New technology has changed the methods of delivery of education, part of which is prompted by no less than a pandemic. With this comes new challenges along with old ones, such as teacher shortages, a lack of funding, improving student performance, and the like. Doctorate programs in this field help educators and policymakers acquire the necessary leadership skills to tackle such problems.
An online doctorate degree in education is a postgraduate, terminal degree where the learner conducts research on a problem within his or her area of practice and applies such research to address issues in said field. Graduates of this degree typically find work as elementary, middle school, or high school principals or postsecondary education administrators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for these occupations is expected to grow by 4% from 2019 to 2029 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).
In this article, get to know the basics of enrolling in an online doctorate program in education, from what to expect in terms of courses to how much you are going to pay. In addition, statistics on the top trends in higher education give you insights into the latest development on this type of degree.
Students can enroll in completely online doctorate degree programs in education. However, it is best to note that some programs may require residencies.
Whether your online program will require one or not, you can rest assured that accomplishing your coursework and earning your degree in either program will allow you to further your career in the field. Plus, you will belong to the elite few who have doctorate degrees in education. In 2019 for example, there were 50,943 recipients of doctorate degrees from U.S. colleges and universities, a 1.1% increase compared to 2018 (National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, 2019).
Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), 2019
With the shift to online education brought about by the pandemic, employers are now more open to hiring candidates with online degrees. Graduate degrees, in general, are accorded respect by employers. It also leads to higher compensation, though the salary may vary depending on location. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, graduate degree holders tend to earn the highest in San Jose, California where they reached $131,291 in median salary (Grand Canyon University, 2021).
Taking online doctorate degree courses in education from a reputable, accredited organization generally means that one’s degree will be recognized globally. It also equips graduates with the ability to create a positive school culture wherever the school is located. This is especially useful during challenging times like in a pandemic. In a survey, 90% of school leaders from low- and middle-income countries said that they believed that they were ultimately responsible for students’ learning in school (Global School Leaders, 2021).
Source: Global School Leaders, 2021Designed by
Online doctorate degrees in education are professional degrees that can prepare graduates to take on leadership roles in education administration or even nonprofits and businesses. The coursework for this degree is solutions-focused that graduates can engage in qualitative, exploratory research and apply it to solve real-world problems. Today, doctoral degrees in education are a popular choice among those seeking post-graduate education. According to the NCES, there were 13,020 doctoral degrees earned in the U.S. from 2018 to 2019, making it the third most popular doctorate degree next to law and health-related doctoral degrees (NCES, 2020).
Nowadays, various schools and universities offer online and on-campus options to take this degree. In considering which route to take, one should consider the following key differences:
Based on available data, per-credit costs at campus-based doctorate degree programs in education are lower than online ones. However, on-campus tuition does not account yet for other costs like housing, food, transportation, textbooks, and other expenses. For these reasons, online doctorate degree in education programs might be more affordable in the long run.
Online degree programs in education from a reputable and accredited university will generally have the same rigorous requirements and standards as on-campus ones. Online doctorate degree programs in education usually have the same dissertation and research requirements as on-campus programs. Aside from the research and leadership skills they can learn from the program, online students have the added advantage of enhancing their technological skills.
Online doctorate degrees in education typically cost $375 to $1,230 per credit. At North Greenville University, for example, the per-credit cost for this degree is $510. Students can expect to pay around $20,000 to $79,000 in total tuition (U.S. News, n.d.). However, there are affordable options that range from $16,000 to $35,000.
Sources: U.S. News, 2021
On the other hand, traditional doctorate degrees in education cost $350 to $775 per credit. Students can expect to pay around $21,000 to $55,000 for the degree. However, this does not include other costs like on-campus housing, meals, transportation, textbooks, and other expenses.
A variety of factors can drive pricing for online programs. These include:
Enrolling in an online doctorate program for education can be worthwhile, especially for busy professionals whose schedules make it difficult to study through an on-campus program. Getting a PhD enhances one’s skills and credentials to move up one’s career into leadership positions like being a principal, provost, school superintendent, and the like. Accomplishing it can also give the student a degree of satisfaction since a doctorate is a terminal degree or the highest educational achievement one can attain.
To apply for online doctorate degree courses in education, applicants usually submit their resume, writing sample, bachelor’s and master’s transcripts, recommendation letters, and letter of intent or personal statement. They must also secure the needed hardware and software to attend classes and submit course requirements. Upon graduating, they will acquire the needed skills to be effective educational leaders such as innovation, goal-orientedness, problem-solving skills, and social and emotional skills.
Online doctorate degree in education programs develop graduates’ skills in the following areas:
Online doctorate degree programs in education may require students to have the following technology requirements:
The curricula for online degree courses in education are as varied as the schools that offer them. However, there are some core subjects common to them. These include:
One core component of online doctorate in education programs is the dissertation course. Through this course, students contribute original research and insight into various educational issues. They will also know how to structure their dissertation from the introduction to the discussion and conclusions. Students usually plan on their dissertation during the second year of the program. Then, they work on it through independent study in the third year after which they will defend it before a dissertation committee.
In writing scholarly work, students may use tools like social media and artificial intelligence. An interesting study in this regard was conducted by Crosta et al (2018) and published during the 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies. The study “How international online students from a professional doctorate in education are using social media and artificial intelligence tools into the thesis stage?” concluded that “social media tools usage helped students to achieve their learning goals whilst AI tools did not. The former helped students to engage more fully in learning communities, to feel less lonely, to provide and receive reciprocal support when sharing resources and to be helped when required.”
There is an overall will to have a better and more diffused use of these tools (both social media and AI) during the thesis stage although concerns about privacy were raised.”
In this course, students will gain a good understanding of certain legal policies and theories that will help educators shape school policies. They will learn about issues like the legal aspects of special education, educational workplace employability issues, and how to minimize legal risks in the workplace. Armed with this knowledge, students can lead with confidence in educational organizations.
In this course, students will apply what they have learned in qualitative and quantitative research to formulate specific education-related questions and solve practical problems in their field. For instance, applied research can be used to test educational policies or address issues in teaching paradigms and classroom dynamics (FormPlus, n.d.). Students are expected to generate new knowledge that they can use to improve processes in educational systems.
Educational leadership equips graduates with the skills they need to ensure the academic success of students as well as working with teachers and parents in improving a school’s quality of education. It involves management and administrative tasks, such as hiring teachers, prescribing curriculum standards, or setting school-wide policies. The overall goal of the course is for a student to know how to effect positive change on educational processes at various levels. This will be useful in roles such as those of a dean, principal, department chair, or university registrar. Taking on leadership positions usually means an increase in one’s salary. Based on data from Salary.com (2021), the median pay for a school principal in the U.S. is $109,970.
Source: Salary.com, 2021
In narrowing down one’s search for an online doctorate degree in education program, one can check the school or university against the following criteria:
Accreditation by reputable agencies means that a school has passed an extensive review of its programs and services. Accreditation can either be national or regional. An example of a national body is the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation, which prescribes standards and performance measures of educator preparation. Regional accreditation likewise gives a public certification that the institution meets certain quality requirements and that they have the capability to continuously improve their offerings.
Prospective students can gauge the reputation of an institution by checking whether they appear on university rankings, be it general rankings or those dedicated to niche subjects. As a doctoral student, getting faculty support is crucial to completing one’s dissertation. Thus, students must also check the reputation of an institution’s faculty members. They can go through the awards, professor ratings, or review publications to verify the quality of the research of its faculty members.
Online doctorate degrees are generally more affordable than on-campus ones. The price difference may be especially felt in Ivy League schools, such as Harvard, where graduate and professional fees for an education degree cost $51,904 in 2021 (Harvard University, 2021).
Even so, prospective students also have to take into consideration some hidden costs of online programs. For one, students may pay a one-time, non-refundable application fee, whether upfront or deferred. If the student wants to claim course credits for life and work experience, they may also be asked to pay a portfolio assessment fee. Students may also pay technology fees or online content fees as well as fees for financial transactions, such as late financial check-in fees or payment participation plan fees.
As the highest degree one can achieve, a doctorate degree in education signals not only expertise in your area of specialization but also a readiness to solve problems in the field. For students who are working professionals or have family commitments, getting an online degree helps them achieve their dreams while having the flexibility to learn at their own pace. Studying online also helps them save money while later on receiving the benefits of their doctorate degree through career advancement and higher compensation.
However, beyond the glory of educational attainment comes the more challenging task of addressing the myriad educational challenges that beset school systems. Currently, for example, the U.S. is experiencing a dearth of teachers, with two out of three school districts report having a teacher shortage (Frontline Education, 2021). To add to that, $1.9 billion were cut from state budgets for higher education in the past year. Undergraduate enrollment has also declined by 4% (Center for American Progress, 2021). With the innovation and problem-solving skills they gain from online doctorate degree courses in education, leaders in this field should be equipped to handle these situations for the betterment of their schools and the state of education in general.