students to specialize in certain subjects, demographics, or age groups.||School administrator; district administrator; instructional coordinator; learning specialist for private educational company|
Courses in a Doctorate in Educational Administration Program
All doctorate degree programs in educational administration maintain slightly different curriculum requirements. Most include independent study or dissertation components, in which students research and compose a doctoral dissertation, and some feature subject concentrations. However, even those that offer concentrations and specializations center upon a core curriculum. The core courses listed below appear frequently in doctoral programs.
- Educational Leadership
Lectures use case studies to impart important concepts and skills in team development, diversity, and classroom communication. Programs that focus on organizational leadership typically cover topics such as organizational theory, factors, and structure. Students learn to develop their own leadership style and successfully manage educational institutions.
- Law for Educational Leaders
Addressing numerous legal issues that affect education, this class covers topics such as classroom diversity, student and educator rights, and religion in schools. While course focus may vary according to concentration, all prospective administrators must understand the laws that impact classrooms, institutions, and school districts.
- Ethics of Leadership
This course examines ethical leadership as it applies to both public and private organizations. Lecture topics may include case studies in ethical decision-making and best practices, as well as ethical concepts unique to K-12 and higher education administrative positions.
- Financial Planning
Financial planning course content varies according to program and focus area. Students pursuing superintendent leadership concentrations may explore district-wide financial issues, while those in school and higher education leadership programs may learn general budgeting skills and common financial competencies.
- Research Methods
This course presents both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Students learn to design research programs, define a research problem, collect data, and conduct literature reviews. At the course's conclusion, students present the research proposal that informs their dissertation.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Educational Administration?
While most candidates complete their doctorate degrees in educational administration in about three years, some may necessitate four years or more, and others can be completed in as few as two and a half. There are numerous variables that can influence program length, including course structure and credit requirements. Some programs consist of 60 credits or less, while others require over 90 credits. Full-time enrollment is often mandatory, although some schools allow candidates to complete a program part time, with many providing up to seven years to earn a doctorate.
Course structure plays a large part in program duration. Many programs use a cohort model, in which students progress through the curriculum alongside their cohort, or classmates, with few changes to each semester's course load. Cohort-based programs typically take longer to complete than accelerated or self-paced degrees. Because schools often charge tuition on a per-credit basis, students who take longer to finish a program ultimately pay the same in total as those who graduate early, although they may have to pay fees for every semester that they are enrolled.
How Much Is a Doctorate in Educational Administration?
Numerous factors influence the cost of doctorate degrees in educational administration, and tuition rates vary from school to school. For example, many public colleges charge different rates for in-state and out-of-state students, while some institutions offer in-state or discounted tuition for online students. Private colleges often charge the same rate regardless of residency, but may offer discounts on distance education programs. Most graduate programs charge tuition on a per-credit basis, although some colleges feature per-month or per-term pricing structures, which allow students who finish their program quickly to pay less overall. As the average doctoral-level curriculum requires between 60 and 90 credit hours, total program costs tend to fall in the range of $36,000 to $55,000.
Along with tuition, there are several other financial factors to consider. Full-time students living on or near campus must account for housing costs, campus facility fees, and transportation. While online programs allow online learners to avoid campus-based fees, some schools charge additional distance learning or technology fees. You may also need to purchase a new computer, headphones, or other equipment, along with textbooks. Fortunately, many institutions offer financial aid opportunities to help graduate students cover costs. Some also sponsor institutional scholarships, or fellowships for graduate students who work as teaching assistants.
Certifications and Licenses for Doctorate in Educational Administration Graduates
- K-12 Principal or School Administrator Licensure/Certification
In many states, principals are required to hold specific licensure. Applicants must typically hold a teaching certificate, several years of experience, and a master's degree. Other states require training beyond a master's degree, which is usually obtained while earning a doctorate in educational administration.
- School District Administrator or Superintendent Licensure/Certification
Superintendents in most states are required to be licensed. Licensure requirements typically include administrative experience and a certain number of graduate credit hours or completion of an approved superintendent program. Many doctorate in educational administration programs fulfill educational requirements.
- Director of Special Education/Exceptional Needs Licensure
In some states, special education program administrators must be licensed. Obtaining licensure often requires several years of experience, emergency medical training, and education. Many universities offer licensure programs, both independently and as part of a graduate program. A doctoral-level curriculum may fulfill the education requirements needed to gain licensure.
Resources for Educational Administration Graduate Students
Most state departments of education post teacher and school administrator certification requirements on their websites. This directory contains a site link for every state and many U.S. territories.
This brochure describes several federal aid programs available to graduate students, including facts about obtaining aid, funding types, eligibility requirements, and application information.
Students pursuing doctorate degrees in educational administration who plan to teach may consider applying for a TEACH Grant. These grants provide up to $4,000 a year in exchange for teaching in a low-income area and high-need field. Participating students must be enrolled in an eligible program.
This site allows educational administration students to search for jobs by category, location, or school. Job seekers who create a free account receive regular news updates and free resources.
Education professionals interested in jobs at the U.S. Department of Education can use this site to search for positions by keyword and location. Candidates may also explore job openings based on salary, department, and military grade.
Professional Organizations in Educational Administration
Professional organizations hold many benefits for students, new graduates, and seasoned workers alike. These organizations provide numerous resources, including journals and webinars, as well as training programs that fulfill continuing education requirements. Members may also take advantage of networking opportunities like conferences and seminars. Many associations offer discounted student membership rates and sponsor mentoring programs, scholarship, and internship initiatives.