“Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.”

– Nelson Mandela

Online Doctoral Programs Educational LeadershipTeachers lead their students by setting goals, planning, measuring outcomes, analyzing performance, and managing changing standards. Educational leaders do the same tasks but on a vastly larger scale. As strategic thinkers and creative problem-solvers, they lead whole school districts, universities, and educational nonprofits to success.

With doctoral-level training, educational leaders like school superintendents, principals, and curriculum coordinators can have a huge impact on large numbers of students by improving whole educational systems. They might oversee school reforms, manage diversity, or analyze trends in student performance. But it takes vision, authority, and serious analytical skills to lead in an educational setting. To get those skills, and the high-level positions that come with them, a Doctorate in Educational Leadership is key.

With a doctoral level educational leadership degree, you’ll have a terminal degree and be positioned at the very pinnacle of the field. You’ll be eligible for top positions, with the ability to exert a powerful influence over student outcomes- and take home a hefty salary, too. A chief Learning Officer, for instance, takes home an average of $132,286 per year, according to Payscale.

A Doctorate in Educational Leadership can take the form of a PhD in Education or a Doctorate in Education (EdD). Both degrees provide training in quantitative and qualitative analysis, organizational leadership, change management, strategy, policy, ethics, and diversity. Many programs also offer particular concentrations, like School Reform, K-12 Education, Curriculum Development, or Educational Technology. To earn your doctorate in education, you’ll complete challenging coursework, pass a comprehensive exam, conduct research and create and defend a dissertation. The entire process is designed to take three years but can stretch out longer depending on a student’s pace of progress.

Online Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, PhD, EdDIf you’re like most educational doctorate degree seekers, you’ve already got an important and demanding job in the education field. Whether you’re a teacher, professor, or administrator, you can’t put your responsibilities on hold for years on end while you pursue a doctoral degree. Fortunately, there are a number of outstanding places to earn a doctorate in educational leadership online if you know where to look.

To help you find a school that fits your goals, schedule, and budget, we’ve sorted through the many options to bring you the best schools offering an online EdD or PhD in Education Leadership. Each of these accredited and online programs have been researched, vetted, and analyzed on the real-world values that matter to busy professionals seeking a degree: affordability, rigor, and reputation. Read on and find your path to the very top in educational leadership.

Methodology:

Below you will find the Top 25 Online Doctoral Programs in Educational Leadership.

  1. MERIT: 196

    University of Arkansas’ Online Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership

    The University of Arkansas (UA) is a public research university based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It is the flagship of the University of Arkansas System and a land-grant university. UA was founded in 1871 as the Arkansas Industrial University and assumed its current mane in 1899. It is the largest university in the state, with an enrollment of 27,500, and has a student to faculty ratio of 19 to one.

    The university offers over 200 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees, including law and medicine. UA is known for its outstanding programs in business, agriculture, architecture, law, history, creative writing, and Middle Eastern studies.

    The school has been the site of such historical research breakthroughs as the discovery of Vitamin E, and modern innovations such as superconductivity and biological herbicides. The university has been awarded research funding as high as $103.2 million in a year and is classified as a research university with “highest level of research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation.

    U.S. News and World Report ranks UA 152nd in National Universities and 78th in Top Public Schools.

    The University of Arkansas awards an elite and affordable online Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership through its highly-ranked College of Education and Health Professions. The program is designed to train change makers and leaders such as principals, administrators, and governmental officials, preparing professionals to shape positive outcomes for future students through policy and programming.

    The course of study consists of 42 credits and can be completed over the course of three years. Online students pursuing the PhD in education progress through the program as a cohort. All coursework is delivered entirely online, while three required, intensive weekend seminars take place on campus. All online doctoral education degree students complete a dissertation as part of their studies.

    U.S. News and World Report ranks UA an incredible 46th in the nation in graduate-level education programs. With a winning combination of value and prestige, the Online Doctorate from AU easily takes first place in our ranking for the all-around Best Doctorate in Education Leadership.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $420
    • Research Rank: 501-600
    • Academic Prestige: National, 152
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  2. MERIT: 194

    Texas Tech University’s PhD in Education Leadership

    Texas Tech University

    Texas Tech University is a public research university which is based in the city of Lubbock, Texas. The school dates back to 1923 when it was founded as Texas Technological College. The university is the flagship school of the Texas Tech University System.

    With a total enrollment of 38,246 undergraduate and graduate students, it is the state’s seventh-largest institution. Texas Tech awards degrees in over 150 disciplines through 13 schools and colleges, including schools of law and medicine. It is the only university in the state which is home to schools of undergraduate study, medicine, and law.

    Texas Tech has set multiple records for high research funding and has made influential discoveries in the fields of epidemiology, energy, and atmospheric sciences. The Carnegie Foundation has classified the school as a research university with “highest research activity,” and U.S. News and World Report ranks Texas Tech 187th in National Universities and 100th in Top Public Schools.

    Texas Tech University offers a prestigious PhD in Education Leadership through its top-ranked College of Education. The degree is designed to prepare leaders in the field of education to deploy research-based solutions to critical problems in the field. The course of study follows a set sequence of classes and takes a total of three years to complete.

    A total of 60 credits are required for the PhD in education: 48 credits in educational leadership coursework and a 12-credit dissertation. Like the doctorate in educational leadership offered by the University of Arkansas, Texas Tech’s program requires online students to attend on-campus intensive seminars each semester as part of their studies.

    Students progress through the PhD program as a cohort and complete such classes as Organizational Behavior and Change in Education and Social Justice and Equity in Educational Leadership. The Best Schools ranks the program among the nation’s Top 5 Doctorates in Education Leadership, and U.S. News and World Report ranks Texas Tech an elite 95th in Best Graduate Education Programs and 150th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $422
    • Research Rank: 501-600
    • Academic Prestige: National, 187
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  3. MERIT: 191

    University of the Cumberlands’ Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership

    University of the Cumberlands

    University of the Cumberlands (UC) is a private institute based in Williamsburg, Kentucky, with an additional campus in the town of Florence. The school is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and was established back in 1889 as the Williamsburg Institute. Its name was changed to Cumberland College in 1913 to reflect its location along the Cumberland River.

    Today, UC serves a total of 7,693 students and offers 45 undergraduate degrees, seven master’s and professional degrees, and three doctorates. The school emphasizes a traditional liberal arts foundation for undergraduates and stresses leadership and community service across all programs.

    Undergraduates are required to complete at least 40 hours of community service, and the school operates a Center of Leadership Excellence. U.S. News and World Report ranks the university 230th in National Universities.

    The University of the Cumberlands awards an incredibly affordable doctoral education degree. The degree is designed to prepare graduates with advanced practitioner skills and has a special emphasis on academic leadership at the collegiate level. The EdD in Educational Leadership Degree with a specialization in Counseling Education & Supervision consists of 60 post-graduate credits, including a dissertation: 27 Leadership Core course credits, 15 credits in Professional Research, and 18 in a Focus Area. Focus options include Leadership, Advanced Counseling, Addiction, Christian Ministries, and Assessment.

    The course of study is designed to be completed over the course of three years or less. Courses cover such essential areas as institutional improvement, program evaluation and assessment, grant writing, and multicultural counseling. UC also offers an Online PhD in Leadership with a CES specialization, which requires a total of 66 credits.

    U.S. News and World Report ranks the UC 88th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs. At a tuition of only $400 per credit, UC is the most affordable school in our entire ranking of Best Doctoral Degrees in Education Leadership.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $400
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 231
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  4. MERIT: 186

    Northwest Nazarene University’s Online Doctoral Programs in Education

    Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) is a private, Christian university located in Nampa, Idaho, with three additional branch campuses throughout the state. The school was founded in 1913 as Idaho Holiness School, a grade school and Bible school which eventually grew into a full liberal arts college.

    The university is affiliated with the Evangelical Church of the Nazarene and aims to provide a whole-person education, including ethical, spiritual, and academic learning. NNU comprises a College of Arts and Sciences and a College of Adult and Graduate Studies and awards a total of 72 degrees: 60 undergraduate, 11 master’s degree, and a Ph.D. in education.

    The school has about 2,000 students enrolled on campus, and an additional 6,000 enrolled entirely in online degree programs. U.S. News and World Report ranks NNU 52nd in Regional Universities West and an impressive 45th in Best Value Schools.

    Northwest Nazarene University offers both an online PhD in Education and an online Doctorate in Education. Both programs emphasize advanced knowledge and research methods for educational leadership.

    The online doctorates can be completed in as little as 26 months, and include a dissertation and optional two-week on-campus summer session. Both follow a cohort model, in which students progress through the program at the same pace as their peers, graduating at the same time.

    The doctorate in education focuses on administration, practices and policies within the K – 12 school system. The Ph.D. in education, on the other hand, focuses on researching trends in international or national education and requires an additional 5 credits to complete.

    Required classes for both include Effective Leadership for Change Management, Advanced Data Analysis, and Professional and Ethical Leadership. TheBestSchools.org included NNU among the nation’s Top 20 for its Online Doctorate in Education. Both of these comprehensive online doctoral degrees cost just $565 per credit.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $565
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: Regional, 52
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  5. MERIT: 184

    University of Massachusetts—Lowell’s Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

    University of Massachusetts Lowell

    University of Massachusetts—Lowell (“UMass Lowell”) is a public research university located in Lowell, Massachusetts. The school is the state’s second-largest, with 18,058 students and 1,150 faculty members.

    UMass Lowell awards a total of 122 bachelor’s, 43 master’s and 36 doctoral degrees programs. Class sizes are relatively small at this large school, with a student to faculty ratio of 17 to one, and the school prides itself on providing personal attention to its students.

    The university is known for its rigorous academics and strong return on investment; the average UMass Lowell graduate earns a $95,100 mid-mid-career salary. U.S. News and World Report ranks the university 152nd in National Universities, as well as 80th in Top Public Schools.

    University of Massachusetts- Lowell offers a flexible, reputable and affordable educational leadership degree at the doctoral level. The entire education degree takes three years to complete, and students progress through together as a cohort. One week-long Summer Residency is required every year.

    Those education degree candidates can choose between a general Leadership in Schooling Education degree and a Leadership in Schooling Ed.D. STEM Option, which follows a STEM-intensive curriculum. The curriculum for both education degree options consists of 42-course credits, with the dissertation comprising 9 of these.

    The University of Massachusetts- Lowell online graduate education program is ranked No. 68 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and its Online Graduate Education Program is ranked an incredible 8th in the nation.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $575
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 152
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  6. MERIT: 181

    Liberty University’s Online Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.)

    Christian Counseling

    Liberty University is a private, nonprofit, evangelical Christian university which is located in Lynchburg, West Virginia. The school was founded in 1971 by televangelist Jerry Falwell. Today, Liberty is the largest Christian university in the world. Enrollment tops 110,000 students, with most enrolled online.

    The school offers a total of 297 bachelors, 315 masters, and 32 doctoral degrees, and comprises 17 colleges, including schools of medicine, law, engineering, performing arts, and aeronautics.

    Liberty has one of the ten largest campuses in the U.S., which covers over 7,000 acres. The campus is home to 30 dormitories, a motocross facility, ice skating rink, ski slope, and archery range. Liberty is classified as a “research university of moderate research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation and ranked 231st in National Universities by U.S. News and World Report.

    Liberty University awards an online Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) degree with multiple specializations. The program covers research, education administration, learning theory, and curriculum development for a well-rounded and rigorous doctoral degree curriculum.

    Education degree seekers can choose one of six specializations: Educational Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, Elementary Education, Middle-Grades Education, Secondary Education, and Special Education. Sample classes include Educational Leadership and Public Relations, Issues and Trends in Educational Leadership, and Investigations in Curriculum Change.

    Students in the program have the option to attend three to four week-long on-campus intensives. The doctorate in education takes an average of three years to complete and includes a dissertation. Tuition is very affordable at $595 per credit.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $595
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 231
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  7. MERIT: 180

    The University of Nebraska—Lincoln’s Doctoral Education Leadership Degrees

    The University of Nebraska—Lincoln (UNL) is a public land-grant research university which occupies two campuses located in Lincoln, Nebraska. It is the oldest university in the state, dating back to 1869. It is the largest member of the University of Nebraska system, and the system’s flagship school.

    UNL has a total enrollment of 25,260. This large school is organized into eight colleges and has more than 100 classroom buildings and research centers. The school was home to such historical innovations as the “Nebraska method” of ecological study and today is known for advanced research in cutting-edge areas such as nanoscience and robotics.

    UNL is a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance and placed 9th on Springer Nature’s ranking of Rising Stars in research. U.S. News and World Report ranks the university 129th in National Universities, 87th in Best Colleges for Veterans, 95th in Best Value Schools, and 61st in Top Public Schools.

    The University of Nebraska– Lincoln offers two excellent doctoral education leadership degrees: an EdD in Educational Studies with a specialization in Educational Leadership and Higher Education and a PhD in Educational Studies with a specialization in Educational Leadership and Higher Education.

    The EdD requires 96 credits and is designed for leaders in the Pre-K through 12 setting, while the PhD in education requires 90 credits for graduation and is designed for educational researchers and scholars. A total of 6 credits of on-campus seminars are required for each.

    The rigorous doctorates in education leadership from UNL
    are an excellent value, costing only $722 per credit. The school has been ranked 12th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $722
    • Research Rank: 301-350
    • Academic Prestige: National, 129
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  8. MERIT: 177

    Grand Canyon University’s Online Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership and Development

    Grand Canyon University (GCU) is a private, non-profit university which is based in Phoenix, Arizona. The school was founded in 1949 by the Arizona Southern Baptist Church. It has since become non-denominational and is now the largest Christian university in the world, serving 20,500 students on its 100-acre campus, and 70,00 more online.

    GCU is organized into nine schools and colleges, including schools of Nursing, Fine Arts, and Theology, and awards a total of 200 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The Carnegie Foundation classifies GCU as a research university with “moderate research activity” and U.S. News and World Report ranks the school 230th in National Universities.

    Grand Canyon University awards a highly affordable online Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership and Development. This doctoral education degree is designed to equip graduates with the skills needed to develop, improve and oversee sustainable organizations, and provides a thorough grounding in research methods and best practices.

    A total of 60 credits, including a dissertation and two on-campus residencies, are required for graduation. Classes are offered in an accelerated, 8-week format, and a total of 20 make up the education degree curriculum. Course topics include Organizational Theory, Structure, and Process, Systems Thinking: Building Organizations that last, and Analysis of Existing Research. Tuition is very affordable, costing only $650 per credit.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $650
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 230
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  9. MERIT: 175

    University of Kentucky’s Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.)

    University of Kentucky

    The University of Kentucky (UK) is a large public land-grant institute which is based in Lexington, Kentucky. UK was originally founded in 1865 as a men’s college, the “Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky,” and began admitting women in 1880. It has since become the state’s largest school, with a total enrollment of 30,720, as well as one of just two land-grant schools in Kentucky.

    The university is made up of 16 schools and colleges and awards a total of 262 degrees: 93 bachelor’s, 99 master’s, 4 professional, and 66 doctoral degrees. The sprawling campus spans 784 acres and is home to 23 dorms, 15 libraries, a botanical garden, and an arboretum. UK is known for strength in its engineering and business programs and is ranked 133rd in National Universities and 63rd in Top Public Schools by U.S. News and World Report.

    The University of Kentucky offers an affordable Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.). The course of study is intended to provide students with an understanding of applying research-backed interventions to real-world problems and initiatives.

    Students progress through the curriculum as a cohort and use their current professional position as the basis for their academic research and goal setting. The education doctorate requires 42 credit hours in coursework, plus a dissertation. The curriculum covers 11 required courses plus three electives in a specialty area, and students may opt to take electives outside the department of educational leadership studies.

    Core classes include Design Thinking in Education, Leadership for Creative Problem Solving, and Leadership for Organizational Learning. At a pace of three semesters per year, students complete their doctoral education degree in under 4 years. Tuition is priced at an affordable $674 per credit.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $674
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 133
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  10. MERIT: 174

    University of Southern California’s Online Doctorate in Education

    The University of Southern California (USC) is a private research university located in downtown Los Angeles, with multiple satellite campuses located throughout the state and in Washington. The school dates back to 1880 and is the state’s oldest private research university.

    USC has a total enrollment of 45,687, and its graduate and professional students outnumber undergraduates by a significant margin. The university operates 18 graduate and professional colleges, including schools of engineering, law, medicine, cinema, and social work. USC also offers a wide range of majors, including 199 undergraduate degrees and 481 graduate, professional and doctorate degrees.

    The school is known for technological research and innovation and was behind some of the earliest versions of the internet and domain name system, as well as dynamic programming, antivirus software, image compression, and DNA computing. U.S. News and World Report ranks USC 22nd in National Universities, as well 28th in Innovation, 5th in Best for Vets, and 37th in Best Value.

    The University of Southern California offers a prestigious online Doctorate in Education through its top-ranked Rossier School of Education. The Doctor of Education (EdD) in Organizational Change and Leadership degree is aimed at developing influential change agents who can leverage current research and best practices in the educational field to improve student outcomes.

    The education degree requires 43 credits, requires a yearly on-campus immersion weekend, and can be completed in three years. All students complete a comprehensive Capstone, which includes a project portfolio and dissertation. The program is also open to students who do not hold a master’s degree, in a 60-credit format, provided that they have extensive educational leadership experience. Required classes include Economics of Organizational Change and Learning Environments, Evaluating and Assessing System Outcomes, Creativity and Innovation, and Framing Educational Leadership in a Global Context.

    U.S. News and World Report gives USC an elite ranking of 10th in Best Graduate Education Program, and 7th in the nation for Higher Education Administration. With a World University Research rank of 66, USC is the most research-intensive school in our entire ranking of Best Doctorates in Education Leadership.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $1863
    • Research Rank: 66
    • Academic Prestige: National, 22
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  11. MERIT: 173

    Florida State University’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy

    Florida State University

    Florida State University (FSU) is a public institute which is based in Tallahassee, Florida. It is a sea-grant and space-grant research university and a senior member of the State University System of Florida and the oldest continuous university in the state, dating back to 1851. The university started off as a school for boys, evolved into a seminary, and became a co-educational college in 1858 before eventually becoming a university.

    Today, this large school has 16 divisions and more than 110 research centers, labs, and facilities. SFU operates National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, the only National Laboratory in Florida, and students and faculty have made innovations in fields like nanotube technology and anti-cancer medications. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the school as a research university with “Very High Research Activity.” It has been designated 70th in National Universities, 99th in Best Value Schools, and 26th in Top Public Schools by U.S. News and World Report.

    Florida State University awards an elite online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy. The program equips graduates with knowledge about organizational systems and prepares them to improve policy and practice by actively engaging in educational research.

    The online education degree curriculum takes three years to complete and includes face-to-face seminars every summer. Classes include Data Driven School Improvement, Resource Management for Educational Leaders, and Leadership for Diversity.

    FSU has a World University Research rank of 201-250, the second most research-intensive in our ranking of Best Doctorates in Education Leadership. U.S. News and World Report has awarded FSU a trip ranking of 13th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $1075
    • Research Rank: 201-250
    • Academic Prestige: National, 70
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  12. MERIT: 172

    Central Michigan University’s Online Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership

    Central Michigan University

    Central Michigan University (CMU) is a public research institute located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. CMU was established in 1892 as the Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute, with just 31 students enrolled in teaching and business classes.

    Today, the university is one of the largest in the state, and among the nation’s 100 biggest, with more than 20,000 students on campus and another 7,000 enrolled online. CMU offers almost 300 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees, including highly-ranked degrees in entrepreneurship, journalism, neuroscience, teacher education, and engineering.

    It is considered a research university with “highest research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation and is designed by U.S. News and World Report as 205th in National Universities and 112th in Top Public Schools.

    Central Michigan University offers a top-quality online doctoral degree in Educational Leadership through its Global Campus. The program aims to blend scholarly theory and practice and emphasizes humanism and diversity.

    The education degree requires a total of 63 credits, and offered in a hybrid cohort format, with online courses and four face-to-face summer meetings. Online classes include both asynchronous and synchronous content. Students can choose between four possible 12-credit concentrations: K-12 Curriculum, K-12 Leadership, Higher Education Leadership, and Educational Technology. Core classes include Ethical Leadership, Organizational Culture and Change in Educational Institutions, and Organizational Theory in Educational Institutions.

    U.S. News and World Report gives UMC a ranking of 46th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs. Tuition for this high-quality education degree is set at an affordable $679 per credit.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $679
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 205
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  13. MERIT: 170

    Concordia University’s Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership

    Concordia University

    Concordia University is a nonprofit Lutheran liberal arts school based in Portland, Oregon, with branch campuses throughout the state and a school of law located in Boise, Idaho. Concordia was founded in 1905 by the Lutheran Church to prepare priests and teachers and began teaching college-level classes in 1950.

    Today, the university remains affiliated with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and belongs to the Concordia University System. The school has a student body of more than 7,000, enrolled in programs for 28 undergraduate and 4 graduate degrees. It is the fastest-growing university in the state, and about two-thirds of the student body is enrolled entirely online.

    Concordia is notable for its emphasis on community service; it has been listed for five years in the U.S. President’s Community Service Honor Roll and rated 7th in the nation by Washington Monthly for community service.

    Concordia University-Portland awards an online Doctorate in Educational Leadership which is affordable and values-driven. The program is developed around the core Lutheran value of “servant leadership” and emphasizes humanism, ethics, reflection, and democratic leadership.

    The education degree curriculum is designed to be completed in four years, and the format is cohort-based. The program incorporates an immersive “virtual residency” to promote interconnection between peers in an intensive but convenient format.

    Core classes include The Ethical Educator, Leading Organizational Change, and Creativity, Inquiry, and Innovation. Several 18-credit specializations are offered through the choice of electives: Instructional Leadership, Administrative Leadership, Transformational Leadership, Higher Education, and Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation. Tuition is affordable at a cost of $690 per credit.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $690
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 205
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  14. MERIT: 168

    Drexel University’s Doctorate in Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership and Management

    Drexel University is a private research institute which operates three campuses in Philadelphia. The school dates back to 1891, when it was founded as the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry.

    Today, Drexel has 26,359 students enrolled in more than 170 undergraduate, master’s, professional and doctoral degree programs. It is made up of 20 schools and colleges, including highly-ranked schools of engineering and business, along with more than 30 research centers. Drexel pioneered the nation’s first school granting degrees in entrepreneurship. It operates an incubator for student-developed startups and holds a high number of partnerships with both local and national companies.

    The school’s cooperative learning programs (co-ops) allow students to gain credits for paid job-site learning and work related to their major. Students can also earn credit for developing initiatives to address issues and problems in the local community. Drexel is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as 102nd in National Universities, 67th in Best Value Schools, 64th in Best Colleges for Veterans, and 13th in the Most Innovative Schools.

    Drexel University offers a flexible and high-quality Doctorate in Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership and Management. The program can be completed in as little as three years or as many as five, and no on-campus seminars or residency is required. Education degree seekers can opt for a cohort-based approach or can progress through their studies at their own pace.

    The Drexel academic calendar is divided into quarters, and a total of 60 quarter credits are required for the educational leadership degree. No less than nine concentrations are offered, such as Educational Policy, Educational Administration, Creativity and Innovation, Global & International Education, Learning Technologies, and Special Education Leadership.

    The university placed 351-400 in research in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and 101st in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $1265
    • Research Rank: 351-400
    • Academic Prestige: National, 102
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  15. MERIT: 161

    East Tennessee State University’s Online Doctorate in Education Leadership (EdD) with a School Leadership Concentration

    East Tennessee State University (ETSU) is a public institute based in Johnson City, Tennessee, with additional centers in nearby Kingsport and Elizabethton. ETSU was founded in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School with the goal of training K-12 teachers.

    Today, it is a member of the State University and Community College System of Tennessee, and with 14,334 students is the fourth-largest university in the state. ETSU is organized into nine colleges and schools and emphasizes community partnerships and interdisciplinary learning.

    The university is known for affordable tuition and was included in the listing of America’s Best Value Colleges compiled by The Princeton Review. ETSU is also known for strong programs in primary care education and rural medicine and for unique degree offerings such as Storytelling, Appalachian Studies, and Bluegrass and Country Music. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school 230th in National Universities.

    East Tennessee State University awards a fully online Doctorate in Education Leadership (EdD) with a School Leadership Concentration. The program focuses on educational foundations, research, theory, and fieldwork, and does not require any on-campus residency.

    A total of 66 credits are required for graduation: 18 credits in Core Requirements, 6 credits in Cognate Requirements, 15 in the School Leadership Concentration, 15 in Electives, and a 12-credit Dissertation. Core classes cover such topics as Advanced Qualitative Research, Leadership Studies, Theories of Administration, and Educational Statistics. Tuition is affordable at $721 per credit.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $721
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 231
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  16. MERIT: 164

    Colorado State University’s Online Doctoral Degree in Leadership and Human Resource Studies with a Higher Education Leadership Specialization

    Colorado State University-Fort Collins

    Colorado State University (CSU) is a public research institute based in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was originally established as an agricultural school in 1870.

    CSU is the state’s land-grant university and is the flagship school of the Colorado State University System. The university serves a student body of 33,877 but maintains a low student to faculty ratio of 17 to one. This large school is made up of eight colleges, with a total of 55 academic departments, and awards 65 different bachelor’s degrees, 55 master’s degrees, 40 doctoral degrees, and one professional degree.

    It is one of the country’s top research universities, and has been associated with innovations and discoveries in the fields of infectious disease control, severe weather forecasting, and clean energy, among many others, and has had research expenditures of $312 million in a single year.

    CSU emphasizes hands-on learning, and students participate in research, internships, fieldwork, and study abroad. The university is ranked 140th in National Universities, 70th in Top Public Schools, and 141 in Best Value Schools.

    Colorado State University offers a respected online PhD in Education in the form of a Doctoral Degree in Leadership and Human Resource Studies with a Higher Education Leadership Specialization. The program emphasizes administrative leadership, with a focus on applying research and theory to developing improved organizations and student outcomes.

    The program is cohort-based and boasts a 95% retention rate. The curriculum consists of 30 credits in higher education administrative curriculum and 30 or more credits in research, as well as a dissertation and juried publication submission or presentation.

    Class topics include Leadership Development, Higher Education Administration, Professionalism in Education and Leadership, and Program Evaluation. Coursework is conducted online, and one face-to-=cafe on-campus orientation is required per year.

    U.S. News and World Report ranks CSU 125th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $926
    • Research Rank: 351-400
    • Academic Prestige: National, 140

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  17. MERIT: 161

    Regent University’s Online Doctorate in Advanced Educational Leadership

    Regent University

    Regent University is a private research institute based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Regent was originally founded as the Christian Broadcasting Network University in 1977. The university has an interdenominational, evangelical Christian affiliation, and emphasizes faith and values across all disciplines.

    The university encompasses eight academic schools and offers more than 128 degrees at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level. The school has over 10,000 students and is known for its extensive core curriculum and high-quality online bachelor’s degree programs. U.S. News and World Report places Regent 201st in National Universities.

    Regent University offers an online Doctorate in Advanced Educational Leadership through its highly-ranked school of education. The degree is designed to prepare graduates to achieve innovative, high-impact changes in educational policy.

    All classes are conducted online, with additional four-day summer residencies required. Classes are accelerated, lasting just 8 weeks, and a minimum of 66 credits are required for graduation. Classes include Advanced Theory and Practice of Leadership, Communication and Organizations, Research Design and Analysis, Christian Worldview for Educators, and Organizational and Institutional Change.

    The research-driven curriculum culminates in a dissertation. The school is ranked 56th in the nation and 1st in Virginia for Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report, and over 825 alumni have received Teacher of the Year awards. Tuition costs $775 per credit.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $775
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 201
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  18. MERIT: 158

    Rowan University’s Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed. D.)

    Rowan University

    Rowan University is a public research school located in Glassboro, New Jersey, with an additional satellite campus based in Camden. It was established as Glassboro Normal School in 1923, a teacher training school.

    Rowan is made up of 13 schools and colleges, including schools of medicine, business, performing arts, osteopathy, and engineering. Rowan has an enrollment of 18,560 undergraduate and graduate students. The school awards 74 bachelor’s degrees, 51 master’s degrees, four doctorates, two professional degrees, and 45 undergraduate and post-baccalaureate certificates.

    The school is known for a hands-on approach to learning and for affordable tuition. Kiplinger’s included Rowan in its listing of the “100 Best Buys in Public Colleges and Universities” and the Princeton Review listed it among “The Best Northeastern Colleges”. U.S. News and World Report ranks Rowan 171st in National Universities and 91st in Top Public Schools

    Rowan University offers an affordable and flexible online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed. D.). The curriculum aims to develop the skills required for affecting lasting change: teamwork, decision making, innovation, management, and administration.

    The course of study consists of three phases, and students are required to pass benchmarks at the end of each before progressing to the next phase. Four specialization tracks are offered: Higher Education, PreK-12, Nurse Educator, and Community College Leadership Initiative. All courses are delivered online, and three in-person residency meetings are also required.

    The degree requires the completion of 60 credits, and covers class topics like Diversity in Educational Leadership, Changing Organizations, The Policy Environment, and Quantitative Analysis in Educational Leadership. U.S. News and World Report ranks Rowan 165th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs. Tuition is set at $875 per credit, a strong value for a nationally ranked education doctorate program.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $875
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 171
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  19. MERIT: 156

    Lamar University’s Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Global Educational Leadership

    16 Lamar-logo

    Lamar University (LU) is a public research university located in Beaumont, Texas. It was founded as a public junior college in 1923, and later became the flagship of the former Lamar University System.

    Today, it belongs to the Texas State University System and has 14,506 students enrolled in 96 undergraduate degrees, 50 master’s degrees and eight doctoral degrees across seven schools and colleges. The school is known for its strong core curriculum, for which it was featured in the Washington Post, and for highly affordable tuition.

    LU also operates extensive partnerships with businesses and governmental organizations. U.S. News and World Report ranks it 230th in national universities.

    Lamar University awards a fast, convenient, fully-online Doctorate in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Global Educational Leadership. The degree program is specifically designed for busy working professionals and can be completed in just eight semesters.

    Classes are eight weeks long, and no residency or travel is required. A total of 60 course credits are required for the education doctorate, and classes emphasize global applications. Collegevaluesonline.com rates the school 17th in the nation for value, and tuition is affordable at $924 per credit.

    The doctorate in education from LU was selected for the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate, and the school was listed as 115th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $924
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 230
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  20. MERIT: 154

    Brandman University’s Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership (EdD)

    Brandman University is a private, non-profit university headquartered in Irvine, California, with 25 campuses throughout California and Washington, and an online division. The university is geared specifically towards the educational needs of working adult learners. It was founded in 1958 as the Residence Education Center Program within Chapman University and took on its current name in 2009.

    Today, Brandman has a total student body of over 11,000 enrolled in more than 50 programs leading to degrees, certificates, and professional credentials. It serves adult learners through flexible class schedules and multiple off-site teaching locations, extensive online degree offerings, and hybrid programs. Their online courses combine academic instruction based on lectures with e-learning activities.

    Brandman is notable for its programs in business, MBAs and graduate education. Both Military.com and G.I. Jobs Magazine have designated Brandman as a “Military-Friendly School.”

    Brandman University offers an online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership (EdD). The program is designed to teach not only leadership but creative problem solving, research skills, decision-making, and strategic thinking.

    The curriculum consists of 57 credit hours, including the dissertation, with such classes as The Ethics and Politics of Decision Making, Diversity and Intercultural Aspects of Leadership, and Innovation in Resource Management. The program is cohort-based and classes are both synchronous and asynchronous.

    All students complete a Doctoral Boot Camp, consisting of live and visual orientation activities, as well as periodic in-person immersion sessions. All students also implement a Transformational Change Project. This Transformational Change Project consists of a real-real-world solution to an organizational problem, to be designed and then implemented in the target setting during a 16-week field experience. Tuition costs $995 per credit.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $995
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: n/a
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  21. MERIT: 153

    Lipscomb University’s Online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Learning Organizations and Strategic Change

    17 Lipscomb-logo

    Lipscomb University is a private liberal arts school located in Nashville, Tennessee, with two satellite locations nearby. The university dates back to 1891 when it was founded as the Nashville Bible School. The school is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, and faith is central to the school’s mission, with all undergraduates engaging in Bible study and attending chapel twice weekly.

    The university is organized into 13 schools and colleges, including a School of Nursing, a College of Leadership & Public Service, a School of Theology, and a College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences. Total enrollment comes to 4,632, and class sizes are very small, with a student to faculty ratio of 14 to one.

    In addition to faith and values, Lipscomb emphasizes personal attention and a strong foundation in the liberal arts, along with several opportunities for global learning through short and long-term study abroad programs. Lipscomb is listed 194th in National Universities by U.S. News and World Report.

    Lipscomb University offers a comprehensive online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Learning Organizations and Strategic Change. The online education degree combines theory and practice of educational fundamentals, research, international perspectives, and Christian ethics.

    The degree takes three years to complete and includes four face-to-face intensives. Intensives are three days long and take place on campus, along with a 10-day international experience offered at the end of the first year. The program comprises 64 credits, covering classes like Organizational Theory and Practice, Leading Learning, Contemporary Issues in Education, and Strategic Planning and Assessment.

    Lipscomb is listed 194th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report and was designated a Top Doctorate in Educational Leadership by TheBestSchools.org.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $953
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 194
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  22. MERIT: 149

    Nova Southeastern University’s Online Doctor of Education with a concentration in Organizational Leadership

    7 Nova-logo

    Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a private, nonprofit, institute located in Davie, Florida. It was founded in 1964 as the Nova University of Advanced Technology, and initially conferred degrees in the social and physical sciences. It then merged with Southeastern University of the Health Sciences and began offering expanded programs. NSU now has 18 schools and colleges offering 150 degree programs, including degrees in business, law, osteopathy, and dentistry.

    The university has a notably diverse student body of 20,793 and a student to faculty ratio of 17 to one. The school is classified by the Carnegie Foundation fas a research university of “high research activity” and as a “community engaged school.” NSU emphasizes flexibility, offering dual undergraduate/graduate enrollment and integrating technology extensively into the classroom. U.S. News and World Report lists NSU 191st in National Universities.

    Nova Southeastern University offers an online Doctor of Education with a concentration in Organizational Leadership. The degree is aimed at working professionals looking to build the skills in self-reflection, analysis, and best practices required to effect lasting change in the field of education. The program emphasizes global perspectives, diversity, and technology in the modern educational sphere.

    A minimum of 54 credits are required for the doctorate in education, and courses cover such topics as Leadership, Communication, and Technology, Critical Thinking for Decision Making, and Emerging Theories of Organization Leadership. The course of study follows a set sequence, with an additional two classes in electives allowing students to personalize their curriculum.

    Students may also opt to pursue either a quantitative or a qualitative research track. All students complete an applied dissertation and must attend an on-campus summer conference and complete an online orientation course. The NSU is listed as 131st in Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: $1330
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 191
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  23. MERIT: 147

    Abilene Christian University’s Online Doctor of Education Degree in Organizational Leadership

    Abilene Christian University (ACU) is a nonprofit private school based in Abilene, Texas. The university was established as the Childers Classical Institute in 1906, with an initial class of just 25 students.

    The school is affiliated with the Churches of Christ. ACU emphasizes both faith and the use of technology in the classroom and was the first university in the nation to give every member of an incoming freshman class a mobile device for academic use, for which the school received an “Innovator of the Year” in the category of mobile learning from Campus Technology magazine.

    Christian faith is emphasized through an emphasis on values and ethics in the classroom and through required Bible study and daily prayer services. ACU has 5,200 undergraduate and graduate students, and a remarkably low student to faculty ratio of 14 to one. U.S. News and Worlds Report has listed ACU as 21st in Regional Universities West, 13th in Best for Veterans, 4th in Innovation, and an incredible 10th in Best Value Schools.

    Abilene Christian University awards a flexible online Doctor of Education Degree in Organizational Leadership. The program is ethics-driven and emphasizes the educational applications of technology, in keeping with the university’s values.

    Three concentrations within the education degree are available: Conflict Resolution, Higher Education, and Learning with Emerging Technologies. Course content is delivered asynchronously and is focused around five core competencies: resource development, personal development, collaboration, organizational culture, and organizational assessment.

    The curriculum consists of 54 or more credits: 21 foundation credits, 15 research methods, 6 credits in the dissertation, and a 12-15 credit hour concentration. The school is listed as 224th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: n/a
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: Regional, 21
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  24. MERIT: 146

    Union University’s Online Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Leadership in School Reform

    Union University

    Union University is a private, liberal arts-focused, evangelical Christian school based in Jackson, Tennessee with additional branch locations in Germantown and Hendersonville. The school is affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

    Union dates back to 1823, before the founding of the state of Tennessee itself, and was originally called the Jackson Male Academy, an all men’s school. It has since become coeducational and grown to serve as many as 4,259 students at the graduate and undergraduate level. The university has an incredibly low student to faculty ratio- just 11 to one.

    The most popular majors at Union are Business and Management and Health Professions, with Engineering being another strong program. Across all disciplines, Union emphasizes ethics, Christian values, and community service, and has received the President’s Higher Education Community Service Award.

    The school is also known for having very affordable tuition and has been listed among America’s Top 100 College Buys. U.S. News and World Report ranks Union 152nd in National Universities. U.S. News and World Report ranks Union 152nd in National Universities.

    Union University offers a comprehensive and fully online Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Leadership in School Reform. Graduates of the program are equipped to apply both research and practice in child development, policy, curriculum development and leadership towards improving schools and school districts.

    The education degree program is cohort-based and takes between 3.5 and 4 years to complete. A total of 60 credits are required for graduation, including the dissertation, and classes include Community Involvement for School Improvement, The Changing Superintendency, and Entrepreneurial School Leadership. Union is listed 173rd in Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: n/a
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: National, 152
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  25. MERIT: 144

    Concordia University Chicago’s Online EdD and Online PhD in Leadership with a Specialization in Organizational Leadership

    Concordia University Chicago is private liberal arts institution located in River Forest, Illinois, just 10 miles outside of downtown Chicago. The school started off as Addison Teachers Seminary in 1864. It has since become a large, comprehensive university and a member of the Concordia University System. Concordia is affiliated with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, the nation’s second-largest Lutheran body, and maintains a faith-based approach to education. Concordia also stresses global and urban connections, character, community and liberal arts studies.

    The university serves a total of 5,760 students enrolled in over 100 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. Concordia is listed by U.S. News and World Report as 72nd in Regional Universities Midwest and an impressive 44th in Best Value Schools.

    Concordia University Chicago offers both an online EdD and online PhD in Leadership with a specialization in organizational leadership. The program is intended to be both strategically focused and innovative and incorporates research and best practices for leadership within organizations such as schools and educational government agencies.

    The Doctorate in Education is designed for educational practitioners, while the PhD is geared towards academics and researchers. Both a comprehensive exam and a dissertation are required for each doctoral degree.

    Classes cover topics such as Organizational Change, Policy Analysis, and Leadership: Politics, Power and Applied Ethics. The doctorate in leadership with a specialization in organizational leadership requires a total of 60-67 credits. U.S. News and World Report awards the school 88th in Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

    • Homepage
    • Cost per Credit: n/a
    • Research Rank: n/a
    • Academic Prestige: Regional, 72
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What is the Value of a Doctorate in Education?

If you already hold a master’s in education, you may be wondering if it makes sense to earn a higher degree in the field. Earning a doctorate in education takes a considerable investment of time (duration averages 3-8 years) and money (tuition averages $19,500). It also takes a tremendous amount of effort and commitment. You may be wondering about how earning an EdD or PhD in education or educational leadership will impact your career, goals, and paycheck, and wondering if it’s worthwhile.

As a leader in the field of education, you want to effect real and lasting change. A doctoral degree, and an EdD in particular, is entirely about giving you the tools to do that, through coursework and applied practice. A good program will be focused on real-world and up to date best practices in the field, and give you the opportunity to practice your skills as part of your training. Alternatively, a PhD is usually necessary to land a job in academic research related to any field, and the same goes for a PhD in Education.

Online Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, EdD, Ed D, PhDIt’s worth noting that advanced positions in education can be difficult to achieve. This is both a greater reason to obtain a terminal degree and reason to carefully weigh whether to make the investment. Assuming you land your target job, you may also be wondering about how earning a doctorate in education will affect your income and pay back the cost of tuition. Salaries in the field vary widely between job titles, locations, and sector (private, nonprofit, government). Payscale.com gives an insight into average salaries for a few common roles:

What Does Leadership Mean in School Settings?

When most people think of a leader, a role like CEO springs to mind. Leadership in business is all about turning a profit and growing the company. Leading in a school setting couldn’t be more different. Sure, you’ll need some of the same qualities (strategic thinking, cooperative mindset, influential communication), but your goal is to lead in order to serve, by delivering quality education. Instead of maximizing profits, you’ll be maximizing student success.

Leadership in school settings means steering everyone (teachers, personnel, parents, students) towards one common goal: delivering the best possible education to a community of learners. That means defining success, developing a plan for achieving it, and getting a huge group of disparate folks on board with your vision. As you execute your strategy for improving educational outcomes, you’ll be constantly measuring, analyzing and adjusting your practices, and looking to others in the field to find strategies that work.

What is the Difference Between an Ed.D. and Ph.D. in Education?

Simply put, an EdD is designed for practitioners and a PhD is designed for researchers.

Online Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, EdD, PhD, Online ProgramEdD stands for Doctor of Education (or “Educationis Doctor” in Latin), and the degree indicates the highest level ion training in leadership within a school or teaching setting. A typical program covers policy, best practices, ethics and diversity, and explicit leadership skills, such as management, strategy, and decision making. This degree is well-suited for those looking to lead through hands-on work in teaching and administration.

Online Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, PhD, EdDPhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy (or “Philosophiae Doctor” in Latin) and indicates the highest level of training in the study of education itself. This degree is geared towards those planning to conduct professional research in the field. A typical program will cover much of the same coursework as a Doctor of Education degree, but will have additional courses in qualitative and quantitative research. A longer and more exhaustive dissertation is usually also required, making this degree take a bit longer to earn. A PhD in education is a good choice for those looking for work in career academia, and for those seeking positions as university faculty, uncaring tenured professors.

How Long Does it Take to get a Doctorate in Education?

online degree programThe length of time you take to earn a doctorate in Education depends on three factors: your degree, your program, and your pace. As mentioned above, earning a PhD in Education involves more research and writing, since it leads to a future in academic research and writing. In fact, the New York Times reports that it takes an average of 8.2 years to complete a PhD across all disciplines. A Doctorate in Education (EdD), with its shorter dissertation, typically takes a much shorter time, about 3-5 years.

Besides your degree type, your school’s program will play a role in the time required to complete your Doctorate in Education. Many programs are cohort-based, meaning you’ll move through the program with a group of peers at a set pace. Cohorts increase student retention, as you’ll support one another throughout the program. They also restrict your pace to a set rate, usually around 3.5 years for an EdD, keeping you on track to complete your degree on time. Other schools allow you to move at your own rate, either faster or slower. Some schools also offer accelerated classes, with courses comprised into intensive sessions of 8-10 weeks instead of the usual 16 weeks.

Finally, your own rate of work completion will determine your time to graduation. Taking more classes at a time, enrolling in classes year-round, or working through your dissertation research faster will allow you to earn your doctorate in Education in a shorter time frame. Students who opt for this more intensive approach can finish in under three years. By the same token, taking fewer classes per semester, or taking a break in your studies, will stretch out the program’s duration, and can expect to finish in closer to 5 years.

Looking for More Online Programs?

If these programs didn’t satisfy your thirst for academic rankings or you want to learn more about doctoral programs or online college, the following guides and rankings can help.