Online PhD in Leadership Education Administration

The majority of students entering an online doctoral program in Leadership in Education Administration aspire to be in a management position within a public school district, private school, community college, or university. They typically have a strong knowledge base, experience and a keen awareness of the education process. Most students have a previously earned a master’s degree in Instructional Design, Early Childhood Education, School Administration, or any other specialization within the field of education. Doctoral candidates who seek PhDs in Leadership in Education Administration usually have previous work experience as a college instructor, school administrator, or an elementary, middle, or high school teacher. Capella University offers a doctoral program in Leadership in Education Administration entirely online, only requiring four on-campus seminars as part of the residency requirement. Capella's program is accredited by the NCATE, or National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Graduating from a program accredited by this organization will be appealing to future employers and prepare you for excellence in the education profession. It is important to note that completion of an online PhD program in this subject, such as the one offered by Capella, will not guarantee licensure. PhD programs typically take about four years or more to be completed.

About Online PhD Programs in Leadership in Educational Administration

The best online PhD programs in leadership education administration require students to study education law, budgeting, educational leadership, and community affairs. Doctoral level courses require learners to study policy and politics in education, as well as classes pertaining to their specialization. Capella University offers courses for candidates who are interested in earning principal or superintendent licensure. Other specializations include:

  • Higher Education
  • Special Education
  • Distance Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • K – 12 or P – 12 Education
  • Community College Leadership
  • Educational Technology
  • Adult Education
  • Education Policy and Change

Online doctoral programs are usually more interactive than traditional courses. Learners are expected to participate in weekly discussion boards, group projects, study scholarly readings, and write lengthy papers. In addition to course work, PhD in Leadership in Education Administration candidates conduct in-depth research within their area of interest and write a dissertation reporting the findings and discussing future implications.

Year One:

  • Leading Innovation. In this core course, students are expected to gain an understanding of the different academic developmental and behavioral components educational practice.
  • Educational Research Methods. This fundamental course acquaints students with the many qualitative and quantitative methodologies employed in educational research.
  • Principles of Educational Administration. By examining business and public administration models, students are given an overview of the basic principles of administrative theory as well as the standards of the Educational Leadership Constituents Council (ELCC).

Year Two:

  • P-12 Principalship. For PhD candidates seeking principal licensure, this course explores the different issues, challenges and responsibilities facing the P-12 level principal.
  • The Superintendency. For PhD candidates seeking superintendent licensure, this course explores the skills related to superintendent roles and responsibilities, material and human resource management, school board relationships and school district organization and culture.
  • Education and the Law. This course teaches students how to recognize prospective legal issues and how to study the methods used to prevent and resolve legal matters.

Year Three:

  • Special Education Administration. Students are taught the ethical, legal, and financial roles administrators have to the staff, students and families in administering special education programs and services.
  • Introduction to School Business Administration. In this elective, students examine accounting and budgeting, facilities planning and construction, purchasing and warehousing, staffing, maintenance and operations, risk management, information technology, nutrition services and transportation.
  • Personnel Administration. Students learn the basics regarding staff assignments, policy making, salary negotiation, grievance protocols, records, supervision, and employee evaluations.

As part of the residency requirement, Capella University online students must attend three four-day colloquia seminars. At these colloquium seminars, students can interact with faculty and peers and take part in self-reflection exercises, research and critical thinking activities, and a final assessment. Two examples of completed dissertations at Capella are “A Study to Determine the Levels of Implementation of the Characteristics of Effective Middle Schools in Wisconsin and National Blue Ribbon Schools” and “Transformational Leadership in Special Education Leaders.”

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Leadership in Educational Administration

In the education field, earning advanced level degrees online has become more accepted and widespread. There is less of a stigma in online education than there was a decade ago. That being said, however, there are more fellowship and scholarship opportunities offered by traditional bricks-and-mortar institutions that offer this program, such as Michigan State University and University of Buffalo, to name a few. A doctoral degree can also lead to a better salary, as the top positions at learning institutions require advanced degrees and also earn on average between $90,000 and $150,000 annually. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefits for these high level positions are excellent, including 4 or 5 weeks of vacation time every year, health insurance benefits, and pension packages. The value of a PhD in Leadership in Educational Administration may be better at the post secondary level than at the K – 12 level. This is due to the fact that earning this degree does not guarantee licensure or your state's requirements. Therefore, it is crucial to contact your school district for more information about state, city of district requirements before you pursue the doctoral degree. It is also important to know your other degree options, as your career goals may require a Doctor in Education (Ed.D) or graduate certificate instead.

Application & Admission Requirements

For consideration at Capella University's online PhD program in Leadership in Educational Administration, applicants must have earned a master's degree from an institution accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Applicants must also submit a completed application, official post secondary transcripts, and a 3.0 cumulative GPA from their master's degree program. Applicants must have three years of licensed teaching experience and must submit a Licensure Disclosure and Responsibilities Acknowledgement and a Certification of Teaching Experience form. Other programs may require GRE scores, a detailed résumé or curriculum vitae, and recommendation letters from current and previous employers.

Career Options & Job Market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a PhD or Ed.D is usually necessary for top positions in student affairs. Deans and chairpersons at colleges and universities typically have doctoral degrees from institutions accredited by NCATE or the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC). Also according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for educational administrators is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations, with job prospects being excellent due to retirements and fewer applicants to fill the voids. Possible positions for people with doctoral degrees in Leadership in Educational Administration include school principal; assistant or vice principal; dean of students, and director of admissions. Salaries at universities are higher than salaries at community colleges or K – 12 institutions, with the average salary for elementary school principals being $86,000; $97, 500 for high school principals; and between $90,000 and $150,000 for academic deans at colleges.

Where to Find Information

How to Get Funding

Tuition at Capella University is $4,485 per quarter for coursework, and $3,945 per quarter for dissertation courses. Capella offers financial aid for students who fill out a FAFSA yearly. Applicants can also apply for scholarships and fellowships from professional organizations, such as the American Association of School Administrators and Phi Delta Kappa International, who offer multiple scholarship and fellowship opportunities for Leadership in Educational Administration PhD candidates who are also members. Another option is finding out whether your employer is able or willing to handle your tuition expenses. offers more information on available scholarships for education students.

  • Educational Administration Scholarship Award. Offered by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) for graduate students who are aspiring superintendents, this scholarship awards $2,500. Recipients are honored at the AASA's National Conference on Education and are given a $500 travel allowance.
  • Phi Delta Kappa Graduate Fellowships in Educational Leadership . PhD candidates who are members of PDK International are eligible for a number of fellowships and scholarships such as the Donald H. and Verna S. Duncan Fellowship, Past President Emery Stoops Fellowship, the Memorial-Howard Soule Fellowship and many more.
  • Dr. Marc Hull Special Education Leadership Scholarship. For PhD candidates specializing in Special Education, applicants must attend an accredited post secondary school, enroll in at least three credits a semester, and have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

Essential Advice

  • Weigh your options and do the research. You'll need to know for sure whether an additional degree will increase your earning potential more than a bachelor's or master's degree in a similar field would.
  • Try to obtain a scholarship, fellowship or grant. Studying at a PhD level is costly, and you may not be able to predict how many years it will take you to complete it.
  • Talk to current PhD candidates and graduates about course load, time management, what admission materials they submitted, and so on. This is the best way to learn if the program is right for you.
  • Check the school's credentials. Once you find a program, make sure it is accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.