Fastest Accelerated Online PhD in Education Degree Programs 2023

Fastest Accelerated Online PhD in Education Degree Programs 2023

We rank the fastest online PhD in education degree programs.

Key Takeaways

  • Are you a professional educator who is considering a PhD or an EdD in Education degree? If you have the determination, it may be possible to finish your doctorate degree in three years or less. Even better, there are a number of excellent accelerated degree programs that are fully online, offering increased convenience and flexibility for students.

  • A PhD in Education degree is best for educators who are interested in participating in the scientific research of educational issues.

  • An EdD in Education degree is best for educators who want to participate in the implementation of solutions and best practices in education.

 What is an accelerated online doctorate program in education?

Traditional doctorate degree programs in education typically require six to eight years to complete, longer if the degree is pursued on a part-time basis. This is a huge commitment!

The good news is that there are programs that can be completed in as little as 2-3 years! Accelerated PhD programs in education are shorter yet made more comprehensive and intense than traditional doctorate degree programs.

Accelerated online doctoral degree programs are designed for students who want to take a shorter route toward a PhD or doctorate degree.

However, these accelerated programs are not for the faint of heart. They are accomplished by completing the same amount of work in a shorter time frame. They enable students to waive two to three years of schooling to be ready for the job market more quickly.

Completing an accelerated online PhD program in education provides the same learning outcome as taking classes via a traditional on-campus PhD program. But completing this program can provide an early return on investment.

Each of the accelerated online PhD in education degree programs that we feature below can be completed in four years or less.

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 Why should you consider an accelerated online PhD in education degree?

The fastest online PhD of education and EdD in education programs provide ambitious individuals with the opportunity to earn the most advanced degree in education. Individuals who have earned terminal degrees can assume the honorary title and designation “Doctor” in their professional careers and be recognized for their authority, expertise, and credibility in their specialization.

Earning an accelerated doctoral degree also opens opportunities for career advancement that a master’s degree cannot, usually in the upper echelons of higher education institutions.

Who should consider earning an accelerated doctorate of education?

Students interested in taking their career to its highest potential should consider a doctorate of education.

For PhD and EdD in education degree holders, the wider variety of choices in administration and management, writing and publishing, and research, both in the public and private sectors, make the significant investments well worth it.

For professionals passionate about using advanced research methodologies in the in-depth examination of current educational issues, earning a doctoral degree makes sense! The ability to perform sound and sophisticated research in exploring solutions to complex issues can make a meaningful impact on education.

Professionals with a deep desire to lead education-related organizations will also find a doctoral degree in education valuable. While a love for lifelong learning is emphasized in online doctorate programs, students are also strongly encouraged to lead! This is particularly true for the practice-centric EdD in educational leadership degree programs.

Of course, earning a doctoral degree pays off in the long run! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals with a doctorate earned $1,909 in median weekly earnings—or $335 more than those with a master’s degree. Furthermore, their unemployment rate was lower at 1.5%—in comparison, master’s degree holders have a 2.6% unemployment rate.

The bottom line: The higher your education, the better your opportunities for a rewarding career over your professional life!

The Challenge of an Accelerated Online Doctorate of Education

It isn’t a bed of roses for students in acclerated online doctoral degree programs! With advanced education comes significant investments in time, effort, and money, even in making sacrifices that will compromise your relationships and professional career.

Attrition rates in doctoral degree programs in North America are also high, with an estimated 40%-50% of students not completing their degrees.

The most cited reasons are the expensive costs of earning a terminal degree (i.e., tuition and other fees), the lack of institutional support (i.e., funding and other resources from the university), and the extraordinary workload resulting in stress and burnout.

This is particularly true for students in accelerated programs with fast-track coursework and intense pressure to complete the dissertation and other requirements.

Furthermore, there’s little to no guarantee of the anticipated career advancement opportunities and their promised higher salaries and greater impact.

Bottom Line: Professionals with either a PhD or an EdD must still work hard and work smart to leverage their terminal degree—networking, creating an attractive curriculum vitae and image, and applying for jobs are your ultimate responsibility.

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 Tips for Making the Most of Accelerated Doctoral Education Program

What does this all mean for prospective students of the fastest online doctoral degrees in education programs? It means that choosing the right program and taking care to prepare yourself is key to avoiding burnout and achieving success.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re considering applying for admission into these programs.

  • Know yourself and your personal and professional goals. Know your purpose and passion for pursuing either a PhD or an EdD in education because it will be your best motivation to keep going when the going gets tough—really, really tough.

  • Research the programs you’re interested in—curriculum and courses, years to completion, tuition and other fees, financial aid, graduation requirements including residency and dissertation, and institutional support and resources. The more you know, the smarter your decision can be, and the better your chances of earning your desired doctorate.

  • Know what you want to pursue in the first place—a PhD with its emphasis on academic research or an EdD with its focus on practice and implementation. Choosing the right doctorate degree can mean actually earning it and, thus, benefiting from it!

The Bottom Line:

Don’t forget to look at the career advancement opportunities that you’ve set your sights on, too. If the type of jobs you’re aiming for only require a master’s degree and/or professional certifications, then a doctorate degree will likely not make sense, time- and money-wise.

But if you have big and bold ideas, or you want to make a huge impact in your field, or you have a wealth of research questions, then you’re likely to thrive in online doctorate degree programs.

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 What to Expect from the Fastest Online Doctorate in Education Degree Programs

The best and fastest online doctoral degree programs come in two types—a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a Doctor of Education (EdD). While these are both terminal degrees, there are significant differences that prospective students must be aware of before making their choice.

The PhD in Education degree qualifies its holders for academic research and teaching positions in colleges and universities. Many PhD holders are also involved in educational research for nonprofit organizations, think tanks, and education-related companies.

Students learn advanced research methodologies, both in the quantitative and qualitative aspects, as well as in the identification of gaps in current research. Candidates must produce new and original research that will enhance their knowledge in the field of education.

The time-to-completion differs depending on the program and concentration, part-time or full-time enrollment, and graduation requirements. Most of the fastest PhD programs don’t have a residency component. Candidates, however, must complete a dissertation that serves as their new and original research contribution.

The EdD in Education degree is suitable for professionals who want to be involved or are already involved in educational leadership positions and want more career advancement opportunities in this area.

The best EdD programs combine research skills and application of solutions, but there’s more emphasis on practice than on theory. The end goal is bringing productive changes to organizations through effective, efficient, and responsive solutions.

Key Point: The time-to-completion in accelerated EdD programs also varies depending on the program and the students’ matriculation and determination. Two-year programs do exist, but part-time students can take 3-5 years to complete them. There’s also a residency component, but there’s no usually dissertation requirement. Of course, there are exceptions.

Which online education doctorate degree is best?

Which one is the more difficult doctorate degree in education?

Both have their fair share of challenges but many experts agree that EdD degree programs can be more challenging because of an added layer—identifying a specific problem and proposing a viable solution for it.

Such a practical approach can be more challenging because of the myriad of factors in real-world settings that can affect the viability of the proposed solution.

Admissions Requirements

The admission requirements, criteria, and process among online doctoral degree programs differ, too, primarily depending on whether it’s a PhD or an EdD program.

On one hand, PhD degree programs are more likely to emphasize academic prowess and research capability and, thus, place a heavy emphasis on undergraduate and/or graduate academic performance, research projects, and standardized test scores.

Many PhD programs don’t even require a master’s degree and/or work experience if the prospective student has demonstrated exceptional academic and research potential.

On the other hand, EdD degree programs usually require prospective students to have extensive first-hand experiences with systemic real-world problems. The reason: Candidates for the doctorate degree are required to propose viable solutions for the specific issues they have identified. The best way is first-hand exposure to the causes and effects of the identified issue through extensive work experiences.

With that being said, prospective doctoral students must be prepared to comply with these typical admission requirements to PhD and EdD in Education degree programs:

  • Either a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in education and other related specializations, usually with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA for selective programs
  • Professional experience in education and other related fields, usually a minimum of 3-5 years, in a supervisory capacity
  • Personal statement that demonstrates your readiness and preparation for postgraduate study (There may or may not be a required format provided)
  • Letters of recommendation from supervisors, professors, and other professional references
  • Resume or curriculum vitae that highlight your education, accomplishments and professional experiences relevant to the doctorate degree program you’re applying for

Additional Requirements

Many PhD and EdD degree programs also conduct interviews with applicants to determine their readiness and preparation for the rigors ahead. The best applicants demonstrate not only academic and research prowess but also effective time management, organization, and stress management skills, among other traits. These qualities will be especially important in an accelerated degree program.

Note that doctoral degree programs tend to be selective in their admissions for many reasons, foremost among them their reputation in the academe as a producer of successful doctorate degree holders.

Time-to-completion

The time-to-completion for online doctoral programs varies widely from two years for EdD programs to five years for PhD programs. But an accelerated online program can reduce time-to-completion and, thus, decrease the costs, too.

In traditional PhD degree programs, the specifics will vary but the typical year-to-year progression can be:

  • First year: Completion of advanced coursework
  • Second year: Completion of more advanced coursework and start of preparation for comprehensive exams
  • Third year: Study for and pass the comprehensive exam while also starting research on your dissertation proposal
  • Fourth year: Pass your dissertation proposal for approval and, once approved, start work on your dissertation
  • Fifth year: Complete your dissertation, submit it to the committee for approval, and defend it followed by applying for graduation once you passed the final defense

Note that the fastest online PhD programs in education often combine the first and second year, and the fourth and fifth year, shortening the time to graduation.

Key Point: Typical timelines to graduation in a traditional PhD degree program are 5-8 years of full-time study, research, and writing. However, an accelerated degree program can be completed in as little as two years.

 Factors in Degree Completion Time

What are the factors that contribute to the length of time it takes to complete a doctorate degree, particularly a PhD or EdD in Education?

First, the dissertation is the most challenging part—researching, writing and rewriting, and defending it isn’t for the faint of heart and mind. The challenge lies in making a new, original, and notable contribution to the existing body of knowledge—and the devil is always in the details with dissertations.

Second, the obligations that come with teaching and research assistantships can get in the way of writing your dissertation. Aside from your postgraduate coursework, you will be expected to teach at least one course every term or work as a research assistant. While assistantships pay for part of your tuition, these come with time-bound obligations.

If assistantship funding stops, then you have to find paid work for your education and living expenses. This will take time away from writing your dissertation and extend your time-to-completion.

There’s the possibility of being part of the ABD army—All But the Dissertation. The requirement for candidates to have their papers published in peer-reviewed academic journals can extend their time-to-completion by two years or more.

And then there are your personal commitments, too, particularly to your family and especially if you’re the breadwinner.

Key Point: careful planning, surrounding yourself with a strong support system, and setting realistic expectations are a must for success, and will help to keep the length of the degree program to a minimum.

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 Number of Credits in Education Doctorates and PhDs

The required number of credits for completion in online doctoral programs varies between 60 credits (EdD) and 90 credits (PhD), but it can be lower or higher. The actual number is also influenced by the concentration, the university’s policy, and the state requirements (e.g., Ohio requires a 60-credit minimum beyond a bachelor’s degree).

A credit hour in doctoral degree programs refers to the amount of time required for course completion, and the time can include classroom lectures, research work, and dissertation work.

In most universities, a postgraduate course can be 3-4 credits and each credit equals 30 hours’ worth of work. This means about 90-120 hours’ worth of lessons and research.

Students can reduce the number of credits they have to complete in the doctorate degree program by transferring credits from a master’s degree, from professional credentials and work experiences, and from military training. Transferring credits can significantly shorten the time to program completion. This is especially important when a student wants to finish a degree as quickly as possible.

For example, a superintendent’s license can be worth 15 credits in a doctorate program.

Coursework and Concentrations

Online programs usually have the same coursework as on-campus programs, even the same on-campus faculty members leading online classes. But there will be differences in the core coursework based on the concentration or specialization.

Doctoral students in accelerated online programs can choose from several concentrations like:

  • Education Policy and Program Evaluation
  • Reading and Literacy
  • Educational Leadership and Management
  • Adult Education
  • Community College Leadership
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Multiculturalism and Diversity
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Education Policy

The online courses in the fastest education degree programs are just as varied—and challenging—due to their advanced concepts and framework.

Typical courses include:

  • Advanced qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Case studies and research in higher education policy and practice
  • Curriculum theory
  • Theoretical perspectives in educational settings
  • Principles and practices of educational administration
  • Learning theories and educational processes
  • Dissertation research and writing

Key Point: Before applying to an online doctorate program, be sure to check the curriculum and course descriptions, if any, to determine if these are suitable for your desired field of expertise.

The Online Learning Experience of an Online PhD in Education

The best accelerated online programs offering doctorate degrees in education have the same curriculum, degree requirements, and academic expectations as on-campus programs. But their difference lies in the delivery of online courses—through a learning management system (LMS) and other digital technologies.

This is true for both traditional and accelerated doctoral programs in terms of delivery, but doctoral students in the latter should expect more academic rigor.

Students in the fastest online doctorate programs, nonetheless, can expect the following aspects of online education:

  • Access to learning materials, resources, and references for the online courses is via a cloud-based platform
  • Submission of assignments and other academic requirements is also done via the same platform
  • Synchronous and asynchronous classes are common
  • Peer-to-peer and professor-to-student interactions can be made via the LMS and other technologies, such as Zoom and social media

The best online programs also provide doctoral students with exceptional student support services. These include tech support, library services, tutorial, mental health counseling services, writing, and career services.

The Bottom Line: Beware of falling into complacency with online programs having less structure than on-campus programs! Particularly in an accelerated degree program, there will be deadlines to meet, academic and assistantship obligations to comply with, and professors and peers to deal with.

Tuition and Fees

Even with less commuting and incidental costs, prospective doctoral students in online programs must be aware of the total cost of attendance. In short order, earning a doctorate degree in education is an expensive proposition! This is true even with funding support like scholarships, grants, and assistantships so much so that student loans are common.

According to Education Data, the average cost for an EdD degree is $111,900 while a PhD degree is $98,800 but doctorate degree holders can incur $108,400 in average student debt.

Of doctorate students, more than 47% use their own resources to finance their degree completion; the average grant aid varies from $10,520 to $12,811 annually.

Bottom Line: The numbers will, indeed, give you second thoughts about pursuing an accelerated online doctorate degree! Keep your eyes on the prize of better career advancement opportunities, higher pay, and lower unemployment rate and the costs will not seem so overwhelming.

 Career Options for Doctorate in Education Degree Holders

Professionals with an EdD in Education degree usually have a wider variety of employment opportunities, from K-12 schools and higher education institutions to civic service and nonprofit sectors.

The possible job titles include:

  • Chief academic or learning officers
  • Instructional and curriculum coordinators
  • Postsecondary education administrators
  • Elementary and high school education administrators

Professionals with a PhD in Education degree pursue academic research and teaching positions and, thus, become college and university professors with research projects. Becoming professional researchers in diverse settings, as previously mentioned, is also a rewarding career.

Ranking Methodology for Accelerated Online Education PhDs

With that being said, do you have a keen interest in earning a doctoral degree, despite challenges, costs, and all?

Then, take a look at our list of the fastest online doctoral degrees in education programs!

We chose these accelerated online programs based on the following criteria:

  • Regionally accredited institution offers the fast-track program
  • Academic excellence and impactful research contributions are crucial aspects of the accelerated programs
  • Institutional support in the form of funding, professor-to-student mentorship, and student networking
  • Overall reputation as an education of higher institution
  • Exceptional student support services
  • A shortened time to completion of no more than three years

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 Fastest Online Doctorate in Education Degree Programs

 New York University

Greening its modern campus is among the top priorities of New York University, and it’s a bold move considering its strategic location. With its massive purchases of wind energy, it’s at the forefront of renewable power among the country’s prestigious universities. Indeed, NYU is among the greenest colleges in the US, according to the EPA!

NYU’s EdD in Leadership and Innovation, an accelerated degree program with a cohort model, attracts the best and brightest from diverse industries invested in education and learning. Here, their shared rigorous academic experiences enable them to implement scalable and sustainable organizational change.

Graduates are empowered by their core competencies and, thus, become better leaders in executive-level positions.

The courses covered in the doctoral program include organizational theory, educational policy, and leveraging partnerships. Online doctoral students also master applied research methods, apply data and management ethics, and develop their leadership skills for change and innovation.

Eligibility requirements include bachelor’s and master’s degrees and at least 7 years of leadership experience.

  • Required Credits: 42 credits beyond master’s degree level
  • Completion time: 24 months
  • Format: Online

What we love about NYU:

NYU is a prestigious university with a global outlook and reach, and it’s evident in its diverse student body, wide range of academic programs, and an excellent study-abroad program. There are also international campuses, academic centers, and research programs in 25+ countries abroad.

NYU is great for students who:

Thrive under pressure, love the metropolitan vibe, and passionate about making a meaningful impact

NYU might not be the best fit for students who:

Don’t want to put in the hard work to make a difference

University Fast Facts

  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Institution Type: Private research university
  • Admission Rate: 13%
  • Graduation Rate: 85%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 53,576
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Learn More about New York University.

 Liberty University

Affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Liberty University brings world-class education via its online programs and, thus, makes it more accessible and affordable. Students, however, are welcome to visit and take on-campus classes at its expansive 7,000-acre campus.

Liberty’s PhD in Education program features 8-week accelerated courses designed to produce the next generation of top researchers, educators, and scholars in the field of education. The 100% online program enables students to earn the advanced degree faster by transferring up to 50% of the required credits for completion.

Students receive the best training possible in organizational leadership, educational management, and educational research, among others. Graduates are sought-after by public and private entities eager to experience effective, efficient, and responsive change in their organizations.

The accelerated doctorate program has several concentrations that students can choose from:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Educational Law
  • Instructional Design and Technology
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Special Education

This is among the most affordable accelerated doctoral programs, too, thanks to the tuition freeze that Liberty University has implemented for the past 7 years. Students also benefit from the optional on-campus intensives and integrated dissertation process.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 3 years
  • Format: Online

What we love about Liberty University:

While it’s a fairly conservative Christian university, Liberty provides its students with a wide range of fun and wholesome extracurriculars! Concerts, sports events, and movie nights are a few examples.

Liberty University is great for students who:

Love a college education imbued with the values of Christianity and their real-world applications

Liberty University might not be the best fit for students who:

Like the freedom of choosing their lifestyle, particularly when it comes to sex, cohabitation, and alcohol use

University Fast Facts

Location: Lynchburg, Virginia

Institution Type: Private Baptist university

Admission Rate: 51%

Graduation Rate: 47%

Online Student Enrollment: 115,000

Accreditation/s: Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about Liberty University.

 Ashland University

Accent on the individual is the motto of Ashland University, and it encapsulates the university’s robust commitment to the quality education and experiences for its students. The classroom and campus environments highlight the close-knit sense of community while the challenging academic programs encourage individual and collective accomplishment.

The EdD in Leadership Studies program reflects such an emphasis on academic challenge and sense of community through individual mentoring and group projects. Leaders looking for an accelerated doctoral program should consider the Executive EdD in Leadership Studies program.

Delivered in a condensed time frame, the program involves face-to-face classes held two weekends per month at the Columbus Center. The accelerated doctoral coursework includes leadership core courses, research core courses, cognate area, and dissertation.

With courses like Leadership Theory, Organizational Development, and Change Process and Professional Development, students are well-prepared to make productive changes in their organizations. Their advanced research skills are developed through courses like Qualitative Inquiry and Quantitative Research Design.

Admission into the accelerated doctoral program requires a master’s degree with at least 3.3 GPA and a 6-item admissions portfolio with letters of recommendation, a complete resume, and a writing sample.

  • Required Credits: 59 semester hours beyond the master’s degree
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: On-campus

What we love about Ashland University:

Each student is provided with individual attention and with diverse opportunities to enjoy the best possible college experience, from a liberal arts education to extracurriculars.

Ashland University is great for students who:

Desire a truly diverse campus community while still enjoying close-knit relationships, thanks to its mid-sized campus community

Ashland University might not be the best fit for students who:

Like plenty of things to do in the nearby city or town

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Ashland, Ohio
  • Institution Type: Private university
  • Admission Rate: 70%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 6,243
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about Ashland University.

 Baker University

From its humble beginnings, Baker University has become a highly respected university with on-campus and online programs in a wide range of disciplines. Recognized for its academic excellence and real-world perspective, the university delivers high return on investment for its graduates.

This is also true for the EdD in Leadership in Higher Education program where graduates are well-positioned for leadership roles in colleges and universities, think tanks, and other organizations.

Students in the online program attend classes through videoconferencing technology and tackle core courses in leadership, such as Foundations and Contemporary Leadership in Higher Education.

There are two field experiences that enable students to test out their abilities in real-world settings. The dissertation development phase consists of 20+ credit hours while the 2-credit portfolio presentation replaces the comprehensive exam. Students must also complete and defend their dissertation before they can earn the doctorate degree.

Applicants must have a master’s degree with at least 3.0 GPA, at least one year experience in a college or university, and four references.

  • Required Credits: 59+
  • Completion time: 3 years (2 years for coursework completion and 1 year for completion of dissertation)
  • Format: Online

What we love about Baker University:

It’s not just Hogwarts with a tradition of naming its incoming classes—Baker University started its tradition in 1891! Incoming freshmen enter the campus through their respective class gate on Traditions Night.

Baker University is great for students who:

Love the camaraderie and support that comes with a small campus community

Baker University might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefers a large campus community

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Baldwin City, Kansas
  • Institution Type: Private university
  • Admission Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 4,000+
  • Accreditation: Kansas State Department of Education and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Learn More about Baker University.

 Walden University

As an accredited online university, Walden University enables its students to maintain a good work-life balance through flexible scheduling, online evaluations, and a collegial learning environment. The Student Support Team further ensures the students’ ability to complete their coursework and enjoy a productive online learning experience.

The excellent student support services are also what makes the PhD in Education program among the best in the country. Students earn a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree, too, before their dissertations have been completed. The MPhil degree is a demonstration of advanced knowledge and skills in a field that employers seek.

Students in the online program choose from several specializations:

  • Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Evaluation
  • Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy
  • Early Childhood Special Education
  • Educational Policy, Leadership, and Management
  • Educational Technology and Design
  • Higher Education Leadership, Management, and Policy
  • Learning, Instruction, and Innovation
  • Organizational Research, Assessment, and Evaluation
  • Reading, Literacy, Assessment, and Evaluation
  • Higher Education Leadership, and Policy (Self-Designed)
  • P–20 Education (Self-Designed)

The program of study includes foundation courses, specialized courses, and research courses as well as doctoral support courses, doctoral capstone and doctoral writing assessment. Students must complete four residences.

Walden University provides its doctorate students with its Doctoral Degree Coach that aids in accessing resources and tracking milestones, among other useful features.

  • Required Credits: 86 quarter credits
  • Completion time: 3 years (Maximum time-to-completion 8 years)
  • Format: Online

What we love about Walden University:

Social change and scholar-practitioner are the intertwined concepts that enable its students to make an impact.

Walden University is great for students who:

Like the flexibility of an online education

Walden University might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a full-on, on-campus college experience

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Institution Type: Private online for-profit university
  • Admission Rate: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 49,695
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about Walden University.


 Monmouth University

While it’s a top regional private university, Monmouth University is widely considered as the more affordable option in New Jersey. Nearly 99% of its students receive financial assistance from the state and federal government and from the university.

Students also thrive in an activity-filled campus where everything from live shows and sports events to social awareness gatherings are aplenty.

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program encourages peer-to-peer and professor-to-student interactions, too, via its online learning platform and other technologies. Students learn the best practices for transformational change in education as a cohort and develop their design-based research skills and analytical thinking skills.

Students tackle courses classified into five learning strands—Leadership and Learning, Transformative Leadership, Policy and Procedures, Research and Assessment, and Transformative Leadership Project. Students produce a professional portfolio and a dissertation as part of the fifth learning strand.

Applicants must have a master’s degree in education, business administration, or related field with at least a 3.25 GPA, as well as submit a current resume, letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. An interview will be conducted for shortlisted applicants to determine their overall suitability.

  • Required Credits: 54
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Hybrid

What we love about Monmouth University:

Bruce Springsteen and his works are celebrated at Monmouth University through academic symposia and the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music.

Monmouth University is great for students who:

Like a mid-sized campus and diverse choices in challenging academic programs

Monmouth University might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a large campus in or near a bustling city

University Fast Facts

  • Location: West Long Branch, New Jersey
  • Institution Type: Private university
  • Admission Rate: 84%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 5,675
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Learn More about Monmouth University.

 Lipscomb University

Priding itself on being a standard-bearer in Christian education, Lipscomb University is also among the best national universities in the United States. With the combination of rigorous academic programs and practical training, it’s also considered a best-value university with a 95% job placement rate for its graduates 6 months after graduation.

The popularity of its EdD in Learning Organizations and Strategic Change program can be attributed to such an exceptional reputation in higher education! Students in both K-12 and post-secondary sectors are welcome to apply and learn advanced educational leadership, research and innovations with a strong Christian perspective. The program has an optional Higher Education Cognate for students interested in the higher education sector.

Students in the hybrid program attend online courses delivered in both the asynchronous and synchronous formats. There are several in-person intensives, too, such as the on-campus 3-day intensive during the program’s start, a 10-day international experience, and an on-campus 3-day intensive during the sixth semester.

The culminating requirement is a collaborative dissertation where real-world issues in education are addressed. Students must defend their dissertation either via Zoom or on-campus.

  • Required Credits: 54
  • Completion time: 3 years
  • Format: Hybrid

What we love about Lipscomb University:

The decades-old traditions of Lipscomb University contribute to a fun college experience! Don’t miss the Singarama where students produce their own 25-minute shows, usually to great success and for a prize.

Lipscomb University is great for students who:

Love a mid-sized campus community where there are plenty of people to meet, places to go, and things to do to break the academic routine

Lipscomb University might not be the best fit for students who:

Love the full-on college experience complete with alcohol-fueled parties

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Nashville, Tennessee
  • Institution Type: Private research university
  • Admission Rate: 74%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 4,600
  • Accreditation/s: Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about Lipscomb University.

 Milligan University

Recognized for its exceptional liberal arts approach in higher education, Milligan University makes it even more conducive for students to learn and grow. The 355-acre campus features picturesque landscapes while the academic programs are as diverse as the student body—100+ majors and minors.

No wonder it’s considered among the best value schools and best regional universities in the South!

The CAEP-accredited EdD in Educational Leadership program is among Milligan’s most popular due to its emphasis on transformative leadership in accordance with the times. Students prepare for leadership roles that cover human resource management, public policy, and finance and technology, among other aspects.

Graduates earn a license in Instructional Leadership, too, which is essential in school administrator and principal positions. Students benefit from the robust education and business administration programs from which many of its courses are based on.

The coursework includes Literacy for Instructional Leaders, Management and Leadership, and Ethical and Instructional Evaluation Practices.

The beauty of the doctorate degree is in its flexibility in application. Graduates can find rewarding careers in public and private school systems, as well as in government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

This is a cohort-based accelerated doctorate program with 10-20 students in each cohort and with students taking on 3-4 courses every term. A practice-based dissertation is required for graduation.

  • Required Credits: 57
  • Completion time: 24-30 months
  • Format: Hybrid

What we love about Milligan University:

Students love the beautiful campus and its proximity to a wide range of entertainment, recreation, and dining options, from shopping malls to outdoor activities.

Milligan University is great for students who:

Thrive under the tutelage of professors with a passion for teaching and experiential learning

Milligan University might not be the best fit for students who:

Like a large campus community

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Milligan College, Tennessee
  • Institution Type: Private Christian university
  • Admission Rate: 60%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 1,100+
  • Accreditation/s: Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges

 University of Louisiana at Monroe

The University of Louisiana at Monroe is known for its collaborations with community stakeholders that benefit the campus community, particularly the students and their opportunities for experiential learning.

The latest collaboration is between ULM and The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum, which will result in student internships, ROTC participation, and assistance with museum curation.

The Ed.D in Curriculum and Instruction also emphasizes collaboration between professionals in connecting theory and practice in finding solutions for current curriculum and instruction issues.

Such a practical mindset underlined by a robust theoretical framework is possible through well-thought courses like Curriculum Theory and Design, Assessment for Program and Instructional Decision Making, and Evaluation, Theory, and Practice.

The 8-week courses are delivered online and students can choose from five start dates every year. Students, however, must be aware of their responsibilities, such as maintaining a satisfactory grade on their courses.

Applicants must have a master’s degree in any discipline—a teaching certificate isn’t required—and satisfactory GRE scores. Official transcripts must be submitted, too.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online

What we love about ULM:

The 238-acre campus features tree-shaded areas that contribute to its beautiful environment. Students have plenty of study areas as well as areas for socialization that contribute to their fun college experience.

ULM is great for students who:

Like a mid-sized campus community where the academic programs are some of most outstanding in the region.

ULM might not be the best fit for students who:

Want world-class research opportunities

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Monroe, Louisiana
  • Institution Type: Public university
  • Admission Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 57%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 8,215
  • Accreditation/s: Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about University of Louisiana at Monroe.

 University of the Cumberlands

Resilience isn’t just a buzzword for the University of the Cumberlands—it has survived multiple wars, social unrest, and economic depressions that would have felled a lesser institution! While its target population lives in the Appalachian states, its online academic programs have extended its reach to the rest of the United States and abroad.

Indeed, many of the students of its PhD in Leadership Studies program come from across the country. Students can work full-time while earning the degree, thanks to the convenient online format and flexible schedules.

This program of study prepares grad students for the challenging work of leading organizations through impactful research, as well as for careers in academia and think tanks.

This is among the most comprehensive doctorate programs because of the wide range of concentrations available, namely:

  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • English
  • Health Professions
  • History
  • Information Systems
  • Instructional Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Missions and Ministry
  • Nursing
  • Student Personnel Services

The PhD in Leadership Studies and the EdD in Educational Leadership programs have the same curriculum, except that the PhD program has six additional hours. These hours are in a graduate course in leadership theories and concepts and one course in non-academic research methods and statistics. An approved dissertation is a must for graduation.

  • Required Credits: 66
  • Completion time: 3 years
  • Format: Online

What we love about UCumberlands:

Being yourself and being accepted for it is of great importance at UCumberlands, and it complements the value of a practical degree that provides the best value.

UCumberlands is great for students who:

Love an expansive campus with a diverse student body and challenging academic programs

UCumberlands might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer a small college or university

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Williamsburg, Kentucky
  • Institution Type: Private Christian university
  • Admission Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 19,000+
  • Accreditation/s: Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges

Learn More about the University of Cumberlands.

 Alverno College

While it’s a small college, Alverno College more than makes up for it by being innovative in its academic programs, promoting social mobility and ethnic diversity, and supporting learning communities.

Indeed, it’s Wisconsin’s first Hispanic-Serving Institution! Add its strong commitment to excellence in teaching and it’s no wonder that it’s among the best regional schools.

Such a strong commitment to teaching is evident in its EdD in Education Leadership program where students are provided with dissertation support from day one. Students tackle rigorous coursework that combines theory and practice relevant to educational leadership in the 21st century.

The doctorate degree program has three concentrations in addition to a doctoral completion option, the latter of which is intended for All But Dissertation (ABD) students. The concentrations are:

  • K-12 Leadership has a superintendency option requiring completion of three additional credits.
  • Higher Education Leadership for professionals who want to lead community colleges and four-year colleges and universities
  • Teaching and Learning in Higher Education enables students to lead on-campus and online colleges and universities.

Students must also complete two weekend on-campus residencies.

  • Required Credits: 51
  • Completion time: 2 years
  • Format: Online

What we love about Alverno College:

Its game-changing liberal arts education and practical career-ready training make Alverno College a powerful agent of transformational change in its community. The majority of its freshmen students are the first-generation college students in their families and, thus, break the cycle of educational poverty.

Alverno College is great for students who:

Thrive in a small campus community where personalized attention is a given but academic excellence is expected

Alverno College might not be the best fit for students who:

Like the party college experience in a large campus community

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Institution Type: Private Roman Catholic university
  • Admission Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 42%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 1,800+
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Learn More about Alverno College.

 Bay Path University

If there’s one thing to be said about Bay Path University, it’s that it takes innovation to heart and it shows in its academic programs. Aside from the traditional undergraduate programs for women, it also launched the first all-women, online accredited undergraduate degree program in the United States, known as the American Women’s College.

The EdD in Educational Leadership program, however, welcomes men and women seeking to be at the forefront of the education industry. Students train in reimagining their institutions, districts, and organizations and, thus, allow them to adopt effective, efficient, and responsive organizational change.

Students choose from two concentrations—Higher Education Leadership & Organization Studies and Transformative School Leadership (K-12). Both concentrations feature a program of study consisting of four components:

  • Signature Core: Leading Change Seminars, which consists of five classes on capacity building for innovative thinking, leadership, and change management
  • Doctoral Studies Seminars, which are three 3-day on-campus experiences done annually
  • Research Design and Execution, which consists of three classes on action, qualitative, and quantitative research
  • Action-focused Dissertation

Professionals considered as All But the Dissertation (ABD) students can also apply but must submit proof of completion of doctorate-level coursework to be considered for admission.

  • Required Credits: 42
  • Completion time: 3 years
  • Format: Online

What we love about Bay Path:

This is among the safest, if not the safest, university in Massachusetts! In addition, every student is assured of an internship, leadership training, and career coaching, among other student support services.

Bay Path is great for students who:

Want the whole nine yards in a college education—academic excellence, excellent co-curriculars and extracurriculars, and student support services

Bay Path might not be the best fit for students who:

Like an expansive campus with a more ethnically diverse student and faculty body

University Fast Facts

  • Location: Longmeadow, Massachusetts
  • Institution Type: Private university
  • Admission Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 3,221
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

Learn More about Bay Path University.

 Northcentral University

Yet another respected institution with quality and accessible online degree programs is Northcentral University.

Students and their professors interact through advanced online delivery technologies. Graduates are known to make valuable and impactful contributions to their communities, and their professional values reflect the IDEAS values of NCU.

Such emphasis on innovation, excellence, and social justice is evident in the PhD in Education program and its philosophy, curriculum, and degree requirements.

Students choose from 14 concentrations that are considered relevant in the 21st century with its unique challenges including:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • E-Learning
  • Learning Analytics in Higher Education
  • Sport and Athletic Management
  • Trauma-Informed Educational Practices

The best students have an intense desire to become recognized scholars and researchers in the field of education and, thus, make original contributions to the current body of knowledge. The structured course sequence starts with an in-depth understanding of the theoretical framework of a research-centric PhD degree in education.

There are a total of 20 courses in the program.

  • Required Credits: 60
  • Completion time: 37 months
  • Format: Online

What we love about NCU:

There are several national and international honor societies that showcase the students’ superior academic and leadership skills. Examples include the Delta Mu Delta (business), Alpha Phi Sigma (criminal justice), and Kappa Delta Pi (education).

NCU is great for students who:

Like the convenience, flexibility, and affordability of online degree programs offered by an accredited, nationally-recognized university

NCU might not be the best fit for students who:

Prefer the on-campus college experience

University Fast Facts

  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Institution Type: Private online university
  • Admission Rate: 57%
  • Graduation Rate: 38%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 12,400+
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

Learn More about Northcentral University.