10 Most Affordable Online Doctorate Degrees in Child Development

The 10 Most Affordable Online Doctorate Degrees in Child Development allow you to work and study in 2020. When considering careers that allow you to work with children, most people opt for teaching or education-related positions. While a master’s degree may be adequate for most teaching backgrounds, if you want to have more of a leadership position, you’ll need additional schooling.

The following 10 Most Affordable Online Doctorate Degrees in Child Development can open up other opportunities for anyone interested in working with children or in education. With this degree, graduates are qualified for roles such as a preschool director, an early childhood education consultant, a lead teacher, an assistant principal, and more. Typically, these positions bring higher salaries, so pursuing a doctorate gives you plenty of room for career advancement.


Not all online Doctorate Degrees in Child Development are the same, so it’s important to locate a program within your educational needs and goals. While the curriculum will differ slightly between schools, you’re more likely to find significant variations in how the degrees are delivered. If you’re working full-time and don’t have the option to travel easily, then a fully online doctorate may be the best option for you. On the other hand, if you have some flexibility in your schedule and live close to a school, then a program with on-campus intensives will give you a hands-on learning experience. You will also want to consider whether an institution offers asynchronous online learning, or if you have to be available at certain times for pre-scheduled live online courses.

If you have a particular area of specialization in mind, such as curriculum development, then it may be advantageous to look for a school that has staff who are experienced in that particular area. Most doctoral programs involve a cumulative research project or dissertation; having an advisor who is an expert in your field of interest can increase the quality of the education and guidance you receive. You may also want to consider how the dissertation is incorporated into the program; some programs are structured so that you simultaneously work on your project while completing coursework, while others lead up to a period where you finish your dissertation at the end of the program.


While you’re on your way to earning your Ph.D. or Doctorate within your field, the editors at Online PhD Programs are already practicing doctors of their craft: ranking the best online Ph.D. programs. To be featured on our annual rankings online doctorates must satisfy four coinciding requirements: accreditation, research and scholarship doctorate certification, NSF recognition, and institutional association with peer-reviewed academia.

Each degree is then ranked using information provided – primarily – through the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. The data collected is scored through a series of weighted categories to represent seven crucial aspects of what makes an online doctorate valuable to future students. Online program quality and presence are joined by industry salaries, student reviews, degree exclusivity, costs, and completion rates to determine the best online doctorates available. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit ourmethodology page.


New Mexico State University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction is offered as a hybrid program that incorporates on-campus two-week sessions each summer for their three years of study. Students can complete this 66-credit-hour program in three years. While designed to give students a background in curriculum and instruction theory, this program also encourages students to explore various approaches when solving educational problems. Students learn how to develop leadership in professional settings through research, publication, grant writing, and more. NMSU’s online Ph.D. is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. In addition, NMSU provides a credit discount for students who are actively serving in the U.S. military.

Located in Las Cruces, New Mexico, NMSU’s enrollment is over 15,000 strong. NMSU’s Honor College was the first college to open in the state of New Mexico, and the U.S. Department of Education has designated NMSU as a Hispanic-serving institution. The university has five campuses – as well as an Albuquerque satellite learning center– in addition to 33 different, cooperative extension offices, and 12 other research and science centers. NMSU offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, graduate, certificate, and licensure programs, and through NMSU Online, the university offers over 500 online courses. College Choice ranked NMSU in the top 20 most affordable online colleges for 2017-18, and NMSU has been recognized as Military Friendly School since 2010.

Format: Online


Oakland University’s Education Specialist Degree in Leadership is offered completely online. This 34-credit program follows a cohort structure and students normally finish their Ed.S. within 22 months. The convenient class schedule is designed to allow busy professionals to pursue further training simultaneously. Experienced administrators and specialists teach all of the courses and students can customize their research, mentorship, and internship so that the program truly supports their professional goals and areas of interest. The program is recognized by the National Policy Board of Education Administration and the Education Leadership Constituent Council.

Located in Rochester, Michigan, Oakland University was founded in 1957. Today, the university is a doctoral research institution with an enrollment of more than 20,500 graduate and undergraduate students. With a convenient location near Oakland County’s Automation Alley, the university offers students state-of-the-art facilities, research labs, internships, and even research opportunities with corporate partners including Fortune 500 companies, hospitals, and more. Kaplan Publishing and Simon and Schuster’s last edition of The Unofficial, Unbiased Guide to the 328 Most Interesting Colleges ranked Oakland University as one of the most underrated schools in the country.

Format: Online


Ball State University’s Doctorate of Education with an Emphasis in Special Education program includes coursework offered through a blend of online and residential platforms. Students can choose one or more emphasis areas such as applied behavior and autism, teaching and learning – low incidence, teaching and learning – high incidence, and special education. During the program, students will form a doctoral committee who will consult with the student and guide them as they develop their dissertation. This program consists of 90 post-Bachelor’s degree credits, and students may apply a maximum of 30 master’s degree credits toward the 90-credit total.

Established in 1918, Ball State University is located in Muncie, Indiana. The university is classified as a university of high research activity by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For students who are employed full-time or who can’t easily travel to campus, Ball State Online features more than 70 online degrees. BSU’s online programs are lectured by the same teachers who work on-campus, and students earn the same certificate one as the students who attend class residentially.

Format: Online


Portland State University’s Educational Leadership Doctoral Program is designed for students who wish to understand education from Pre-K to career. Students may select specializations such as Curriculum and Instruction, Administration, Special Education, and Postsecondary Education. PSU graduates are qualified for a broad range of opportunities including superintendents, curriculum directors, teacher educators, and other leadership roles. PSU’s online Ed.S. is delivered through a hybrid platform, where students meet on-campus on Friday night and Saturday for six out of ten weekends each quarter-term. During the non-face-to-face weeks, students complete work online. This program design allows students to fit learning into their busy schedules and professional lives.

Located in Portland, Oregon, Portland State University offers more than 200 different degree programs and an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Companies including Intel and Nike are top employers of the school’s graduates. Portland State’s College of Education was founded in 1946 and today offers 53 graduate programs. The College of Education is fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. It is the first educator preparation program in Ohio, the first such program on the West Coast, and one of the first ten such programs in the nation to earn that accreditation. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked Portland State as one of the most innovative colleges in the country for four years in a row.

Format: Online


Old Dominion University’s Educational Leadership Education Specialist degree is designed for students who hold a master’s degree in an education field, but who do not have a license in administration supervision. This program leads to a full Commonwealth of Virginia Licensure in Educational Administration and Supervision, Pre-K-12. The online Ed.S. consists of 33 credits, which necessitate 120 internship hours, during which students gain conceptual and theoretical knowledge in addition to field experience. Students participate in live, scheduled online class meetings and will be prepared to secure positions, such as assistant principal, principal, curriculum leader, lead teacher, and more. The program is not available in the state of Washington.

Located in Norfolk, Virginia, Old Dominion University is home to eight colleges and 842 full-time faculty members. Old Dominion was founded in 1930 and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Of the university’s enrollment of 24,375 students, about a quarter are military-affiliated. The university offers 22 doctoral programs and students may participate in over 300 student organizations. More than 100 programs are offered as distance learning programs through ODUOnline. The Military Times ranked Old Dominion as the top “Best for Vets” school in Virginia, and the U.S. News & World Report has included Old Dominion in its “Best National University” ranking.

Format: Online


Regent University’s Doctor of Education with a concentration in Special Education is designed for special education teachers who want to hold leadership positions in research, practice, or policy. This online program will help students to learn how to interpret data, develop research-based interventions, explore the history of special education, gain an understanding of current issues and best practices surrounding special education, and more. Program graduates will be prepared to obtain employment within the industries of educational research, policy, advocacy and consulting; in addition to central office executive leadership. With 825 Teachers of the Year having graduated from Regent, this program is designed to prepare the education leaders of the future.

Regent University is located in Virginia Beach, Virginia and offers 129 different associates, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Regent is a Christian academic center that holds seven prestigious accreditations and offers courses both on-campus and in a flexible online format ideal for working professionals. The U.S. News & World Report named Regent as having the best online graduate education programs in Virginia, and according to the CCCU Tuition Survey, Regent is in the top five percent of the Most Affordable Private Christian Colleges and Universities. G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazines included Regent in their 2016 list of Military-Friendly Schools.

Format: Online


The Doctoral Program in Leadership with a specialization in Early Childhood Education is offered in online and on-campus formats at Concordia University Chicago. The program is built upon each student’s previous work in the field, and students complete between 61 and 67 credits. Upon graduation, students will be prepared to hold careers in higher education, leadership and administration, or in policy, advocacy, and politics. Program graduates have gone on to obtain early childhood leadership roles in universities, educational planning, and management. Prospective students should apply with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and submit two letters of recommendation.

Located in River Forest, Illinois, Concordia University Chicago was founded in 1864 as a college for teachers. Today, the liberal arts university is comprised of five different schools. Concordia University Chicago is affiliated with the Lutheran Church and incorporates Christian values into its curriculum. This university features an impressive 11:1 graduate-student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring that students receive plenty of support throughout their education. Concordia University Chicago offers many online programs with a global reach, serving students from 37 states and 26 foreign countries. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Concordia University Chicago at No. 88 for its 2018 ranking of Best Online Graduate Education Programs, as well as No. 47 for its ranking of the Best Regional Value Schools in the Midwest in 2017.
Format: Online


The University of Alabama’s Ed.S. in Elementary Education is a 30-credit-hour program that is delivered entirely online. Courses are provided by the same professors located on-campus for residential sessions. During the program, students complete an action research thesis in which they have the chance to teach a piece of curriculum from their classroom in a new way and to compare the results with previous teaching experiences. Program applicants must possess a master’s level teaching certificate and a minimum 3.0 GPA in their master’s level coursework.

Located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the University of Alabama was founded in 1831. The university consists of 13 different schools and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in almost 200 different programs. Additionally, the University of Alabama offers a variety of distance learning programs, all of which are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Distance learning students receive the same diploma that on-campus students earn. This university is home to 53 Goldwater Scholars, 15 Rhodes Scholars, 16 Truman Scholars, and 33 Hollings Scholars. Students who graduate from the University of Alabama go on to win Fulbright awards, which enabled them to teach abroad for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Format: Online


The Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction degree at Liberty University is offered completely online, though students may attend optional intensives on Liberty’s central Virginia campus. The intensives offer flexible scheduling and are designed to provide students with a hands-on learning experience. This program is a three-year program that provides graduates with a terminal educational credential. During the program, students will learn how to develop their educational management skills and will gain the skills necessary to foster leadership in both teachers and students. Thanks to the program’s integrated dissertation process, students will work toward their final projects while completing their coursework.

Founded in 1971, today Liberty University is an evangelical liberal arts institution that consists of 16 colleges and schools offering over 550 programs of study. Liberty is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has not raised tuition for undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral programs in three straight years. Liberty’s online degrees are ranked in the top five out of over 2,100 online colleges when it comes to their academic quality, affordability, and accessibility. The online programs are designed to work around a student’s busy schedule and are offered in eight-week segments. For online courses, there usually isn’t a set login time.

Format: Online


Endicott College’s Educational Leadership in PreK-12 program features a combination of online courses paired with limited weekend instruction and on-campus residency. The 51-credit program is structured to create an ongoing mentorship between students and educational leaders. Students participate in a two-semester apprenticeship, during which mentors provide observations and input. Prospective applicants must submit three letters of recommendation for consideration. In addition, applicants will also need to complete an admission interview scheduled after review of the application materials.

Endicott College’s beautiful 235-acre Beverly, Massachusetts campus is conveniently located just 20 miles north of Boston. Endicott offers a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio and 72 percent of the school’s full-time instructional faculty possess a doctorate or terminal degree. In its 2019 college rankings, the U.S. News & World Report ranked Endicott College at No. 25 in the Regional Universities North ranking, No. 10 in the Best Colleges for Veterans ranking, and No. 46 in the Best Value Schools ranking. The Princeton Review also named Endicott as one of the 399 environmentally responsible schools in the United States. Founded in 1939, today Endicott offers a variety of associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

Format: Online