Doctorate in Education Online

Current teachers who want to impact education through higher positions should consider entering online education doctoral programs. These learners should have problem-solving and communication skills, and should excel at finding innovative ways to engage and teach.

Candidates with a doctorate in education who renew their teaching certificates can still educate in classrooms and use doctorate knowledge to improve teaching skills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 7% growth in kindergarten and elementary teaching positions and an 8% growth in middle school and high school opportunities by 2026. Additionally, an online doctorate in education can lead to advanced positions such as postsecondary education administrators and instructional coordinators .

This page explores career paths, and overviews curriculum, admission, accreditation, and program structures for doctorates in education. By considering these details, learners can learn how to attain an online doctorate in education, and the benefits connected to the degree.

Should I Earn an Online Doctorate in Education?

Earning an online doctorate in education opens career doors in multiple ways. For instance, some professions require a doctorate, such as postsecondary teaching positions. Additionally, candidates develop skills through coursework and practice that are relevant to fields outside of education. These skills include research strategies and ethical leadership, abilities that businesses, community organizations, and government facilities prioritize.

Obtaining a doctor of education online gives candidates familiarity with educational technology, which prepares graduates for distance teaching positions. Specifically, online students gain experience with discussion boards, virtual presentations, and electronic assignments along with platforms such as Moodle and Blackboard. These experiences are invaluable when teaching virtual courses.

Education doctorates also offer specializations that train degree seekers for specific careers. Concentrations include community college leadership, special education, elementary education, adult learning, and literacy education. These focuses allow learners to personalize degrees for specific careers.

Doctorates, on average, also increase lifetime income. In the education field candidates with a doctorate earn 24% more than master's grads. These doctorates can increase salaries and employment opportunities in education and external fields, while allowing learners to specialize for career goals.

What Can I Do with an Online Doctorate in Education?

Candidates who earn an affordable online doctorate in education can work as postsecondary teachers at colleges and universities. In these positions, graduates teach education majors basic skills and concepts of the field, and may also perform new field research for publications. Other careers in higher education include college deans and department directors.

Candidates can earn positions in K-12 education as curriculum directors, superintendents, educational consultants, and principals. Learners can also impact K-12 education by advocating for policy changes and advising educational software companies.

Thanks to the research, leadership, and analytical skills gained through an online doctorate in education, graduates are able to find work outside education, too, as graduates are equipped to work for private companies and government organizations in positions that require in-depth research. In particular, candidates can work as fundraisers, intelligence analysts, market research analysts, and social services directors.

Career Profiles

Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal

Median Annual Salary: $94,390

Principals guide educators on curriculum and teaching strategies. Candidates enforce school rules and communicate student needs with parents. Other responsibilities include upkeeping budgets, choosing security measures, and building course schedules. These tasks relate to concepts covered in doctorate programs.

Instructional Coordinator

Median Annual Salary: $63,750

Instructional coordinators review curriculum for effectiveness and make changes accordingly. Candidates also advise on textbooks and train school personnel on new techniques. Coordinators can focus on one discipline, a specific age group, or children with special needs. Doctorate programs provide concentrations related to these focuses.

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Median Annual Salary: $92,360

These administrators work in admission, registration, and student affairs. Responsibilities may include recruiting students, making admission choices, organizing graduations, and offering guidance on campus housing. Some administrator positions, such as college deans, require a Ph.D.

Postsecondary Teacher

Median Annual Salary: $76,000

Postsecondary educators teach multiple classes within their discipline and guide students on course selection. These teachers create lesson plans and provide feedback on assignments. These positions often require a doctorate.

School Superintendent

Median Annual Salary: $116,252

Superintendents choose principals and tend to budgets for school districts. These workers also decide if schools should replace or reprimand school personnel. Candidates advise on policies and objectives. Doctorates prepare for these positions by exploring curriculum, leadership, and policy in the field.

Education Doctoral Program Overview

Programs can offer unique concentrations while grounding information in research, policy, and leadership strategies that are necessary for field careers. Students typically complete a capstone project or dissertation for these advanced programs. Furthermore, each program offers its own admission process and program outcomes. The following sections provide an overview of common program traits.

Types of Doctoral Degrees in Education

Candidates interested in education degrees can enter Ph.D. or Ed.D. programs online. Both degrees address curricula, legality, assessment, and policy, but with different objectives.

A Ph.D. emphasizes research and often culminates in a dissertation based on innovative research. Program classes address curriculum and methodology for careers that include postsecondary educators, researchers, and advisers. Candidates who want to teach or conduct research that influences educational administration should consider a Ph.D. The research skills gained in Ph.D. programs can also lead to research-heavy positions in other fields, such as sociology.

An Ed.D. prioritizes practice over research and includes coursework in ethics, leadership, and management. These degrees prepare graduates for administrative positions in school districts, such as instructional coordinators. Graduates can use current research to structure and improve educational experiences, rather than developing new research. Current teachers who want to advance into leadership positions in K-12 education make ideal candidates.

Application Requirements and Admission Criteria

Admission requirements for online education doctoral programs vary among schools. In general candidates must submit an application and a fee up to $100. Departments also require a master's, with some schools insisting on disciplines related to education. Institutions also insist on a minimum GPA greater than 3.0 . In addition to official transcripts, universities may also require resumes, standardized test scores, proof of teaching credentials, and years of related experience.

Online doctoral programs in education typically require three recommendation letters from employers, professors, community leaders, and colleagues. Departments may specify topics for these letters, including personal strengths and academic potential.

Students may need to submit statements of purpose, letters of intent, writing samples, or essay responses. These documents showcase applicants' writing skills and express professional goals, field philosophies, education knowledge, and relevant experience. Additional requirements may include in-person or online interviews and criminal background checks.


Each online doctorate in education structures curriculum differently. However, departments frequently divide courses into sections that typically comprise 16-21 credits in core classes that address leadership, ethics, research, policy, and educational trends. Departments often also include dissertation categories where learners complete 9-21 credits on literature reviews, data collection, research methods, and dissertation proposal.

Coursework varies based on concentrations. Online Ed.D. programs, for instance, offer focuses related to grade levels, such as elementary or secondary education. Specializations also address curriculum and instruction, leadership, and policy. Students can invest 9-20 credits on concentration-related topics, such as age-centered teaching strategies, educational management, and financial concerns in higher education. Curriculum may include categories like research methodology, leadership, and institutional analysis.

While curriculum differs among programs, common courses for a doctorate in education online include the following options.

Foundations of Educational Research

Candidates may explore common research strategies in these courses, and also learn to apply research to improve educational practice.

Group Dynamics and Conflict

Coursework explains conflict resolution techniques, along with related theories. Learners may also address how factors like culture impact group interactions and conflict strategies.

Innovations in Social Studies

Students may learn methods for teaching social studies using publications, case studies, and research. These courses can focus on specific age groups. Similar classes are possible for teaching other disciplines, such as math and English.

Ethical Leadership in Education

Candidates learn to analyze situations to determine ethical solutions to problems. Coursework may address culture and personal beliefs, along with strategies for fostering encouraging environments.

Instructional Leadership

These courses explore curriculum and teaching strategies, and also prepare learners to assess student progress. Classes can focus on age groups, such as instructional leadership in K-12 settings.

Program Outcomes

Online doctoral programs in education explore concepts such as policy, leadership, and curriculum. These topics provide candidates from other disciplines with foundational field information. Programs also prepare professionals to make policy, procedure, and curriculum choices through administrative positions.

Earning a doctor of education online equips candidates with research skills for leadership positions. Students learn theories and methodologies of research to analyze students needs, curriculum, policies, trends, and regulations when determining the best paths for schools. Programs may explore business concepts for financial and organizational concerns of school administration. Departments also groom learners' communication and writing skills.

Concentrations, such as higher education leadership and middle school education, impact program outcomes. For instance, a curriculum and instruction focus prepares students to make curriculum choices for any grade level, while an elementary education concentration focuses on how to teach young children.

Best Ph.D. Programs in Education

1. Johns Hopkins University

The School of Education at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, offers an online education degree that prepares future leaders to solve 21st century educational problems. Graduates often work as researchers and faculty members at research institutes and universities.

Faculty members in the Ed.D. program include individuals who lead educational policy at the local, national, and international levels. Students gain advanced research skills with an emphasis on policy analysis. The program also equips learners to promote evidence-based practices, influence school reform and policy, and understand the connection between education research and practice.

Applicants need a master's degree in education or a similar field from an accredited university with a minimum 3.0 GPA for consideration. Johns Hopkins requires official transcripts from all prior schools, a completed application form, and an application fee. Other requirements include a resume, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement outlining professional goals. Prospective students must also submit GRE scores.

Distance learners can tailor the 90-credit curriculum to reflect their own academic and professional interests. Johns Hopkins accepts students with a minimum of 36 graduate credits, which immediately transfer into the program. Students that do not meet the 36-credit requirement may receive conditional admission. Learners must complete 48-54 credits at the doctoral level at Johns Hopkins. Program requirements include coursework in foundations of education, applied research and evaluation, a specialization area, and an applied dissertation.

The university holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

2. Nova Southeastern University

The accredited online education degree at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, offers concentrations in eight areas, including curriculum and teaching, educational leadership, and higher education leadership. The online Ed.D. program includes different coursework and admissions requirements depending on the concentration.

Catering to working professionals, the program delivers all online coursework asynchronously. In addition, all students must attend the Edge @ Fischler Institute, an intensive, in-person conference that helps doctoral students access necessary tools to thrive in distance learning at NSU.

Prospective students must submit a completed application form, an application fee, and official transcripts from all prior colleges. Other requirements include a master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, professional letters of recommendation, and acceptable GRE or MAT scores.

All doctoral students in an Ed.D. program must complete an orientation and a three-credit leadership, communication, and technology course. Ed.D. candidates complete 24 credits in a concentration area, dissertation coursework, and research courses. Full-time students can earn their degree in three years. The program accepts up to six graduate transfer credits.

NSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). NSU's online Ed.D. program is fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

3. The University of Findlay

A private college founded in 1882 in Findlay, Ohio, by the Churches of God Conference, the University of Findlay now offers an accredited online doctorate in education. Designed for administrators and teachers who want to change education through research and policy work, the online education degree takes approximately three years to complete.

The program's curriculum emphasizes translating research into successful instruction, leadership, and supervision. Individuals who hold an Ohio superintendent's license already satisfy 25% of the degree's requirements. Graduates can find careers as college professors and administrators; school, district, or program administrators; and social and community service managers.

Students in the program can complete coursework almost entirely online, alongside one in-person, three-day summer institute. The program provides individualized dissertation support starting on each student's first day. Distance learners take courses like writing as a doctoral scholar, performance management practices for effective leadership, and dissemination of research.

Prospective students must submit evidence of a master's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants also need a score of at least 400 on the MAT. Applicants with a score of 375 may receive conditional admission. The program also requires a completed application form, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. Selected applicants also complete an online or in-person interview with program faculty.

The University of Findlay holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Additionally, the online Ed.D. is fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP).

Accreditation for Online Education Doctorate Programs

Accreditation agencies review schools, departments, and programs to determine which options hold academic value. In turn, these agencies should hold approval from higher authorities, such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Candidates should only consider schools that hold accreditation as federal aid only extends to students at accredited schools. Additionally, employers may not accept degrees from unaccredited schools or programs. Students pursuing an online doctorate in education can also look for accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.