Education involves more than just classroom teaching -- educators also work in administrative positions as principals, deans, superintendents, and higher education administrators. Educational administrators play a key role in a school's daily activities by managing staff, setting goals, and creating a vision for the school. They also manage the budget, create development and improvement plans, and oversee staff members. In these rewarding positions, educators can shape a school or program.
Many of the top educational administration jobs require a doctorate. Online Ph.D. higher education administration programs include coursework on staff management, curriculum development, and educational administration research. Doctoral candidates complete a dissertation demonstrating their advanced knowledge in educational administration. With a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) or doctor of education (Ed.D.) degree, educational administrators can pursue academic jobs as professors and researchers or work in school administration.
Professional educators considering educational administration jobs at the K-12 or higher education level may benefit from a doctorate in the field. A doctorate requires a substantial commitment, as the degree takes five years after earning a master's degree. Working educators can benefit from the scheduling flexibility of online Ph.D. in higher education administration programs. Educators seeking job advancement and the highest administrative positions can gain a competitive edge on the job market by earning an Ed.D. or Ph.D. in higher education administration online.
Online doctoral programs in higher education administration come in two forms: Ph.D. or Ed.D. Many students considering doctorates in educational administration research both Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs. While the two degrees share many similarities in terms of curricula, they prepare graduates for different career paths, so it's important to choose the right program.
An Ed.D. prepares practitioners by focusing on classroom and administration skills. A Ph.D. focuses on original research and scholarship, and graduates often go on to work in academia, educational theory, or research positions. Both Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs typically require a thesis or dissertation. The coursework in a Ph.D. program may include more research-focused material, and graduates often publish in peer-reviewed journals and conduct continuing research.
Educational administration is one of many options for students interested in earning a doctorate in education. Prospective students can also consider several related online doctorates in education. For example, an online doctorate in educational leadership also prepares graduates for careers in education management, both at the K-12 level as a superintendent or dean, or in higher education administration.
With so many choices, students considering an online Ph.D. in higher education administration may find the process of selecting the best program overwhelming. Because online programs enroll students from across the country, a prospective educational administration student's location does not determine which programs they can pursue. By considering several key factors, such as the program's cost, completion time, and specializations, students can find the best program for their career goals, budget, and interests.
The cost of an online Ph.D. in higher education administration may seem intimidating at first. However, many students benefit from in-state tuition discounts, and some Ph.D. higher education administration programs also provide discounted tuition for online students. Graduation requirements can also affect cost. While some programs require as little as 40 credits, others expect students to complete over 70 credits. Typically, an online Ph.D. higher education administration degree takes 3-5 years, but accelerated and part-time options can affect the length of the program.
Some programs offer specializations in higher education or K-12 administration, which can help graduates compete on the job market. Accreditation status also plays an important role in finding the right program. Only accredited programs qualify students to receive federal financial aid, and only credits earned at accredited institutions easily transfer to other programs. Teaching licenses and certifications may also require an accredited degree.
Online programs also come in many formats. A fully online program requires no on-campus commitments, while a hybrid program allows students to take a mix of online and in-person classes. Some programs provide both a fully online and hybrid option.
In order to enroll in an online Ph.D. higher education administration program, candidates must meet the program's admission requirements. Most programs require educational and professional experience, and they often also set GPA minimums and require application materials.
Most educational administration programs require that applicants hold a master's degree before enrolling. A master's in educational administration meets the requirement, as does a master's in educational leadership. Many programs offer convenient online options for students to earn a master's or Ph.D. in higher education administration. Candidates demonstrate their educational records by submitting transcripts, which also show their GPA. Some programs require applicants to hold a certain GPA, such as 3.0 or above, though others may accept a student with a lower GPA under a provisional admission policy.
After meeting the educational requirements, applicants must also submit a resume or CV detailing their work experience. Most educational administration programs require a certain number of years of teaching experience. Candidates must also provide a statement of purpose, detailing their reasons for pursuing an online Ph.D. higher education administration degree and their career goals after earning the degree. Most programs also require academic and professional letters of recommendation. Educational administration doctorate programs may also require standardized test scores, most commonly the GRE or MAT.
Directory of Accredited Doctorate in Educational Administration Programs
Most states require K-12 educators working in public schools to hold a teaching license. The teaching licensure process varies by state; in most states, teachers must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited educator preparation program, pass required content and teaching skills examinations, and demonstrate student teaching experience. Some states set additional requirements for students who earn their teaching degree out of state.
An Ed.D. or Ph.D. higher education administration degree may meet the educational requirements for a teaching license. However, doctors of educational administration may still need to pass examinations to earn a teaching license. Prospective educational administration students who plan to teach should check if the program meets the state guidelines where they plan to work.
Teaching licenses do not automatically transfer across state lines. Some states provide limited reciprocity, but teachers may still need to meet additional testing requirements to complete the licensure process in their new state. During the license transfer process, applicants provide proof of teaching proficiency from their current job. Most secondary teaching licenses require a content-area examination in addition to a teaching skills test. Educators must demonstrate their knowledge in every field they plan to teach.
Educational administrators working at the college level likely do not need a teaching license. Some administrative positions at the K-12 level, including principals, may require a different state license. In addition to teaching licenses, educational administrators can also pursue certifications, which demonstrate advanced abilities in educational administration and may help administrators stand out on the job market.
Online doctoral programs in higher education administration prepare graduates for many rewarding careers. Professionals with an online Ph.D. higher education administration degree often pursue work as education administrators, chief academic officers, and superintendents. Many of these fields boast well above average salaries, such as chief academic officers, who earn $123,589 a year on average. Some education administration jobs may require a teaching license; doctoral students can research teaching license requirements by state.
Postsecondary Education Administrator
At the higher education level, administrators oversee academics, student services, and faculty research. They specialize in many areas, including admissions, the registrar's office, or student life. Some administrators also manage academic programs or coordinate university services. At higher levels, postsecondary education administrators may need a doctorate in educational administration.
Median Salary: $92,360
Chief Academic Officer
Chief academic officers manage educational staff for an academic program, including hiring and evaluating faculty. They also monitor academic services to meet educational policies, implement curriculum guidelines, assess programs, and manage student services. Chief academic officers also oversee the curriculum to ensure that it meets the institution's academic objectives./p>
Median Salary: $124,680
School superintendents act as the head administrator in a school system. They coordinate between principals, school boards, teachers, and parents. The role of a school superintendent includes financial responsibility for the district budget, overseeing staffing, and managing problems in the schools, including disciplining employees. They also plan and implement the district's policies and goals.
Median Salary: $115,470
Dean of Students
The dean of students oversees the student learning experience for an institution. This includes coordinating with students, parents, and teachers. The dean of students may evaluate teachers and play a role in the tenure process at higher education institutions. Deans of students also manage student housing, student activities, and student advising.
Median Salary: $62,080
Education Program Coordinator
Education program coordinators implement educational programs, including developing and implementing curriculum plans that meet state standards. They also play a role in creating and running specialized programs, reviewing educational materials, and conducting staff meetings. As an administrator for a specific program, education program coordinators also manage staff.
Median Salary: $44,580
Students can pay for online doctoral programs in higher education administration in many ways. While some students pay tuition out of pocket at the beginning of each semester or quarter, most rely on a mix of loans, scholarships, and fellowships to cover the cost of a degree. For example, doctoral students qualify for specialized dissertation fellowships based on their research, and they can also receive subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans.
Financial aid helps doctoral students afford an online Ph.D. higher education administration degree. Students can use both public and private financial aid to cover their educational expenses. For most students, the first step is filling out a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. When filling out the FAFSA online, students provide financial information from a recent tax return; doctoral students complete the same form as others, but typically do not need to provide parental tax return information.
After completing the application, students may qualify for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. The federal government provides both subsidized and unsubsidized educational loans. Most doctoral students prefer subsidized loans, because the government pays interest on the loan until six months after graduation. With an unsubsidized loan, by contrast, the recipient must pay interest from the date they sign the loan agreement. After receiving a loan, the funds typically go to the university's financial aid office, which disburses funds at the start of the semester or quarter, or on a monthly basis. Educators may also qualify for federal loan forgiveness programs.
The federal government and some states operate work-study programs, which provide jobs for doctoral students who meet income eligibility requirements. For federal programs, students qualify by filling out the FAFSA. Typically, work-study jobs are on campus, and most programs try to match students with jobs in their field. The university's financial aid office manages the work-study program locally, setting maximum weekly hours based on the student's academic progress. The financial aid office also pays work-study students on a regular basis. The program not only provides financial support for the student's education, it also builds valuable work experience.
Tuition Reimbursement Programs
Some employers provide tuition reimbursement programs for their employees. These programs provide tuition support for employees earning a degree. Colleges and universities often provide tuition reimbursement programs for their employees who take classes through the institution. In most cases, employees enroll in courses and pay tuition as normal. After the semester, the employer reimburses the student for part or all of the tuition costs. Some programs require a minimum GPA or pay a higher amount for better grades. These programs particularly benefit doctoral students who plan to keep working while completing a degree.
Grants, Fellowships, and Scholarships
Doctoral students can also use grants, fellowships, and scholarships to pay for school. These funding sources function like gifts and do not need to be repaid, unlike loans. Students qualify for scholarships and grants by meeting eligibility guidelines and submitting an application. The funds may go through the university's financial aid office, or directly to the recipient. Fellowships may require a work commitment from the student. In most cases, this means presenting research, contributing to an organization or program, or teaching. Students considering a Ph.D. in higher education administration online can use the following list of specialized scholarships to find funding opportunities.
Scholarships for Online Doctorate in Educational Administration Degrees
Educational Administration Scholarship $2,500
Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program in Education Research $20,000
Henry H. Hill Laureate Scholarship $1,200
Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) Graduate Scholarships $500 to $1,000
Ralph W. Tyler Laureate Doctoral Scholarship $500
- American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Dating back to 1866, AASA supports administrators and superintendents by advocating for educational policies and offering its members certifications, professional development resources, and networking opportunities.
- National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Founded in 1921, NAESP serves elementary and middle school principals. The organization offers its members webinars, access to job postings, discounts on conferences, and awards.
- National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) A professional organization, NASSP advocates for high school principals. Members receive benefits such as professional learning resources, networking opportunities, and awards.
- U.S. Department of Education (ED) State Contacts The ED website lists local departments of education, higher education agencies, and other resources for teacher licensing and jobs in each state.
- Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) Educator preparation programs, including online Ph.D. higher education administration programs, undergo periodic review with CAEP to gain accreditation. Prospective students can check a program's accreditation status on CAEP's website.