PhD in Education Online Degree Programs for 2022

Doctorate Degree in Education Career Options & Salary

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Are you considering enrollment in an online doctorate in education (EdD) degree program? This is an ideal area of study for those interested in the academic advancement of others. While curriculums vary from institution to institution, most programs strive to prepare students for leadership roles at every level, from kindergarten to high school and through college. Graduates may also possess the knowledge and skills necessary to obtain various research and policy positions in the field.

Notably, a doctorate in education is a terminal degree. With no further academic programs available, graduates are able to pursue the very best employment opportunities. Some examples of possible careers include senior lecturer, school superintendent, academic dean, and provost. Additionally, professions in the field are in high demand. As a result, those who possess this degree should have little difficulty finding jobs.

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Requirements of a Doctoral Degree?

Doctorate degrees are academic degrees awarded by higher education institutions once those enrolled have successfully completed specific courses of study, demonstrating mastery of their designated field of study or area of professional practice. Current professionals, in particular, often benefit from these education degrees when seeking to advance their careers.

As the highest level of academic achievement, students can expect to receive extensive in-depth instruction. While undergraduate degrees require general liberal arts education courses, graduate and doctoral programs consist solely of subject-specific instruction. Curriculums tend to cover relevant topics in great depth, with coursework typically expanding upon foundational knowledge gained previously. Those enrolled work to develop the leadership and research skills needed to achieve successful careers.

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What are the Best Online Education Doctorate Programs?


1

Johns Hopkins University

  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Total Enrollment: 32,049
  • Undergrad Students: 6,132
  • Graduate Students: 25,917
  • Diplomas Awarded: 48
  • Grads Salary: $89,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 6:1
  • Johns Hopkins University
2

University of Florida

  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 53,372
  • Undergrad Students: 34,931
  • Graduate Students: 18,441
  • Diplomas Awarded: 36
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • University of Florida
3

University of Virginia

  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 94%
  • Total Enrollment: 25,628
  • Undergrad Students: 17,310
  • Graduate Students: 8,318
  • Diplomas Awarded: 26
  • Grads Salary: $81,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • University of Virginia
4

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 85%
  • Total Enrollment: 52,679
  • Undergrad Students: 33,683
  • Graduate Students: 18,996
  • Diplomas Awarded: 57
  • Grads Salary: $79,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
5

William & Mary

  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 9,517
  • Undergrad Students: 6,543
  • Graduate Students: 2,974
  • Diplomas Awarded: 16
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 12:1
  • William & Mary
6

Texas A&M University-College Station

  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 72,530
  • Undergrad Students: 56,723
  • Graduate Students: 15,807
  • Diplomas Awarded: 51
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • Texas A&M University
7

University of Southern California

  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%
  • Total Enrollment: 49,318
  • Undergrad Students: 20,790
  • Graduate Students: 28,528
  • Diplomas Awarded: 12
  • Grads Salary: $87,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 9:1
  • University of Southern California
8

University of Pittsburgh

  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 32,277
  • Undergrad Students: 23,157
  • Graduate Students: 9,120
  • Diplomas Awarded: 18
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh
9

University of St. Francis

  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,529
  • Undergrad Students: 1,627
  • Graduate Students: 1,902
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $81,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • University of St. Francis
10

Florida State University

  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 43,569
  • Undergrad Students: 32,543
  • Graduate Students: 11,026
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Grads Salary: $65,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 21:1
  • Florida State University
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Where Do You Earn a Doctorate Degree?


Doctorate degrees are most commonly offered by traditional, four-year colleges and universities. These institutions may be public or private, with large or small campuses and student populations. In general, prospective students have the freedom to choose from schools located throughout the nation. Most give preference to those that fit their personal and academic learning preferences best.

Notably, some colleges and universities offer more doctoral degree programs than others. Larger institutions, in particular, tend to offer a wider variety of programs and opportunities. Size can also impact the number of extracurricular activities, facilities, resources, organizations, athletics, and group events available to students and alumni. Smaller colleges or universities, on the other hand, often offer more intimate academic settings, with more opportunities to work closely with instructors and pursue numerous interests. Many small academic institutions are privately managed, however, which results in higher tuition rates.

Online Vs. Traditional Education


There are many colleges and universities that offer online education degrees throughout the world. Prospective students are sometimes concerned that remote learning programs are less valuable than those completed in person. However, very few employers consider this to be the case, as institutions ensure traditional and online programs are made up of the same curriculum, often taught by the same instructors, and students are held to identical academic standards. In fact, most schools work hard to ensure distance learners receive the same quality education available to students who attend classes on campuses.

While online and traditional doctoral degrees are often considered equivalent, there are some significant differences prospective students should be aware of. The areas of greatest consideration include scheduling flexibility, instruction format, networking opportunities, and cost.

Hands down, online doctoral programs offer more flexibility for students than traditional models do. This is particularly helpful for those with personal and professional obligations that limit their ability to attend classes in person. Current professionals who want to pursue more advanced education, for example, can enroll in classes while maintaining their employment. It’s also important to note that online tuition and fee rates are sometimes lower, as virtual learners are often exempt from many campus-based expenses such as activity charges, parking permits, housing, and meal plans.

Traditional doctoral programs, however, provide far more networking opportunities. Students studying in person can network with both current and future professionals in the field through coursework and campus events. These connections can create a significant advantage later in life, as they serve as great resources and may even lead to employment opportunities. Attending classes in-person also allows students to interact directly with their professors, which can greatly impact learning and retention. Additionally, those enrolled traditionally often have easier access to various academic resources and career services available on campus. While most colleges and universities offer career development and job placement services, they are not always available virtually.

With benefits and drawbacks on each side, some students may be more interested in hybrid degree programs. By combining the flexibility of remote learning with opportunities to interact directly with instructors and cohort members, these degrees bridge the gap between online and traditional learning. While hybrid programs often consist primarily of distance learning courses, those enrolled are typically required to attend periodic residencies on campus. This results in less demand on busy schedules and allows for increased in-person instruction, peer interaction, and hands-on practice.

Ultimately, the choice to enroll in online doctoral programs lies solely with the student. Those interested should consider their learning preferences, as well as the overall quality of the program offered.

What Are the Prerequisites for a Doctorate?


Those interested in earning doctorates will typically need to obtain a master’s degree in education from properly accredited institutions first. Prospective students will need to meet several other admissions requirements, however.

While every institution has different expectations, most require candidates to possess or provide the following:

  • Admission Application
  • Official Transcripts from All Undergraduate and Graduate Institutions
  • Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Writing Sample
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores

Admissions criteria can vary, making it imperative for those interested to review their target school’s expectations fully. Additionally, applicants may be asked to submit other forms of paperwork, pay application fees, and/or arrange for financial aid. Some colleges and universities also conduct admissions interviews, which can hold a lot of weight during the selection process. When required, these meetings are often similar to job interviews.

It's important to note that most students pursuing doctorates in education tend to be current professionals seeking career advancement. As a result, many colleges and universities require candidates to possess at least five years of work experience in education or a related field.

Why Earn a Doctorate/PhD?


There are several reasons why someone might want to earn a doctorate. One of the most significant benefits for graduates is access to more and better employment opportunities. Today’s competitive job market has created high demand for qualified individuals with specialized knowledge.

As doctoral graduates are often qualified for top-level positions, they typically receive higher earnings. According to data released by the United State Census Bureau, only 14.4% of adults had completed advanced degrees in 2021, despite the fact that those with advanced degrees earned an average of 3.7 times as much as high school dropouts. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that those with graduate degrees make more money than those with bachelor’s and associate degrees.

Another benefit is the opportunity to advance knowledge and skills in a given area. This can have a professional as well as a personal impact, as graduates often feel extremely accomplished in their academic efforts. Those interested in research may covet this aspect most, as they will also be able to contribute to the field through additional study in the future.

Earning doctorate degrees can help current professionals specialize in a related subject and/or transition to another profession. Those who decide their initial undergraduate degrees and professions are no longer satisfactory can enroll in programs that lead to new careers.

Why a PhD Degree in Education?


Earning a degree in education can lead to a wide variety of different career paths related to academic instruction. More or fewer jobs may be available depending on the level of the program completed.

Some examples of employment opportunities commonly available include the following.

  • Teacher
  • School Principal
  • School District Administrator
  • Curriculum Specialist
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Higher Education
  • Digital Learning and Classroom Technologist
  • Child Care Director
  • Educational Consultant
  • Educational Policy Analyst
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Postsecondary Education Professor
  • School Superintendent
  • Academic Dean
  • Provost

Doctorates in education also can help individuals meet their professional goals. Graduates are often eligible for licensure, though most programs are designed to prepare students for leadership roles in both educational and corporate settings. Those with degrees in education also tend to possess knowledge and skills that can be easily transferred to other professions, making them more marketable.

One of the greatest incentives to pursue degrees in education are the opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. Most doctoral degree programs focus on developing educators into leaders, as well as empowering experienced teachers to improve student learning through system-wide improvements. Educators and those in academic administration are capable to making a huge impact, on individuals and society as a whole. Those with advanced degrees, in particular, are considered experts in the field capable of enhancing relevant policies and procedures.

What’s Involved in an Educational Doctoral/PhD Degree?


There are a few different doctoral degree programs available for those interested in education.

Colleges and universities typically offer some combination of the following:

  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education
  • Education Specialist (EdS)

EdD programs are typically best suited for those who plan to pursue non-teaching occupations. Those enrolled concentrate their efforts on mastering performance improvement leadership, organizational leadership, and general learning. While curriculums vary, these programs generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that can be completed within two to three years. Instead of teaching students directly, graduates tend to become academic administrators.

A PhD in education will likely appeal to prospective students interested in postsecondary academia, consulting, and/or research. Every institution is different, but most seek to prepare future professors and academic scholars for success. Those enrolled should expect a research-intense curriculum that culminates with writing and defending dissertations. These programs typically consist of up to 90 credit hours and coursework that can be completed within three to five years.

EdS degrees are ideal for current professionals who wish to strengthen their skills as teachers or administrators and increase their salary potential. Students generally select a specialty area such as curriculum and instruction, educational leadership and administration, special education, or school psychology. Class requirements will vary, but most programs consist of 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework that can be completed in one to two years.

Regardless of the degree type pursued, those enrolled will learn specific knowledge pertinent to their field, as well as a wide variety of soft skills that can be applied to most professions. Instruction may come in the form of traditional teaching and seminars, with a combination of coursework and research assignments. Topics covered will likely pertain to the many social, political, historical, economical, and technological aspects that impact education at every level.

Many doctoral programs in education also require internships. Some may be exempt due to prior field experience, but these opportunities generally help prepare participants for high-level leadership roles related to education research and/or administration. While many internships are unpaid, alternative compensation may be provided in the form of stipends, fellowships, or work-to-hire programs.

Graduates typically know how to independently and collaboratively evaluate and analyze programs, processed, and practices within the education system.

Common Courses

  • Advanced Leadership Theory and Behavior
  • Advanced Learning and Performance in Organization
  • Leadership for School Improvement
  • Social Context of Educational Leadership and Policy
  • Logic of Systematic Inquiry
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Resource Allocation and Development
  • Educational Accountability and Student Assessment
  • Politics and Governance in Education
  • Education Law
  • Teachers and Teaching

What to Consider When Choosing a Doctoral Program in Education


Accreditation


Prospective students should always determine the accreditation status of colleges and universities prior to enrollment. This is one of the most important elements to consider when choosing a doctoral program. Academic institutions are not required to go through any accreditation process, but the most reputable institutions work hard to remain accredited.

Only regional accrediting agencies are overseen by the US Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These include:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • 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)

Attending colleges and universities accredited by one of the above-mentioned agencies ensures that important academic standards are being met. Students and graduates from these schools will also be able to transfer credits earned between institutions more easily. Notably, schools that lack proper accreditation may offer less financial aid and do not guarantee that graduates will be prepared for employment.

In addition to being accredited by regional agencies, academic departments can receive field-specific accreditation. The most prominent specialized accreditation organization for education programs is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Further Higher Education


Certification


Current and prospective educators can choose to pursue a variety of relevant credentials. Education certification often refers to board certification, which verifies that certain professional standards have been met. Certifications like these are often managed by national and state organizations and associations. They typically demonstrate expertise in working with specific student populations or within targeted content areas.

Certifications may be required and/or preferred depending on the education profession pursued. Most professionals in education obtain addition credentials to demonstrate mastery over the knowledge, skills, and frameworks needed to provide specific instruction and/or specialized services to designated student groups. Others simply want to expand upon their personal understanding in order to enhance their performance.

Education certifications can be offered by national boards, as well as organizations and associations. A good example of this is the National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET), which oversees the Board Certification in Special Education (BCSE) credential. Being certified demonstrates mastery over the knowledge, skills, frameworks, and practices deemed necessary by the certifying body.

Some common options include the following.

  • Child Development Associate (CDA)
  • Certified Childcare Professional (CCP)
  • Board Certification in Special Education (BCSE)
  • Special Education Teacher Certification
  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
  • Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)
  • Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)

It’s important to realize that certifications are different from licensure. Most states require teachers to be licensed, although licensure processes vary. In most cases, educators are not permitted to teach until their state’s regulatory board certifies permission. Notably, requirements may be different for those pursuing jobs at private schools and institutions.

Potential Careers for Education PhD Graduates


There are numerous employment opportunities available to individuals who have doctoral degrees in education. Professionals with this type of education can pursue jobs at every level of the system. While salaries and daily duties will vary, some of the most common professions available to graduates include the following.

  • Senior Lecturer
  • Admissions Director
  • Program Administrator
  • Chief Learning Officer
  • Teaching Coach
  • Curriculum Specialist
  • Educational Advisor
  • Public Policy Leader
  • Educational Researcher
  • Educational Consultant
  • High School Principal:
    High school principals manage all aspects of the administration of their assigned high school. These professionals supervise teachers, oversee curriculum updates, provide feedback, and manage the school budget According to PayScale, the average yearly salary for high school principals is $91,450.

  • School Superintendent:
    School superintendents oversee the administration of their assigned school system. These professionals report to the school board and are responsible for hiring principals, developing budgets, and addressing problems that occur within student bodies. According to PayScale, school superintendents make an average base salary of $127,300 per year.

  • Postsecondary Education Professor:
    Postsecondary education professors lecture and teach higher education students in the classroom, as well as developing research, dissertations, and thesis-based papers. These professionals may spend a significant amount of time collecting and analyzing data, documents, literature, and other source materials. According to PayScale, postsecondary education professors make an average base salary of $88,150 per year.

  • Academic Dean:
    Academic deans manage the develop faculty and academic staff at educational institutions. These professionals set and meet academic goals, hire new faculty and staff members, provide budgetary oversight, and help establish departmental standards. According to PayScale, academic deans make an average base salary of $93,650 per year.

  • Provost:
    Provosts are the senior academic administers for colleges and universities. These professionals oversee the planning and development of educational programs, ensuring academic integrity is upheld. According to PayScale, provosts make an average base salary of $169,950 per year.

Salary Expectations


Overall, the earning potential for those with doctorate degrees in education is decent. According to PayScale, the average base salary for those with doctorates in education is $87,000 per year. Notably, this is higher than the average base salary reported for graduates with doctorates in educational leadership, which is $71,000. Both options, however, lead to salaries that are higher than the mean national annual wage of $56,310 reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In general, graduates at this level enjoy higher earnings than anyone else in the field. Salaries also tend to rise in conjunction with years of experience. Even when early-career employees make less, pay is likely to increase a good deal after 10 years. After 20 years, workers often enjoy significant pay gains.

It’s also important to realize that earning potential often varies by location. Some states offer better compensation for education workers than others. For education administrator occupations at the kindergarten, secondary, and postsecondary levels in the United States, prospects are best in Washington, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California. Large cities, in particular, are promising. States like New Mexico and Montana, however, tend to pay much less.

Outlook


Overall, the outlook for professionals in this field is fair. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of postsecondary education administrators is projected to grow by 8% from 2020 to 2030. This is about as faster than the national average for all professions and will result in about 14,000 new job openings each year. The anticipated growth for school principals is also 8%, with 22,100 job openings expected yearly.

Some sectors will see larger increases than others. Employment for postsecondary teachers, for example, is projected to grow 12% during the same timeframe. Administrative services and facilities managers are also projected to see 9% employment growth.

Generally, employment for these professions is tied to student enrollment. There are a limited number of positions available at each academic facility. As more schools open, the demand for qualified professionals in the field will increase. Stagnant or decreasing student enrollment, however, can have the opposite effect.

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