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Educators considering the next step in their career can earn a doctorate in education (EdD) online. By earning this terminal degree, professionals qualify for academic, administrative, and leadership positions that prefer or require a doctorate in education.

This page lists top accredited programs, along with an overview of this type of program, potential courses and concentrations, admission requirements, and career opportunities. This page concludes with frequently asked questions and similar program options.

Earning a doctor of education (EdD) qualifies graduates for advanced academic, leadership, and administrative positions. It also may lead to an increase in wages. For instance, postsecondary instructors are usually required to earn a Ph.D. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these educators earn a median annual salary of $79,540, while high school and elementary educators $61,660 and $59,420, respectively

2021 Best Accredited Online Doctorate in Education Programs

School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

APU offers more than 30 online degrees through the Canvas platform, including a hybrid Ed.D. in higher education leadership. This three-year program may appeal to working professionals, offering a low-residency cohort model that only requires on-campus classes once per month for nine months out of the year and a one-week intensive each June.

The curriculum consists of 51 units and includes required courses like the philosophy of action research, strengths-oriented leadership, and the changing worlds of higher education. Students submit a dissertation proposal at the beginning of their third year and have the option to attend an immersive learning experience in London.

In addition to the admission requirements below, applicants must submit two recommendation letters, a statement of intent, and an academic writing sample. APU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,127/credit
Credit Requirements: 51 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

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Request more information about this program.

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 93%

The Johns Hopkins School of Education offers 15 online certificates and degrees, including an online doctorate in education. This part-time, scholar-practitioner program is designed for experienced educators who want to improve outcomes in private and public settings. In addition to asynchronous classes, students are required to complete a three-day residency each summer.

Participants must earn a minimum of 90 graduate-level credits, but students with relevant master's degrees can transfer in up to 36 credits toward degree completion. Required classes include research methods and systematic inquiry, multicultural education, and leadership in educational organizations.

Students take additional coursework in one of five specializations. Options include urban leadership; mind, brain, and teaching; technology integration in K-6 education; entrepreneurship in education; and instructional design in online teaching and learning.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Online Doctor of Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,531/credit
Credit Requirements: 48-54 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online with residencies
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

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Request more information about this program.

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Liberty powers distance learning with the Canvas platform, offering many online programs. The catalog includes an online doctorate in education that is fully accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Through asynchronous, eight-week classes, practicing educators can earn their doctorate while working full time.

The curriculum covers core topics like curriculum development and quantitative/qualitative research methods. Students personalize their degree plan by choosing a specialization, selecting from options like educational leadership and school administration and supervision.

This flexible online doctorate in education integrates capstone research into the coursework. Liberty also allows applicants to fulfill up to 50% of degree requirements through transfer credits.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Online Doctor of Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $595/credit
Credit Requirements: 54 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

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Marshall University

Huntington, WV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 46%

Marshall serves over 12,800 students annually, many of whom enroll online. The university offers an online Ed.D. in leadership studies that prepares students for leadership positions in government agencies, community services organizations, international NGOs, and schools and universities.

The curriculum consists of 18 credits of major classes, 18 credits of research and auxiliary training, and nine credits of dissertation work. Required courses include ethical theories, financial models, and qualitative and statistical methods. The dissertation process starts at the beginning of the second year, when students are assigned to research communities consisting of several peers and faculty mentors.

In addition to the admission requirements below, applicants must submit a 750-word goals statement. They also need to complete an electronic interview.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Ed.D. in Leadership Studies
School Status: Public
Tuition: $383/credit
Credit Requirements: 45 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

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Request more information about this program.

North Greenville University

Tigerville, SC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

NGU uses the Blackboard platform to deliver distance learning programs, including a mostly online doctorate in education. In addition to asynchronous and synchronous online classes, participants complete two week-long courses on campus.

Throughout a 60-credit curriculum, students develop the applied research and systems thinking skills needed to work as teacher leaders, curriculum developers, and academic deans. Required courses include advanced leadership ethical studies, politics of education, and organizational development. Students also strengthen their personnel management skills, especially conflict mediation and resolution.

They take additional classes in either a K-12 leadership or higher education leadership concentration. Most courses are delivered through eight-week terms. Applicants must submit three recommendation letters and sit for an interview.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Doctor of Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $495/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online with residencies
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Northcentral University

La Jolla, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: N/A

NCU is a leader in distance learning, offering over 20 online doctoral degrees. Students can enroll in an online doctor of education program, choosing from 16 career-relevant specializations. With fully asynchronous classes and weekly start dates, NCU's program allows working professionals to graduate in 3-7 years.

Although requirements differ based on specialization, all students take foundational courses like effective communication and leadership for improvement. Electives cover topics like e-learning, sport and athletic management, global training and development, nursing education, and learning analytics.

Online students have the opportunity to engage with their professors in a one-on-one setting and take advantage of mentoring opportunities. Up to nine qualifying credits from a regionally accredited institution may be transferred into a doctoral program at NCU.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Online Doctor of Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $976/credit
Credit Requirements: 48-54 credits
Program Length: 31-45 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

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Northeastern University

Boston, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 88%

A renowned research institution, Northeastern offers more than 200 graduate certificates and degrees. Its catalog includes an online doctorate in education that lets students customize their curriculum by choosing one of three concentration options. Learners can focus on higher education; organizational leadership studies; or curriculum, teaching, learning, and leadership.

Required classes include advanced research design and collaborative leadership. Unlike comparable degrees, Northeastern's program allows students to begin dissertation research as soon as they enroll, pairing them with a faculty advisor who guides them through the entire process. Distance learners are required to attend a two-day residency each year in Boston, Charlotte, or Seattle.

Applicants need at least three years of relevant work experience. They must submit a current resume and three recommendation letters.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Doctor of Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $53,800/program
Credit Requirements: 51 credits
Program Length: 3-4 years
Format: Online with residencies
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

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Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

NSU's Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice delivers 10 graduate degrees, including an online doctorate in education. This program lets students personalize their degree plan through eight concentration options.

All learners take core classes like the nature of knowing and methods of research inquiry. They take additional classes in their specialization areas, such as reading education, higher educational leadership, human services administration, and instructional technology and distance education.

Students develop practical skills and network with peers and professors by attending at least one summer institute. In lieu of a dissertation, they can complete a strategic research project that tackles a pertinent organizational problem in their industry. Distance learners receive one-on-one guidance from an academic advisor throughout their time at NSU.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Doctor of Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,420/credit
Credit Requirements: 55 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online with residency
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Touro University Nevada

Henderson, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: N/A

Touro Nevada delivers certificates and degrees across six specialty areas through its College of Health and Human Services. Options include an online doctorate in education designed for education and healthcare professionals.

The curriculum covers topics like education policy and planning, organizational management and culture, and community engagement and relations. While students can complete the majority of their coursework remotely, they must travel to the Henderson campus for two week-long residencies. Learners begin dissertation work as soon as they start the program, receiving support from faculty and peers.

Admission requirements include a regionally accredited master's degree, a personal essay, and a resume or CV. Applicants must also submit three recommendation letters, one of which must come from an academic source.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Doctor of Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $625/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online with residencies
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

University of Findlay

Findlay, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

Founded in 1882, Findlay was later among the first universities in the region to provide distance learning. Today, the school offers 12 online programs, including an online doctorate in education. Students can fulfill the majority of their degree requirements asynchronously but must attend a three-day summer institute on campus to discuss their dissertation research.

The curriculum includes core classes like innovation and information theory, global dimensions and perspectives on diversity, and strategic planning and continuous improvement. Students also delve into policy and data analysis. They fulfill remaining course requirements with electives chosen from either a teaching track or a superintendent track.

Applicants must submit two recommendation letters and sit for a faculty interview. Findlay is a member of the Carnegie Project on the Educational Doctorate — a consortium of institutions dedicated to redesigning the doctorate in education.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Online Doctor of Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $540/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online with residency
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 84%

Illinois serves over 51,000 students each year, many of whom enroll online. The university offers an online doctor of education in education policy, organization, and leadership that includes 13 concentrations. Options include social sciences and education policy, learning design and leadership, human resource development, and African American studies.

The degree plan includes required classes in education law, leading school improvement, and the political and cultural context of education. Students who choose the learning design and leadership concentration develop the skills needed to evaluate academic programs and technology. All learners must satisfy a residency requirement during their first four semesters.

Applicants must submit a 500-word personal statement, three reference letters, and a resume or CV. They are also strongly encouraged to provide a scholarly writing sample.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Doctor of Education in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership
School Status: Public
Tuition: $490/credit
Credit Requirements: 64 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online with residencies
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

University of Mary

Bismarck, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

Mary offers over 50 remote and evening programs, including an online doctor of education in educational leadership and administration. Throughout a 60-credit curriculum, students develop the management and research skills needed to work as superintendents, academic deans, college professors, and directors of curriculum and instruction

Students take core classes like educational ethics, community relations, and leading adult learners. They personalize the degree plan with open electives and advanced courses in either a K-12 track or higher education track. Distance learners gain practical experience by attending two summer residencies on campus and completing an internship.

Mary's online doctorate in education uses a cohort model that accepts new students every two years. Applicants must sit for an interview with faculty and take a proctored writing exam.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Doctor of Education
School Status: Private
Tuition: $730/credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online with residencies
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

University of Southern Mississippi

Hattiesburg, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

USM uses the Canvas platform to provide more than 25 graduate programs for distance learners, including an online doctorate in educational administration with no dissertation requirement. The curriculum covers core topics like public school finance, administrative approaches to technology, and advanced instructional supervision.

The program culminates in a capstone research project during which learners tackle a problem they have encountered in the workplace. Graduates are prepared to advance into positions as academic program directors, superintendents, curriculum developers, and school principals.

Admission requirements include an educator license, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and at least three years of classroom teaching experience. New students are admitted into this program once a year in the fall.


Program Snapshot

Program Name: Online Educational Administration Doctorate
School Status: Public
Tuition: $494/credit
Credit Requirements: 54 credits
Program Length: 3 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: Minimum 3.0-3.5, depending on previous level of education
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT

Contact the School

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Online Doctorate in Education (EdD) Program Overview

An online doctorate in education provides future leaders with the knowledge and skills needed to address modern educational challenges. These programs emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving, and research. Students engage with leading academicians while conducting original research that can lead to improvements in educational practice.

Colleges and universities may offer several concentrations in their online doctorate in education programs. Possible specializations include urban leadership and culture, reading and literacy assessment, educational technology and design, organizational research, early childhood special education, higher education leadership, and human development and education.

While program outcomes vary, schools strive to develop educational leaders who participate in diverse communities, uphold social justice perspectives, engage in research-based practices, generate educational awareness with relevant stakeholders, and provide leadership.

A doctor of education (EdD) is a terminal degree, and some schools require work experience for admission.

Common Doctorate in Education Degree Courses

Multicultural Education

Multicultural education focuses on demographic changes in the U.S. that create cultural and linguistic shifts. Students examine the current trajectory of marginalized student populations and develop interventions and strategies to facilitate multicultural approaches.

Contemporary Approaches to Educational Issues

This course examines strategies for investigating contemporary problems in education. Students research their chosen concentration and engage in academic writing. Course objectives include synthesizing literature to uncover factors related to issues in educational practice.

Research Methods and Systematic Inquiry

This course focuses on quantitative methods, including conceptualization. The research process students follow includes analysis, alternative considerations, judgments, and decisions. Course objectives emphasize mastery of reading and critiquing educational research.

Strategic Systems Change and Action Planning

This course helps emerging educational leaders learn structures for managing public and private schools or organizational environments. Covered topics include action planning, finance, organizational visioning, budgeting, and leadership skills. Students also learn management concepts and strategies to initiate systemic change.

Building Strategic Partnerships

Course objectives include understanding organizational environments and how they influence institutional relationships. Students also explore requirements for sustaining dynamic partnerships; potential challenges in policy, social networking, and marketing; and strategies for communication.

Related Doctor of Education (EdD) Degree Concentrations

Urban Leadership

A concentration in urban leadership provides professionals interested in culturally diverse communities with the knowledge and skills required to serve urban schools that may be struggling with poverty. Students learn how to allocate resources and develop innovative solutions. This concentration focuses on research and strategies for building partnerships.

Curriculum and Instruction

Students specializing in curriculum and instruction examine ways to develop innovative lessons and curricula. Students learn how sociology and psychology influence the knowledge and philosophy of education. This specialization also examines special education and emphasizes research. The best candidates possess experience in the classroom.

Organizational Leadership

Organizational leadership prepares students to understand the structural makeup of educational institutions, which includes managing, monitoring, and planning. This concentration also examines critical legal, ethical, and environmental issues that can impact an organization. Schools may require a practicum experience, a culminating exam, and/or a dissertation.

Culture, Institutions, and Society

This specialization examines how cultural, social, organizational, and institutional factors influence educational methods and outcomes across the lifespan. Students also explore ways that effective community movements can lead to educational reform. Key topics in this concentration include organizational behavior, sociology, history, anthropology, and political science.

Human Development, Learning and Teaching

An HDLT concentration focuses on scientific research in education practice, policy, and reform. Students explore the integration of cognitive, biological, and social processes and ways to maximize learning through technology. Students also develop background knowledge in human development and developmental pathways.

Online Doctorate in Education Admission Requirements

  • Prior Education

    To qualify for a doctorate in education, students must hold a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. Students may also need a master's degree, although some programs offer a dual degree where students can earn their master's and doctorate through one program. Prior coursework should have been accomplished at an accredited institution.

  • Graduate Record Examination

    Universities often require students to take the GRE. However, some online programs do not ask applicants to submit these scores. Students should note that minimum score requirements, where applicable, vary by school.

  • Endorsements

    Admissions departments often require applicants to hold an unencumbered teacher leader endorsement or a principal endorsement in the state where they plan to practice. Students attending schools outside of the state where they received their license may need to apply for reciprocity. This process may require additional fees and/or testing.

  • Experience

    Experience requirements vary by program, and some recent teaching experience may be required for admission. Requirements may differ for professionals currently working as administrators.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Applicants usually need to provide 2-3 references who can affirm a student's qualifications and potential for success in the field. Universities may even require students to attend in-person interviews to elaborate on their accolades and abilities.


Online Doctorate in Education Career Paths

Earning an online doctorate in education can lead to many exciting career opportunities. For instance, many graduates enter academia as professors. They may also become department heads or college deans, program directors, or principals of K-12 schools. Usually, these roles offer higher salaries than teaching, specialist, or coordinator positions, and employers view candidates with a doctorate as subject-matter experts.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Ph.D. and an Ed.D.?

While both degrees emphasize advanced topics in education, students pursuing a Ph.D. typically aspire to enter academia or engage in research. Ed.D programs emphasize solving systemic issues in a school from an administrative or leadership role.

How long does it take to get a doctor of education?

Applicants who hold a master's degree can anticipate a three-year timeline with full-time attendance. This usually includes two years of coursework followed by a year of dissertation work and research. Some universities offer part-time options, which may double your time in the program. Students may take time off, but schools typically enforce maximum time limits.

What can I do with a doctorate in education?

A doctorate in education allows graduates to enter leadership roles at K-12 and postsecondary institutions. Job titles include principal, superintendent, curriculum and instruction manager, and dean. Some K-12 professionals continue teaching and become the head of their department. College professors also qualify to teach advanced courses and develop new courses.

Is a Ph.D. better than an Ed.D.?

The value of a Ph.D. or an Ed.D. depends on a student's professional goals. Individuals interested in applied practice typically earn an Ed.D. as the curriculum provides information students can incorporate into a classroom or school. Students interested in teaching in higher education and furthering the field of education may be more likely to benefit from a Ph.D. program, which emphasizes research methods.

Is someone with an Ed.D. a doctor?

Ph.D. stands for doctor of philosophy the same way Ed.D. stands for doctor of education. A Ph.D. focuses on research and an Ed.D. focuses on applied practice. However, controversy around this topic persists as some Ed.D. programs do not require dissertation work.

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Additional Reading and Resources

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