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High-level positions in education should open over the next few years as baby boomers continue to retire. Among the many job openings are positions for principals, many of whom earn more than $94,000 per year. To become a principal, you generally need five years of classroom experience and an advanced degree, such as a doctorate in education. In this article, learn more about advanced online teaching degrees, program selection, and possible careers.

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Online Doctorate in Online Teaching Programs

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Online Doctorate in Online Teaching Degree Program Ranking Guidelines: We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at, 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, 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.

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The Best Online Doctorate in Online Teaching Degree Programs

  1. Pepperdine University

    Malibu, CA

    A private, nonprofit university with approximately 8,000 students located in Malibu, California, Pepperdine's online teaching degree fosters exploration of advanced computer-based learning technologies. Distance learners are prepared for careers in K-12 and post-secondary educational environments and specialized positions at museums and libraries.

    This 51-credit program typically takes full-time students around four years to complete. For this hybrid degree, learners must attend some courses in person at the Malibu or West Los Angeles campus. To apply, students should provide transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities, GRE scores, a writing sample, and a personal statement. Applicants must also hold a master's degree. Prospective students who pass the first round of admissions will undergo a personal interview with Pepperdine faculty members.

  2. University of Florida

    Gainesville, FL

    UF is a public research university in Gainesville with a student body of over 55,000. It offers a hybrid cohort learning program for those seeking a doctorate in education. This online teaching degree emphasizes educational technology and specializes in training professionals who conduct research related to technology in educational environments. Of the 54 required credit hours, there are only three on-campus obligations: one two-day orientation and two four-day summer sessions at the end of the first and second years. Distance learners work through coursework with their cohort for the first two years, then prepare for qualifying exams at the end of year two.

    Upon graduation, students are ready for full-time work in K-12, post-secondary, online, and nonprofit instructional positions. Applicants must submit GRE scores, a statement of purpose, a writing sample, and letters of recommendation.

  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, IL

    U of I is a public research university that features an online education program in learning design and leadership. This doctorate in education helps educators create new and engaging learning environments with new media technologies. U of I's education faculty challenges distance learners to be innovative and progressive with a 64-credit curriculum. All doctoral students must complete a dissertation. Online students may also pursue doctoral education degrees in diversity and equity in education, global studies in education, and human resource development through U of I.

    Applicants must submit a personal statement, resume, GRE scores, letters of reference, and official transcripts. Prospective students must have a master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  4. University of Wyoming

    Laramie, WY

    UW in Laramie prepares the future leaders of K-12 educational leadership with its doctor of education degree. This online teaching degree positions online learners to take the Wyoming state board superintendent's endorsement upon completion of 26 core credit hours and a required internship. In total, doctoral students must complete 77-80 credits for graduation. During the final six credits, students write a dissertation. Full-time students can expect to spend four years completing degree requirements.

    Applicants should have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their master's program plus GRE scores of 147 or higher in verbal and quantitative, and 4.0 in analytical writing. Prospective students should also have a minimum of two years of K-12 administrative experience and a record of leadership at the district level. Applicants must also submit strong letters of recommendation along with a letter of application and a current resume.

  5. Boise State University

    Boise, ID

    Established in 1932 with a student body of over 24,000, BSU's doctorate in educational technology focuses on the use of current and emerging technologies in K-12 educational settings. This online teaching degree boasts curriculum in online teaching and learning, technology integration, educational technology leadership, software development and mobile platforms, and educational games and simulations. In addition to 66 core credits, all doctoral students complete an education specialist final project with written and multimedia components. Applications must include a cover letter, resume, writing sample, transcripts, GRE scores, and contact information for three people who can provide letters of recommendation.

  6. Nova Southeastern University

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU is a private, nonprofit university with over 21,000 students. The doctorate degree in education with a concentration in instructional technology is a 54-credit online program which requires only one visit to campus. The degree is designed for current practicing professionals with backgrounds in teaching or administration. Since all doctoral students must produce a dissertation as the culminating project, they receive instruction in qualitative and quantitative research methods. Doctoral students typically complete all course credits and the dissertation in three years. The on-campus requirement takes place at the Fort Lauderdale campus, is one week long, and can be completed during any summer semester. Applicants must have a master's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a GRE or MAT score.

  7. University of West Florida

    Pensacola, FL

    Among 18 fully online graduate degree programs, UWF in Pensacola offers a doctorate in education with a specialization in instructional design and technology. The 66-credit program readies students for leadership roles in education, implementation of innovative instruction techniques for learning environments, and conducting applied research studies. Within this specialization are two concentrations: performance technology and distance learning. The former concentration is for online learners investigating how instructional technology can improve educational programs, while the latter targets online doctoral students developing expertise in the theoretical constructs and best practices in the design, implementation, and evaluation of distance learning. Prospective students must already have a master's degree with a minimum 3.5 GPA and recent GRE or MAT scores.

  8. Old Dominion University

    Norfolk, VA

    ODU is a public research institution with over 25,000 students. Located in Norfolk, Virginia, this online teaching program allows distance learners to focus on instructional design and technology. This 60-credit Ph.D. in education prepares students for in-demand, technology-driven careers at college and universities, public and private learning organizations, and in the military. Degree candidates focus on instructional design techniques, human performance technology, and distance education. All classes include cognitive theory, research, and practical application components. Online students can also earn a modeling and simulation certificate at ODU by completing four additional courses.

    Prospective students should have a master's degree in a related educational or technology field. Applications require official transcripts, a cover letter, three references, and official GRE scores. Students pursuing this online teaching degree must maintain a 3.25 GPA or higher in all major courses.

  9. Regent University

    Virginia Beach, VA

    Regent is a private Christian university in Virginia Beach. Its doctoral program in educational leadership with a concentration in technology and online learning readies degree seekers for teaching and leadership careers in K-12 programs, higher education, and corporate settings. To graduate from this online education degree, students complete 75-77 credit hours. During the final semester of coursework, degree seekers must take the departmental examination to advance to candidacy. Online learners then conduct original research and write a dissertation that demonstrates technical competence in the field and strong research skills. Applications should include a resume, official transcripts, and GRE scores.

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Choosing an Online Teaching Program

First, decide whether you want to pursue a Ph.D. or an Ed.D. Most Ph.D. candidates plan to teach in higher education, improving their own students' teaching skills and performing research on teaching best practices. Ed.D. graduates generally aspire to work as administrators, improving the educational system at the local, state, or national levels. An Ed.D. student may develop a policy change for her school or district and use the results as her dissertation's foundation.

Once you decide which degree works for you, investigate online teaching degrees that offer concentrations fitting your academic interests and postgraduate career plans. Most program concentrations emphasize educational leadership, research, and the overlap between education and public policy. Some programs boast unique concentrations such as international education. If a Ph.D. or Ed.D. program lacks concentrations, it may still allow you to tailor your education through independent study, research projects, or the dissertation. If you have a question about a program's courses or concentrations, contact that department to learn more.

What Else Can I Expect from an Online Doctorate in Online Teaching Program?

Your educational experience depends on the course and concentration offerings at the university you attend. For this reason, invest time researching the courses and concentrations offered by the online programs on your shortlist. In the next two sections, learn more about popular concentrations and courses offered by the nation's best online programs.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Doctoral Degree in Online Teaching

Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Online Teaching

  • Introduction to Doctoral Studies:
    In this course, students hone the academic skills required to excel in doctoral programs. In a teaching degree online program, a classroom activity might include analyzing a dissertation's strengths and weaknesses. All doctoral students take this or a similar course when they begin their programs.
  • Research Design:
    Doctoral students often take one to two research design courses before they begin the dissertation process. Students analyze different research methods and practice fundamentals such as writing a thesis, crafting a research plan, and creating an outline.
  • Social Justice in Education:
    This course appeals to students who want to correct racial and socioeconomic injustices many students face during their education. Students analyze the history of social justice in the classroom along with the issues standing in the way of equitable education for all students.
  • Higher Education and the Law:
    This course provides future postsecondary administrators knowledge of legal topics that affect higher education, such as campus safety reform and sexual harassment.
  • Contemporary Leadership Models:
    In this course, students learn how to reform an organization's leadership structure. To discover effective solutions, students analyze reform efforts from around the country and around the world. Students who excel in this course often work as advisors at colleges, universities, or school districts.
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Careers with a Doctorate in Online Teaching

  1. Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal:
    Principals at the elementary, middle, and high school levels implement new policies, evaluate teachers' performance, and act as their schools' spokespersons. Many schools and districts require that principals possess a doctorate; these employees often benefit from an automatic salary increase.
    • Median Annual Salary: $94,390
    • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
  2. Postsecondary Teacher:
    Postsecondary teachers who possess online teaching degrees educate the next generation of teachers. Job duties include creating curricula, writing academic papers, and presenting research findings at conferences. Although some postsecondary teaching positions may require only a master's degree, tenure-track positions, cater exclusively to applicants with an Ed.D. or a Ph.D.
    • Median Annual Salary: $76,000
    • Projected Growth Rate: 15%
  3. Postsecondary Education Administrator:
    Postsecondary education administrators work at colleges and universities, overseeing the work performed by a single academic department. Administrators who possess doctorates in teaching typically administer their schools' education departments. On the job, their responsibilities closely resemble those performed by principals. These administration positions typically require candidates to hold a doctorate and complete at least five years of teaching at the postsecondary level.
    • Median Annual Salary: $92,360
    • Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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