50 Best Doctorate in Educational Leadership Online Programs [2020 Guide]

We've ranked the 50 Best Doctorate in Educational Leadership Online programs for 2020. Compare EdD vs. PhD in Educational Leadership schools. Start here!

We’ve ranked the 10 Best Doctorate in Educational Leadership Online programs for 2020. Compare EdD vs. PhD in Educational Leadership schools.

doctorate in educational leadership online

Earning your EdD or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Leadership of Education degree can put you right around the $100,000 per year salary mark. Read on to find out the differences between the two degrees.

Types of Doctorate in Educational Leadership Online Programs

Types of Doctorate in Educational Leadership Online Programs

There are two doctoral degrees for Educational Leadership.

Though similar, they are designed to support different professional goals.

PhD in Educational Leadership

Earning a PhD is generally for those who either want to conduct research in the field or who want to teach at the university level.

As a researcher, you’ll conduct studies on educational practices and theories to better inform professionals in the field. Your curriculum will prepare you to carry out accurate studies and present non-biased findings. This career path will involve quite a bit of professional writing, so your courses will also help to hone your writing skills.

 

For those who want to teach in a university setting, your course of study will inform you of the latest research findings and teaching techniques to utilize and pass on to your students. It will also prepare you to take up a leadership position in your department.

EdD in Educational Leadership

This degree, on the other hand, is for those who want to lead educational institutions. Your workplace could be anything from a preschool to an elementary school to a high school to a university. You could also work at a vocational training facility, a military training program, or for a specific business teaching employees how to better perform their jobs.

Your course of study will likely focus on the latest research in the field and how to conduct your own studies so that you can make informed decisions for your institution. You’ll also have the opportunity to upgrade your own teaching skills.

 

If you’d like to step into an administrative role, this is the educational track for you.

Differences Between a PhD and an EdD in Educational Leadership

group of professionals in a meeting

The difference between earning a PhD and a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership is the career path that the course of study prepares you for. PhD students generally seek tenure as professors at university-level institutions, while EdD graduates enter the professional field via administrative and managerial opportunities.

Salaries are not guaranteed and depend heavily on academic performance, work experience, location, and other factors. That being said, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), both variations of this post-graduate community stand to garner more than adequate compensation.

PhD graduates often start off as professors, eventually moving into the role of dean of students and other leadership positions. EdD students usually end up serving as high school principals, district superintendents, and other high ranking administrators.

PhD in Educational Leadership Concentrations

PhD in Educational Leadership Concentrations

Like most other graduate studies, the average PhD in Educational Leadership program allows you to customize your learning experience via concentrations. Some of the most common specializations that refine and focus your learning experience are listed below.

Online PhD in Education Leadership Programs:

  • PhD in Education: Organizational Leadership
  • PhD in Education: Adult Education Leadership
  • PhD in Education: Community College Leadership
  • PhD in Education: Instructional Leadership
  • PhD in Education: K-12 Education Leadership
  • PhD in Education: Leadership, Policy and Change in Education
  • PhD in Education: Leadership in Higher Education

Online EdD in Educational Leadership Programs:

  • EdD – Educational Leadership
  • EdD – Organizational Leadership: Behavioral Health
  • EdD – Organizational Leadership: Higher Education Leadership
  • EdD – Organizational Leadership: K-12 Leadership
  • EdD – Organizational Leadership: Organizational Development
  • EdD – Organizational Leadership: Special Education

Each available track at your target university provides you with the ability to fit your education into a highly valuable niche, thereby ensuring that you stand out among other job applicants who chose to travel down a more generic learning path.

PhD and EdD in Educational Leadership Curriculum

Before you sign up for classes, it’s a good idea to acclimate yourself with the curriculum that comes with this program of study. Specifically, you can expect to encounter coursework in the following areas:

  • Adult Development
  • Applying Cognitive Science to Learning and Teaching
  • Thinking Strategically about Education Reform
  • Behavioral Science and Interpersonal Relationship Development

Most PhD programs require a dissertation, but some universities offer online EdD programs without a dissertation. This is especially helpful for students who want to earn their doctorate degree in education in less time.

EdD in Educational Leadership vs PhD in Educational Leadership Career Outlook and Salary Information

EdD in Educational Leadership vs PhD in Educational Leadership Career Outlook and Salary Information

The career outlook for those graduating with a PhD in Educational Leadership is definitely one of the brighter fields in today’s economy. As the experts at the BLS explain, the projected job growth for this sector stands at a healthy 13% over the next several years.

Aside from an increase in available jobs, PhD graduates also have access to a plethora of well-paying career opportunities. Instructional coordinators make about $64,040 annually, while school superintendents and heads of collegiate departments tally in $137,580 during the same timeframe.

Here are some more job titles and salary information for Educational Leadership doctorate holders.

Job Title (PhD, Educational Leadership) Salary
University President $156,000
Academic Dean $114,000
Professor $81,000
Program Director $70,000
Research Analyst $58,000

Compare these job titles and figures to those for an EdD graduate.

Job Title (EdD, Educational Leadership) Salary
School Superintendent $111,000
High School Principal $93,000
Department Chair $90,000
Academic Dean $88,000
Elementary School Principal $84,000

These degree options offer overlapping career paths, depending on the institution.

Accreditation for Educational Leadership Doctoral Programs

logos of the regional accreditors

Like undergrad and master’s degrees, the most important accreditation to look for is from that of a regional authority.

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Regional accreditation ensures that your degree will be recognized and respected by other educational institutions.

What Financial Aid Opportunities Are Available for Educational Leadership Students?

screenshot of the Graduate pdf

The first step to determining what financial aid you qualify for is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Yes, the federal government does have money set aside for graduate students, not just undergrads.

You should also look into scholarships and fellowships at your university, as well as scholarships from private organizations and tuition reimbursement programs from your employer.

Questions Related to Earning Your Doctorate in Educational Leadership

Here are our answers to a few more questions you might have about PhD, EdD, and EdS programs.

What Is a PhD in Educational Leadership?

A PhD in Educational Leadership is a terminal degree designed for those who want to teach or conduct research at the university level. Earning the right to join the rest of the graduates from an Educational leadership PhD cohort requires the completion of 60 graduate-level credit hours. Fieldwork, internships, and other practical training often serve as part of this credit-hour requirement.

Those who plan on researching and teaching others about the latest trends and developments in educational leadership are the most likely individuals to pursue this degree. Like other PhD programs, demonstrating expertise in this field serves as the stepping stone toward a career in academia.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Educational Leadership?

Most Educational Leadership PhD programs take 3 years to complete, plus the time you need to write a dissertation. There are some programs, however, designed to take less time.

An EdD degree takes 1-2 years and may or not require a dissertation.

What Can I Do with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership?

Depending on which type of degree you get (PhD vs EdD), you could take up an administrative role at an educational institution starting from daycare centers all the way up to universities, continue teaching, or move into research. See the lists above for some more ideas of career paths.

Is an Educational Specialist Degree a Terminal Degree?

Yes, an Education Specialist, or EdS degree, is a terminal degree. As a professional degree, however, it is not ranked as highly as a PhD or EdD. Consider your career goals to determine which degree is right for you.

Is a PhD in Educational Leadership Worth It?

Yes, a PhD in Educational Leadership is worth it. There’s no denying that acquiring a PhD in Educational Leadership can be a lucrative career move. After graduation, you could be making an average of $83,000 per year.

Is an ED D Worth It?

Yes, an EdD is worth it. After a year or two of study, you could be earning an average salary of $78,000 in an administrative role at any type of educational institution.

List of Universities Offering a Doctorate in Educational Leadership Online

Rankings Methodology

We’ve included accredited universities that offer online prgorams for a terminal degree in Educational Leadership.

#1  American College of Education

American College of Education campus

  • EdD in Leadership – Adult and Continuing Education
  • EdD in Leadership – Curriculum and Instruction
  • EdD in Leadership – Early Childhood Education
  • EdD in Leadership – Educational and Community Organizations
  • EdD in Leadership – Health and Wellness
  • EdD in Leadership – Higher Education
  • EdD in Leadership – International Education
  • EdD in Leadership – Instructional Leadership
  • EdD in Leadership – Online Education
  • EdD in Leadership – Second Language Instruction
  • EdD in Leadership – STEM

American College of Education is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#2  Andrews University

Andrews University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • PhD in Educational Leadership

Andrews University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#3  Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

Appalachian State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association.

#4  Aspen University

Aspen University campus

  • EdD in Leadership and Learning – Health Care Administration and Leadership
  • EdD in Leadership and Learning – Higher Education Leadership
  • EdD in Leadership and Learning – K-12 Educational Leadership
  • EdD in Leadership and Learning – Organizational Leadership
  • EdD in Leadership and Learning – Organizational Psychology

Aspen University is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

#5  Ball State University

Ball State University campus

  • EdD in Educational Administration and Supervision

BSU is accredited by Higher Learning Commission.

#6  Carson-Newman University

Carson-Newman University campus

  • EdD in Administrative Leadership
  • EdD in Curriculum and Instruction Leadership

Carson-Newman University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#7  Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

Central Michigan University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#8  City University of Seattle

City University of Seattle campus

  • EdD in Leadership

City University of Seattle holds regional institutional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#9  Clarkson College

Clarkson College campus

  • EdD in Health Care Education & Leadership

Clarkson College has maintained continuous accreditation with The Higher Learning Commission since 1984 for all programs.

#10  Colorado State University

Colorado State University campus

  • PhD Education and Human Resource Studies – Higher Education Leadership

Colorado State is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

#11  Concordia University – Portland

concordia university portland campus

  • EdD in Administrative Leadership
  • EdD in Higher Education
  • EdD in Instructional Leadership
  • EdD in Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation
  • EdD in Transformational Leadership

Concordia University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#12  Drexel University

Drexel University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership and Management

Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#13  East Carolina University

East Carolina University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership – Higher Education Administration
  • EdD in Educational Leadership – Pre K-12

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

#14  East Tennessee State University

East Tennessee State University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership – Administrative Endorsement
  • EdD in Educational Leadership – Higher Education Leadership
  • EdD in Educational Leadership – School Leadership

East Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#15  Edgewood College

Edgewood College campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership – Higher Education and Leadership Studies
  • EdD in Educational Leadership – K-12 Administrative Leadership

Edgewood College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#16  Florida State University

Florida State University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy

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

#17  Fordham University

Fordham University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy

Fordham University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#18  Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership – Behavioral Health
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership – Christian Ministry
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership – Health Care Administration
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership – Higher Education Leadership
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership – K-12 Leadership
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership – Organizational Development
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership – Special Education

Grand Canyon University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#19  Johns Hopkins University – School of Education

Johns Hopkins University campus

  • EdD in Entrepreneurial Leadership in Education
  • EdD in Mind, Brain & Teaching
  • EdD in Urban Leadership

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

#20  Lamar University

Lamar University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

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

#21  Liberty University

Liberty University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

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

#22  Maryville University

Maryville University campus

  • EdD in Higher Educationa Leadership

Maryville University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#23  Morehead State University

Morehead State University campus

  • EdD in in Adult and Higher Education Leadership
  • EdD in P-12 Administrative Leadership
  • EdD in Educational Technology Leadership

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

#24  Northcentral University

Northcentral University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • PhD in Educational Leadership

Northcentral is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

#25  Northwest Nazarene University

Northwest Nazarene University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • PhD in Educational Leadership

Northwest Nazarene University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#26  Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

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

#27  Rowan University

Rowan University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership – Community College Leadership Initiative
  • EdD in Educational Leadership – Higher Education
  • EdD in Educational Leadership – Nurse Educator
  • EdD in Educational Leadership – P-12

Rowan University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#28  Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University campus

  • EdD in School Leadership

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

#29  Samford University

Samford University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

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

#30  St Thomas University

St Thomas University campus

  • EdD in Leadership and Innovation

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

#31  Texas A & M University – Commerce

Texas A & M University - Commerce campus

  • EdD in Educational Administration

Texas A&M University – Commerce is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#32  Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University campus

  • PhD in Educational Leadership Policy

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

#33  Trident University

Trident University campus

  • PhD in Educational Leadership

Trident University is the first 100% online university accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.

#34  Union University

Union University campus

  • EdD in Higher Education
  • EdD in P-12 School Administration – Instructional Leadership
  • EdD in P-12 School Administration – Leadership in School Reform
  • EdD in P-12 School Administration – Teacher Leadership

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

#35  University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

The U of A has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission without interruption since 1924.

#36  University of Illinois

University of Illinois campus

  • EdD in Education, Policy Organization and Leadership – Educational Administration and Leadership
  • PhD in Education, Policy Organization and Leadership – Educational Administration and Leadership

University of Illinois is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

#37  University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership Studies
  • PhD in Educational Sciences – Educational Leadership

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

#38  University of Massachusetts – Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell

  • EdD in Leadership – Schooling

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#39  University of Memphis

University of Memphis campus

  • EdD in Health Care Education & Leadership

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

#40  University of Nebraska – Lincoln

University of Nebraska - Lincoln campus

  • EdD in Educational Administration
  • EdD in Educational Studies – Educational Leadership and Higher Education
  • PhD in Educational Studies – Educational Leadership and Higher Education

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

#41  University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota campus

  • EdD in Educational Practice and Leadership

University of North Dakota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#42  University of Southern California

University of Southern California campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

#43  University of St Francis

University of St Francis campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

University of St. Francis is accredited by Higher Learning Commission.

#44  University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

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

#45  University of West Georgia

University of West Georgia campus

  • EdD in Higher Education Administration

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

#46  Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University campus

  • EdD in Leadership

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

#47  Vanderbilt Peabody College

Vanderbilt Peabody College campus

  • EdD in Leadership and Learning in Organizations

Vanderbilt Peabody College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#48  William Carey University

William Carey University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership

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

#49  William Howard Taft University

William Howard Taft University campus

  • EdD in Educational Technology and Leadership
  • EdD in Leadership and Management

William Howard Taft University is institutionally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

#50  Wilmington University

Wilmington University campus

  • EdD in Educational Leadership
  • EdD in Higher Education Leadership
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership

Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Take Your Education to the Next Level!

someone graduating with a doctoral degree

The first is to determine which Educational Leadership doctoral degree matches your career goals. If you see yourself teaching in a university or researching educational practices, a PhD is probably the right path. If you’d rather serve in an administrative role, you might be better off with an EdD.

After you determine which degree is the best fit for you, you should look at which schools offer the concentration you’re most interested in. Apply to 3-5 universities and begin researching financial aid opportunities. In 1-3 years, you’ll have your terminal education degree.

This article is brought to you by
Stephen Wilson
Stephen Wilson
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