Online Doctoral Programs for Teachers

A doctoral degree is a huge undertaking. There is no shortage of options for prospective students to consider. One also needs to keep their professional goals in mind. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to have a PhD or an EdD?” In this article, we’ll touch on some of the concerns associated with an online PhD/EdD and name five of our favorite online doctoral programs.

Why do you want a doctorate?

There are a variety of reasons for someone to earn a doctorate. Some seek a salary bump, career advancement, a love of learning, and simply want the title, “Doctor.” Whatever your reason is, the choice to do a PhD or EdD is a huge one. If your goal is to go teach in a university, you may be better off doing your doctorate in-residence. Brick and mortar programs may offer greater access to students and classes for your research. Being a part of the university community may give you a better opportunity to publish and present your research to the academic community on campus and in your city. You also may gain valuable teaching experience as part of your program. However, many students have found success with an online doctoral degree. The cost can be enough to discourage some students. Listed below are five of our favorite (and most affordable) online doctoral degrees in education. 

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This is one of the most affordable online doctoral programs out there. The EdD in Educational Leadership is 60 credits and requires an MA for admission to the program. The excellent thing about this program is that up to 18 credits can be waived for previous graduate work (in addition to the MA required for admission). The cost per credit hour currently sits at $375, or $22,500 for the 60-credit program. If you are able to get the 18 credits waived for prior graduate work, the tuition falls to less than $16,000. They do not have a specialization in ESOL. However, you can do your dissertation on any topic that you choose. If you want to focus your research on applied linguistics, you can. The only catch is that your research should have a leadership focus.


One unique aspect of this degree is that all classes have a synchronous component. This may be problematic, depending on your time zone. However, there are no campus visits required. My conversations with the faculty and staff here have all been very positive, and I have found them to be very accommodating. 

The University of West Georgia offers an online Doctor of Education in School Improvement, with several choices for a program concentration. The cost of the program varies depending on the number of semester hours a student chooses to take. Students who take a 12-credit semester can expect to pay approximately $4,100. The entire degree consists of 60 credits, 12 of which may be transferred in from previous graduate work. Students who are able to transfer in 12 credits from another university and are able to complete 12 credits per semester (not always possible), can expect to pay as little as $16,400 for the degree.


Students work within a cohort, but all the coursework is completed online. However, students are required to complete a two-day intensive orientation prior to the start of the program. This is held on-campus in Carrolton, Georgia. This orientation is mandatory, and applicants should consider the cost of travel and lodging in their total program cost. 

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ACE is quickly becoming one of the more popular online study options for educators. The reviews are mixed. I have a colleague who completed his MEd with ACE and found the coursework to be rigorous. He did complain about a lack of feedback from some of his professors. However, he also indicated that if you apply yourself, you can get a lot out of the degree. This is an important consideration, as most doctoral students require frequent and detailed feedback from their advisors to complete their research project.


Some huge advantages to ACE are their course offerings, rolling admission, and the ability to finance the degree through monthly payments. Students can choose from a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, or Instructional Technology. Each program consists of 64 credit hours and costs approximately $24,000. However, students may transfer up to 18 credits from another doctoral program. If a student has completed an Education Specialist degree or was all but dissertation (ABD) in another doctoral program, that student may transfer up to 27 credits into the EdD program. This knocks the cost down to approximately $17,700 and $14,500 respectively. 

UNG offers a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership and Practice. The program is completed in cohort fashion. All cohorts begin in the fall, and it includes an optional on-campus orientation. The 60-credit program is fairly affordable, at approximately $1,000 per 3-credit class. This brings the total program cost to approximately $20,000. UNG does accept transfer credit. However, they are quite strict about finding classes that specifically replace courses in their program. The program can be completed in approximately three years.

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The university offers both an EdD and a PhD in Educational Leadership. This is an incredibly accelerated program which can be completed in roughly two years. In order for students to complete the program in such a short time, an EdS degree is required for admission. The university also considers students who have prior doctoral coursework- such as ABD students. The degree is completed in a cohort format with a two-week on-campus visit required to prepare for the dissertation. New cohorts begin every spring.


The current program cost is $585 per credit with a $95 technology fee due per semester (not per credit). The EdD consists of 36 credits, while the PhD consists of 41 credit hours. This brings the total tuition to approximately $21,000 for the EdD and $24,000 for the PhD (not including the mandatory technology fee mentioned above). While this is a bit pricier (per credit) than some of the other options, it has the advantage of requiring fewer credits and being completed in a shorter time frame. 

Final Thoughts

There are literally a ton of options available for people looking to do their degree online- including at the doctoral level. Many doctoral degrees require some residence component- even if it is only for a few days or weeks. Consider the reasons for getting a PhD/EdD, along with the reputation of the institution you are interested in, as well as the cost. The universities listed above are all American institutions. There are many academically rigorous options available all over the world. Check for in-residence, as well online programs in the location where you live.