Most Affordable Online EdD Education Programs 2021

| Staff

Most Affordable Online EdD Education Programs 2021
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A doctorate in education prepares educators for leadership roles in academia. Generally considered a practice-based doctoral program, the Ed.D. focuses on the application of research data and findings to existing problems and challenges in education. Most Ed.D. degree-holders work as academic deans, college presidents, principals, or district superintendents.

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Several accredited institutions offer online Ed.D. programs that enrollees can complete while holding down a full-time job. Most students earn the degree within 3-4 years, depending on their enrollment status, educational background, and work experience. Ed.D. programs typically require applicants to hold a master’ degree in education or a closely related field such as psychology, social work, or even business.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a higher-than-average growth rate of 9% for postsecondary teachers, many of whom pursue a doctorate in their concentration area. Although the BLS projects only average growth rates for principals and postsecondary education administrators between 2019 and 2029, these professionals earned 2019 median salaries that are higher than the national average ($96,400 and $95,410, respectively, versus $39,810).

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Accredited Online College Programs

What Are the Goals of Education?

On-campus and online Ed.D. programs give students an excellent opportunity to learn about the most recent research developments in terms of methodologies, relevant technologies, new standards, and effective field practice. When working on their dissertation or capstone project, doctoral candidates can often apply their newly acquired knowledge in developing solutions to actual problems in their work environment.

Depending on their area of expertise, degree-holders often qualify for key leadership positions in postsecondary institutions, local school districts, and education-related government agencies. An Ed.D. presents the degree-holder as an educational leader with the training, skills, and knowledge required to address and solve various academic, structure, and fiscal challenges in education.

What Are the Benefits of a Degree in Education?

Going back to school to earn a doctorate in educational leadership requires a significant investment of time and money. However, for many graduates, the benefits far outweigh the cost. Below are some benefits Ed.D. degree-holders get to enjoy after working hard to earn the degree.

Build Professional Network
Most Ed.D. programs follow a cohort model of education, making it easy for participants to build and maintain professional connections that last throughout the program and during their careers.
Expand Knowledge
A well-designed Ed.D. curriculum gives students the opportunity to learn about the most recent developments, theories, and research findings. Furthermore, as a practice-focused degree, Ed.D. candidates can immediately apply this new knowledge in the workplace.
Financial Benefit
As stated above, Ed.D. degree-holders earn annual median salaries much higher than the national average. Additionally, doctorate-trained professionals boast the lowest unemployment rate among U.S. workers.
Increased Career Options
Many Ed.D. graduates take high-level positions in academia. An Ed.D. also serves as excellent preparation for policy-making jobs in government agencies and top administrative positions in teaching hospitals.
Meet Job Requirement
Some senior-level positions require candidates to hold a doctorate, including college presidents, academic deans, and school district administrators. Large corporations and international nonprofit organizations with deep ties to education often prefer doctorate-trained practitioners as well.

Accreditation for an Ed.D. in Education

Many postsecondary institutions in the United States undergo a voluntary process called accreditation to signify their commitment to quality education. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) act as overseers of the accreditation process in the country.

Degree-centered, nonprofit public and private colleges and universities seek regional accreditation. For-profit, career-focused vocational schools seek national accreditation. Regional accrediting bodies usually adhere to stricter accreditation standards than national accreditors. Because of this, regional accreditation is often considered more prestigious. However, ED and CHEA acknowledge both regional and national accrediting agencies. They make sure they maintain and apply an accepted set of standards within their competence area.

Some accrediting bodies focus on specific programs instead of entire schools. In the education field, the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation serves as the main accreditor for educational programs including an Ed.D.


Question Answer
Is an Ed.D. graduate called a doctor? Yes, an Ed.D. degree-holder is a doctor. In most professional scenarios, this is the accepted practice and the preferred form of address.
What is the difference between a Ph.D. and Ed.D.? A Ph.D. is a research-focused program that prepares graduates to become experts in their field. Although an Ed.D. also has a research component, it is a practice-centered degree that prepares graduates to be leaders in their field.
Can you teach with an Ed.D.? Yes, Ed.D. degree-holders are academically qualified to teach at the postsecondary level in two-year and four-year institutions.
Is a Ph.D. more prestigious than an Ed.D.? Both are rigorous, challenging programs. Preference for either one is often dictated by the student’s educational and career goals and workplace requirements./td>

Courses in an Ed.D. Program

Many onsite and online Ed.D. programs offer specializations in areas such as curriculum and development, educational technology, and higher education administration. Students enroll in courses in their chosen area of specialization in addition to fundamental coursework and dissertation or capstone project research credits.

A typical Ed.D. curriculum includes leadership and research courses along with other broad-based classes that cover the areas described below. Foundational coursework gives doctoral candidates the opportunity to develop advanced skills and in-depth knowledge that qualify them to lead institutions through organizational and developmental changes.

  • Doctoral Writing

    A doctoral-level writing course teaches students how to write and develop research proposals, cite academic sources properly, and provide cogent arguments. Doctoral candidates also learn how to recognize compelling written work by others such as academic papers and other types of professional writing. Additionally, many doctorate-trained professionals write books and scholarly articles for peer-reviewed journals. The skills they learn in doctoral-level writing courses can serve them well in this aspect.

  • Educational Leadership

    Enrollees study the different aspects of organizational behavior and the essential factors for positive change and sustainable growth. The course covers topics including change management, academic assessment, and essential educational leadership skills. Course materials include case studies of effective leadership strategies at the program, school, and district levels. The course gives students ample opportunities to discover and develop their leadership qualities and strengths.

  • Program Evaluation

    This course introduces doctoral candidates to varying methods of assessing the effectiveness and relevance of different types of educational programs. The knowledge and insights students develop throughout the course can help them choose the ideal programs to include in a college or university’s academic offerings. Graduates can also use this knowledge in making organizational and policy changes, reviewing research proposals, and applying for funding.

  • Research Methods

    Doctoral candidates typically enroll in at least one course each in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. The classes provide enrollees with the tools necessary for researching and writing their dissertation or capstone project. Students learn how to select topics for research projects, establish the breadth and depth of a research undertaking, and communicate relevant findings. Topics often include cluster analysis and multiple linear regression.

  • Technology in Higher Education

    Students learn how to integrate technology into various academic activities in the classroom and other educational settings. The course provides an overview of existing and emerging instructional technology to help graduates create educational environments that use technology as an integral part of the learning process. The course familiarizes doctoral candidates with educational software relevant to learning as well as in administrative and organizational functions.

How to Become a Professor

Accredited two-year and four-year colleges and universities typically require postsecondary professors to hold at least a master’s degree in their field. However, many four-year institutions prefer professors with doctoral degrees, especially for tenure-track positions. Some academic arenas require professorial candidates to possess industry experience, but this is not always the case. Additional certification or a license in their field of practice often boosts a professor’s standing in academic circles.

Completing a master’s degree can take up to two years beyond a bachelor’s, and a doctoral degree can add up to 3-5 years more, depending on a student’s educational background and industry experience.

Career and Salary Outlook for Education Majors

Education is a broad field with employment options for professionals with varying academic backgrounds. Many education practitioners start out as teachers, a job which requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Some educators remain in the classroom, whether as high school, college, or postgraduate professors. Others opt to build a career in educational leadership as principals or district administrators. The options below represent just four professional opportunities for educational practitioners.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal
Principals perform a variety of day-to-day functions such as overseeing school operations, approving learning activities, and managing teaching and administrative staff. They also attend district-wide meetings on school budgets, curriculum development, and regulatory standards. Principals make sure the school environment remains a safe and supportive setting for students and teachers.

Postsecondary Teacher
Postsecondary instructors teach courses in specific subject areas. They develop a syllabus or teaching plan for each course that often includes classroom instruction and other types of learning activities. Postsecondary teachers keep track of student progress in their classes through tests, assignments, class participation, and special projects. They make sure their instruction plan meets departmental and university standards.

Postsecondary Education Administrator
The scope of responsibilities of a postsecondary education administrator often depends on the size of the institution and the specific department where they work. Small to medium-sized colleges often require administrators to perform multiple functions which may include coordinating student services, reviewing applications, and evaluating curriculum. Large universities usually assign an administrator for each function.

High School Teacher
High school teachers instruct grade 9-12 students and prepare them for college or the workforce after graduation. In most schools, they also supervise students outside the classroom during lunch breaks, study periods, or educational trips. High school teachers help students prepare for required standardized testing, communicate with parents regarding their child’s academic progress, and coordinate learning activities with other teachers.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal $96,400 4%
Postsecondary Teacher $79,540 9%
Postsecondary Education Administrator $95,410 4%
High School Teacher $61,660 4%

Source: BLS

Certifications and Licensure for Education Majors

Education practitioners often pursue additional certifications in a field that holds their professional interest. A recognized credential presents degree-holders as knowledgeable leaders and dedicated practitioners. A broad field of study, education presents several opportunities for professionals to hone their skills and deepen their knowledge including the three areas presented below.

Child Development Associate Credential

This credential from the Council for Professional Recognition enjoys wide recognition in the early childhood education field. The credential presents the bearer as an expert in helping young children learn vital developmental and educational skills. Qualified candidates can test for a bilingual specialization under the general CDA certification.

National Board Certification for Teachers

NBCT offers this certification to qualified K-12 teachers across the country. Candidates must hold a valid teaching license in the state where they work, a bachelor’s degree, and at least three years of experience as a teacher or school counselor. There are 25 certification areas available. Some states count board certification toward state licensure renewal.

Structured Literacy Classroom Teacher Knowledge Certificate

This certificate program is administered by the Center for Effective Reading Instruction. The certificate targets classroom teachers or educational support personnel who work with students struggling to meet grade-level reading standards. The degree-holder possesses foundational knowledge in language structure and intervention practices addressing various reading difficulties.

How Can an Ed.D. Student Pay for College?

Four-year colleges and universities offering doctoral programs often provide fellowship and scholarship opportunities for doctoral candidates. In addition, private organizations and federal agencies administer grant programs that recipients can apply toward their degree no matter which school they choose to attend. The five funding opportunities below represent a small sample of available financial assistance for doctoral students.

AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research
Who can Apply: Doctoral candidates from traditionally underrepresented groups in the higher education field can apply for this funding opportunity. Applicants must be in the dissertation stage of their studies and identify as African Americans, Alaskan Natives, Asian Americans, Hispanic or Latinos, and Native Hawaiian. In addition to the award, the program provides mentoring opportunities to all fellows.
Amount: $19,000

American Association of School Administrators Scholarships
Who Can Apply: AASA sponsors several scholarships for graduate students enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program in educational administration. Applicants submit answers to three essay questions in the application form, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to pursuing a career as a school superintendent.
Amount: Varies

Kappa Delta Pi Scholarships
Who Can Apply: KDP accepts applications from members pursuing an undergraduate, master’s, or doctoral program in education. KDP sponsors several scholarship programs and specific application requirements may vary. In general, applicants must submit an essay addressing the issue given in the application, one letter of endorsement, and official transcripts. Applicants must be KDP members in good standing.
Amount: Varies

National Academy of Education Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research
Who Can Apply: The fellowship accepts applications from doctoral students from various disciplines. However, their dissertation must address a relevant concern in the field of education. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. institution but can hold U.S. or non-U.S. citizenship. The fellowship requires applicants to show completion of all pre-doctoral requirements of their program.
Amount: $27,500

National Association for Gifted Children Scholarship
Who Can Apply: NAGC welcomes applications for the A. Harry Passow Classroom Teacher Scholarship from K-12 teachers of gifted children. Applicants must show enrollment in or acceptance to a graduate program for advanced training in gifted education. Applicants must show NAGC membership for at least one year prior to the date of application.
Amount: $2,000

Affordable Online Ed.D. in Education Programs 2021

  • University of Michigan-Flint

    Flint, MI

    The school of education and human services at UM-Flint offers an online doctor of education program comprising 34 credits. Most students earn the Ed.D. in three years. Although all courses are available online, students attend one on-campus Saturday class session each month. Like many online Ed.D. programs, UM-Flint's doctor of education program follows a cohort format.

    The 34-credit curriculum includes 15 credits of core coursework, six research credits, and 13 credits of dissertation work. Students take classes in educational policy, school law and equity issues, professional standards and community relations, and quantitative and qualitative research methods. After completing coursework, students must pass a comprehensive exam before beginning their dissertation research.

    Applicants must hold an education specialist degree and a minimum 3.3 GPA. Applicants have at least three years of professional experience in a preK-16 school or in a field closely related to education. UM-Flint is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • University of Southern Mississippi

    Hattiesburg, MS

    USM offers a completely online doctor of education program through the college of education and human sciences. The Ed.D. in educational administration comprises 54 quarter credits, and students complete coursework in a synchronous format. Doctoral students complete a capstone project instead of a dissertation.

    Applicants must submit scores from the GRE or another acceptable standardized graduate admission exam. Scores must be from an exam taken no more than five years prior to the date of application. Most students complete the program, including the capstone project, within three years. Students may transfer up to one-third of the required credits from another accredited institution. However, transfer credits are subject to the review and approval of the Ed.D. director.

    The Ed.D. curriculum includes 30 quarter credits of core coursework and 12 quarter credits each of research and capstone work. The core curriculum covers topics such as public school finance, administrative approaches to technology, preK-12 education policy, and education facilities development and management. USM holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Arizona State University-Skysong

    Scottsdale, AZ

    ASU's online doctor of education program requires 90 credits beyond a bachelor's degree and 60 credits beyond a master's degree. New students can enroll during the fall or spring semester. Some online courses last 7.5 weeks, while others follow a regular 15-week schedule.

    The Ed.D. in leadership and innovation curriculum includes coursework in dynamic contexts of education, innovation in teaching and learning, systems change and leadership, and advanced quantitative methods. Students explore challenges and solutions in key practice contexts, such as preK-12 and higher education. Learners also explore systems, professional, and reimagined change leadership. Students complete an action-research dissertation.

    Applicants with a bachelor's degree must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA during the last 60 credits of undergraduate study. Applicants with a master's degree must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative graduate GPA. The doctoral program requires applicants to submit a personal statement and an academic writing sample. Unlike many online Ed.D. programs, ASU does not require applicants to submit GRE scores. ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, IL

    U of I offers an online doctor of education in educational policy, organization, and leadership. The program comprises 64 credits, and students can choose a concentration in diversity and equity in education, human resources development, learning design and leadership, or global studies in education.

    Doctoral candidates must pass two written qualifying exams and write and defend a dissertation. Courses typically last eight weeks during the fall and spring semesters and six weeks during the summer term. Applicants must hold a master's degree and have a graduate GPA of at least 3.0. U of I holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    The university delivers program coursework synchronously, allowing for real-time interaction among students and professors. The synchronous format facilitates communication and fosters collaboration. Each class meets once a week in the evenings to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.

  • University of Minnesota-Duluth

    Duluth, MN

    UMD delivers its doctor of education program in a hybrid format. Unlike students in fully online Ed.D. programs, learners at UMD complete both in-person and online components. The Ed.D. program requires 76 credits: 37 core credits, 24 dissertation credits, and at least 15 credits of electives or supporting research courses.

    The Ed.D. curriculum includes courses in the historical, social, and philosophical foundations of education. Doctoral students also explore teaching and learning in a systems context; theories, principles, and methodology of assessment in organizational systems; and educational policy. Full-time students usually graduate within four years.

    The program accepts applications from master's degree-holders with a minimum 3.0 graduate GPA. Applicants must submit GRE scores that are no more than five years old. The program follows a cohort model. UMD is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • University of Mary

    Bismarck, ND

    The online doctorate in education at the Mary requires 60 credits. The program offers tracks in K-12 leadership and administration and in higher education leadership and administration. Although Mary offers all required courses online, students must attend a two-week residency each summer at the Bismarck campus. The Ed.D. follows a cohort model, and new cohorts begin every two years.

    Regardless of their track, doctoral students complete 33 core credits. The core curriculum covers topics such as issues and trends in education, brain-based research and learning, educational ethics, and community relations. Core requirements also include a three-credit internship.

    Applicants must submit their latest GRE scores and must hold a master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants to the K-12 track must demonstrate professional experience in a school setting. Mary holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Oregon State University

    Corvallis, OR

    Oregon State University offers an online doctoral program in education comprising 108 credits, which includes up to 30 transfer credits from an accredited master's program. Students complete 15 credits of leadership courses, 18 credits in higher education, 15 applied research credits, and 24 dissertation credits. Learners fulfill the remaining six credits through an internship experience.

    The Ed.D. program is ideal for individuals with a background in teaching, curriculum development, student services, and higher education administration. Most students complete the doctoral program in three to four years. The first two years of the program include online and in-person coursework, with all summer courses available fully online. Third-year and fourth-year students enroll in instructional research courses, which have no required in-person components.

    Applicants must have a master's degree and relevant professional experience. The program follows a cohort model, and OSU admits one cohort each fall semester. OSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  • Allen College

    Waterloo, IA

    The online Ed.D in health professions education at Allen College requires 46 credits. Students can complete the program full time or part time. Full-time learners typically graduate in three years, while part-time students often earn the Ed.D in four years. Allen College automatically grants a 25% tuition reduction to all Ed.D. enrollees.

    The program includes coursework in curriculum theory and design in health professions; organizational development and change in education; and professional, ethical, and legal issues in health professions education. The doctoral program culminates in an education-focused capstone project.

    Applicants must hold a master's degree from an accredited U.S. college or university and must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants to the Ed.D. program must demonstrate satisfactory completion of a graduate-level statistics course. Applicants submit a writing sample, such as a published article or a term paper, and an essay on a given prompt. Allen College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • North Greenville University

    Tigerville, SC

    NGU offers a 60-credit online doctor of education with tracks in higher education leadership and in K-12 leadership. Learners complete online classes during eight-week terms and must attend two week-long seminars in person. Like many online Ed.D. programs, NGU's program follows a cohort model and admits students during the fall and spring semesters.

    Regardless of their track, doctoral students complete core coursework in topics including organizational development; conflict resolution, mediation, and personnel management; advanced ethical leadership studies; and politics and historical frameworks of education.

    Applicants must submit either MAT scores and a 1,000-word academic writing sample or GRE scores and a 300-word writing sample. The doctoral program only accepts applications from practitioners with at least a master's degree. NGU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Concordia University-Texas

    Austin, TX

    Concordia offers a three-year, 60-credit online doctor of education program. Students can pursue a concentration in educational administration or curriculum and instruction. The educational administration concentration includes an optional superintendent licensure track. Although Concordia delivers the Ed.D program primarily online, learners must attend two week-long summer residencies on campus in Austin, Texas.

    Students in the Ed.D. program take 21 credits of core coursework. The remaining 39 credits comprise concentration courses, dissertation work, and a practicum. Students must pass a qualifying exam after completing core coursework. Dissertation work includes five research-based classes, and the curriculum prepares learners to pursue leadership roles in their district or organization.

    The program follows a cohort model and welcomes applications from education professionals who hold a master's degree. Concordia does not require applicants to submit GRE scores. The university locks in each student's tuition rate at the time of enrollment, so learners pay the same rate throughout their course of study. Concordia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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