Best Education and Liberal Arts colleges in the U.S.

Why a Degree in Education and Liberal Arts?

Working with children roughly 200 days a year with summers and holidays off doesn’t sound half bad. Now add that you have a chance to make a difference, and it sounds like an ideal job, right? Well, it's not all play with no work. Careers in education can range from elementary education teacher to college professor with career paths in the middle like special education, school administrator, and school counselor. The specializations you can study within the education field and the career opportunities are endless, and a Master's Degree in Education will only add to your potential.

What Education and Liberal Arts Degree Options Exist?

Teachers have had it rough the past couple of years, but the job outlook is better than it has been in half a decade. Job satisfaction is reaching a five-year high*. Primary and high school teaching jobs are expected to increase by a whopping 12% and 6%*. And lastly, the average salary among public teachers across the country has increased to $56,383*. So why not use your wisdom to impact the next generation?

Yes, there’s a good chance you will buy school supplies with your own money and work with some children who don’t pay attention. But, you will also be contributing to creating lasting impressions on the students who can change the world. Plus, you'll have a desk filled with handmade gifts and apples. You probably won’t love every single minute, but you will probably go home at night loving that you’ve made a difference. 

Click Here to See the Best Colleges in the US *NCES, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_211.60.asp
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm
*NCES schools and staffing survey

Best Education and Liberal Arts colleges in the U.S. for 2022

Yale University
New Haven, CT
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Yale University’s education studies department prepares students that would like to pursue teaching at the grade school level, at the university level, or in a government setting. This program includes two undergraduate tracks which are the Education Studies Scholars and Education Studies Certificate programs. Classes are currently available both in-person and remote, though some required courses may include in-person labs. Students at Yale are encouraged to observe teachers locally to further their professional experience and apply to doctorate-level programs or law school after graduation.

UC Berkeley offers undergraduate and graduate-level education programs for those interested in pursuing a career in this sector. Students that plan to apply to graduate programs should note that they will apply to specific research and training programs that are managed by faculty members in the department. These programs require students to participate in research studies on-campus at the Berkeley Evaluation and Assessment Research Center (BEAR), and the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) to further their experience in the field. Berkeley offers a four-year bachelor's path, with opportunities to apply to internships at schools locally in the Bay Area to gain real-world experience.

The psychology department at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor provides a foundation for students that want to become teachers, administrators, and college professors. Students interested in exploring this department’s offerings should note that they have nationally ranked programs in education policy, secondary teacher education, and educational administration. It is common for students to complete an on or off-campus internship at a private practice or participate in a research study in the Detroit metro.

Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN
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For students interested in pursuing an education degree in Tennessee, Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education offers Master’s and Doctor of Education programs with research opportunities on-campus. Graduate students are advised to apply to internships during their program and in summer breaks to gain hands-on experience that will be invaluable when they apply for professional roles post-graduation. Vanderbilt’s alumni network encompasses over 30,000 professionals that work in government offices, public schools, and tech startups.

University of Chicago
Chicago, IL
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The Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago offers programs geared toward students preparing to enter into the field as a teacher, school administrator, or researcher at the academic level. In the classroom, students have opportunities to pursue specialties in school structure and organization, leadership and accountability, teaching and instruction, and students and learning, to name a few.

Duke University
Durham, NC

Duke University offers bachelor’s and master’s programs in the department of education for students in North Carolina that have an interest in working with children at the grade school level, in school administrative capacities, or as a research scientist. Duke’s Master’s of Arts in Teaching program has existing partnerships with Durham Public Schools to assist recent graduates in post-graduation job placement.

Stanford University
Stanford, CA
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Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education provides students with opportunities to pursue undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in the field of education. Students entering any of the three tracks have a range of internship opportunities on-campus, along with seminars to provide professional observation and guidance before entering the workforce. For those interested in working in educational research, Standford’s GSE Ph.D. program prepares graduates through research apprenticeship with the guidance of an academic advisor or senior faculty member.

The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill’s education department provides undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs that prepare students interested in pursuing B-12 education, academic leadership, and counseling. Applicants should note that research experience on-campus is critical to this field and that graduates typically enter the workforce after participating in studies with faculty and staff. Students in this program can expect to find job opportunities in the Raleigh metro and will have access to their alumni network that will help when pursuing full-time employment.

Georgetown University
Washington, DC

Georgetown University’s Master’s in Higher Education Administration program is geared toward students interested in pursuing a career working in leadership roles like dean or provost at a college or university. Classes in this program include student affairs, ethics, and curriculum development. Students should expect a rigorous workload, participation in a practicum prior to graduation, and options to pursue in-person or remote learning.

Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT

For Vermont residents with aspirations of pursuing a degree in education, Middlebury College offers an education studies program designed to prepare students for jobs working in academic settings as a teacher or school administrator. The university also offers licensure programs for those that wish to further their qualifications to work in the State of Vermont and tap into the school’s local network for post-graduation job placement.

Top schools offering Education and Liberal Arts degrees in the U.S.

Master's Degree in Education and Liberal Arts

For teachers who are looking for ways to develop professionally, gain access to more job opportunities, and improve their earning potential, a master’s degree in education (MEd) is a great option. In many cases, teachers can continue to work full-time and take MEd online courses. There are also a wide variety of specializations, so students can focus on their interests and start building a career around a specific aspect of education.  

Earning a master’s degree in education demonstrates a high level of commitment and expertise. Students become stronger, more thoughtful instructors, leaders, and decision-makers. They graduate ready to tackle today’s pressing educational issues.

Regular master’s in education programs require two or more years of study. Accelerated programs help students earn their MEd in less time. Depending on the school, students can earn their MEd in anywhere from 10-22 months.

Education Online Master’s Degree Overview

An accelerated online master’s degree in education puts the recipient on the fast-track to career strides. Influential, high-paying educational careers such as principal and instructional coordinator typically demand a master’s degree. Likewise, roughly half of all elementary, middle, and high school teachers hold a master’s degree. Employment-seeking teachers without one may find themselves at a disadvantage on the job market.

Working professionals often find an accelerated online master’s degree program a convenient way to pursue graduate studies. They can work towards their degree without leaving their job or disrupting their family life. Many also like the fact that accelerated programs significantly reduce the time it takes to earn a degree – sometimes cutting it in half!

Education Master’s Degree Salaries

Teachers are right to believe that “education pays” as data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that at every grade level from PK-12, teachers with a master’s degree earn between 24%-43%  more than counterparts with only a bachelor’s.10 The same holds true for educational administrators. Those with a master’s degree bring home a median annual wage 44% higher than colleagues who did not complete graduate studies.

Education Online Master’s Degree Job Projections

The BLS projects employment growth of 5% in education, training, and library occupations between 2019 to 2029 – faster than the average for all occupations. Though projections do not guarantee job growth, this estimate should prove encouragement to those interested in this career field.

Education Online Master’s Degree Career Paths

Career opportunities abound for those with an education online master’s degree. Some possibilities include:

Career Salary Projected Job Growth (2020-2030) About the Position
Principal $98,490 8% Elementary, middle, and high schools employ principals. These leaders make decisions crucial to the institution and oversee all aspects of educational operations.
College administrator $97,500 8% Postsecondary administrators are in charge of things such as admissions, academic divisions, student life, housing, scheduling, and special events.
Instructional coordinator $66,970 10% Schools, educational organizations, and the government hire instructional coordinators to assess data on student performance, improve instruction methods, and make changes to curricula.
High school teacher $62,870 8% These instructors teach a specific subject matter. An MEd puts them in line for expanded responsibilities, such as chair of an academic division.

Accelerated Online Education Programs

An accelerated online education master’s program strengthens a student’s background for the role he or she pursues. Some graduates bring their education to the classroom as inspirational, effective teachers. Others work in non-classroom settings counseling students, making decisions about curriculum, and handling administrative matters.

Students graduating from an accelerated online education master’s program earn an MEd. There are some common classes all of MEd-seekers take, but much of the coursework depends on an individual’s interests. 

For example, the transcript of someone focusing on educational leadership undoubtedly will look different than that of a colleague concentrating on special education.

A few classes often seen among graduation requirements for an MEd are:

  • Educational equality – This type of course looks at issues such as diversity, inequality, and social justice within school systems.
  • Educational research methodology – Students learn the basics of how educational studies get conducted and how to critically interpret results.
  • Educational technology – Classes of this sort focus on the various types of learning tools available and how each could be employed in the classroom.Curriculum and instruction – Students ponder essential questions about what material gets taught and how to do so effectively.

Admission Requirements for Education Online Master’s Degree Programs

Specific requirements vary by institution. Some things admissions departments commonly want from applicants include:

  • An official transcript from undergraduate studies that shows classes taken, GPA, and degree awarded with date
  • Proof of any graduate classes completed, certifications, or licenses
  • A resume or CV that details work history
  • A description of other relevant activities, such as volunteer work or participation in professional associations
  • Scores from the GRE
  • Letters of recommendation that support the candidacy
  • Responses to essay prompts
  • A personal statement explaining why the student wants to pursue this degree

Some accelerated online master’s degree programs only accept certified teachers. Also, students who apply to selective schools generally need a higher undergraduate GPA.

Education Master’s Degree Specializations

Accelerated education online master’s degrees are not one-size-fits-all. Students need to evaluate their interests and career goals to choose a satisfying program.

Adult Education

  • Students who pursue an MEd in adult education go on to provide instruction to adult learners who are preparing for exams, including the GED, or working to develop skills like strengthening their English. An adult education instructor develops strong interpersonal skills so they can connect with adult learners that come from diverse backgrounds and have a wide range of skill levels.
  • Adult Education Salary: The average base salary for an adult education instructor with a Master’s degree is $46,712. Instructors in the top percentile can earn around $76,000.1
  • Adult Education Job Duties: Adult education instructors are expected to assess students’ skills and create lesson plans that address their needs and meet course objectives. Additional job duties include participating in organizational and staff meetings, attending training and graduations, and fulfilling any other obligations outlined by the administration.
  • Daily tasks include keeping track of grades and attendance, delivering lessons, and leading group activities. Successful instructors constantly monitor progress and adjust curriculum and teaching methods as needed. They also deliver updates on progress to both educators and the students themselves.  

Curriculum and Instruction

  • Earning a master’s in education and specializing in curriculum and instruction prepares students to develop training materials and entire instructional programs. Educators can apply these skills well beyond the field of education, including research and government roles. The skills learned can also be used to design and test corporate training, write and edit textbooks, and develop detailed syllabi and instructional materials.
  • Curriculum and Instruction Salaries:
    • Curriculum Developer: The average base salary for this position is $63,885 with experienced professionals earning around $90,000.2
    • Curriculum Director:  Working as a curriculum director comes with about the same earning potential with a base salary of $63,885.3
  • Curriculum and Instruction Job Duties: Curriculum directors may have a range of duties depending on what kind of industry or company they work in. In general, directors are in charge of creating and updating course outlines, syllabi, and instructional resources and materials. They may also be responsible for instructing students and users on navigating online material while also troubleshooting problems and recording and analyzing certain usage data.  

Early Childhood Education

  • Early childhood education (ECE) instructors work with children in preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school students through third grade. This can be a challenging career because ECE teachers are expected to cover all subjects. Instructors may teach math, science, and art while also working with students to develop strong social, motor, and emotional skills. ECE is truly an all-encompassing role that helps build a strong foundation for children that will carry them into adulthood.
  • Early Childhood Education Salary: The average salary for an instructor in early childhood education is $48,644. Using the degree to take on a leadership role at an institution can increase earning potential to an average of $72,000.4
  • Early Childhood Education Job Duties: On a daily basis, early childhood education instructors
    • Develop and deliver lesson plans, resources, and materials
    • Evaluate students
    • Communicate with administration and parents
    • Attend Meetings and training
    • Supervise the classroom

Educational Administration

  • Earning a MEd and specializing in educational administration prepares students for a range of leadership roles. Graduates often work as assistant principals, school administrators, or curriculum coordinators. In general, educational administration professionals oversee certain operations and make sure that the school or organization meets certain standards. This includes implementing certain state and federal testing, complying with local requirements, and adjusting staff training or mandating certain programs or policies. 
  • Educational Administration Salaries: 
    • Curriculum Coordinator: The average base salary for this position is $50,314.
    • School Administrator: Starting school administrators can expect a base salary of $64,022.  
    • Assistant Principal: At the entry-level, assistant principals typically earn around $67,000. More experienced principals can earn up to $80,000.
  • Educational Administration Job Duties: Common job duties will depend on the type of educational administrative position.
    • Assistant principals spend time ensuring compliance in a variety of areas, working with teachers and parents to meet goals, and establishing and enforcing a range of academic and behavioral standards for students. 
      • School administrators play a similar role as assistant principals while a curriculum coordinator may work outside of education to design and oversee training and professional development in a variety of fields. 

Educational Leadership

  • Master’s in education students who want to play a larger role at certain institutions should consider concentrating in educational leadership. In general, these leadership roles ensure the quality of the learning experience. This can include 
    • Evaluating teachers
    • Handling complaints
    • Mentoring and guiding students
    • Overseeing student activities and services
  • Educational Leadership Salaries:
    • Dean of StudentsThe average starting salary is $63,702 and can grow significantly based on experience and the size and reputation of the college or university.
    • Department ChairA college department chair’s salary might start at around $84,046 and can earn over $152,000.
    • PrincipalThe average base salary is $92,956 with top earners making around $135,000.
    • University RegistrarRegistrars start at an average of $57,943.
  • Educational Leadership Job Duties:  Daily tasks range depending on the type of leadership role and education institution. Typically, an educational leadership professional oversees school curriculum, services, programs, administration, and teachers. They also supervise school staff and ensure compliance for everything from safety and emergency plans to federal student testing. 

Educational Technology

  • Technology is playing an increasingly important role in education and instruction, creating an increased demand for those with an MEd in Educational Technology. Those with expertise in this area 
    • Design online courses
    • Work as a media specialist who trains and supports other educators
    • Consult on a variety of curriculum development projects
    • Take their skills into the classroom to work directly with students 
  • Educational Technology Salary: With an MEd and educational technology degree, professionals enjoy an average salary of $68,673 with minimal experience.5
  • Educational Technology Job Duties: Educational technology experts work in education, business, and even the military. Their skills are in demand across a wide range of settings. Along with designing and implementing new courses, training, curriculum, and online learning portals, educational technologists may teach students, instruct, and train professionals to use technological resources. This role can be hands-on and interactive or more of a behind-the-scenes position.  

Elementary Education

  • Those with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education typically teach students grades 1-6. Unlike high school teachers who usually teach just one subject, elementary education teachers must be experts in all disciplines. They play an important role in the early years of young students and work more closely with parents to ensure that students are on track and all their needs are being met, especially when it comes to any learning challenges. Students at this age are also learning social and motor skills and teachers need to nurture these skills while also showing tremendous patience for energetic children.   
  • Elementary Education Salary: An elementary education teacher earns an average base salary of $46,519.6
  • Elementary Education Job Duties: Elementary educators spend their days
    • Designing and teaching lesson plans
    • Supervising activities
    • Providing instruction across all disciplines while also encouraging good social skills
    • Evaluating students
    • Communicating progress to both administrators and parents
    • After school, they may spend time grading papers, developing future lesson plans, decorating the classroom, and running extracurricular activities.

ESL/ELL

  • English as a second language (ESL) or English language learner (ELL) instructors work with students who are not proficient at English and may not be aware of common cultural customs. Oftentimes, students come from a home or different country where English is not the primary language spoken. Instructional duties go beyond simply teaching English as professionals help students understand assignments in other courses and navigate the academic environment. ESL and ELL teachers work with students of all ages, including adults.
  • ESL/ELL Salary: Instructors earn an average base salary of $45,896.7
  • ESL/ELL Job Duties: ESL/ELL instructors are responsible for helping students improve their English reading, writing, and comprehension. Since English proficiency levels vary by student, ESL/ELL teachers usually have to create a more customized curriculum that meets students where they are and helps them meet certain goals.

Higher Education Leadership

  • Those interested in advising students and guiding them through their academic careers often pursue a master’s in education. Higher education leadership professionals are often in charge of orientations, helping students sign up for classes, and making sure they are meeting all the requirements to graduate on time.
  • Higher education leadership can also lead to a position in admissions where professionals will help promote the school, recruit students, and decide who is admitted. Registrars help with many of these duties while also taking care of student records.
  • Higher Education Leadership Salaries:
  • Higher Education Leadership Job Duties:
    • During an average day, an academic advisor meets with students and assists them with planning and registering for courses, exploring financial aid options, and discussing degree requirements.
    • registrar meets with faculty and students, processes paperwork, works extensively with the university’s software programs, and provides other administrative services.
    • An assistant director of admissions may participate in outreach and recruitment events, work with other staff on promotional initiatives, and review student applications.

Instructional Design

  • An instructional designer puts together materials and resources that can be used in a variety of educational and instructional settings. They utilize the latest technology to design multimedia programs that speak to the needs of the audience.
  • As course designers, these professionals select the best lesson delivery method and use their knowledge of pedagogical theories and philosophies to put together custom programs. Instructional designers can work as educators, train other educators, design courses for schools, or work in the corporate world.
  • Instructional Design Salary: Instructional designers are required to have extensive knowledge of the latest technology and teaching methods, which helps them earn an average salary of $63,525.8
  • Instructional Design Job Duties:  An instructional designer works with other teams at the school or company to better understand the needs of the project and expectations around the design. From there, they develop various instructional materials and resources using technology. Once an instructional program has been implemented, the designer evaluates its effectiveness and continues to make adjustments as needed. 

Secondary Education

  • Secondary education instructors work with middle and high school students. Classroom sizes tend to be large, so teachers need to be able to keep control of the classroom and engage students. It is also important to remember that students at this level will test boundaries and authority, so secondary education teachers must handle these situations. Middle and high school students also take various state tests and prepare for college, so this tends to be a part of the coursework.
  • Secondary Education Salary: The average base salary for a secondary education instructor is $49,906.
  • Secondary Education Job Duties: As with other classroom instructors, secondary education teachers are responsible for
    • Designing and delivering lesson plans and lectures
    • Conducting experiments and demonstrations with students when appropriate
    • Taking attendance
    • Grading tests and papers
    • Maintaining records
    • Tracking progress
    • Communicating with parents and administration
    • Instructors may also oversee extracurricular activities.  

Special Education

  • Special education teachers fulfill an important role by working with students with a variety of learning disabilities. Based on the needs of the student, the instructor designs a curriculum that expands the student’s skill set. So, MEd in Special Education programs teach these important skills.
  • Lessons may range from traditional subjects to learning about hygiene and improving physical strength. Special education teachers have to constantly adapt and be especially empathetic towards their students, more skills learned during a program.
  • Special Education Salary:
    • Pre-K through Elementary: Special education teachers with a M.Ed who work with younger children can expect to earn an average salary of $49,293.
    • Middle through High School: Teachers who work with older students get a bit of a pay bump. The average base salary is $51,811.
  • Special Education Teacher Job Duties: What makes the duties of a special education teacher unique is that they have to cater more closely to the individual needs of students. Otherwise, they are responsible for the same tasks as traditional instructors which include
    • Designing and leading lesson plans
    • Keeping attendance
    • Tracking grades
    • Communicating with parents and administration
    • Monitoring and measuring progress
    • Enforcing rules

Teaching Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

For students who aren’t completely sure if they want to pursue a specific focus in education, earning a MAT degree is a good option. This course of study prepares educators for a variety of positions that can segue into other careers, both inside and outside of academia. Many professionals use this degree to become corporate trainers, work as educational directors in museums, or develop educational content across industries. 

Master of Arts in Teaching Salaries: In general, someone with an MAT can expect to earn an average of $54,709, though salaries vary by career.

Master of Arts in Teaching  Job Duties:
Since this tends to be a more general focus, degree participants open themselves up to a variety of opportunities. Professionals can work in many industries and use their skills and knowledge to pursue instructional or consultation opportunities. 

Someone looking to pursue an educational role outside of the classroom may want to consider an MEd in:

Teachers often pursue an MEd in:

Doctoral Degree in Education and Liberal Arts

Many dedicated educators find themselves wanting more from their careers than what a bachelor’s degree offers them. An online doctor of education degree promises far-reaching opportunities to take on leadership positions in educational organizations. 

A doctoral degree grants its holder additional credibility and authority to take on challenges in school districts, government, and private and non-profit organizations. Not only does this advanced degree open the door to more professional options, but it can also significantly boost earning potential. Salaries for administrative and management positions and careers outside of education could command even higher amounts.

Doctoral degrees were once limited to those who were able to be physically present in a traditional classroom setting. This meant sacrificing a significant amount of time away from family and personal responsibilities, and often foregoing earning income. All that has changed with the growing availability and popularity of online doctoral programs. 

Though once viewed with skepticism, online education is now offered at the nation’s most respected academic institutions. Employers feel the same; according to the Society for Human Resources Management, 79 percent of organizations indicated that they’d hired a job applicant with an online degree in the previous year. 

Graduates holding online doctoral degrees from accredited programs are regarded with the same respect as those who have attended traditional brick-and-mortar programs. Online Programs consist of the same curriculum, core classes, and requirements as those offered in traditional settings, but have the added benefit of flexibility in their schedule, lower tuition, and the ability to continue working while pursuing their degrees. 

What Can I Do with a Doctor of Education Degree?

Educators who want to continue their teaching practice at a higher level find that a doctor of education degree will help them achieve their goals. With an EdD, you can take on leadership positions that allow you to be a real change-maker within 

  • K-12 schools
  • Institutes of higher learning
  • Government agencies
  • Private organizations
  • Non-profit organizations
  • The military

The education provided prepares you to conduct research and apply it in ways that improve and transform.

Online EdD Salaries

The range of salaries and careers available to those with a doctor of education degree vary. For those who choose to remain in a school-based environment as an education administrator, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the mean annual wage as $94,730, while those who move into training and development for private companies earn a median salary of $119,780. 

According to Payscale.com, those who take on policy-making roles such as those of a Chief Learning Officer can expect to earn an average salary of $152,685.

Online EdD Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who earn an online EdD have achieved this level of education and expertise can anticipate a competitive job market, with the job outlook for elementary, middle, and high school principals and postsecondary education administrators anticipated to grow at approximately 8% and the job outlook for instructional coordinators expected to grow at approximately 10%.

Though projections do not guarantee a future job or job growth and vary based on the career path chosen by those with an online doctor of education degree, they can be helpful when deciding whether it is worthwhile to pursue a degree that may take several years to complete. 

Though online educational programs afford students a greater degree of freedom and flexibility, accredited programs have the same demanding criteria and standards. Earning an online EdD takes at least three years, and the program requires completion of approximately 60 credit hours along with research and a dissertation. Even fully online programs often require students to attend some in-person classes and workshops, often scheduled for weekends two or three times per year. 

Online EdD Career Paths

Choosing a career in education represents a commitment to improving the lives and circumstances of students. An online EdD degree extends the career options available, preparing them for positions as leaders and policymakers. Here are a few of the professions that an EdD degree leads to, along with annual median salary and projected job growth:

Career Salary Projected Job Growth (2020-2030) About the Position
Postsecondary Education Administrators $97,500 8% These leaders make decisions and lead operations in colleges and universities, providing oversight of faculty, students, admissions and academic standards, and more.
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals $98,490 8% Principals are the leaders of the schools in which they serve. They are the last word on all student and faculty activities and serve as the school’s face to the community. Principals are responsible for all aspects of site operations, including curriculum and school standards, budget, security, counseling, and personnel issues.
Postsecondary Teachers $80,560 12% These are educators at the college and university level. They operate with a significant level of autonomy, creating their own curriculum and grading criteria.
Instructional Coordinators $66,970 10% Responsible for the development and implementation of instructional material, as well as for assessing whether the program is effective or needs to be revised.
Source: BLS

Courses in Education Doctoral Programs

Every doctor of education program is different. Each is a reflection of both its subject area and specialty as well as the philosophy of its faculty and administration. Still, there are some core courses that shape educator effectiveness and drive innovative approaches to learning and are therefore likely to be included in every curriculum. Some potential courses include:

  • Curriculum Development and Evaluation – Examines the history of educational curriculum creation, the political and cultural impacts that need to be considered, and the use of data for evaluation in planning and management.
  • Legal Trends in Educational Policy – Addresses the diverse legal and political factors that play a role in school management, providing students with an understanding of what has previously shaped educational policy. Provides an understanding of the roles of local government, stakeholders, and community engagement in public school policy and administration.
  • Issues in Special Education – Examines the many issues that educators need to consider in crafting a special education program, including over-and under-representation, intervention, testing, teacher shortages, adult outcomes and transitions, gifted education, teaming, funding, policy, and law.
  • Educational Research Design and Measurement – Provides basic competencies in understanding and evaluating educational research as well as planning and conducting original research, including methodologies, research design, sample selection, experimental research, and data analysis. 

How Long Does an Online EdD Program Take to Finish?

Before committing to an online EdD program, it’s a good idea to understand how long it will take to complete the program. Most EdD programs will require three years, though there are multiple factors that can play a role including:

  • How many credits a student carries from previous graduate studies
  • Whether an online program offers classes synchronously or asynchronously
  • Whether a student studies full time or part-time
  • Whether an accelerated program is available

Skills Learned in an Online EdD Program

Graduates of online EdD programs leave their programs armed with enhanced knowledge of educational theory as well as essential leadership skills and practical teaching tools. 

  • They gain a better understanding of student outcomes and how a curriculum can reflect and guide student skills. 
  • They learn to recognize and identify where change is needed and the steps required to implement large-scale educational transformation
  • They gain greater familiarity with the many tools available to support both teachers and students
  • They learn the importance of fostering strong relationships with students, teachers, parents, and the community through communication, emotional intelligence, and empathetic outreach.
  • They learn to use and research to measure progress and apply it to increase success.

Online EdD Degree Specializations

The study of education encompasses a wide range of subjects, and while many online EdD programs touch on areas of interest and provide a broad base of knowledge, others focus on specific areas. Graduates with EdD degrees in these concentrations are able to move forward as authorities within their chosen specialization. Available concentrations include:

  • Design of Learning Environment – Teaches graduates to apply the science of instructional design to create a learning environment most conducive to student and organizational success.
  • Educational Leadership – Helps graduates become more effective leaders and change agents with the ability to apply research and improved management and organizational skills to effect positive transformation.
  • Special Education – Teaches graduates evidence-based practice for students with disabilities, preparing them to become administrators and specialists of special education services, to teach special educators at the university level, to guide gen ed teachers in the needs of special ed students, and to become leaders in allied service agencies and organizations. 
  • Educational Technology – Graduates are instructed in leveraging new and emerging technologies to facilitate learning and development in both the workplace and in educational settings. They are prepared to analyze and assess how enhanced technology can be developed and implemented into a learning environment.
  • Higher Education Administration – Graduates are instructed in inspiring and facilitating change in educational organizations through increased understanding of management organization and processes, research, program evaluation, and data-based decision analysis.
  • Adult Learning – Graduates attain an understanding of the relationship of adult learning to organizational and leadership issues as well as social and cultural issues. Focus is on developing the skills needed to enable, lead, assess and plan strategically for adult learning inside and outside of the classroom, in educational settings, and in the workplace. 

Admission Requirements for Online EdD Programs

Once you have identified the online EdD degree programs that you’re interested in, it’s a good idea to create a spreadsheet that details each required element and submission deadlines so you can carefully track your progress and ensure that you have met all requirements. Though each program sets its own criteria for assessing applicants, some common components include:

  • Completed application form and submission of all associated fees
  • Transcripts and a master’s degree in an education-related field of study. Most doctoral-level programs will require a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Official scores from the standardized Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Most doctoral-level programs require that applicants score a 155.
  • Professional resume and several years of professional teaching experience.
  • Letters of reference 
  • Personal statement expressing goals and demonstrating writing ability
  • Personal interview

EdD vs PhD in Education

Once on the path to an advanced education degree, you’ll likely be forced to choose either an EdD or PhD program. Both are high-level degrees that offer high-quality education that qualifies graduates for a range of career opportunities, but there are differences between the two. 

While a doctor of education (EdD) is a professional degree that leans toward the practice of teaching, a doctor of philosophy (PhD) in Education is oriented toward research and teaching at the post-secondary level. PhD graduates focus on generating new knowledge while EdD graduates act on that knowledge, applying it for the betterment of their organization, institution, or community. 

The curriculum and job prospects of an EdD and PhD program are different. You should consider your interests and career goals when deciding which type of degree to obtain. 

  • A PhD program is rooted in research and theory and students learn to interpret research.
  • And EdD program is rooted in leadership and application and students are taught how to apply the research to a real-world setting.

What Is An EdD?

The EdD degree is available to professionals who already hold a master’s degree and want to advance their career and receive a boost in income. 

The EdD program prepares students to apply research to real-world settings and to find work in educational leadership. This degree rewards students with the skill set and ability to create change in their professional environment by:

  • Develop the tools to become a better administrator
  • Résumé credibility and expanded career search
  • Learn the latest technology in instructional design
  • Qualify for senior educational leadership positions

The overall goal of getting an EdD degree is to become a good leader and transfer knowledge to an education environment to create positive change. 

Coursework includes a focus on professional leadership, solutions, and solving problems in practice. 

Who Should Get An EdD?

Teachers and administrators are best suited for an EdD. Many programs are geared towards the working professional and are offered online or in a hybrid model. 

Those who complete an EdD degree often choose to work in a K-12 setting or in college administration. 

How Long Does An EdD Take?

On average, an EdD degree takes three years to complete including a dissertation. This timeframe can be dependent on: 

  • Previous education
  • Online vs. in-person programs
  • Part-time vs. full-time study

Since obtaining an EdD degree is both time-consuming and a financial commitment, finding a program that meets a person’s career goals, work-life balance, and interests is critical.

EdD Career Outcomes And Salaries

Careers in education are growing and the job outlook for this profession is positive. Someone with an EdD degree can expect an increase in income and responsibility. 

A few examples of careers available to people with an EdD degree are highlighted below. 

Career

Salary

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030)

About the Position

Postsecondary Teachers

$80,560

912%

Postsecondary teachers instruct students beyond high school. They are typically referred to as faculty or professors and may write books, conduct research, and publish papers. 

Postsecondary Education Administrators

$97,500

8%

A postsecondary education administrator works in the college setting usually in student services, student affairs, admission, registrar’s office, or oversees faculty, research, and academics.

Top Executive

$107,680

8%

Top executives are usually in charge of the organization’s big picture. They create strategies and policies to meet goals. 

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

$98,490

8%

School principals oversee all aspects of the school setting including managing staff, curriculum, and the health and safety of the students. 

Source: BLS

What Is A PhD In Education?

A PhD in education prepares people to critically analyze and interpret research. 

Those that hold a PhD become experts in a given field of education such as teaching practices, inequity in education, and how learning environments shape student outcomes. 

Coursework includes a focus on education, quantitative and qualitative research, and a close collaboration with faculty. 

A PhD dissertation focuses on creating new research in a particular field whereas a dissertation in an EdD program focuses on solving a particular problem found in a school setting. 

Who Should Get A PhD In Education?

People who have a passion for new research and advanced theory along with the desire to become an expert in a particular education field are best suited for a PhD in education. 

Career options for those that hold a PhD in education include:

  • University professor
  • Research scholar
  • Education director
  • Policy researcher

PhD of education students will enjoy using their skill set to shape new research and create best practices that will affect teaching and learning for years to come.

How Long Does A PhD In Education Take?

On average, a PhD in education degree takes 4-6 years to complete including an original research dissertation.  

Unlike the EdD degree, the PhD program is a full-time commitment and not well suited for the working professional. Not many schools offer an online PhD in Education program. 

Program timeline may be dependent on:

  • Previous education
  • Student funding 
  • Dissertation complexity

Since obtaining a PhD degree is both time-consuming and a financial commitment, finding a program that meets a person’s career goals, work-life balance, and interests is critical.

PhD In Education Career Outcomes And Salaries

As with EdD careers, careers for PhD graduates are projected to see significant job growth. Someone with a PhD degree can expect an increase in income and responsibility. 

While EdD professionals seek to obtain roles as superintendents, deans, principals, and other education administrative positions, PhD professionals seek roles as professors, scholars, and researchers. 

 

Career

Salary

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030)

About the Position

Postsecondary Professors

$80,560

12%

Postsecondary professors instruct students beyond high school. They may also be referred to as faculty. Professors often write books, conduct research, and publish papers.

Postsecondary Education Administrators

$97,500

8%

Postsecondary education administrators who hold a PhD may oversee faculty research, or work in student affairs, attendance, and academics.

Survey Researchers

$59,870

4%

Survey researchers conduct qualitative research and analyze the data for trends that can influence education policy and help shape education decisions and plans.

Source: BLS

Doctor Of Education (EdD) vs Educational Specialist (EdS)

Another option for career advancement in education is the educational specialist (EdS). An EdS is a postgraduate degree for those that already have a master’s degree, but don’t want to pursue a doctorate. This program is designed for the working professional who wants to add to their skill set but in half the time it takes to complete an EdD program. 

 

The EdS is a graduate certificate that does not require a dissertation or capstone project to complete and is geared towards those that work in the K-12 setting. However, this option is not designed for people who want to work in higher education or organizational leadership.

Earning an Online Education and Liberal Arts Degree

Gone are the days when someone going to school means needing to attend classes on a physical campus. While the option still exists, online programs remove many of the barriers to obtaining an advanced degree. The flexible nature of online learning allows working professionals to balance their degree programs with other personal and professional obligations.

Should I Complete Courses Online?

The answer depends on the individual. Online programs can be more affordable because students do not incur travel and campus housing expenses. They are also less disruptive to a person’s current lifestyle. Ambitious students may like accelerated online studies because they’ll earn their degree as fast as possible.

Some students prefer traditional on-campus studies. Being around other students helps them focus, and physically committing to attendance keeps them organized.

One method is not better or worse than the other. In fact, schools frequently use the same faculty for both on-campus and online courses. Just be certain to verify the program is accredited.

How Long do Online Courses Take to Complete?

The answer to this question depends on both the individual school’s program and a given student’s motivation. Accelerated online education master’s programs take anywhere from 10 months to under two years to complete.

At some schools, students focus on one course at a time for six or seven weeks. Other programs possess a more traditional semester format but allow students to choose the number of courses they wish to take. Prospective students should evaluate each school of interest to see the various formats offered and what arrangement best corresponds to their needs.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Education Online Master’s Degree?

Completing an accelerated online master’s degree in education commonly requires 30-36 credits, depending on the institution and specific program. While traditional programs span two years or longer, accelerated studies go faster. Completion time runs 10-22 months.

Factors that could influence length include:

  • The drive of the student to proceed at a quick pace
  • The number of courses a school allows students to take at once
  • A student’s history, as someone without a background in education may need to take additional courses to fill in gaps

Skills Learned in an Education Online Master’s Degree Program

Administrators hone skills such as leadership and decision-making. Teachers find new ways to create engaging classrooms dedicated to maximizing success for all. Instructional coordinators learn how to interpret assessment data and thoughtfully analyze both what is taught and how that material is conveyed.

Education and Liberal Arts Career and Salary Overview

Education Online Master’s Degree Career Resources

People pursuing an education online master’s degree may find the following organizations helpful to their studies and career:

  • NEA – With more than three million members, the National Education Association is a strong force in public education. The organization’s website covers a large number of topics related to professional development, student success, justice issues, and more.
  • AAE – The American Association of Educators is a non-union group that focuses on professional development and advocacy for teachers. Explore its website for resources and links covering topics such as character education, teaching materials, and job recruiting.
  • ASCD – Students aspiring to a career as an instructional coordinator or similar role may want to check out the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Its website provides articles on a variety of critical educational issues as well as information on attending free webinars.
  • NAESP and NASSP – The National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals support educational leaders. Check them out for questions regarding career development, building better schools, and pressing issues such as virtual classrooms and diversity in education.

Online EdD Career Resources

Candidates for admission to online EdD programs can access additional resources from the following professional organizations:

  • American Federation of Teachers – The American Federation of Teachers is the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union. Its members include educators at all levels and in numerous industries. 
  • Association of American Educators – The AAE is a national, non-union, non-partisan professional educators’ association dedicated to advancing the profession through personal growth, professional development, teacher advocacy, and protection.
  • Association of Leadership Educators – The ALE is an organization of educators who teach leadership in a variety of fields and contexts – both formal and nonformal as well as for-profit and nonprofit.
  • National Education Association – The NEA is a labor union that represents public school teachers and support personnel, faculty and staff at post-secondary institutions, retired educators, and those seeking education as teachers.
  • School Superintendents Association – Formerly known as the American Association of School Administrators, the AASA is the top professional organization for educational leaders across the United States.

Education and Liberal Arts FAQ

  • Should I pursue an online education master’s degree?
    • The decision to seek a graduate education is a highly individual one. People base their decision on factors such as career goals and current life circumstances. A master’s degree opens up doors to jobs with higher responsibility levels and pay. Students often choose online programs for their flexibility and to eliminate the cost of campus housing and travel.

  • What is an accelerated online master’s degree in education?

    • An online accelerated master’s degree in education provides the opportunity to earn an MEd in less time than a traditional program. Working professionals eager to advance in their careers often favor this option. Online studies enable keeping one’s job while pursuing a graduate degree.

  • Are online education degrees respected?

    • Employers know that an increasing number of schools throughout the country provide excellent online programs. Many use the same instructors for their on-site classes as well. Before committing to an online program, students should ensure the institution has proper accreditation.

  • What careers can you get with an online education master’s degree?

    • Whether obtained online or on campus, a master’s degree in education sets up the recipient for a variety of occupations in the discipline. Common career routes include instructional coordinator, teacher, principal, and college administrator.

  • How much does it cost to get an EdD?

    • Doctoral degree costs vary widely depending upon variables including whether an institution is public or private, online or in-person. Assuming an average annual cost per credit of a doctoral degree is between $350 and $775, bringing the total cost for 60-to-66 credits to between $21,000 and $55,000, plus expenses.

  • Do you call an EdD a doctor?

    • The honorific of “doctor” is appropriate based upon the individual’s achieved level of education but is also a matter of personal preference. 

  • Is a PhD higher than an EdD?

    • Both the PhD and the EdD are terminal degrees in education. The difference between the two lies in whether they have pursued a degree designed for educational leadership and practice (EdD) or geared towards research and academia (PhD).

  • How do I apply for an EdD?

    • After identifying the programs that interest you the most, complete their application, taking care to gather all required documents required for consideration and submit them in time for the program’s published deadlines. 

List of all Education and Liberal Arts colleges in the U.S.

School Average Tuition Student Teacher Ratio Enrolled Students
Yale University Logo Yale University New Haven, CT
5/5
10 : 1 12,060
University of California-Berkeley Logo University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
3/5
23 : 1 42,327
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Logo University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
4/5
12 : 1 47,907
Vanderbilt University Logo Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
5/5
12 : 1 13,537
University of Chicago Logo University of Chicago Chicago, IL
5/5
12 : 1 17,834