Most Affordable Online EdD Education Programs in 2021

Most Affordable Online EdD Education Programs in 2021

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Laurie Garrison
Updated September 26, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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A doctorate in education (Ed.D) prepares educators for leadership roles in academia. Generally considered a practice-based doctoral program, the Ed.D. focuses on the application of research data and findings to existing problems and challenges in education. Most Ed.D. degree-holders work as academic deans, college presidents, principals, or district superintendents.

Several accredited institutions offer online Ed.D. programs that enrollees can complete while holding down a full-time job. Most students earn the degree within 3-4 years, depending on their enrollment status, educational background, and work experience. Ed.D. programs typically require applicants to hold a master' degree in education or a closely related field such as psychology, social work, or even business.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a higher-than-average growth rate of 9% for postsecondary teachers, many of whom pursue a doctorate in their concentration area. The BLS projects only average growth rates for principals and postsecondary education administrators between 2019 and 2029. These professionals earned 2019 median salaries that are higher than the national average ($96,400 and $95,410, respectively, versus $39,810).

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Most Affordable Online EdD Education Programs in 2021

  • University of Michigan-Flint

    Flint, MI



    The school of education and human services at UM-Flint offers an online doctor of education program comprising 34 credits. Most students earn the Ed.D. in three years. Although all courses are available online, students attend one on-campus Saturday class session each month. Like many online Ed.D. programs, UM-Flint's doctor of education program follows a cohort format.

    The 34-credit curriculum includes 15 credits of core coursework, six research credits, and 13 credits of dissertation work. Students take classes in educational policy, school law and equity issues, professional standards and community relations, and quantitative and qualitative research methods. After completing coursework, students must pass a comprehensive exam before beginning their dissertation research.

    Applicants must hold an education specialist degree and a minimum 3.3 GPA. Applicants have at least three years of professional experience in a preK-16 school or in a field closely related to education. UM-Flint is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    • Graduation rate: 40%
    • Program length: 3 years
    • Credits: 34 credits
    • Admission requirements: Education specialist degree, 3.3 GPA, three years of professional experience
    • Program Website
  • University of Southern Mississippi

    Hattiesburg, MS



    USM offers a completely online doctor of education program through the college of education and human sciences. The Ed.D. in educational administration comprises 54 quarter credits, and students complete coursework in a synchronous format. Doctoral students complete a capstone project instead of a dissertation.

    Applicants must submit scores from the GRE or another acceptable standardized graduate admission exam. Scores must be from an exam taken no more than five years prior to the date of application. Most students complete the program, including the capstone project, within three years. Students may transfer up to one-third of the required credits from another accredited institution. However, transfer credits are subject to the review and approval of the Ed.D. director.

    The Ed.D. curriculum includes 30 quarter credits of core coursework and 12 quarter credits each of research and capstone work. The core curriculum covers topics such as public school finance, administrative approaches to technology, preK-12 education policy, and education facilities development and management. USM holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    • Graduation rate: 49%
    • Program length: 3 years
    • Credits: 54 credits
    • Admission requirements: Educator license, three years experience
    • Program Website
  • Arizona State University-Skysong

    Scottsdale, AZ



    ASU's online doctor of education program requires 90 credits beyond a bachelor's degree and 60 credits beyond a master's degree. New students can enroll during the fall or spring semester. Some online courses last 7.5 weeks, while others follow a regular 15-week schedule.

    The Ed.D. in leadership and innovation curriculum includes coursework in dynamic contexts of education, innovation in teaching and learning, systems change and leadership, and advanced quantitative methods. Students explore challenges and solutions in key practice contexts, such as preK-12 and higher education. Learners also explore systems, professional, and reimagined change leadership. Students complete an action-research dissertation.

    Applicants with a bachelor's degree must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA during the last 60 credits of undergraduate study. Applicants with a master's degree must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative graduate GPA. The doctoral program requires applicants to submit a personal statement and an academic writing sample. Unlike many online Ed.D. programs, ASU does not require applicants to submit GRE scores. ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    • Graduation rate: 4%
    • Program length: 3 years
    • Credits: 90 credits
    • Admission requirements: 3.0 GPA
    • Program Website
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, IL



    U of I offers an online doctor of education in educational policy, organization, and leadership. The program comprises 64 credits, and students can choose a concentration in diversity and equity in education, human resources development, learning design and leadership, or global studies in education.

    Doctoral candidates must pass two written qualifying exams and write and defend a dissertation. Courses typically last eight weeks during the fall and spring semesters and six weeks during the summer term. Applicants must hold a master's degree and have a graduate GPA of at least 3.0. U of I holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    The university delivers program coursework synchronously, allowing for real-time interaction among students and professors. The synchronous format facilitates communication and fosters collaboration. Each class meets once a week in the evenings to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.

    • Graduation rate: 85%
    • Program length: 3 years
    • Credits: 64 credits
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree, 3.0 GPA
    • Program Website
  • University of Minnesota-Duluth

    Duluth, MN



    UMD delivers its doctor of education program in a hybrid format. Unlike students in fully online Ed.D. programs, learners at UMD complete both in-person and online components. The Ed.D. program requires 76 credits: 37 core credits, 24 dissertation credits, and at least 15 credits of electives or supporting research courses.

    The Ed.D. curriculum includes courses in the historical, social, and philosophical foundations of education. Doctoral students also explore teaching and learning in a systems context; theories, principles, and methodology of assessment in organizational systems; and educational policy. Full-time students usually graduate within four years.

    The program accepts applications from master's degree-holders with a minimum 3.0 graduate GPA. Applicants must submit GRE scores that are no more than five years old. The program follows a cohort model. UMD is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    • Graduation rate: 62%
    • Program length: 4 years
    • Credits: 76 credits
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree, 3.0 GPA, GRE scores 
    • Program Website
  • University of Mary

    Bismarck, ND



    The online doctorate in education at the Mary requires 60 credits. The program offers tracks in K-12 leadership and administration and in higher education leadership and administration. Although Mary offers all required courses online, students must attend a two-week residency each summer at the Bismarck campus. The Ed.D. follows a cohort model, and new cohorts begin every two years.

    Regardless of their track, doctoral students complete 33 core credits. The core curriculum covers topics such as issues and trends in education, brain-based research and learning, educational ethics, and community relations. Core requirements also include a three-credit internship.

    Applicants must submit their latest GRE scores and must hold a master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants to the K-12 track must demonstrate professional experience in a school setting. Mary holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    • Graduation rate: 60%
    • Program length: 3 years
    • Credits: 60 credits
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree, 3.0 GPA, GRE scores, professional experience
    • Program Website
  • Oregon State University

    Corvallis, OR



    Oregon State University offers an online doctoral program in education comprising 108 credits, which includes up to 30 transfer credits from an accredited master's program. Students complete 15 credits of leadership courses, 18 credits in higher education, 15 applied research credits, and 24 dissertation credits. Learners fulfill the remaining six credits through an internship experience.

    The Ed.D. program is ideal for individuals with a background in teaching, curriculum development, student services, and higher education administration. Most students complete the doctoral program in three to four years. The first two years of the program include online and in-person coursework, with all summer courses available fully online. Third-year and fourth-year students enroll in instructional research courses, which have no required in-person components.

    Applicants must have a master's degree and relevant professional experience. The program follows a cohort model, and OSU admits one cohort each fall semester. OSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

    • Graduation rate: 67%
    • Program length: 3-4 years
    • Credits: 108 credits
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree, three years of professional experience
    • Program Website
  • Allen College

    Waterloo, IA



    The online Ed.D in health professions education at Allen College requires 46 credits. Students can complete the program full time or part time. Full-time learners typically graduate in three years, while part-time students often earn the Ed.D in four years. Allen College automatically grants a 25% tuition reduction to all Ed.D. enrollees.

    The program includes coursework in curriculum theory and design in health professions; organizational development and change in education; and professional, ethical, and legal issues in health professions education. The doctoral program culminates in an education-focused capstone project.

    Applicants must hold a master's degree from an accredited U.S. college or university and must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants to the Ed.D. program must demonstrate satisfactory completion of a graduate-level statistics course. Applicants submit a writing sample, such as a published article or a term paper, and an essay on a given prompt. Allen College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    • Graduation rate: 100%
    • Program length: 3-4
    • Credits: 46 credits
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree, 3.0 GPA, graduate-level statistics course
    • Program Website
  • North Greenville University

    Tigerville, SC



    NGU offers a 60-credit online doctor of education with tracks in higher education leadership and in K-12 leadership. Learners complete online classes during eight-week terms and must attend two week-long seminars in person. Like many online Ed.D. programs, NGU's program follows a cohort model and admits students during the fall and spring semesters.

    Regardless of their track, doctoral students complete core coursework in topics including organizational development; conflict resolution, mediation, and personnel management; advanced ethical leadership studies; and politics and historical frameworks of education.

    Applicants must submit either MAT scores and a 1,000-word academic writing sample or GRE scores and a 300-word writing sample. The doctoral program only accepts applications from practitioners with at least a master's degree. NGU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    • Graduation rate: 59%
    • Program length: 3 years
    • Credits: 60 credits
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree, 3.0 GPA, GRE scores
    • Program Website
  • Concordia University-Texas

    Austin, TX



    Concordia offers a three-year, 60-credit online doctor of education program. Students can pursue a concentration in educational administration or curriculum and instruction. The educational administration concentration includes an optional superintendent licensure track. Although Concordia delivers the Ed.D program primarily online, learners must attend two week-long summer residencies on campus in Austin, Texas.

    Students in the Ed.D. program take 21 credits of core coursework. The remaining 39 credits comprise concentration courses, dissertation work, and a practicum. Students must pass a qualifying exam after completing core coursework. Dissertation work includes five research-based classes, and the curriculum prepares learners to pursue leadership roles in their district or organization.

    The program follows a cohort model and welcomes applications from education professionals who hold a master's degree. Concordia does not require applicants to submit GRE scores. The university locks in each student's tuition rate at the time of enrollment, so learners pay the same rate throughout their course of study. Concordia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    • Graduation rate: 49%
    • Program length: 3 years
    • Credits: 60 credits
    • Admission requirements: Master’s degree
    • Program Website

Our Methodology, Explained

Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Is an Ed.D. graduate called a doctor?

Yes, an Ed.D. degree-holder is a doctor. In most professional scenarios, this is the accepted practice and the preferred form of address.

What is the difference between a Ph.D. and Ed.D.?

A Ph.D. is a research-focused program that prepares graduates to become experts in their field. Although an Ed.D. also has a research component, it is a practice-centered degree that prepares graduates to be leaders in their field.

Can you teach with an Ed.D.?

Yes, Ed.D. degree-holders are academically qualified to teach at the postsecondary level in two-year and four-year institutions.

Is a Ph.D. more prestigious than an Ed.D.?

Both are rigorous, challenging programs. Preference is often dictated by the student’s educational and career goals and workplace requirements.

How much does an Ed.D. cost?

While tuition and fees vary by program, you can expect it to start at around $12,000 per year and reach $50,000 in out-of-state tuition.

How long are online Ed.D programs?

While the length of time it takes to complete an online EdD program varies by personal circumstances, a full-time student could complete the degree in three years – two years of study and one year for research and completion of your dissertation.

Online education programs are an excellent way to earn a degree with a more flexible schedule to fit your lifestyle. But unlike many other degrees, a physical therapy doctorate can’t typically be done entirely online. Instead, these programs are a hybrid model, where your education is divided between online classes, and in-person labs and clinical practice.

The structure of these hybrid programs provides plenty of benefits to students. First, given the accelerated nature, you can earn your doctorate in as little as two years. Additionally, the online learning component marks it easier to learn in an environment you’re most comfortable in. The in-person components usually happen quarterly, making them easy to schedule around.

The online learning component of these programs makes them no less rigorous. You will learn various topics, including anatomy, physiology, evidence-based practice, and many more.

Concentrations in a Doctor of Education Program

Students pursuing Ed.D. programs online also select a specialized area of focus. These concentrations provide more in-depth knowledge in these select areas. Not every online program offers every concentration, so it is important to ensure the program you are considering has your preferred choice.

Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Students completing this concentration can become experts in developing curriculum and instructional materials, to improve the effectiveness of classroom teachers. The BLS projects a faster than average growth rate of 6% for instructional coordinators, with a 2019 median pay of $66,290 and a 90th percentile rank of $103,790. Tuition and fees for an online Ed.D in this specialization can cost $13,000 or more per year.

Ed.D. in Special Education

Students specializing in this concentration develop expertise in adapting curriculum to students with learning disabilities. You can choose positions in the faculty, as an administrator, or conducting research. Among these are director of special education, applied behavior analyst, nonprofit executive director, and educational diagnostician. The BLS’s growth rate for special education teachers is 3%, the same as the average rate. The median pay is $61,030, while the top earnings can reach $98,530. Tuition typically begins at about $13,000 per year.

Ed.D. in Educational Technology

Innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) have led to concentrations in educational technology. This specialization helps students seek a variety of roles in the education sector, including executive, faculty, research, or consulting. In addition to being a professor, these graduates can hold positions as  learning software developers, chief information officers, school media specialists, university IT administrators, or corporate training directors. The BLS projects a 22% growth rate for software developers, whose median pay is $107,510 with a top range of about $164,590.

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Management

This concentration is for students who want to achieve leadership at the high school or collegiate level. It is also an area of focus for people wanting to become policy makers at the local, state, or federal level. Among the positions filled by these graduates are school principal, superintendent, professor, college dean, or educational leadership coach. The BLS projects a 4% growth rate for postsecondary administrators with a median salary of $95,410 and a top pay of $194,090.

Ed.D. in Elementary Education

This concentration focuses on education for younger learners, those in K-6 classrooms. Graduates who achieve this degree can pursue careers in the classroom, in addition to administration, research, or public policy. Roles these graduates can apply for include elementary school principal, professor or dean, education policy advisor, K-6 curriculum developer, and educational researcher. The BLS projects a 4% growth rate for principals, with a median salary of $96,400 and a 90th percentile pay of $148,630.

Career and Salary Outlook for Education Graduates

Education is a broad field with employment options for professionals with varying academic backgrounds. Many education practitioners start out as teachers, a job that requires at least a bachelor's degree. Some educators remain in the classroom, whether as high school, college, or postgraduate professors. Others opt to build a career in educational leadership as principals or district administrators. The options below represent just four professional opportunities for educational practitioners.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal
Principals perform a variety of day-to-day functions such as overseeing school operations, approving learning activities, and managing teaching and administrative staff. They also attend district-wide meetings on school budgets, curriculum development, and regulatory standards. Principals make sure the school environment remains a safe and supportive setting for students and teachers.

Postsecondary Teacher
Postsecondary instructors teach courses in specific subject areas. They develop a syllabus or teaching plan for each course that often includes classroom instruction and other types of learning activities. Postsecondary teachers keep track of student progress in their classes through tests, assignments, class participation, and special projects. They make sure their instruction plan meets departmental and university standards.

Postsecondary Education Administrator
The scope of responsibilities of a postsecondary education administrator often depends on the size of the institution and the specific department where they work. Small to medium-sized colleges often require administrators to perform multiple functions which may include coordinating student services, reviewing applications, and evaluating curriculum. Large universities usually assign an administrator for each function.

High School Teacher
High school teachers instruct grade 9-12 students and prepare them for college or the workforce after graduation. In most schools, they also supervise students outside the classroom during lunch breaks, study periods, or educational trips. High school teachers help students prepare for required standardized testing, communicate with parents regarding their child's academic progress, and coordinate learning activities with other teachers.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
< href="postsecondary-education-administrators.html#tab-1" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Postsecondary education administrators $96,410 4%
Elementary, middle, and high school principals $96,400 4%
Postsecondary teachers $79,540 9%
High School Teachers $61,660 4%

Source: BLS

What is the ROI for an Ed.D. Degree?

Depending on the college and concentration, tuition for many Ed.D. programs can start at $12,000 a year, with a three-year full time cost of $36,000. While the median salary for all occupations is $39,810, the median pay for graduates in the education sector ranges from $59,420 to $96,400. For graduates earning in the 90th percentile, the median salary jumps to a range of $90,180 to $148,090.

Ed.D. graduates will probably be able to recover their investment within one to two years, making for a good ROI on their investment.

Admisions Requirements

While admissions requirements vary by institution, most Ed.D. programs require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and either a classroom teaching background or other relevant leadership experience. Some programs also require a master’s degree.

Testing requirements vary by program. Some do not include admissions tests in their criteria. Others require Graduate Records Examinations (GRE), Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).

Accreditation for an Ed.D. in Education

Many postsecondary institutions in the United States undergo a voluntary process called accreditation to signify their commitment to quality education. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) act as overseers of the accreditation process in the country.

Degree-centered, nonprofit public and private colleges and universities seek regional accreditation. For-profit, career-focused vocational schools seek national accreditation. Regional accrediting bodies usually adhere to stricter accreditation standards than national accreditors. Because of this, regional accreditation is often considered more prestigious. However, ED and CHEA acknowledge both regional and national accrediting agencies. They make sure they maintain and apply an accepted set of standards within their competence area.

Some accrediting bodies focus on specific programs instead of entire schools. In the education field, the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation serves as the main accreditor for educational programs including an Ed.D.

Certifications and Licensure for Education Majors

The majority of professional roles in education expect a bachelor’s degree as the minimum requirement. However, from there, you can choose to pursue a master’s or doctorate degree, or a variety of certifications and licenses. A recognized credential conveys a level of knowledge and dedication and may lead to additional compensation. 

Among these credentials are a child development associate credential, national board certification for teachers, and a structured literacy classroom teacher knowledge certificate.

Scholarships, Grants, and Financial Aid for Ed.D. Students

Four-year colleges and universities offering doctoral programs often provide fellowship and scholarship opportunities for doctoral candidates. In addition, private organizations and federal agencies administer grant programs that recipients can apply toward their degree regardless of which school they choose to attend. The five funding opportunities below represent a small sample of available financial assistance for doctoral students.

AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research
Who Can Apply: Doctoral candidates from traditionally underrepresented groups in the higher education field can apply for this funding opportunity. Applicants must be in the dissertation stage of their studies and identify as African Americans, Alaskan Natives, Asian Americans, Hispanic or Latinos, and Native Hawaiian. In addition to the award, the program provides mentoring opportunities to all fellows.
Amount: $19,000

American Association of School Administrators Scholarships
Who Can Apply: AASA sponsors several scholarships for graduate students enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program in educational administration. Applicants submit answers to three essay questions in the application form, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to pursuing a career as a school superintendent.
Amount: Varies

Kapa Delta Pi Scholarships
Who Can Apply: KDP accepts applications from members pursuing an undergraduate, master’s, or doctorate in education. KDP sponsors several scholarship programs and specific application requirements may vary. In general, applicants must submit an essay addressing the issue given in the application, one letter of endorsement, and official transcripts. Applicants must be KDP members in good standing.
Amount: Varies

National Academy of Education Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research
Who Can Apply: The fellowship accepts applications from doctoral students from various disciplines. However, their dissertation must address a relevant concern in the field of education. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. institution but can hold U.S. or non-U.S. citizenship. The fellowship requires applicants to show completion of all pre-doctoral requirements of their program.
Amount: $27,500

National Association for Gifted Children Scholarship
Who Can Apply: NAGC welcomes applications for the A. Harry Passow Classroom Teacher Scholarship from K-12 teachers of gifted children. Applicants must show enrollment in or acceptance to a graduate program for advanced training in gifted education. Applicants must show NAGC membership for at least one year prior to the date of application.
Amount: $2,000

Why Should I Get a Master's in Education?

In 2015-16, there were 145,781 master’s degrees in education conferred by all postsecondary institutions. The total of master’s awarded from 2011 to 2016 was 790,716. This is compared to the 3.7 million teachers across the country. With less than a third of the country’s teachers having advanced degrees, those that do receive a master’s degree will set themselves apart from their peers.

Build Professional Network
Most Ed.D. programs follow a cohort model of education, making it easy for participants to build and maintain professional connections that last throughout the program and during their careers.
Expand Knowledge
A well-designed Ed.D. curriculum gives students the opportunity to learn about the most recent developments, theories, and research findings. Furthermore, as a practice-focused degree, Ed.D. candidates can immediately apply this new knowledge in the workplace.
Financial Benefit
As stated above, Ed.D. degree-holders earn annual median salaries much higher than the national average. Additionally, doctorate-trained professionals boast the lowest unemployment rate among U.S. workers.
Increased Career Options
Many Ed.D. graduates take high-level positions in academia. An Ed.D. also serves as excellent preparation for policy-making jobs in government agencies and top administrative positions in teaching hospitals.
Meet Job Requirements
Some senior-level positions require candidates to hold a doctorate, including college presidents, academic deans, and school district administrators. Large corporations and international nonprofit organizations with deep ties to education often prefer doctorate-trained practitioners as well.

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Laurie Garrison picture

Laurie Garrison


Laurie Garrison is a contributing writer who covers higher education, online graduate programs, and college planning for Grad School Hub and Best Value Schools. Her writing has also appeared in The Charlotte Business Journal, and the Dallas Business Journal.

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See All Posts is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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