Effective leadership plays a crucial role in institutions of all sizes, from kindergartens and universities to entire school districts. Students who earn a doctorate in educational administration degree online gain the interpersonal and instructional skills needed to serve schools and school districts as superintendents, principals, directors, specialists, and coordinators.
Doctoral candidates master a variety of leadership, technological, organizational, and administrative strategies, building and strengthening the qualities required to effectively lead academic organizations. Graduates with a Ph.D. in educational administration go on to land successful careers in public and private schools, government organizations, and school districts.
An educational administration doctoral program explores advanced topics in leadership, finance, entrepreneurship, technology, and ethics. The following ranking includes the 10 best online doctorate in educational administration degree programs, all which combine academic rigor with the flexibility of online education.
Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.
The Best Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Programs
1. University of Nebraska – Lincoln
The Department of Education Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers a variety of graduate and professional programs for educators interested in becoming school administrators, with specializations in everything from pre-K to higher education. The programs lead students to study problems and find solutions facing 21st century schools, including class, race, gender, access, and equity. Housed in the College of Education, online learning plays a big role in the learning done in the Department of Education Administration, with a majority of doctoral coursework offered online.
Through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Online platform, the Department of Education Administration offers an online doctor of education in educational administration degree program that meets the needs of professional practitioners interested in obtaining credentials for P-12 administration. The curriculum focuses on understanding challenges and opportunities in a school or district setting, seeing the needs of students and adults, analyzing situations, and formulating approaches and solutions. Graduates complete the program ready for careers as school administrators skilled at building relationships with students, parents, teachers, and community members to cultivate success in their schools.
The online Doctor of Education in Educational Administration program requires 45 credit hours and includes the following core courses:
- Business Management of Schools
- Cross-Cultural Leadership Studies
- Issues in Governance of Educational Institutions
- Issues in System Level Administration
- Leadership in Educational Organizations
- Superintendent Academy I
- Superintendent Academy II
- System-Level School Improvement
Students in the online Doctor of Education in Educational Administration program must also complete an internship, dissertation, and three one-week on-campus residencies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus in Lincoln, NE.
Applicants must hold a current Standard Teaching Certificate from Nebraska or a credential recognized as equivalent to a Nebraska Standard Teaching Certificate. Applicants must also have a minimum of two years of full-time teaching experience at the grade levels relevant to their desired course of study.
- The College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC)
- The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
2. Governors State University
University Park, Illinois
The College of Education at Governors State University commits itself to ensuring that its students become lifelong learners, advocates for diversity and social justice, and equipped to be engaged, effective, transformative educators and mental health professionals. The College of Education has two divisions: the Division of Psychology and the Division of Education. The Division of Education offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees to prepare students for careers as educators. The College of Education offers a variety of workshops, professional development opportunities, programs, and services for its students and the community.
Through the Governors State University Online platform, the Division of Education, within the College of Education, offers an online doctor of education in interdisciplinary leadership degree program with a concentration available in Higher Education. The interdisciplinary nature of the program helps students develop the skills to work across different disciplines with ease, continually develop their leadership expertise to keep pace with the rapidly changing world, incorporate research and data-driven decision making in their work, and collaborate effectively with others. The required capstone project gives students an opportunity to plan, implement, complete, and orally defend a comprehensive practicum project. Graduates emerge prepared for careers in higher education, with valuable skills, including organizational and social reform-oriented leadership, ethical practices, strategic planning, budgeting and finance, fundraising, globalization, and community relations.
The online Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership program requires 60 credit hours and includes the following core courses:
- Change, Diversity and Global Issues
- Community Relations/Media/Technology
- Finance and External Funding
- Research, Data Analysis, and Decision Making
- Strategic Planning/Collaboration/Sustainability
- Theories and Ethics of Leadership
Students in the online Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership program must also complete a qualifying examination and capstone project.
Applicants must hold a master’s degree from an accredited program.
- The College of Education at Governors State University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
- Governors State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
3. Ball State University
The Teachers College at Ball State University offers a number of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs for educators looking to study, grow, and succeed in their careers. Within the College, the Department of Educational Leadership offers programs ideal for students who seek leadership roles like school superintendent, school administrator, charter school leader, or education researcher. Many of the programs offered in both the Teachers College and Department of Educational Leadership offer students the opportunity to gain licensure and certification in addition to their studies.
The Department of Educational Leadership offers an online doctor of education in educational administration and supervision degree program through the Ball State University Online platform. The program caters to education administrators and professionals dedicated to advancing the profession through quality teaching, research, and service. Students can customize their doctoral program to meet their specific needs by choosing from a variety of minors and by choosing whether to pursue Indiana licensure as a school superintendent.
The online Doctor of Education in Educational Administration and Supervision program requires 90 credit hours and includes the following core courses:
- Advanced Educational Psychology: Learning
- Advanced Seminar in Educational Administration
- Educational Decision Making
- Methodology of Educational Research
- Research Colloquium
- Statistical Methods in Educational and Psychological Research
Students in the online Doctor of Education in Educational Administration and Supervision program must also complete an internship and dissertation.
Applicants to the program must hold a master’s degree.
- The Teachers College at Ball State University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
- Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
4. Andrews University
Berrien Springs, Michigan
The School of Education at Andrews University provides undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs based on a Christian worldview to prepare professionals for global service as educators. Within the School, the Department of Leadership houses three distinct yet connected graduate programs: Leadership, Educational Leadership, and Higher Education Administration. The Department shares faculty and classes across these three programs, providing students with interdisciplinary instruction.
Through the Andrews University Online platform, the Department of Leadership offers an online doctor of education and doctor of philosophy in higher education administration degree program. These programs prepare professionals who hope to pursue careers and academic positions in teaching and research in colleges and universities, as well as corporate training or policymaking positions at the private and state level. Being more research focused, the Ph.D. program serves those who wish to work in research or teaching, while the Ed.D. program primarily prepares those seeking administrative and executive positions.
The online Doctor of Education and Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration programs require 60 and 61 credit hours, respectively, and both include the following core courses:
- Annual Conference
- Higher Education Finance and Technology
- Introduction to Leadership
- Leadership in Higher Education
- Philosophy Foundations for Professionals
- Teaching in Higher Education
Students in the online programs must also complete an internship and dissertation. Students must also attend a one-week in-person orientation at the Andrews University campus in Berrien Springs, MI.
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s and master’s degree in a relevant field from an accredited United States institution, or the overseas equivalent.
- The School of Education at Andrews University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
- Andrews University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
5. Texas Tech University
The College of Education at Texas Tech University offers a number of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs that focus on developing educators equipped for the 21st century. The College partners with various school district partners, community agencies, and other institutions of higher education to provide relevant learning opportunities for its students. Several centers, institutes, and research initiatives operate under the College of Education, including the Center for Research in Leadership and Education, a hub for collaborative research and practical application partnerships on topics of leadership and inequity, justice, and compassion in a global society.
Through the Texas Tech University Online platform, the College of Education offers an online doctor of education in higher education administration degree program that allows students to prepare for their career goals in a cohort setting. The curriculum delivers the skills students need to develop as scholarly practitioners who understand the importance of equity and social justice. Graduates complete the program prepared for careers as instructional and administrative professionals for positions in two- and four-year colleges and universities, government agencies, as well as business and industry.
The online Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration program requires 60 credit hours and includes the following core courses:
- Community College Organizations, Administration, and Supervision
- Higher Education and the Adult Learner
- Higher Education Doctoral Seminar
- Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Change Agents
- Legal Implications and the Law in Higher Education
- Organizational Theories and Practice
- Policy and Finance in Higher Education
- Resource Management & Efficiencies in Higher Education
- Strategic Planning & Institutional Effectiveness
- The History of Higher Education in the U.S.
Students in the online Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration program must also complete a dissertation and attend three one-week, in-person professional development sessions at the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock, TX.
Applicants must have full-time professional experience in either a public or private two-year or four-year higher education institution or a state or federal educational agency serving higher education.
- The College of Education at Texas Tech University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
- Texas Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
6. Sam Houston State University
The College of Education at Sam Houston State University offers opportunities for study, professional growth, research, collaboration, and community service. The Department of Educational Leadership within the College of Education offers several graduate degrees and certificate programs that prepare professionals to be leaders in a variety of settings, including public schools, libraries, institutions of higher education, and adult education programs. All programs offered by the Department of Educational Leadership include a practical component that allows students to gain training in observation and research techniques, evaluation, and creative problem solving.
The Department of Educational Leadership offers an online doctor of education in developmental education administration degree program through Sam Houston State University’s online platform. The interdisciplinary program in Developmental Education Administration prepares educators to develop and administer programs for underprepared community college and university students. Graduates of this degree program will be able to perform key roles functions, including applying administrative theory to instructional leadership functions, set goals, assigning responsibilities, examining allocation and use of resources, and planning and administering curriculum.
The online Doctor of Education in Developmental Education Administration program requires 60 credit hours and includes the following core courses:
- Academic Writing Research
- Advanced Learning Theory in Developmental Education
- Applied Leadership in Higher Education
- Contemporary Issues in Higher Education Leadership Administration
- Designing Learning Environments in Developmental Education
- Developmental Education & Postsecondary Studies
- Developmental Education Administration
- Outcome Assessment in Developmental Education
- The College Student
Students in the online Doctor of Education in Developmental Education Administration program must also complete an internship, dissertation, and three online mentoring appointments with an advisor per year.
Applicants to the program must hold a master’s degree.
- The College of Education at Sam Houston State University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
- Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
7. George Fox University
The School of Education at George Fox University offers a variety of in-person and online undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as certifications, endorsements, and professional degrees. Curriculum draws on Christian principles and encourages academic rigor and spiritual growth. Even in its online programs, the School of Education prides itself on small class sizes, personal attention for students, and a cohort model that allows students to build meaningful professional relationships.
Through the George Fox University Online platform, the School of Education offers an online doctor of education degree program with a concentration in administration. The program strives to develop educational leaders and administrators with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to inspire, educate, and serve others effectively for the common good. The flexible nature of the online Ed.D. degree program provides an ideal solution for principals, vice principals, district office administrators, and superintendents who want to continue working full-time while pursuing further education.
The online Doctor of Education program requires 56 credit hours and includes the following core courses:
- Faith and Learning
- Educational Statistics
- Ethics, Equity & Justice
- Leadership Core
- Political/Social Perspectives of Education
- Research in Effective Teaching
Students in the online Doctor of Education program must also complete a dissertation and annual two-week summer residencies at the George Fox University Campus in Newberg, OR.
Applicants must hold an approved, regionally accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree in education or a related field, with a GPA of at least 3.25 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants must also have had at least three years of relevant professional experience.
- The School of Education at George Fox University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
- George Fox University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
8. Carson-Newman University
Jefferson City, Tennessee
The School of Adult and Graduate Studies at Carson-Newman University offers an array of graduate and professional programs to serve the needs of busy adults looking to further their education. The School offers in-person classes and programs at a number of locations in the state of Tennessee, as well as a diverse range of online offerings. Students in the Education programs in the School of Adult and Graduate studies can apply for a number of scholarships, loans, grants, and loan forgiveness programs that seek to make higher education more affordable for teachers.
Through the Carson-Newman online platform, the School of Adult and Graduate Studies offers an online doctor of education degree program with a concentration in administrative leadership. Experienced, licensed teachers with a desire to become leaders in their schools and districts make ideal candidates for this program. The curriculum focuses on analyzing theory and research findings for application in a variety of educational settings, so that graduates emerge well prepared for careers as educators, administrators, and leaders. Students may concurrently obtain an Administrative Licensure Specialization (only valid in TN) while they complete the Doctor of Education with a concentration in Administrative Leadership program.
The online Doctor of Education program requires 57 credit hours and includes the following core courses:
- Educational Leadership Theory and Policy Analysis
- Emergent Educational Leadership Trends and Topics
- Ethical, Social, Spiritual Leadership Principles
- Financial Planning and Responsibilities
- Foundations of Leadership
- Legal Ethical Issues
- Management of the School
- Organizational Leadership
- Professional Learning Communities
Students must also complete a dissertation.
Applicants must submit official transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities, including the highest degree attained, and must have a minimum of three years of experience teaching in a Pre-K-12 classroom. Applicants must also submit proof of employment in a P-16 setting or a background check.
- The Education Programs through the School of Adult and Graduate Studies at Carson-Newman University are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
- Carson-Newman University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
What Is an Online Doctorate in Educational Administration?
While every educational administration doctoral degree emphasizes leadership and administrative skills, each degree type takes a slightly different approaches to the discipline. This list includes both doctor of education (Ed.D.) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in educational administration degrees. Online Ed.D. programs best serve individuals who wish to build and strengthen applied educational administration skills, while a research-based online Ph.D. in educational administration is ideal for those pursuing postsecondary teaching positions or careers in academic research.
What Can You Do With a Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration?
Individuals who complete doctoral programs in higher education administration online take on many different roles and apply their leadership expertise in a variety of settings. Working in fast-paced, constantly evolving environments, they develop strategies to achieve educational and institutional goals. Professionals with a doctorate in education administration work well with others and possess the drive to spearhead projects on their own. The following section lists some popular careers and their respective salaries.
- Postsecondary Education Administrators:
- These professionals oversee administrative operations at colleges and universities, including student services, admissions processes, course registration, and student affairs. Most administrators focus on one or two areas, such as enrollment or student life.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $48,000
- Mid-Career: $57,000
- Experienced: $62,000
- Late Career: $65,000
- Director of Curriculum:
- Working to implement curricula within schools or school systems, these administrators develop instructional guidelines according to state and federal standards. They also work with principals to create effective teacher training programs and rework educational strategies as needed.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $59,000
- Mid-Career: $65,000
- Experienced: $75,000
- Late Career: $76,000
- Executive Director:
- Some professionals who earn a doctorate in education administration online become executive directors, serving as senior managers in organizations and businesses. Executive directors develop budgetary strategies and timelines to achieve their organization’s day-to-day goals.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $55,000
- Mid-Career: $68,000
- Experienced: $85,000
- Late Career: $99,000
- Chief Learning Officer:
- These professionals develop educator training programs, design curricula and education practices, and ensure that their institution adheres to government regulations. Learning officers also analyze teacher performance data to identify weaknesses and make improvements in educational programs.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $108,000
- Mid-Career: $127,000
- Experienced: $141,000
- Late Career: $182,000
- As head school system administrators, superintendents handle disciplinary issues with teachers and other school employees, manage district budgets, and hire principals for schools in their districts. Superintendents also approve and monitor major school property projects.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $104,000
- Mid-Career: $109,000
- Experienced: $120,000
- Late Career: $129,000
Choosing an Online Educational Administration Doctorate Degree Program
Students interested in online Ph.D. programs in higher education administration enjoy many options. However, there are several important factors to explore before selecting a school, including program duration, faculty specialty areas, and any available concentrations. With so many variables to consider, candidates should ensure that a prospective program aligns with their academic and career goals and fits their budget. You may find it more affordable to attend a local school instead of paying out-of-state tuition elsewhere. Provide yourself with enough time to carefully investigate all your options.
- Program Cost:
- Cost varies greatly between doctoral programs in higher education administration online. Some schools charge out-of-state students nearly double their in-state tuition rates, while others charge one flat rate for all distance learners. Many institutions require online students to pay a per-credit or semesterly technology fee.
- Transfer Policies:
- Students who have previously completed college-level coursework, especially general education classes or higher education-related coursework, should consider schools’ transfer policies. Many institutions allow transfer students to apply credits earned at accredited universities toward a doctoral degree in higher education administration online. A favorable transfer policy can grant credit for prior work and ultimately save you time and money.
- School Size and Type:
- Some online programs limit class size to keep courses manageable for professors and facilitate student and faculty interaction. Schools with smaller class sizes may be more competitive, especially those with cohort learning or synchronous formats. In many cases, private schools offer lower student-to-faculty ratios than public schools.
- Program Length:
- A program’s duration depends on student enrollment status, graduation requirements, and the number of credits distance learners are permitted to complete each semester. Full-time candidates spend approximately 3–5 years completing their degree. Depending on their schedule, part-time learners may take up to seven years, or the maximum amount of time allotted by their department.
- On-Campus Requirements:
- Be sure to determine if a program includes on-campus obligations. Most doctoral degrees in higher education administration online allow learners to complete all degree requirements remotely. You may encounter hybrid programs, wherein distance learners take one or more classes in person. Some distance students prefer a mixture of online and traditional coursework.
Accreditation for Online Educational Administration Doctorate Degrees
Accreditation is one of the most important factors to consider while researching prospective schools. Accredited colleges and universities adhere to the highest quality standards, which are set by external agencies known as accrediting bodies. There are three types of accreditation: regional, national, and programmatic.
There are six major regionally accrediting bodies, as well as the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. Regional accreditation is widely understood to designate the highest-quality institutions. Typically offering degrees from the associate level up to doctoral programs, regionally accredited schools feature diverse curricula that include general education, major-specific, and elective classes. In contrast, nationally accredited schools usually provide career-focused training and offer a smaller variety of degrees and professional certifications.
Individual programs or departments within colleges and universities may also receive programmatic accreditation from discipline-specific accrediting bodies or professional organizations. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is the most important accrediting body that assesses educational administration programs. In some states, candidates seeking teaching or administrative licensure are required to hold a degree from a CAEP-accredited program.
The accreditation process involves both private and governmental agencies. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) approves and ensures that accrediting bodies are reliable authorities on education and quality. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a membership organization comprised of 3,000 degree-granting college and universities and 60 accrediting bodies who review quality assurance processes. Both ED and CHEA maintain comprehensive lists of accredited programs and schools on their websites.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration?
A doctoral program’s duration depends largely on the student’s availability and how quickly they are able to meet graduation requirements. Most doctoral programs require 91–120 credit hours. In many cases, doctoral programs require students to conduct an extensive final project after completing four semesters of coursework. In most distance education programs, these projects are part of a capstone course. Alternatively, some degrees require students to compose a traditional doctoral dissertation based on original research. A time-consuming process, dissertation work alone may take 1-2 years to complete. Coupled with the departmental requirements, full-time students typically spend 3–4 years earning a Ph.D. in education administration online.
Courses in an Online Educational Administration Doctorate Program
- Introduction to Leadership
- This essential class encourages distance learners to recognize their potential for community involvement and future career opportunities. Offering an interdisciplinary perspective on leadership theories and styles, coursework also presents contemporary workplace issues and challenges.
- Serving Students and Schools
- Learners examine the practices, issues, and theories involved in leading student services offices or organizations. Lecture topics include the history and philosophy behind these supportive roles, contemporary issues, and common career paths in the field. Candidates also survey the relationship between student service professionals and other campus organizations.
- Financial Management for Higher Education Professionals
- Presenting essential financial management concepts, this class introduces integral topics through the lens of higher education administration. While students examine methods used to finance education in both the public and private sectors, they also gain transferable budgeting and management skills that are useful in virtually any administrative position.
- Community Colleges and Technical Schools
- This overview course surveys community and vocational institutions throughout history. Coursework examines these schools’ unique purposes and educational strategies, in addition to their distinct administrative needs. Candidates study leadership, educational, and counseling theories within the community college context, building a comprehensive understanding of employee relationships and the complex contemporary issues these institutions often face.
- Academic Professions
- Using cutting-edge research, this course explores college administrators’ myriad roles and tasks. Class topics include faculty positions and institutional life, faculty misconduct, tenure track positions, and administration-faculty relationships. Students learn to face modern issues from many different administrative perspectives.
Educational Administration Certifications
Each state maintains its own certification requirements for teachers. In most cases, educational or administrative professionals working in schools must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and the proper certification or licensure. After earning a Ph.D. in educational administration online, prospective administrators must adhere to state guidelines, policies, and regulations before obtaining licensure. Once certified, professionals are expected to periodically renew their credentials by completing continuing education or professional development programs. While individual certifications vary from state to state, the following credentials are among the most common.
- Principal Certification:
- Many students who complete doctoral programs in educational administration online intend to pursue principal positions. This certification offers leadership training and coaching for prospective principals.
- School Administrative Certification/Licensure:
- Many individuals earn this certification while working as classroom teachers. Applicants must pass state-mandated exams that test candidates’ knowledge of state laws and curriculum standards. This credential benefits students who are interested in any administrative position, in both public and private schools.
- Education Professional Development:
- Various organizations, including the School Superintendents Association, offer continuing education and professional development exchange programs. Program graduates can document their efforts on their resumes and curricula vitae, helping them stand out in the job market and secure leadership positions.
Educational Administration Professional Organizations
Professional organizations exist in virtually every discipline and industry. These associations offer valuable resources for students, recent graduates, and seasoned professionals alike. Many provide exclusive access to online publications, full-text libraries, and other valuable resources to assist candidates pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education administration online. Some sponsor networking opportunities like conferences and seminars. Conferences present unique opportunities to meet with industry experts, present new research, and build and strengthen a global professional network.
- School Superintendents Association:
- AASA is a membership organization dedicated to helping colleagues share their best practices and ideas. Members automatically receive $1 million in professional liability insurance, in addition to legal assistance, access to online publications, opportunities to meet with executive career consultants, and leadership development workshops.
- National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification:
- This organization represents professional standards boards, commissions, and state education departments in all 50 states. NASDTEC acts as an information hub for education professionals, providing job preparation services, credentials, continuing education opportunities, and an annual conference. NASDTEC members also gain access to online webinars, job announcements, and industry news.
- National Education Association:
- With over three million members, NEA is the country’s largest professional employee organization, maintaining affiliate organizations in every state. The association’s membership base includes classroom teachers, educational support professionals, administrative members, and students. Members enjoy access to discounted legal services, exclusive news and information, discussion forums, and active job boards. NEA also sponsors regional leadership training seminars and an annual conference.
The 10 Best Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Degree Programs for 2018
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Texas Tech University
Ball State University
Sam Houston State University
Indiana State University
Terre Haute, Indiana
Governors State University
University Park, Illinois
Jefferson City, Tennessee
Berrien Springs, Michigan
George Fox University