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The Online PhD in Education

An education PhD can help you advance your career into roles in administration, research, leadership, and more. Explore 2024’s best online PhD education programs to find the right one for you.

Author: Kenya McCullum
Editor: STEPS Staff

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Best Online PhD Programs in Education for 2024

Whether your goal is to become a college professor, publish new research, or advance into academic leadership roles, obtaining a PhD in Education can take you to the highest levels of the field. While earning this degree can lead to many fulfilling careers and increased compensation, it is also a significant investment. It’s critical to ensure that the PhD program you select is worth the effort and cost. To assist you in narrowing your options, we’ve identified 12 of the best online PhD in Education programs for this year. All are properly accredited, offer flexible scheduling options, and have reasonable tuition costs. Learn more about each program below and determine if any of them have the features you’re seeking.

About the ranking

College Ranking Methodology

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
  • Career placement and academic counseling services.

Assign Weightings

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on their performance in a variety of key categories. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings, followed by online learning and academic quality metrics (equally weighted).

Online Learning

  • Number of online programs in subject area self-reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Percentage of graduate students at the school taking at least one class online.


  • Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state tuition for graduate students per academic year.

Academic Quality

  • Student-to-faculty ratio: Schools with lower ratios ranked higher.
  • Percentage of students admitted. More selective schools ranked higher.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: August 2023

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ABHES: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ACCJC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission


Regent University

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Are you interested in teaching at the university level? Would you rather contribute to the field by using your education expertise to expand the theoretical perspectives professionals draw on in their everyday work? Either way, Regent University's PhD program in education can help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to achieve your goals. During this three-year program, you will develop a deep understanding of education policy, administration, and planning theories and how these concepts are used by practitioners. You'll become an expert on how education theory is used to evaluate programs, identify weaknesses in them, and make necessary changes that solve the problems. To further increase your expertise, you'll be able to concentrate on a specific area of education, such as Christian education leadership, educational technology in online learning, or exceptional education executive leadership.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

  • Credits: 67
  • Length: 3 years
  • Cost: $800/credit
  • Mode: 100% online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Accreditation SACSCOC
Online Students 94%


Ball State University

Muncie, Indiana

Ball State University's doctorate in elementary education is designed for professionals who want to learn advanced research skills to conduct their own studies and those who want to teach at the college level. Although online students are required to hand in weekly assignments, they have the opportunity to watch lectures at their own convenience, making the program a good choice for those juggling their education with their jobs and family responsibilities. If you prefer to participate in some face-to-face activities, the school offers a hybrid version of the program. To further accommodate busy professionals, Ball State University allows students to begin their studies in the fall, spring, or summer semesters, so their start date coincides with their lifestyle. During the program, students take core classes in statistical research methods, psychological research, and intermediate statistics. They're also required to take behavior and humanistic studies classes and choose a concentration in early childhood education, elementary education, or literacy and reading education.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Philosophy in Elementary Education

  • Credits: 91--97
  • Length: 5 years
  • Cost: $451/credit in-state; $676/credit out-of-state
  • Mode: 100% online or partially online
  • Accreditation: CAEP
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 14:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation HLC
Online Students 86%


Concordia University-Chicago

River Forest, Illinois

In the leadership in higher education PhD program offered by Concordia University-Chicago, students learn how higher education administrators tackle daily workplace challenges, from managerial to financial to legal issues. The curriculum has a heavy focus on education theory and research, so students get the opportunity to see the big picture associated with the daily issues educators face. As a result of this approach, students gain an understanding of complex issues related to running higher education institutions, develop the leadership skills needed to apply theory to real-world issues, and conduct research that contributes to evidence-based higher education decision-making. Graduates of the program go on to pursue careers as directors of admissions, college deans, college presidents, and alumni relations directors.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Philosop