Most Affordable Online EdD Education Programs in 2021
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A doctorate in education (Ed.D) 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.
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. 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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Most Affordable Online EdD Education Programs in 2021
Our Methodology, Explained
|Academic Quality||Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates||30%|
|Affordability||Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid||10%|
|Reputation||Admission and enrollment rates||30%|
|Program Offerings||Number of program options||20%|
|Online Enrollment Score||Portion of learners taking at least one online course||10%|
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 is often dictated by the student’s educational and career goals and workplace requirements.
How much does an Ed.D. cost?
While tuition and fees vary by program, you can expect it to start at around $12,000 per year and reach $50,000 in out-of-state tuition.
How long are online Ed.D programs?
While the length of time it takes to complete an online EdD program varies by personal circumstances, a full-time student could complete the degree in three years – two years of study and one year for research and completion of your dissertation.
Online education programs are an excellent way to earn a degree with a more flexible schedule to fit your lifestyle. But unlike many other degrees, a physical therapy doctorate can’t typically be done entirely online. Instead, these programs are a hybrid model, where your education is divided between online classes, and in-person labs and clinical practice.
The structure of these hybrid programs provides plenty of benefits to students. First, given the accelerated nature, you can earn your doctorate in as little as two years. Additionally, the online learning component marks it easier to learn in an environment you’re most comfortable in. The in-person components usually happen quarterly, making them easy to schedule around.
The online learning component of these programs makes them no less rigorous. You will learn various topics, including anatomy, physiology, evidence-based practice, and many more.
Concentrations in a Doctor of Education Program
Students pursuing Ed.D. programs online also select a specialized area of focus. These concentrations provide more in-depth knowledge in these select areas. Not every online program offers every concentration, so it is important to ensure the program you are considering has your preferred choice.
Students completing this concentration can become experts in developing curriculum and instructional materials, to improve the effectiveness of classroom teachers. The BLS projects a faster than average growth rate of 6% for instructional coordinators, with a 2019 median pay of $66,290 and a 90th percentile rank of $103,790. Tuition and fees for an online Ed.D in this specialization can cost $13,000 or more per year.
Students specializing in this concentration develop expertise in adapting curriculum to students with learning disabilities. You can choose positions in the faculty, as an administrator, or conducting research. Among these are director of special education, applied behavior analyst, nonprofit executive director, and educational diagnostician. The BLS’s growth rate for special education teachers is 3%, the same as the average rate. The median pay is $61,030, while the top earnings can reach $98,530. Tuition typically begins at about $13,000 per year.
Innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) have led to concentrations in educational technology. This specialization helps students seek a variety of roles in the education sector, including executive, faculty, research, or consulting. In addition to being a professor, these graduates can hold positions as learning software developers, chief information officers, school media specialists, university IT administrators, or corporate training directors. The BLS projects a 22% growth rate for software developers, whose median pay is $107,510 with a top range of about $164,590.
This concentration is for students who want to achieve leadership at the high school or collegiate level. It is also an area of focus for people wanting to become policy makers at the local, state, or federal level. Among the positions filled by these graduates are school principal, superintendent, professor, college dean, or educational leadership coach. The BLS projects a 4% growth rate for postsecondary administrators with a median salary of $95,410 and a top pay of $194,090.
This concentration focuses on education for younger learners, those in K-6 classrooms. Graduates who achieve this degree can pursue careers in the classroom, in addition to administration, research, or public policy. Roles these graduates can apply for include elementary school principal, professor or dean, education policy advisor, K-6 curriculum developer, and educational researcher. The BLS projects a 4% growth rate for principals, with a median salary of $96,400 and a 90th percentile pay of $148,630.
Career and Salary Outlook for Education Graduates
Education is a broad field with employment options for professionals with varying academic backgrounds. Many education practitioners start out as teachers, a job that 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 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)|
|< href="=https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/postsecondary-education-administrators.htm#tab-1" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Postsecondary education administrators||$96,410||4%|
|Elementary, middle, and high school principals||$96,400||4%|
|High School Teachers||$61,660||4%|
What is the ROI for an Ed.D. Degree?
Depending on the college and concentration, tuition for many Ed.D. programs can start at $12,000 a year, with a three-year full time cost of $36,000. While the median salary for all occupations is $39,810, the median pay for graduates in the education sector ranges from $59,420 to $96,400. For graduates earning in the 90th percentile, the median salary jumps to a range of $90,180 to $148,090.
Ed.D. graduates will probably be able to recover their investment within one to two years, making for a good ROI on their investment.
While admissions requirements vary by institution, most Ed.D. programs require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and either a classroom teaching background or other relevant leadership experience. Some programs also require a master’s degree.
Testing requirements vary by program. Some do not include admissions tests in their criteria. Others require Graduate Records Examinations (GRE), Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).
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.
Certifications and Licensure for Education Majors
The majority of professional roles in education expect a bachelor’s degree as the minimum requirement. However, from there, you can choose to pursue a master’s or doctorate degree, or a variety of certifications and licenses. A recognized credential conveys a level of knowledge and dedication and may lead to additional compensation.
Among these credentials are a child development associate credential, national board certification for teachers, and a structured literacy classroom teacher knowledge certificate.
Scholarships, Grants, and Financial Aid for Ed.D. Students
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 regardless of 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.
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.
Kapa Delta Pi Scholarships
Who Can Apply: KDP accepts applications from members pursuing an undergraduate, master’s, or doctorate 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.
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.
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.
Why Should I Get a Master's in Education?
In 2015-16, there were 145,781 master’s degrees in education conferred by all postsecondary institutions. The total of master’s awarded from 2011 to 2016 was 790,716. This is compared to the 3.7 million teachers across the country. With less than a third of the country’s teachers having advanced degrees, those that do receive a master’s degree will set themselves apart from their peers.
- 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 Requirements
- 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.
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