Best Online Doctorate in Education Administration

by TBS Staff
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Graduates Earn an Education Administration Degree

An educational administration doctorate develops leadership and entrepreneurial skills, preparing graduates to oversee academic organizations.

Educators often pursue graduate degrees to expand their career prospects and increase their earning potential. An online doctorate in education administration helps educators advance into leadership roles. With a doctorate, graduates can work as K-12 education administrators and higher education administrators, earning median salaries of over $95,000 per year.

During online doctoral programs in educational administration, graduate students choose specializations and complete advanced coursework in educational leadership, school administration, and higher education administration. Enrollees strengthen their research and analytical skills through coursework and a dissertation. Online learning formats prioritize flexibility, which appeals to working educators who need to balance school with their careers.

This page explores the best online doctoral programs in educational administration. Prospective applicants can use our rankings to find the right fit for their interests, budgets, and career goals.

The Best Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Programs

  • Andrews University
    Location

    Berrien Springs, MI

    Founded in 1874 as Battle Creek College, the distinctive Seventh-Day Adventist institution currently supports over 3,500 students annually.

    The School of Graduate Studies at Andrews University offers two completely online doctoral degrees in education administration: doctor of education in higher education administration and doctor of philosophy in higher education administration. The former requires 60 credits for completion while the latter requires 61 credits for completion.

    Admission requirements remain the same for each program and consist of a master's degree with a minimum 3.3 GPA, three recommendations, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

  • Arkansas State University-Main Campus
    Location

    Jonesboro, AR

    Tuition

    $13459

    The Red Wolves of A-State were founded in 1909, and the school currently supports more than 14,000 students annually.

    The completely online doctorate of education in educational leadership program requires 60 credits for completion at a total cost of $26,400. Students can complete required coursework in as few as 40 months. The curriculum concludes with a doctoral dissertation.

    To apply, prospective students will complete an online application and submit official transcripts with a minimum master's GPA of 3.0, a resume, two recommendations, and one written scholarly paper.

  • Belhaven University
    Location

    Jackson, MS

    Established in 1883, this Christian university currently serves 4,400 students across undergraduate and graduate programs of study.

    The hybrid doctor of education in educational leadership program pairs online coursework with three in-person residency sessions. Curriculum consists of a minimum of 60 credits, but the total varies based on electives chosen and dissertation length.

    Students with a specialist degree in education can apply by submitting official transcripts proving a minimum 3.0 GPA, a written essay, three professional letters of recommendation, proof of a minimum of three years experience in preK-12 education, MAT or GRE scores, and a current teaching license.

  • Central Michigan University
    Location

    Mount Pleasant, MI

    Tuition

    $14372

    Founded in 1892, CMU currently hosts over 24,000 students both on campus and online across approximately 300 offered academic programs.

    The hybrid doctor of education in educational leadership program requires 63 credits for completion. Students will complete most courses online and meet once over the summer for a one-week residency. Additionally, students will gain hands-on experience through an internship.

    Admission requirements include official transcripts, three recommendations, a personal statement, a written statement showing proof of educational leadership experience, GRE scores, a resume, a signed declaration of commitment, and an interview.

  • City University of Seattle
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Founded in 1973, CityU currently serves over 6,300 students, including more than 500 international students.

    The hybrid doctor of education in leadership degree requires 90 credits for completion and includes residency options in Seattle or San Diego. Curriculum consists of leadership core classes, research core classes, comprehensive exams, concentration area classes (higher education, organizational leadership, or specialized study), dissertation, and residencies.

    Program entry requirements include official transcripts of completed master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, a resume, references, an admission statement, and an interview.

  • Clark Atlanta University
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Formed in 1988 through the consolidation of Atlanta University and Clark College, CAU currently offers 40 unique areas of study to nearly 4,000 students.

    The 60-credit-hour hybrid higher education in leadership program combines flexible asynchronous and synchronous online learning with on-campus summer residency experiences.

    Admission requirements include a completed online application, official transcripts, official GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a resume, dean of students certification form, GACE program admission assessment scores, and a letter of intent.

  • Concordia University-Irvine
    Location

    Irvine, CA

    Established in 1962, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod-aligned university located in Irvine, California, currently serves over 4,000 students.

    CUI's School of Education provides a hybrid doctor of education in leadership program requiring 46 total units for completion. The program combines flexible online coursework with in-person educational trips. Students can choose between three available concentrations: educational administration, organizational change, and special education.

    Prospective students must submit official transcripts, a resume, three letters of recommendation, a statement of intent, and a writing sample.

  • Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Drexel currently enrolls over 24,000 students across 15 schools and colleges and more than 200 offered degree programs.

    Drexel's fully online doctorate in educational leadership and management degree requires 60-61.5 credits for completion depending on which of the 10 available concentrations students select. Students can complete the program in three to five years on a part-time basis.

    Admission criteria include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a master's degree in education with a minimum 3.5 GPA, and three years of relevant work experience. Students will submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a resume.

  • East Tennessee State University
    Location

    Johnson City, TN

    Tuition

    $11062

    Founded in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School, ETSU currently supports more than 14,500 students across 10 schools and colleges.

    The College of Education, in conjunction with the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, offers an online doctor of education requiring 66 credits for completion. The program is designed for incoming students who hold a master's degree, but student's with a specialist degree can complete it in 42 credit hours.

    Admission interview criteria include official transcripts showing graduate-level GPA, four letters of recommendation, employment record, evidence of leadership, estimated leadership potential, and an analysis of speaking skills.

  • Edgewood College
    Location

    Madison, WI

    Edgewood College currently offers 60 majors and 40 minors to a student body of just over 2,000 students.

    The fully online doctor of education in higher education and leadership studies program requires 54 credits for completion, which students can typically finish in three to four years. Although not required, students can elect optional in-person residency opportunities on campus in Madison. Curriculum consists of both synchronous and asynchronous elements.

    Admission requirements include a master's degree, official transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA, two letters of recommendation, a letter of intent, and a curriculum vitae.

Best Online Programs

Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Educational Administration Programs

Educational Administration Degree Overview

An online doctorate in educational administration prepares graduates for roles as school administrators, college administrators, education researchers, policymakers, and education professors. The degree strengthens decision-making, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Practitioner-focused doctoral programs incorporate real-world situations to train students for leadership roles in education.

Many doctoral programs use specializations to tailor coursework to specific careers. For example, many institutions offer specializations for superintendents, higher education administrators, and education policymakers. Other concentrations include special education administration, international education, and learning technologies.

During a doctoral program, graduate students take core courses and electives in their specializations and typically complete a comprehensive examination to demonstrate mastery. After coursework is completed, doctoral candidates research and write a dissertation. Many Ed.D. programs also incorporate an internship or practicum to help students develop practical experience.

Professionals with doctorates in education work at the highest levels of the field. At the K-12 level, they can work as principals and superintendents. In higher education, they can pursue research roles or work as higher education administrators.

What Is the Difference Between an Ed.D. and Ph.D. in Educational Administration?

At the doctoral level, graduate students can pursue Ed.D. or Ph.D. degrees in educational administration. An Ed.D. trains students to work in a secondary or administrative teaching environment, while a Ph.D. focuses on research and academia.

Both degrees require coursework, comprehensive exams, and a dissertation, but they differ in some key ways. An Ed.D. typically requires three years, while a Ph.D. takes 4-5 years. With an Ed.D., graduates can work in school administration and higher education administration, while a Ph.D. leads to careers in academia and research.

Common Specializations in Educational Administration

During an online doctorate in educational administration, incoming degree-seekers use specializations to focus their coursework. Common specializations include school leadership, higher education, and administrative licensure, all offering focused coursework that prepares graduates for specific career paths.

Administrative Licensure

Some doctoral programs offer a licensure track to prepare graduates for school administrator licenses. Coursework covers school leadership, instructional supervision, and human resource management in education. This specialization may focus on principal preparation, superintendent licensure, or other administrative roles. Most programs with licensure options train graduates for roles in the public school system.

School Leadership

A school leadership specialization emphasizes planning, management, and administrative abilities at the school level. Educators and administrators in school leadership concentrations study community engagement, instructional leadership, and data analysis. The degree strengthens administrative skills and helps educators advance their careers.

Higher Education

In a higher education specialization, doctoral students learn best practices for managing student services and administration at the college level. Coursework focuses on evaluating institutional and student needs, designing and implementing programs, and evaluating program effectiveness. Graduates pursue careers as college and university administrators.

PreK-12 Education

A concentration in preK-12 education focuses on administration and leadership at the preschool, elementary, and secondary levels. Doctoral students take courses in school leadership, data analysis, and curriculum development. Some concentrations meet licensure requirements for principals. The specialization also explores research at the preK-12 level, preparing graduates for policymaking and administrative roles.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Program?

Earning an online doctorate in education administration typically takes around three years for full-time students. Some programs offer an accelerated route to the degree, which can take as little as two years. Program length depends on several factors, including program requirements, the student's enrollment status, and whether the school uses a cohort model.

Online doctorates can use either synchronous or asynchronous delivery. Synchronous courses use live meetings, while asynchronous courses have no set login times — only assignment deadlines. Working professionals or doctoral candidates with busy schedules may prefer asynchronous delivery.

Accreditation Educational Administration Degree Programs

Prospective students should always choose regionally accredited institutions for doctoral programs. Regionally accredited universities meet the highest standards for awarding degrees.

Educational administration programs can also hold programmatic accreditation from specialized accrediting agencies, such as the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. This agency evaluates programs based on their student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and graduation requirements.

Paying for an Educational Administration Degree

Doctoral students can pay for their degrees with savings, scholarships, fellowships, and student loans — or some combination thereof. Graduate students qualify for many of the same financial aid opportunities as undergraduates.

Graduate students can receive federal financial aid, including student loans and work-study wages. To qualify for federal aid, degree-seekers must submit Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms for every year they are in school.

FAFSA automatically considers graduate learners independent students when determining their federal student aid eligibility. Doctoral students who demonstrate financial need qualify for the federal work-study program, which connects recipients with job opportunities on campus or in their local areas.

In addition to federal aid, doctoral students often rely on institutional support to pay for their degrees. Many universities offer graduate assistantships or fellowships that include a tuition waiver and stipend. Private organizations, including professional associations, also offer fellowships for graduate learners.

Other funding sources include state financial aid, private and local scholarships, private student loans, and employer tuition assistance programs. Finally, many graduate students pay for some of their college costs out-of-pocket. An online program makes it easier to continue working while earning a degree, allowing students to maintain a steady source of income during graduate school.

Educational Administration Jobs

Educational administrators can work in several settings. At the K-12 level, they can become principals, instructional coordinators, and superintendents. These careers often require a license, and a doctorate in education administration with a licensure option qualifies graduates to apply for this credential.

Educational administrators can also work in higher education as college administrators and professors. For example, a doctorate in educational administration can lead to employment as a tenure-track professor.

Outside of education, the degree prepares graduates for roles in training and development and instructional design. Below are a few common careers for individuals with doctorates in educational administration, including median salary data and projected job growth.

College/University Education Administrators
Median Salary (2019): $97,500 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%

College and university education administrators oversee the administrative needs of higher education organizations. These education administrators manage student affairs departments, oversee financial aid offices, and work alongside registrars. Some administrators oversee academic development. Employers typically require candidate to have a graduate degree, and some positions specifically require a doctorate.

Training and Development Managers
Median Salary (2019): $115,640 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 7%

These managers assess organizations' training needs, develop programs to meet those needs, and oversee the training and development process. They review training materials, update training programs, and manage instructors who present the material. Training and development managers also assess the effectiveness of both programs and individual instructors.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals
Median Salary (2019): $98,490 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%

K-12 principals oversee daily school operations. They manage staff, set school policies, and implement curriculum standards. Principals often observe teachers, hire new staff, and meet with parents or administrators. Most principals have graduate degrees and prior classroom experience. Many states require a principal or school administrator license.

Instructional Coordinators
Median Salary (2019): $66,970 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 6%

Instructional coordinators develop school curricula, set teaching standards, and evaluate student data to modify curricula or teaching approaches. They also review educational material, train teachers on techniques or technologies, and measure curriculum effectiveness. Instructional coordinators typically have a graduate degree, prior teaching experience, and a teaching or administrator license.

Popular Questions About Educational Administration

What Is the Difference Between Educational Administration and Educational Leadership?

Both educational administration and educational leadership programs train educators for advanced positions. However, educational leadership often focuses on principal or superintendent training, while educational administration focuses on K-12 school administration and higher education administration. The top online doctoral programs in educational leadership also prepare graduates for academic roles, like professorships.

What Degree Do You Need To Be an Education Administrator?

An education administrator typically needs a master's degree to work as a school principal or superintendent. Some roles require a doctorate, including tenure-track teaching positions in higher education.

Can You Be a School Administrator Without Being a Teacher?

Most school administrators work as teachers before moving into administrative roles. In some states, a principal must hold a teacher's license before applying for a school administrator license. However, other administrative roles may not require classroom experience.

What Are School Administrator Duties and Responsibilities?

School administrators set policies for their schools or districts, oversee daily school operations, and manage budgets. They also direct staff, promote a welcoming learning environment, and report to the superintendent or school board.

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