Find your degree

Online College Plan is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Online PhD Elementary Education, Elementary Ed, Doctorate Degree

Children are the future. It takes a village. These are both popular adages that still ring true today! Being a teacher is an incredibly rewarding career path where you will play a hands-on role in helping children learn and grow. If that’s the path you have selected for yourself, you are probably aware of how important it is to never stop learning, and that may be why you’re interested in earning your PhD in Elementary Education. Did you know that you can do it online? In this ranking, we’ll talk about the best online PhD programs in elementary education. We have also included other doctorate programs in the field.

Earning a Doctorate in Elementary Education Online

online phD, online <a href=

doctorate, Elementary Education” width=”300″ height=”198″ />A doctorate degree usually takes between five and six years to complete and it is a huge investment of your time and your money. For those of you who are so far along in your education that you’re ready to take it to this level, it is likely that you’re already well into your career and aren’t sure how you’d be able to balance everything. Choosing to study online will allow you to earn your degree in less time, have better access to classes that are relevant to your goals, and you won’t have to sacrifice your career or time with family.

Online elementary education doctorate degrees are held to the same rigorous standards as traditional degrees. They are accredited and also tend to be taught by the same faculty as face-to-face options. You can save time with flexible course delivery and you may be able to save money due to the fact that there are often fewer fees associated with online classes, no commuting cost, and you typically require fewer materials.

Why Earn a PhD in Elementary Education?

Elementary Education, PhD Degree, Online Degree Program

Firstly, if you want to earn a PhD or EdD then we believe that you should. It is the most highly respected credential in the world of education and it is an amazing accomplishment. With that said, holding a terminal degree in education will open up a lot of career opportunities for you. You will be fully prepared to take on a career in policy analysis and advocacy, academic research, educational leadership, and more. It will make you more equipped to get the job of your dreams in an increasingly competitive market.

Earning a PhD in Elementary Education or an EdD in Elementary Education will give you the opportunity to add depth to your knowledge in an area (or areas!) that you’re particularly passionate about. When you are passionate about education, you know how important it is to be a strong leader. This type of degree is going to prepare you for that role greater than any other program of study will.

We have that passion for education. That is why we ranked the top five best online doctorates in elementary education. Hopefully, this resource helps put you on the path to your next degree. All of the programs were ranked according to the following:


To create our ranking of the best online PhD programs in elementary education, we began by collecting a list of all the schools that offer such a program, whether that was fully online or in a hybrid. Due to the low number of schools that met our original ranking criteria, we also opted to include other online doctorates in the field. We made sure all schools are located in the United States and hold proper accreditation.

Once we curated our list, we then scored the schools out of a possible 300 points. Three factors contributed to the final score, and those are:

  • Freshman Retention Rate (⅓ of final score),
  • Graduation Rate (⅓ of final score), and
  • Affordability (⅓ of final score)

Each factor is represented as a percentage, which we used as a whole number and then added them all together. Once each school had a score, we ranked them accordingly. Affordability is measured on a scale that we created. Cost data comes from CollegeData; we use residential COA. This is just a ballpark figure and doesn’t guarantee that you will pay that rate.

All of the other data we used to score the schools and discuss them in the article came from the schools’ websites whenever possible. Additional information from the databases of the National Center for Education Statistics and U.S. News & World Report was used.

An additional disclaimer, OnlineCollegePlan prides itself on transparency and providing students with the most accurate and helpful information and resources. In light of that, we want to point out that no institution is ever given preferential treatment for any reason. However, some schools that may have placed in this ranking have been omitted either due to insufficient data or per their own request.

Spread the love
  1. MERIT: 236
    View Profile Average Cost: $24,935

    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers an EdD in Educational Administration. For this program, you can choose to study in P-12 School Leadership. All of the coursework is available online; however, with this area of specialization, you are required to attend on-campus seminars during summer sessions for the first three years of the program.

    One thing to keep in mind is that with the areas of focus at UNL, they do help to steer your curriculum in the best direction for your goals, but they will not appear on your transcripts. This program is designed for those who are interested in gaining the knowledge and the credentials necessary for P-12 administration, which includes elementary school grade levels. As part of the program, all students are paired with an advisor. UNL wants to note that some years, new students can’t be accepted because the advisors cannot take new students.

    This is a 45-credit program that is open only to those students who already hold a masters degree. Some of the classes you’ll take include Cross-Cultural Leadership Studies, Leadership in Educational Organizations, Business Management of Schools, and of course, your electives. The program culminates in a comprehensive exam and a dissertation.

    More Information
  2. MERIT: 235
    View Profile Average Cost: $26,572

    The University of Alabama offers an online Specialist in Education in Elementary Education. We decided to feature it because an EdS is a terminal degree program and the one provided by Alabama is exceptional. It is a fully-online program that consists of 30 credits. It is fully accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Applications are accepted year round, and you can start any semester.

    This degree will allow you to be recognized as an expert in your field and thus expand your career prospects. The required courses cover topics such as literacy, science, social science, and mathematics while also giving you time for scholarly research. You will also take more research courses and an elective outside of the core classes. The program culminates in what the university calls an action research thesis.

    Tuition is competitive at just $394 per credit hour. There is only one per-hour fee that must be paid, further increasing the affordability of the program. Online students are eligible for financial aid and scholarships to help lower their costs even more. Classes may be delivered asynchronously or synchronously as it is not clear according to the site; however, all courses are taught by the same faculty that teaches on the UA campus.

    More Information
  3. MERIT: 230
    View Profile Average Cost: $21,920

    East Carolina University offers an online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership that is designed specifically for educators to gain the knowledge and skills that they need to rise up into leadership positions. It is suitable for those who want to work in grade K all the way through to 20. You can also choose to add a concentration in K-12 education. This is a 60 credit program that includes a dissertation as well as a supervised internship experience.

    Students progress through the program in a cohort model. Students are required to hold a master’s degree and have education leadership experience in order to be considered for acceptance. The K-12 concentration accepts students in the spring semester. ECU also offers an online Specialist in Educational Administration and Supervision degree program. Upon completion of either program, graduates are eligible to upgrade previously held licenses.

    The EdS program is 38 credits in total. Applicants must hold a master’s degree and can choose from two different programs of study, one for aspiring superintendents and a Dual Language Immersion Administration.

    More Information
  4. MERIT: 196
    View Profile Average Cost: $41,112

    Christian Counseling
    Liberty University has an online Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Elementary Education. Liberty’s program is one of the more flexible. Students can transfer in up to 15 credit hours, and there are multiple start dates throughout the year. In total, the program consists of 60 credit hours. The average student completes the program in just three years.

    The university has built a curriculum that strives to deepen your understanding of the key concepts in education, equip you with practical classroom management skills, and help you conduct and publish cutting edge research in areas that are important to you. You will also have opportunities for additional licensure if it is required as you progress through the program.

    The program is broken into five parts. Education Theory, Research & Evaluation, Curriculum & Instruction, Elementary Education, and your dissertation to complete it. Some of the core courses you’ll take include Theories of Educational Leadership, Investigations in Curriculum Change, and Curriculum Theory, among many others. The Elementary Education concentration covers additional topics in elementary curriculum, behavior management, and more.

    More Information
  5. MERIT: 191
    View Profile Average Cost: $36,000

    North Greenville University is home to a Doctor of Education that features a K-12 Leadership track. The program is unique in that you don’t need to have any teaching experience in order to be considered for admission. There are two start dates throughout the year. This is a 60-credit program that students are expected to progress through in a cohort model.

    You will take some core courses such as Social Foundations: K-12 or Accountability, and Today’s Student. You will also have plenty of research courses for you to conduct your research and prepare for the dissertation that is required at the end of the program. NGU’s curriculum is designed to give you three electives throughout your studies so you can focus a little more on what you want to.

    Two of the courses you’ll take while earning your online doctorate in elementary education at this university will require you to stay for one week on campus for seminars. Apart from that, the program is accessible entirely online.

    More Information

How do you become an elementary school teacher?

The requirements for becoming a teacher are going to be different based on what state you live in, but there are some basic things that will be part of the process regardless. Those steps are:

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education
  2. Complete an internship in an elementary classroom
  3. Take any necessary licensure exams
  4. Apply for a license through your state’s board of education

In addition to your internship, you are likely to encounter plenty of opportunities for hands-on practice as you’re studying for your undergraduate degree. You will find yourself in student teaching activities and practicum experience. This is so that you have all of the technical skills that you need but also to get you comfortable with the process of working in a classroom.

You will take classes in child psychology, child development, educational psychology, curriculum development, teaching methods, and more. You will have the option of taking some electives. However, if you already have a bachelors degree in another subject or you want to teach a specific class, the typical pathway for you would be to obtain a master’s in elementary education. When you’re selecting a program, make sure that it meets licensure requirements because you will need a license to teach in a public school setting. Some private schools don’t require you to hold a license.

How long does it take to get a degree in teaching?

The amount of time it takes to get a degree is very individual, even though there are generally accepted average amounts of time, like four years for a bachelor’s degree. To get started as a teacher, the only education that you need is a bachelors degree. After you have earned a bachelors degree, you will be eligible for your initial certification as a teacher. Obtaining your bachelors degree doesn’t have to take four years because there are plenty of accelerated online programs available.

How Long Does it Take to GraduateFrom there, you could choose to earn a masters degree. A masters degree usually takes an additional two years to obtain, but some online programs can be completed in as little as one year of full-time study thanks to shortened courses, more terms each year, and allowing students to work at their own pace. Programs that move this quickly usually have students take one class at a time that way they can focus on the material and get the most out of the program. A masters degree is great for those who didn’t get their bachelors in education or who want to specialize in a particular area of teaching.

The three advanced degrees in education are the Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Education, and the Education Specialist degree. Each of those programs can be completed from one to six years depending on the structure of the program and the time that you have to dedicate to your studies. So, to put it simply it takes four years to get started as a teacher, but you can always continue your studies.

Can you become an elementary school teacher online?

Yes, you can! Education is a very popular field, and because of that, there is an extensive list of distance education programs for you to choose from. These programs are flexible and give you a lot of options for how you want to study, what you want to study, and most importantly when you want to study.

You can choose an online program that is presented entirely online, so you never have to go to campus. In this case, you would be responsible for finding approved locations for you to complete your required practicum and internships that are convenient for you. You can also opt for a blended program if you live near the school that you choose to attend. Hybrid programs have significant online components but still have campus-based meetings occasionally.

Online programs in education are offered at every level and in hundreds of different specializations so you can truly customize what you learn and make sure that you find the perfect program for your goals. The best part is that you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

How do you get certified to teach?

Getting certified to teach is mandatory in most places. In order to teach public school anywhere in the country, you need a teaching certificate; however, there are some carter or private schools that wouldn’t require you to have a license. Even if you want to work at such an institution, we believe that it is still in your best interest to get certified.

The first thing you need to do in order to get your teaching license is to get an undergraduate degree in education. If you didn’t major in education when you got your bachelor’s degree, then what you’ll need to do is take an alternative teaching preparation program. Most often, this is a Master of Arts in Teaching. You need to make sure that you look on your state’s website and look at their requirements for licensure.

What accreditations are required? What amount of hands-on experience will you need to complete? These are things to look out for. Then, look for a degree program that fits your needs and satisfies the requirements of your state’s board of education. Once you have completed your degree, you will take a teaching certification exam. After passing that exam, then you can apply for a teaching license.

Can you get a teaching certificate online?

Yes, you can. Saint Joseph’s University, Western Governors University, and many more offer full licensure programs online. Most universities are designed to fulfill the requirements in the states they are located in, or in the region. Western Governors University, a distance-education school, meets the requirements of all fifty states. Make sure you research where your certificate program qualifies you to teach and make sure it is in your home state! These types of programs can typically be completed in just a few years and will prepare those of you who have a degree in a non-teaching field.

If you are looking to get your teaching license online after completing all of your schooling, this is not likely to be possible. Licensure exams are proctored.

Check out our other education degree rankings!