2021 Best Online PhD in Teaching Programs

An online PhD in Teaching allows you the opportunity to develop your expertise in the education industry.

Online PhD in Teaching Programs

A PhD program can help put you on the path toward pursuing senior leadership positions in academia. In addition, PhD graduates often qualify for careers in research as well as postsecondary teaching.

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By pursuing a Ph.D in Education online, you can receive advanced training for this impactful and rewarding field.

Online PhD in Teaching Programs

PhD in Teaching Programs

An online PhD in Education can open up opportunities for senior leadership positions in academia. A PhD degree path focuses primarily on research.

Leadership roles in academia include:

  • College president
  • Professor
  • Chief learning officer
  • Senior academic administrator
  • Academic dean

Though courses vary from school to school, you’ll likely find yourself learning about the following topics:

  • Educational pedagogy
  • Leadership in education
  • Advanced educational psychology
  • Advanced curriculum study

You may also find yourself immersed in research projects. These projects are catered to your concerns or interests in the educational industry, demonstrating your commitment to positive change. Many programs also require examinations or dissertations. It’s strategic to look at the program requirements for each school that interests you.

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If you wish to advance your teaching career or use your educational experience in a meaningful way, an online doctorate in education offers meaningful coursework to enhance your training and skill set.


PhD in Education Specializations

When pursuing an online PhD in Education, you have the opportunity to focus on a specialization that best aligns with your interests and career goals. Here are some common specializations:

  • Higher Education Leadership: This specializations helps you develop the necessary skills to take on administrative roles in higher education and in government institutions.
  • Curriculum and Instruction: This specialization focuses on the research, development, and implementation of impactful curriculum changes. By studying statistics of student achievement and recognizing where gaps need to be filled, you may impact curriculum development.
  • Organizational Leadership: This specialization helps prepare you for leadership roles within an educational institution. You can learn how to prepare strategic development ideas for your organization and also how to aid in employees’ professional development.
  • Special Education: This specialization focuses on the individual needs of a unique population of an educational organization. You can learn to create accommodating environments and instruction for these high-need students, and you can learn to better understand students’ differences, disabilities, and gifts.
  • K-12 Education: With a focus on primary and secondary education, a K-12 education specialization allows you to advance your leadership and administrative skills in order to oversee educational institutions.

These specializations are extremely diverse. Your previous educational experience and long-term professional goals can help you determine which path is best for you.

Teaching & Education Careers & Salaries

Teaching & Education Careers & Salaries

Ph.D programs in education can lead to a vast range of career paths, depending on your interests and long-term goals. Whereas a bachelors is what degree you need to be a teacher at the K-12 level, earning a PhD can help you qualify for positions in research and postsecondary institutions as well.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for education, training, and library occupations is projected to grow 5% through 2029.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Training and Development Managers $115,640
Postsecondary Education Administrators, Scientific Research and Development Services $102,840
Postsecondary Education Administrators, Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools $100,060
K-12 Principals, Local Schools $99,690
Postsecondary Education Administrators, Junior Colleges $90,470
K-12 Principals, Private Schools $89,350
Postsecondary Teachers $80,790
Junior College Education Teachers $69,730
Instructional Coordinators $66,970
Postsecondary Education Teachers $65,440

The majority of these roles require extensive research and administrative skills. Many of these careers can be found in postsecondary or government educational institutions. In regards to the salary for postsecondary teachers, the average pay can vary depending on the subject taught.

How to Choose an Online Doctoral Program in Education

Online Doctoral Program in Education

Here are a few factors you may consider when you’re selecting which online doctoral programs to pursue:

  • Program length. Perhaps you have a few years to dedicate to this program, or maybe you wish to finish more quickly in order to advance your career. This is a factor to look into when making your selection.
  • Your schedule. Do you have the time available to dedicate yourself to a full-time course load? Perhaps you wish to continue working while you take a part-time course load. It’s helpful to select a program that adapts to your life.
  • Specialization focus. Do your prospective schools offer the specialization that aligns with your career goals?
  • Accreditation. It’s important for a program to be from an accredited institution.
  • Credit transfers. Schools can have varying credit transfer policies. Enrolling in a program that allows you to transfer your credits may be beneficial in the long run.

In addition, it’s strategic to check admission requirements to ensure that you meet or exceed the basic requirements of your potential school. You can also inquire as to whether an internship or residency placement can work toward your course credits.

Education Doctorate Curriculum

Education Doctorate Curriculum

The degree specialization you choose can radically change the courses you find yourself in. Here are a few basic courses you may encounter when pursuing doctorate degrees in education:

  •  Educational Pedagogy: This course is the study of all the different aspects of teaching and teaching methods. You reflect on teaching, consider how it is constructed, collaborate to improve it, and develop plans to integrate these new methods.
  • Leadership in Education: You’ll learn the necessary skills and characteristics for management roles in educational institutions. You’ll research leadership in the context of education and learn the necessary skills to implement toward the development of schools.
  • Advanced Educational Psychology: This course focuses on the analysis of classroom strategies used to help students succeed. It looks at psychological theories and learning research and seeks to use inquiry-based practice to solve instructional and administrative problems.
  • Advanced Curriculum Study: Looking at the principles of curriculum development and implementation, you’ll learn to research and study data on how to improve curriculum for student success. This course also seeks to help you better understand how to administer curriculum and program design improvements to your professional team.
  • Gifted and Special Education: Looking at the needs and differentiation required by students in a high-needs population, you’ll develop the necessary skills to become leaders in the special education department.
  • Teaching Adult Populations: Teaching students of the adult population differs in both planning and approach. If you wish to pursue professor roles in postsecondary institutions, the skills and management learned in this course can be beneficial.
  • Advanced Educational Research Practices: In order to become highly skilled in research specific to the education industry, you’ll learn the foundational basics for studying data, analyzing statistics, and conducting effective studies.
  • Problems and Issues in Education: This is a beginner’s course to help you understand the basic needs and struggles of both curriculum and teaching in all educational industries. You’ll learn the necessary methods to formulate questions and inquiry-based studies to help improve education.
  • Instruction Technology and Methodology: You’ll learn how to implement and facilitate technology-based teaching to enrich the learning experience. There is a focus on how to modernize and improve education through technology as well.
  • Administration: If you’re looking to take on a leadership or administration role, you may benefit from the management skills and organizational strategies developed through this course.

This is only a sample of what courses you may encounter as you pursue your degree. Most PhD programs also include a dissertation requirement.

Admissions Requirements

PhD in Teaching program admissions

Schools that offer an online PhD in Teaching program can have varying admission requirements. It’s beneficial to look into each of your prospective school’s requirements. Here are some common criteria you may encounter when you’re looking to apply:

  • Bachelor and masters degree in a relevant subject
  • Official college transcripts
  • Resume or CV
  • Letter of intent

Some schools may request a GME or GMAT score for graduate admissions, but a number of schools no longer require this in their admissions process.


PhD in Teaching program accreditation

Regional accreditation of a school and program is an essential factor to look for. Regional accreditation ensures that the school is up to educational standards and that your degree will be recognized across the United States.

Accreditation is often a requirement for credits to be eligible for transfer as well. A school’s accreditation status affirms that its standards are of high academic quality and accountability, according to the expectations established by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

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You can also check CHEA’s database of accredited institutions to make sure that the school you’re interested in is listed.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Teaching program financial aid

Most students who pursue an online PhD in Teaching already have experience in the education industry. If you’ll be looking for financial aid for your doctoral journey, you may want to start by asking your organization if they offer sabbaticals or scholarships.

There are also numerous scholarships available for students pursuing degrees in education, so you may be able to find and apply to these scholarships if you qualify.

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is another place to start when seeking financial aid. Some schools set deadlines for how long they’ll accept FAFSA applications, so it’s necessary to apply prior to this deadline. The FAFSA determines your eligibility for financial aid provided by the federal and state governments.

Education Professional Organizations

Education Professional Organizations

Professional organizations are not mandatory, but they can offer you unique professional support and numerous professional growth opportunities.

Here are a few education professional organizations you may want to consider joining:

A professional organization allows you to be part of a connected support network, to have access to free resources, and to be informed about conferences and workshops that can benefit your growth in the industry.

What Is an EdD?

Doctor of Education professionals

Doctor of Education (EdD) is a professional degree for those looking to take on leadership roles in the education industry. This type of degree is catered for experienced educators who are looking to find career growth or make impactful change in their organization.

An Ed.D. is primarily practice-based and involves collecting and analyzing data in order to implement new strategies in K-12 organizations. It’s a strategic path for educators seeking administrative roles in student and organizational success.

What Is a PhD in Education?

PhD in Education degree

A PhD in Education is a degree that helps qualify you to pursue a role in academia and research at a postsecondary level.

It’s a very research-heavy, theoretical-based program that helps equip students to become leaders in the education industry. The work or research a PhD graduate does may impact the work an EdD graduate implements in their administrative role.

A PhD in Education is strategic if you want to work in academia as a postsecondary professor and pursue tenure.  A PhD is also beneficial if you want to focus on research.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Teaching?

PhD in Teaching careers

There are numerous roles in academia, research, or administration that you may pursue with a PhD in Teaching.

Common careers in this field include postsecondary professor, postsecondary or senior academic administrator, chief learning officer, college president, academic dean, and educational research analyst.

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Academic dean positions may be limited per institution, but administrators, professors, and learning officers continue to be needed as more students enter universities and postsecondary institutions.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Teaching?

A PhD generally takes 3 to 5 years to complete. The length of a program can depend on the number of credit hours required as well as how long it takes you to complete your dissertation.

If no dissertation is required, a doctoral program can generally be completed in 3 years with full-time study. If you take a part-time course load or work while pursuing your degree, you can expect your timeframe to be extended.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a PhD in Teaching?

PhD in Teaching cost

Although tuition varies, you can expect to pay between $350 to $800 per credit hour when pursuing a teaching PhD.

A typical program requires around 90 credits, which means that tuition may range from $31,500 to over $72,000, depending on the school and program requirements. There are also additional fees to consider, such as textbooks, workshops, conferences, or additional certification programs that you may encounter while pursuing your degree.

What’s the Difference Between a PhD vs. Doctorate in Education?

Though they are both doctoral degrees, there are a few differences between a PhD and a professional doctorate in education.

Doctor of Education PhD in Education
  • Professional degree
  • Suited for those pursuing leadership roles
  • Inquiry-based learning and application
  • Often requires a residency but not a dissertation
  • Can lead to work in a variety of industries
  • Academic degree
  • Suited for those interested in research and senior-level teaching roles or postsecondary administration
  • Research-based
  • Usually requires a dissertation but not a residency
  • Leads primarily to work in academia

It can help to think of your long-term career goals when deciding between online doctoral degrees in education.

What’s the Difference Between an EdD vs. PhD in Education?

There are quite a few key differences between a Doctor of Education (EdD) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education.

EdD PhD in Education
  • Average of 60 credits
  • Practice-focused
  • Typically takes 2 to 3 years to complete
  • Suited to administrative careers in K-12 institutions
  • Average of 90 credits
  • Research-focused
  • Typically takes 3 to 5 years to complete
  • Suited to careers in research as well as postsecondary teaching or administration

Time and cost can be important factors to consider when deciding between these two degrees.

Is a PhD in Teaching Worth It?

Yes, a PhD in Teaching is worth it for many professionals. This terminal degree may lead to impactful work in the industry of education. It can help you develop the necessary skills to obtain work in research as well as academia. Graduates tend to go on to become teachers or administrators in the education field.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth for education, training, and library occupations. Employment for those working in postsecondary education administration is expected to grow 4%. Postsecondary teachers are expected to experience 9% job growth.

Universities Offering Online PhD in Teaching Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Ball State University

Ball State University campus

Ball State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Capella University

Capella University campus

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University campus

Colorado State is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Columbia International University

Columbia International University campus

CIU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Concordia University – Chicago

Concordia University Chicago campus

Concordia University Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Indiana State University

Indiana State University campus

Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University campus

The Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Northcentral University

Northcentral University campus

Northcentral University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Northwest Nazarene University

Northwest Nazarene University campus

NNU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Notre Dame of Maryland University

Notre Dame of Maryland University campus

Notre Dame of Maryland University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University campus

Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Regent University

Regent University campus

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University campus

Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Arizona

University of Arizona campus

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas campus

The University of Arkansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Idaho

University of Idaho campus

The University of Idaho is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

University of Nebraska

University of Nebraska campus

The University of Nebraska is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Toledo

University of Toledo campus

The University of Toledo is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Walden University

Walden University campus

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your PhD in Teaching Online

PhD in Teaching Online

If you wish to be immersed in the research that helps define changes in education on a national level, then you may want to consider getting your PhD in Teaching online. Many online teaching degree programs , including both online doctorate and online masters programs in teaching, offer you the flexibility to work around your schedule and lifestyle while you advance your skill set and work toward your career goals in academia.

With your advanced training, you may find yourself taking part in the future of education. If you’re ready to begin your terminal degree, you can start by comparing accredited online doctoral teaching programs to find the one that best suits your schedule and professional goals.

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Claudia Amendola Alzraa
Claudia Amendola Alzraa
Claudia has a Master's in Library and Information Studies, a Bachelor's in Education, and a Bachelor's with Honors in English and Philosophy. With a history working in Special Education, Claudia is an advocate for diversified and equitable education, and student success initiatives.