Education leadership graduates are prepared with the research expertise and industry knowledge to pursue careers as administrators, policy makers, consultants, or educational development specialists. The curriculum for an online PhD in educational leadership typically includes a combination of advanced research and seminar courses. Topics can cover a range of areas. For example, education law and ethics, policy, leadership theory and practice, organizational management, human resources management, finance and budgeting, and administrative theory and practice are common. At this level of study, students will also be able to focus their studies on whatever area of specialization they are most interested in.

Why a Ph.D.?

While there are positions available in education administration for those with a master’s degree, some areas require a doctorate. For example, those interested in working in advanced research, academia, or upper-level policy, almost always need a Ph.D. Educational leadership online doctoral programs provide graduates with the research experience and respected credentials to become leaders in the field. In addition, a Ph.D. could qualify you to teach at the college or university level if that is your goal.

Getting Into a Ph.D. Program

Students considering a Ph.D. program should be prepared for a rigorous course of study. With this in mind, you can expect a more selective admissions process as well. Be sure to verify specifics with the school you are interested in attending, but below are some common requirements:

  • A master’s degree from an accredited university
  • Official transcripts from all colleges you have attended
  • Minimum GPA (as outlined by the school)
  • GRE score results
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Application form and fee
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation

Inside an Educational Leadership Ph.D. Program

If you are researching online PhD programs in educational leadership, you will find a number of schools offering graduate-level distance learning opportunities in this field. Students enrolled in this type of program should expect a research-focused curriculum. Common core subjects may include education policy, leadership, organizational management, education law and ethics, human resource management, finance and budgeting, and administrative theory and practice, to name a few options. Doctorate students will also need to complete and defend a dissertation worthy of publication in an academic journal.

Distance learners have the unique flexibility to accommodate a full or part-time work schedule and manage any other personal demands on their time while earning their degree. Field work for research can be completed in your local area as well. The online classroom is accessible 24/7 and, with no specified course times, students are free to establish a study schedule that suits them best. In addition, technology such as chat, web conferencing, and streaming video all help to keep students communicating clearly with their peers and instructors.

What’s Next for Educational Leadership Ph.D. Holders?

Once you have completed a Ph.D. program in educational leadership, you should be qualified to work in a number of administrative, policy, or educational development positions. Potential employers could include public or private schools, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or education development companies. Jobs may also be available teaching at the college or university level. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that education administrators at the postsecondary level can expect a strong job outlook. The demand for professionals in this occupation is expected to increase by 19% over the projection period of 2010 to 2020.

In 2012, the reported average annual salary for postsecondary education administrators was $99,370. The most jobs were found with colleges, universities, and professional schools. Please keep in mind, these figures may not reflect actual salaries or job availability in your area. This can all depend on level of experience, cost of living, educational background, and the specific type of employer.