Online doctorate of education (Ed.D.) degree programs have become quite common in recent years, as teachers and other education professionals look for a way to increase their job market value and move into positions of higher responsibility – and pay. Now Online PhD has done our research to find the Top 40 Online EdD Programs in the US.
What is an Ed.D Degree?
An Ed.D degree is the standard for practicing educators who want to take on administrative careers, including principals, superintendents, deans, local and state department of education officials, and more. While some educators may labor over choosing the Ed D vs PhD, the choice is clear as long as you’re clear on your career goal. If you want to teach education at the collegiate level, go with the PhD, but if you want to take on administrative jobs, it’s the EdD all the way.
The Ed.D degree focuses on leadership and management for the educational field; in fact, many EdD programs are called Educational Leadership or some similar variation. Whether in an online edd program, or an on-campus edd program, students pursuing a doctor of education learn about curriculum and policy development, institutional and organizational leadership, finances, law and ethics, human resources, and all of the other aspects of administration that teacher’s didn’t learn in their education courses at the bachelor’s or master’s level. The Ed.D. may even be an interdisciplinary degree in some schools, bringing in faculty from the business and management school to supplement education courses.
Ranking Doctor of Education Online Degrees
An online Ed D makes a lot of sense for working education professionals. It’s flexible, convenient, and allows teachers to work on their degree without having to leave their job. It’s not as though teachers have a lot of choice. Despite popular opinion, a teacher’s schedule doesn’t leave much time for improving their own careers. According to a study sponsored by Scholastic and the Gates Foundation, teachers work an average of 10-12 hours per day, when grading papers, planning, parent-teacher conferences, extra tutoring, and extracurricular activities are added to classroom time.
An online Ed D program gives working professionals the means to get a higher degree on their own time. In most cases, even synchronous online classes are taught weekends or nights to keep from interfering, and asynchronous classes can be self-paced. Most doctor of education programs require some on-campus visits, but these are usually scheduled for summer or winter breaks, when teachers can take the time to attend a weekend or 1-week intensive session.
Online PhD has put together a ranking of the Top 40 Online EdD Programs to help busy working education professionals find the most affordable options in their area, or any area. The top Online Ed D programs are all regionally accredited, and many are further accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the national standard for schools of education. All have established a regional and national reputation for quality teacher education.
The programs here are ranked simply by affordability, from the lowest tuition price to the highest.
1. New Mexico State University – Las Cruces, NM
New Mexico State University was the first public university in the New Mexico Territory, founded in 1888 to teach agriculture and mechanical engineering under the Morrill Land-Grant Act. As the primary force in higher education long before New Mexico’s statehood, NMSU had an important impact on teaching in the state. Education was taught well before there was an official education department, and the College of Education was established in 1957, when New Mexico State reached university status. Today, the College of Education teaches more than 2300 students and is one of New Mexico’s main producers of teachers for the public school system. It’s also recognized for diversity, with more than half the student body identifying as Hispanic.
NMSU’s Educational Leadership Doctoral Program is developed by the Department of Educational Leadership & Administration. Accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), the ELDP program brings the most current theory and practice to bear in this doctoral program. Doctoral students can choose from specializations in Pk-12 Educational Administration, Community College Administration, or University Administration. The program is delivered in a hybrid format on a cohort model, with students working through courses with the same group of classmates from beginning to end. It’s one of the lowest-cost options for an Ed.D degree.
Degree: Educational Leadership Doctoral Program (ELDP)
2. East Carolina University – Greenville, NC
East Carolina University’s Doctor of Education (Ed.D) in Educational Leadership is designed for educational professionals preparing to transfer into senior administrative positions. With a focus in advanced leadership theory, the Educational Leadership program includes studies in organizational theory, human resource development, policy analysis, curriculum and instructional leadership, and political systems analysis. At minimum, program candidates should have a master’s degree in an education related field and proven educational leadership or supervisory experience in the K-20 environment. The 60-credit program is offered in a hybrid format with courses taught nights and online and an internship and dissertation are both required to complete the degree program.
3. University of the Cumberlands – Williamsburg, KY
University of the Cumberlands’ fully online Doctorate in Educational Leadership program provides educational professionals the opportunity to earn their degree while continuing with their full-time responsibilities. Students enrolled in the online educational leadership program can choose between two degree concentrations: Administrative and Supervision or Counselor Education and Supervision. Both degrees consist of 60 credit hours and a cumulative project while allowing students to develop advanced practitioner skills applicable for senior roles in businesses and higher education organizations.
4. Lamar University – Beaumont, TX
Lamar University’s Doctorate in Educational Leadership degree program offers students a unique concentration in Global Educational Leadership. Students enrolled in the program can expect to engage in cutting edge research designed to prepare education professionals to become transformative leaders in local, national, and international education settings. The fully online program is structured in 8 week sessions beginning in the summer allowing students to complete it in only 8 semesters, including summers. Lamar’s affordability and convenience make it one of the top Ed.D degree programs in the nation.
5. Union University – Jackson, TN
Union University’s online Doctorate of Education program provides active education professionals the knowledge and skills required to assume future leadership and teaching positions. The degree program is designed to combine theory, practice, classic knowledge, current research, analysis, and synthesis to give students advanced educational knowledge applicable to positions beyond the classroom, including business and government. The degree program has three areas of concentrations: Instructional Leadership, Teaching Leadership, and Leadership in School Reform; however, only School Reform is available entirely online.
6. Morgan State University – Baltimore, MD
Morgan State University’s online Doctor of Education in Community College Leadership program is designed to prepare educational professionals for senior level leadership roles within the community college setting. This intensive, year-round program offers students a unique curriculum that seeks to support and inspire research that is relevant to issues and concerns surrounding modern community colleges. Students learn resource management, organizational strategy, advocacy, and communication. The cohort model built into the program allows students to build supportive and motivating relationships while they work to earn their degree.
7. University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Lincoln, NE
University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s degrees in Educational Administration and Educational Studies provide active professionals with doctor of education online programs that can help elevate their careers. The online Ed.D. in Educational Administration, P-12 School Leadership concentration requires students to attend several on-campus summer seminars. The Ed.D. in Educational Studies, with specializations in Educational Leadership or Higher Education, is entirely online and has no required campus visits. Both degree concentrations teach students the necessary leadership knowledge and skills required to take on more responsibility and authority in an education environment.
8. University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, AR
The University of Arkansas’s Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership is a top-tier online degree developed to accommodate working professionals in the education environment. The program offers advanced preparation for students pursuing careers as principals, superintendents, federal or state education officials, and other high-level roles. While all coursework in this cohort-structured program is online, students once a semester on campus for a weekend seminar. To earn the Ed.D degree, students are required to complete a dissertation and 42-credit hours over three years.
9. Oakland City University – Oakland City, IN
Oakland City University’s online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree program teaches educators enhanced leadership and complex problem-solving skills so that they can take on leadership roles that benefit organizations, schools, and the community. Students can choose from three specialization options: The Superintendency, Curriculum & Instruction, and Organizational Management. Each specialized degree pathway is designed for busy professionals as the courses are accelerated and fully online with only a short summer residency required for cohort members to meet and take part in professional development. The program consists of 90-credits and allows up to 33 transfer credits, helping students advance through the program quicker.
10. North Greenville University – Tigerville, SC
The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree program at North Greenville University gives education professionals the opportunity to earn their degree online while continuing to work. Constructed around a Christ-centered curriculum, the Ed.D. program aims to prepare professionals to use their Christian faith to make a difference in the education environment. Students can choose between two areas of concentration within the program: K-12 Leadership and Higher Education Leadership. Within each of these concentrations, students will learn knowledge and skills based in applied research, problem-solving, professional development, social intelligence, and systems thinking.
11. University of Houston – Houston, TX
The Executive Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Professional Leadership at the University of Houston is an online 51-credit hour program that provides students the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in education settings. The online program focuses on professional leadership and is designed specifically to prepare students for work in curriculum and instruction at urban schools, developmental reading programs, community organizations, and related educational institutions. Students must complete 51-credit hours to earn their degree and can choose between two areas of specialization: Literacy or Social Studies/Social Education.
12. East Tennessee State University – Johnson City, TN
The East Tennessee State University online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree program is designed for working education professionals who have already obtained a master’s degree and want to prepare for roles in leadership positions. Four concentrations allow students to choose a program path that best fits their professional goals: Postsecondary and Private Sector Leadership, School Leadership, Administrative Endorsement, or Classroom Leadership. All areas of concentration require students to complete an internship, a qualifying exam, and a dissertation, though all coursework can be completed entirely online.
13. Liberty University – Lynchburg, VA
Founded in 1971 by evangelist Jerry Falwell, one of the most influential conservative preachers of the 20th century, Liberty University began as an ordinary Christian college. Liberty might have stayed a typical evangelical liberal arts college as well, if not for a world-changing invention: the internet. Well before other Christian colleges, Liberty embraced online education, and rapidly grew in the last two decades from a small, little-known college into the world’s largest Christian university in the world, and the largest private university of any kind in the US, with more than 100,000 online students. Liberty’s doctor of education online degrees are recognized nationwide for quality and value.
Liberty University’s online Ed D degree program is NCATE-accredited and designed for the ultimate convenience and flexibility working education professionals need in a degree program. The Ed.D degree provides the advanced skills and knowledge to take on the role of principal, superintendent, or other high-level administrator, from elementary to university settings. Concentrations in Educational Leadership or Curriculum & Instruction are available, with further specializations in Elementary, Middle Grades, Secondary, and Special Education. This 60-credit program accepts up to 24 transfer credits, and all courses are online, though some on-campus intensives may be required.
14. Wilmington University – New Castle, DE
Wilmington University was founded in 1968 as a small college, but in just 50 years Wilmington has grown into a comprehensive doctoral university with a diverse student body nearly 20,000 students. Wilmington University puts a priority on the needs of nontraditional students, whether working adults, first-generation students, or underrepresented minorities. With a nontraditional student body, Wilmington is set up for affordability and convenience; always a commuter campus, in recent years Wilmington has become an online education leader, so many students never need come to campus at all.
Wilmington University’s Ed.D degree in Higher Education Leadership & Innovation is available in either fully online or hybrid form. Designed for professors and administrators in higher education, the online Ed D gives working professionals the skills and credentials they need for higher-level leadership positions. Students work through the program in accelerated 7-week sessions, all of which can be entirely online, as well as 120 clinical field hours, and a capstone project based on original research. Wilmington’s emphasis on innovation means students learn the most current, leading-edge practice and theory, and contribute to the next wave in higher education.
Degree: Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership & Innovation
15. Ball State University – Muncie, IN
Ball State University began in 1919 when the Ball Brothers – founders of the Ball Corporation, makers of Ball jars – bought a bankrupted normal school and donated it to the state of Indiana. Ball State’s precursor had been dedicated to teacher training and applied sciences and dated back to 1876, giving the new state university a strong tradition of teacher education. The NCATE-accredited Teachers College is the oldest of the university’s colleges, and remains one of Indiana’s most successful, productive producers of schoolteachers and administrators.
Ball State’s online Ed D in Educational Administration and Supervision degree program gives students the credentials they need to take on the highest level of administrative duties. In fact, the program is tailored to satisfy Indiana’s superintendent licensing requirements, so graduates are completely equipped to take the school administrator CORE exam. Students may also adjust their curriculum to their own needs, whether in research, advanced teaching, or some other educational role. This 90 credit Ed.D degree program can be taken entirely online, and a dissertation is required.
Degree: Ed.D. in Educational Administration and Supervision
16. University of Missouri – Columbia, MO
The University of Missouri is the university of pioneers. The first public university west of the Mississippi River, the institution they call Mizzou was founded in 1839 to bring the Enlightenment-era principles of education to the frontier. Missouri was also a pioneer in teacher education. MU’s College of Education was founded in 1867, though it was proposed even earlier, in 1848, and it was a rarity at the time. Teacher training was usually done in normal schools, where teachers learned on the job in a real classroom; academic teacher education programs didn’t become standard until well into the 20th century. But Mizzou was one of the first universities to institute teacher education, and the College of Education is still a model program.
The University of Missouri Ed.D. in Educational Leadership degree program brings more than a century and a half of excellence into the 21st century. This hybrid course uses a blended format of on-campus and online courses, with a virtual cohort taking all coursework online (except for yearly orientation in the spring, and on-campus summer courses). This flexible scheduling makes earning an Ed.D degree a much more convenient proposition for working professionals in the education field. Online students qualify for in-state resident tuition, making MU’s online Ed D program a bargain as well.
Degree: Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
17. Carson-Newman University – Jefferson City, TN
Carson-Newman University is a small, historic Christian liberal arts college in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Tennessee. Founded in 1851 as a Baptist seminary, the school grew into Carson College before merging with the all-women Newman College to become one of the South’s first coed colleges. Though Carson-Newman is a full university today, it remains committed to the kind of individualized attention and mentorship expected of a small liberal arts college, and to its tradition of Christian faith and service. C-N has frequently been ranked one of the South’s top values by U.S. News & World Report.
Carson-Newman’s Ed.D degree program is designed for working educational professionals, including teachers, coaches, and counselors, who want to progress into administrative leadership positions. Two concentrations are available: Administrative Leadership, or Curriculum & Instruction. These doctor of education online degrees are available in either fully online or hybrid formats, for students who want the flexibility of online courses, or who prefer some face-to-face instruction. Accelerated 8-week courses help students finish in just 3 years, making Carson-Newman’s online Ed D program a smart choice for Tennessee’s education leaders.
Format: Online or Hybrid
18. Indiana University Bloomington – Bloomington, IN
A flagship public research university, Indiana University Bloomington is Indiana’s largest and most respected public university. Named a Public Ivy (a public university with the quality and reputation of the Ivy League), IUB has played a central role in the life of Indiana since 1820, just a few years after Indiana became a state. The IU School of Education dates back to 1923, when it broke away from the College of Arts and Sciences, and it has dominated Indiana’s teacher education ever since. Indiana University regularly ranks among U.S. News & World Report’s top 50 public universities, and the School of Education has ranked in the top 20 nationally since rankings began.
Indiana University’s Ed.D degree in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education is available in a fully online format, preparing working educators for leadership positions. The IU program is unusual, in that it is specifically targeted to educators in the areas of language and literacy. Students in the online Ed D program work in a cohort format through the 60-credit program, building a holistic understanding of leadership in a diverse modern educational landscape. All coursework is online, but students must attend at least one on-campus conference held by the Literacy, Culture, and Language Education department.
Degree: Ed.D. in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education
19. University of Memphis Global – Memphis, TN
Founded in 1912 as a normal school, the University of Memphis was built on teacher education. While the West Tennessee Normal School gradually absorbed an earlier institution named the University of Memphis, growing into a comprehensive public university, it all began with teacher training, and the U of M College of Education remains one of Tennessee’s premier education schools. The College of Education offers 57 degree programs, while 14 research centers and institutes give students access to the most current knowledge and data in the education field.
The University of Memphis’ Ed.D. in Higher and Adult Education is offered through UM Global, the university’s nationally-ranked online and distance education division. The online Ed D degree program offers concentrations in Higher Education, Adult Education, and Instructional Design & Technology. Prospective administrators and leaders learn fundamental expertise in areas like organizational leadership, higher education finance, adult learning, and legal and ethical issues in higher education. Coursework is entirely online, though students must attend a 1-week session in the summer. With reasonable tuition, these doctor of education online degrees show why the University of Memphis is a national best value.
Degree: Ed.D. in Higher and Adult Education
20. Grand Canyon University – Phoenix, AZ
Grand Canyon University is a remarkable institution – one of only a handful of regionally-accredited, nationally-ranked, for-profit universities. Founded in 1949 as a small Christian college, Grand Canyon came close to bankruptcy around the turn of the 21st century, preserving itself by becoming the nation’s first for-profit Christian University. Today, GCU remains respected and reputable, growing considerably because of its nationally-recognized online programs. While its traditional on-campus student body remains small, Grand Canyon teaches more than 60,000 students online, making it one of the most successful Christian universities in the world.
GCU’s online Ed D degree programs are available in a variety of specializations: Behavioral Health, Christian Ministry, Healthcare Administration, Higher Education, K-12 Education, Organizational Development, and Special Education. While the requirements differ for each, these doctor of education online degrees have in common a commitment to flexibility, support, and expertise. Some concentrations will require brief on-campus residencies, but all coursework is done online in a cohort format with accelerated 8-week schedules. Online doctoral programs require a dissertation.
21. Clarkson College – Omaha, NE
A private, health sciences-focused college in Omaha, NE, Clarkson College was founded in 1888 as a nursing diploma program at Clarkson Memorial Hospital, the standard for nursing education in the day. Over time, the nursing program grew into a nursing college, especially as WWI and WWII increased demand for trained nurses. Today, Clarkson is a national and international leader in all facets of nursing and healthcare, from clinical practice to education and administration. Clarkson has been ranked Nebraska’s top online nursing program, and Clarkson is widely recognized as a best value.
Clarkson’s Ed.D. in Health Care Education & Leadership is designed for working professionals in nursing and nurse education who want to move into higher positions of authority in healthcare education and education administration. The Ed D program focuses particularly on applied research, preparing professionals for teaching and leading with policy design and implementation, curriculum design, and more. A dissertation is required, but all coursework is fully online. Clarkson’s reputation in Nebraska and beyond makes it a top doctor of education online degree for a very important niche.
Degree: Ed.D. in Health Care Education & Leadership
22. Southwestern College – Wichita, KS
Southwestern College is a United Methodist Church-affiliated liberal arts and professional studies institution in Wichita, KS. Founded in 1885, Southwestern was a conventional religious liberal arts college for most of its history, with a small residential core of traditional-aged students. Southwestern’s largest transformation began in 1994, when Southwestern’s Professional Studies division opened. Through Professional Studies, Southwestern began offering graduate degrees for nontraditional students, and the advent of online education changed everything. Today, Southwestern offers accelerated, fully online degree programs for working adults and has earned national attention for quality.
Southwestern’s online Ed.D. degree program offers two concentrations for working professionals who want to increase their credentials and move into administrative and leadership positions. The PK-12 concentration prepares students for higher roles in public, private, and religious elementary and secondary schools, while the Higher Education concentration opens up possibilities in college and university administration. All courses are fully online, except for two week-long summer intensives in research and writing. Southwestern’s accelerated schedule, low tuition, and reputation for quality makes their doctor of education online degrees some of America’s top online Ed D degrees.
23. University of Florida – Gainesville, FL
One of Florida’s two preeminent universities, and the state’s land, sea, and space-grant public research university, the University of Florida has been central to education in the state since 1853, just a few years after Florida was admitted to the union. While later colleges have outnumbered UF in student body size, none match the university for comprehensiveness, from engineering and technology to business, law, and education. The College of Education, in particular, dates to 1905, when the state consolidated its less organized normal school system into a centralized college, and UF remains a leader in teacher education.
UF’s Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction degree program offers a specialization in Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education (CTTE) that is uniquely designed for practicing educators. Unlike other programs, which help teachers move into administration, the CTTE program teaches teachers to transform the classroom with applied research, cutting-edge theory, and curriculum design. UF’s top online Ed D prepares practicing teachers to transform education from the inside-out, influencing policy and impacting the classroom directly. It’s a radical approach to education and a top Ed.D degree.
Degree: Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction
24. Gwynedd Mercy University – Gwynedd Valley, PA
Gwynedd Mercy University is a Catholic liberal arts and professional university founded by the Sisters of Mercy of Merion in 1948. The Sisters of Mercy, a religious order dedicated to education, justice, and the care for women and children, are known not only for their educational quality, but for their commitment to social welfare and community service. A small student body of just over 2000, and a low 11:1 student:faculty ratio, gives students the close personal attention and mentorship of a small liberal arts college, but Gwynedd Mercy’s professional programs have made it one of the most renowned institutions in Pennsylvania for nursing and education.
Gwynedd Mercy’s Accelerated Executive Doctorate in Educational Leadership is a fully online program for working education professionals. Students can choose concentrations in PreK-12 Schools and School Districts, Higher Education, or Special Education. Students work through the 54-credit program in a small, supportive cohort, a method that shows real results – 76% of students graduate within 3 years, much higher than the 41%, 10-year national average. Students are prepared with applied research, policy analysis, and management skills to enter into administrative positions in school districts, colleges, government, and other settings. Gwynedd Mercy’s doctor of education online degrees are some of the top online Ed D degrees in the North, and an investment sure to pay off.
Degree: Accelerated Executive Doctorate in Educational Leadership
25. Oregon State University – Corvallis, OR
One of the foremost public research universities on the west coast, Oregon State University is one of only three universities with federal land, sea, space, and sun-grant status, as well as Carnegie Foundation R1 classification and Community Engagement classification. Oregon State dates back to the region’s first academy in 1856, before it was granted land-grant status as an agricultural college in 1868. As the state’s top research university, OSU is also a leader in online education, ranked in the top 10 nationally by U.S. News & World Report, including fully online graduate degrees from the NCATE-accredited College of Education.
Oregon State’s Ed.D. in Adult and Higher Education is a top online Ed D program designed for working educators in post-secondary education – community college, college, university, and more. The OSU Ecampus offers the Ed.D degree fully online, with some minimal on-campus appearances: a week-long summer intensive, and two weekend meetings in Portland, OR. Students can choose a concentration in Community College Leadership or Leadership in Higher Education, depending on their current career direction. Either concentration requires a dissertation on an important topic in their field. OSU’s top doctor of education online degrees makes for the Pacific Northwest’s best investments for higher education leadership.
Degree: Ed.D. in Adult and Higher Education