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Online PhD in Educational Leadership
An online PhD in Educational Leadership prepares individuals to assume leadership roles, providing instructional leadership and managing daily activities in an educational setting. An online PhD in educational leadership from a top institution provides respect and admiration from peers and students. The flexibility of the online doctorate in educational leadership allows individuals to gain experience while pursuing an education, and prepares individuals with leadership skills that will allow them to excel in the field.

Online PhD in Educational Leadership Requirements

An online doctorate program in educational leadership requires time and commitment using a self-directed learning format. Successful PhD candidates must be organized, and motivated to work independently on coursework. Successful completion of coursework and subsequent employment will rely on strong dedication to achieve and lead others to success.

Candidates for an online PhD in educational leadership are required to have a master’s degree from an accredited master’s degree institution. Ideally, the master’s degree should be in one of the following fields:

  • Master in Education
  • Master in Educational Leadership
  • Master in Curriculum Design
  • Master in Education Administration

Additionally, many online PhD educational leadership students have work experience as teachers, tutors, educational administrators, assistant department chairs, or guidance counselors.


Students in an online doctoral program in educational leadership will explore educational theory, educational research, and educational policy. A good online doctorate degree in educational leadership is designed to enhance managerial expertise and address real work challenges in the education industry. Programs normally take 2-3 years to complete, and generally require 60 college credit hours. Students are normally required to produce doctoral papers based on current research in the educational leadership field, excel in exams, and design and complete a thorough dissertation based on relevant needs in the field.

Course Information

The best online PhD programs in educational leadership stress application of current research to challenges in the education industry. Personal leadership development is an area of focus in many courses, as well as an emphasis on synthesizing the learning material and applying it to real world situations.

Some common courses found in the top online educational leadership programs are:

  • Educational Leadership in Theory and Practice: This course provides analysis of the knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary in educational leaders who promote success. Students learn to identify and develop skills that will aid them in a cooperative online format. Emphasis is placed on developing safe, encouraging learning environments, and influencing social change.
  • Managing Human and Fiscal Resources in Education: This course presents strategies for effective management of human and fiscal resources in education. Future leaders learn about the financial issues that must be considered in education delivery. Courses of this nature often require students to develop a fiscal plan for an educational institution.
  • Leading and Managing Change in a Diverse Society: This course will discuss concepts and strategies for managing change in an educational setting. Emphasis is placed on cultural diversity and the role of the educational leader in promoting positive change.
  • Writing for Research and Professional Publications: Educational leaders are expected to provide guidance and support on a broader scale in this course. This online PhD course will prepare students for the dissertation process by increasing literature review and composition skills.
  • Critical Analysis of Problems and Issues in Education: This course challenges online doctoral students in educational leadership to study problems and issues that relate to present day education. Students will explore and create long-range and short-range strategies for combating these problems based on empirical research in the field.

Specializations and Concentrations

Individuals who pursue an online educational leadership doctorate normally seek to advance their career as an educational leader at local, state, and national levels. Students will study certain core courses in leadership and policy administration for all concentrations listed. Each concentration, however, will have courses specific to that concentration. It is important to determine which concentration works best after careful study of course requirements for each.

The specializations and concentrations related to an online PhD in educational leadership include:

  • Education Technology
  • Higher Education
  • Higher Education Administration
  • K-12 Education
  • Educational Leadership and Management
  • Teacher Leadership
  • Administrator Leadership for Teaching and Learning


Individuals who earn an accredited online doctorate degree in educational leadership can seek employment in a variety of upper level positions in the education field. Some popular career opportunities for graduates from top online PhD programs in educational leadership include:

  • Administrator: Administrators oversee a school’s jurisdiction. They are responsible for supervising all employees in their assigned school system, including principals, guidance counselors, and maintenance. They also evaluate curricula and teaching techniques to develop new programs. School administrators in public school systems for K-12 normally make an average salary between $83,880 and $102,830 annually. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a projected growth of 9% by the year 2018.
  • School Principal: School principals act as administrators for one specific school. They are credited with setting the academic tone for the school, and work closely with teachers to develop and maintain high standards for educational delivery. Principals must also work with parents to create resolutions to parent/student concerns, hire and evaluate teachers and staff, and ensure proper school function. A school principal can make an average yearly salary between $85,907 and $97,486. There is a projected growth in this field of 12% by the year 2018.
  • School Assistant/Vice Principal: This is often a stepping stone position that is held for a few years in preparation of a higher level position, such as school principal. The assistant principle acts to reinforce the actions of the principal. The assistant principle often handles school discipline and attendance problems. Assistant principals can make an average of $71,192 to $79,391 annually, with predicted growth in this field in the 9% range by the year 2018.
  • Provost: Colleges and universities rely on chief academic officers, or provosts, for administration. Provosts make faculty appointments and tenure decisions, develop budgets for the college, and establish academic policies and programs for the various departments. Provosts supervise deans and heads of departments. A provost has the ability to make an average yearly salary of $158,000. Growth in this field is minimal, with a projected increase of 2% by the year 2018.
  • University Department Head: Department heads are responsible for the administration of a specific department. Department heads must have a master’s degree in the area of specialization for that department, such as psychology, English, or math. Department heads must work to balance and resolve faculty, administrative, and student concerns. Department heads can earn between $92,000 and $150,000, with low potential growth or 2% by the year 2018.

An online doctoral degree in educational leadership presents an advantage for individuals who are seeking an upper-level position in the K-12 educational environment. Postsecondary education often relies on specialization for department head positions, and an advanced degree from top accredited online schools allows candidates to become more appealing to future employers.