Most Affordable Online Doctorate in Early Childhood Education Programs

Most Affordable Online Doctorate in Early Childhood Education Programs

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Updated August 16, 2023 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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If you are looking to finish a Doctorate in early childhood education online, you will find diverse career possibilities developing, administering, and improving classroom programs for kids. Early childhood education doctorates are the field’s highest, most prized degrees displaying the utmost ability to nurture young student’s potential. Holding an EdD or PhD makes you stand out because less than 1 percent of America’s public school teachers have completed doctoral training. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the nation confers approximately 54,000 doctorates across academic disciplines annually. Online universities are increasingly encouraging early childhood educators to aspire higher with virtual EdD and PhD coursework that’s scheduled around full-time teaching.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graduates with a PhD in Early Childhood Education receive an average pay of $80,790 per year. Read on to learn more about degree specializations and career potentials in this field.

Early Childhood Education PhD for You

These top schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

Affordable Online PhD Programs in Early Childhood Education

  • Concordia University-Chicago

    River Forest, IL



    Labeled a "College of Distinction," Concordia University-Chicago is an innovative, nonprofit liberal arts school founded as Addison Lutheran Teachers Seminary in 1864. Emphasizing Christian values, CUC occupies a 16-hectare campus in the Cook County suburb of River Forest to train 4,297 post-grad Cougars face-to-face and online. Known for its Christopher Center for Learning, Concordia-Chicago is ranked America's 233rd best education school and 312th safest college on Niche. The College Database placed CUC 22nd nationally for teacher preparation. According to Washington Monthly, Concordia University-Chicago is the Midwest's 41st best value too.

    Accredited by the NCATE/CAEP since 1969, the Concordia College of Education created the EdD in Leadership: Early Childhood Education Specialization. Like other online early childhood education EdD programs, the 61-67 credit curriculum is primarily on Blackboard Learn with just one on-site seminar. Headed by Dr. Kevin Brandon, the faith-based online degree advances teachers' confidence in administering programs for PreK-3 children. Mandated courses include reading instruction, assessment models, and policy analysis before a 16-week internship and action research inquiry project. Concordia University-Chicago also confers a PhD in Leadership: Early Childhood Education Specialization with a dissertation.

  • Fielding Graduate University

    Santa Barbara, CA



    Linked to 4,422 LinkedIn alumni, Fielding Graduate University is a private, nonprofit vocational institute founded in 1974 by Rockefeller fellow Frederic M. Hudson and two colleagues. Accredited by the WASC, Fielding provides distributed learning on Moodle for 10 programs serving 1,200 post-grad adults. The Santa Barbara-based CPED Consortium member is currently ranked 49th nationally by In 2015, Fielding Graduate University was honored among the top 100 schools for minorities in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. also placed Fielding 19th for online degree affordability.

    Fielding's School of Leadership Studies confers a cheap early childhood education doctorate online, the PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Development. Chaired by Dr. Barbara Mink, the 89-credit synchronous online program mandates just one four-day orientation in California. The IECD major partners with the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health to emphasize early intervention of childhood disabilities. Doctoral candidates also choose from 11 concentrations, such as Evidence-Based Coaching or Reflective Practice/Supervision. Each track requires core seminars like sensory-motor development, dissertation research, and a comprehensive essay. Starting each summer, the PhD accepts applicants with a minimum bachelor's GPA of 3.0 until February 19th annually.

  • New Mexico State University

    Las Cruces, NM



    Boasting the cheapest EdD early childhood education online program, New Mexico State University is a traditional public, land-grant brick-and-mortar institution opened in the "Land of Enchantment" in 1888. Budgeting $621.8 million yearly, NMSU has expanded beyond its 900-acre Do a Ana County campus to educate 2,825 post-grad Aggies online. Anchoring the Rio Grande Research Corridor, the HLC-accredited university is ranked 198th nationally by the U.S. News & World Report. New Mexico State was also applauded for America's 218th best faculty on the CWUR, 245th most diverse students on Niche, and 162nd top education on Plexuss.

    Founded by William B. O'Donnell in 1956, the CAEP-accredited College of Education at New Mexico State University has 75 tenured faculty delivering 20 post-grad degrees, including the EdD in Curriculum & Instruction. Mandating a master's with three years of classroom experience, the 66-credit online doctorate accepts applicants until December 15th annually for the Early Childhood Education emphasis. Teachers develop their electronic portfolios with rigorous courses about PreK-3 leadership. Before the dissertation, online EdD majors attend a two-week summer residency in Las Cruces. Funds from Scholar Dollar$ lower the average $9,171 tuition further for doctoral courses on Canvas.

  • Northcentral University

    San Diego, CA



    Dedicated to "Unus Ad Unum Doctrina Per Experientiam," Northcentral University is a private, for-profit virtual learning center established by Donald Hecht in 1996 and sold to Rockbridge Growth Equity, LLC in 2008. Based in San Diego, Forbes' 39th best city for education, the WASC-accredited institution presently serves 10,093 Roadrunners with courses starting weekly. According to, Northcentral is the 59th best online college nationwide. Graded A+ by the Better Business Bureau, Northcentral University also ranked 29th on the Online Education Database and 58th for teachers on College Factual.

    Forgoing scheduled lecture times for an early childhood education EdD online is possible with Northcentral University's CAEP-accredited School of Education. The Doctor of Education (EdD) in Early Childhood Education is a 54-credit, post-master's program where teachers receive one-to-one mentoring for enhancing leadership capacity in PK-3 settings. For 40 months, doctoral candidates learn evidence-based administrative solutions with courses like literacy assessment, family-school collaboration, and teacher supervision. Unlike some EdD degrees, Northcentral culminates with the oral presentation of a practice-oriented dissertation project. Related online programs include the PhD in Early Childhood Education and EdD in English as a Second Language.

  • Walden University

    Minneapolis, MN



    Authorized in 50 states and 150+ countries, Walden University is a publicly traded, for-profit higher education system started by a husband-and-wife teacher duo in 1970 and acquired by Laureate Education, Inc. Known for board members like Jonathan Kaplan and Condoleezza Rice, Walden holds HLC-NCA accreditation in Minneapolis-St. Paul to instruct 51,016 students worldwide. Sponsoring the Journal of Social Change, Walden University is distinguished for the 58th best online education by Walden is also ranked America's 30th most popular teacher's school on College Factual and #1 doctoral institute for African Americans by the NSF.

    Walden's CAEP-accredited Richard W. Riley College of Education is approved by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to confer a PhD in Education specialized for Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy. Giving $5,000 grants to non-U.S. residents, the 86-credit affordable early childhood education doctorate online uses "Tempo Learning" for custom-paced study of two to five years. Walden courses span important topics like child development (birth-8), policy administration, and qualitative reasoning. Online PhD candidates attend just two face-to-face Twin Cities residencies to begin designing dissertation research. Post-grads with GPAs over 3.0 could also pursue the PhD in Education: Early Childhood Special Education.

Our Methodology, Explained

Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 20%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 40%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
Program Offerings Number of program options 15%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

A Doctorate in Early Childhood Education prepares you to teach, research and work on policy in the field of early childhood education. This doctorate requires you to gain expert understanding and knowledge of early learning theories, leadership, methodologies, instruction, and research. The Doctorate in Early Childhood Education enables you to explore all aspects of the field from growth and development, curriculum and assessment, and child psychology.

After receiving a Doctorate in Early Childhood Education, you can teach at a college level or become a researcher. Researchers will learn the qualitative and quantitative methodologies and how they can be applied to academia. Graduates also pursue jobs in more leadership positions like policy making roles in government or non-profit organizations.

What’s the Difference Between PhD and EdD Early Childhood Education Programs?

Searches for early childhood education doctorates online will turn up both PhD and EdD options because both are esteemed, terminal programs. The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a research-intensive education degree where scholars will investigate questions related to PreK-3 teaching. Pursuing an online PhD would suit early childhood educators seeking tenured college faculty jobs, publication in top-tier research journals, and the challenge of dissertation work. However, the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) is an applied, professional degree putting practice before theory to manage real-world problems in PreK-3 education. Early childhood teachers can consider an online EdD if they prefer getting school administration jobs, internship experience, and great consulting portfolios.

Common Courses for an Online Doctorate in Early Childhood Education

Although each online Doctorate in Early Childhood Education program is different, there are a few courses that are similar across the various programs. If you’re looking to obtain an online Doctorate in Early Childhood Education, these are some of the most courses you can expect to take:

Infant and toddler development and practice

In this course, students will learn the theory related to development, learning environments, and developments in infants and toddlers (birth to age 3.) Other concepts in this course include teaching and guiding techniques.

Language and teaching

This course goes over the principles of reading and language learning in young children. You can learn about theories, practices, and how to teach reading and writing in diverse settings.

Risks in early development

Risks in early development usually serve as an intro to child development from before birth until the age of eight. The focus of this course is to familiarize you with the risks children with disabilities and their families may face.

Teaching young children in a multicultural setting

This course will prepare you to teach from a multicultural perspective. From teaching strategies, curriculum content, to program designs, you will get a well-rounded understanding of how to teach in a diverse setting.

What Are the Requirements for an Early Childhood Education Online EdD?

Entering EdD early childhood education online programs isn't easy since graduate schools want to attract top talent. Online universities might accept candidates with a bachelor's, but most prefer post-grads who've completed master's education at CAEP-accredited colleges. As mentioned in the school profiles above, cheap online early childhood education EdD programs still require academic achievement with a minimum "B" average. Course prerequisites might include curricular pedagogy, child psychology, human development, or statistics. Register to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and aim to surpass the average score of 150. Early childhood education doctorates usually expect online students to hold state teacher certification with a résumé of classroom experience too.

After passing the admission process with flying colors, online early childhood education EdD cohorts begin the rigorous doctoral study. Most online education doctorates mandate two to four years of advanced ECE-focused courses on platforms like Moodle and Blackboard. Seminar-style classes require teachers to enter active discussion boards, take proctored online tests, and post online papers. Field practicum or internship assignments are often included conveniently in candidates' own school districts. Don't be surprised if online EdD programs stick face-to-face residencies into the curriculum, especially during summer breaks. The last doctoral requirement will be the capstone, which is lengthy dissertation research or less frequently an action inquiry project.

What's the Job Outlook for an EdD Early Childhood Education Online Degree?

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) explained that recent graduate teaching degree holders have an unemployment rate of 1.9 percent. That’s surprisingly lower than business, science, and engineering. Perhaps it’s because the BLS projects a 9 percent hiring uptick in education occupations. This equates to 876,800 new U.S. jobs by 2026, but some disciplines fare better than others. For example, demand for college faculty will skyrocket by 15 percent. School districts’ employment of curriculum developers, principals, and consultants will also increase by 10 percent, 8 percent, and 12 percent respectively in the next decade. Getting an affordable doctorate in early childhood education online can improve your marketability for growing professions.

What Are My Career Options with an Online EdD in Early Childhood Education?

Graduating from online EdD in early childhood education degrees will catapult your career into upper-level administrative, research, and teacher leadership careers. You won't likely find doctoral graduates teaching shapes, scrubbing crayon stains, or watching over recess. With an ECE doctorate, you're guaranteed to become qualified for virtually any education-related career working with children from Birth-8. Let's explore some of the rewarding careers where your online doctoral degree will be useful:

  • School Principal: Elementary schools catering to the primary grades might look favorably upon online early childhood education EdD graduates to coordinate the entire building’s operations. Principals use their leadership acumen to supervise personnel, discipline pupils, observe teacher performance, plan budgets, and establish school policies according to local law. The average salary of a school principal is $98,490 according to the BLS.
  • PreK-3 Literacy Coach: Reading specialists who obtain their early childhood education EdD online could support certified teachers’ ability to foster children’s language skills. Literacy coaches help co-plan lessons, develop reading curricula, assess students for disabilities, model effective pedagogies, give teachers feedback, and present at professional development workshops. The average salary of a PreK-3 literacy coach is $66,970 according to the BLS.
  • Instructional Coordinator: Earning an EdD early childhood education online to step outside teaching could lead to curriculum development. Instructional coordinators usually work behind-the-scenes to create age-appropriate learning standards, write textbook passages, test educational technologies, correlate content to student test scores, and brainstorm teacher tips for classroom activities. The average salary for an instructional coordinator is $66,970.
  • College ECE Professor: Forty percent of doctoral graduates receive tenure-track faculty positions at higher learning institutions, so your cheap EdD early childhood education online could lead here. College ECE professors must create syllabi, plan lessons, assign projects, test future teachers’ content mastery, and research new education innovations to teach major-specific courses. The average salary for this role is $80,790.
  • Education Nonprofit Director: Early childhood education doctorates online might inspire your entrepreneurial spirit to launch a nonprofit agency with PreK-3 services, such as applied behavior analysis or tutoring. Nonprofit directors would be responsible for creating the strategic vision, engaging volunteers, fundraising, tracking the budget, setting program standards, and building school partnerships. The average salary for an education nonprofit director is $52,660.

Similar Careers

How Much Do Early Childhood Education EdD Online Graduates Make?

Affordable online early childhood education EdD degrees can provide great return on investment, especially since the average Pre-K teacher makes just $33,300. SmartAsset reported that doctoral degree holders make a mean salary of $1,623 per week or $84,396 annually. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that school administrators are rewarded $95,390 on average. Post-secondary ECE professors make slightly less with a median wage of $70,260 though. Average salaries for curriculum developers, nonprofit directors, and autism clinical directors are $65,500, $70,870, and $99,543 respectively. CNN Money recognized E-learning specialists for America's 39th best job earning income up to $101,000 with "A+" satisfaction. Instructional designer also ranked 38th with top pay at $97,400 yearly.

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See All Posts is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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