Best 16 Doctorates in Educational Leadership Programs in 2023

February 28, 2023 | Admin

PhD in Educational Leadership
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Our educational system faces an ever changing landscape.  Schools need to adapt and continue to meet these changes head on to create meaningful learning opportunities to students and support for the staff.  A Ph.D. or Ed.D. in Educational Leadership prepares educators for teaching positions and research, as well as leadership roles in schools and in some cases, businesses, non-profits, and the military.  Many of these programs can lead to a Superintendent certification.

What is the Difference Between a Ph.D. and an Ed.D.?

Schools that offer a Doctorate in Educational Leadership generally offer one of two degrees, a Ph.D. or Ed.D.  Both degrees are a higher level of education than a master’s in educational leadership, but offer two different focuses.  A Ph.D. is usually sought by those who wish to continue teaching.  Both tracks can generally include a specialization.  It’s more common for a Ph.D candidate to wish to work as a college professor or continue with research.  Those who obtain an Ed.D. are more likely to work in a school as an administrator or be a leader in the district or community.  

Top 5 PhD in Educational Leadership Programs

We’ve compiled a list of schools that offer a Doctoral program in Educational Leadership.   Keep in mind that since this is a program common for working professionals, there is likely a program close to you in your state. We ranked the top 16 schools.  We used tuition cost (lowest is best) and enrollment (highest is best) to rank the schools.  Take a look at our rankings of the best schools that offer a Doctoral program in Educational Leadership below

Best 16 Schools Offering a Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership


University of Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education is made for working professionals. Students meet on campus one weekend a month as well as for one week during the summer. The rest of the program is online through collaborative platforms that are interactive. Participants come from private, public, rural, suburban, and urban environments, allowing everyone to learn from one another.

School Overview

Tuition: $4,709 per year
Enrollment: 26,675
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University of Missouri

  • Columbia, Missouri

The University of Missouri offers a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) in Educational Leadership in an innovative state-wide program. This means that the program is delivered at locations throughout the state, allowing educational leaders to keep their current positions while studying in the program. The four partner locations include Missouri State University, Northwest Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri State University, and University of Central Missouri.

School Overview

In-State Tuition: $9,478 per year
Out-Of-State Tuition: $25,946 per year
Enrollment: 30,014
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Clemson University

  • Clemson, South Carolina

Choose from two concentration areas when enrolling in the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program offered by the Clemson University College of Education. These are P-12 and Higher Education. The P-12 area offers certification in building and district level areas. The faculty is nationally recognized and students study both practical and theoretical knowledge. Students engage in both coursework and out-of-class engagement.

School Overview

In-State Tuition: $9,200 per year
Out-Of-State Tuition: $19,050 per year
Enrollment: 25,822
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Montana State University

  • Bozeman, Montana

Blended delivery methods are used in the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program at Montana State University. Distance learning and face-to-face meetings are both used. Students who complete this degree requirement will meet the necessary requirements for the Montana Class III Administrative license with a Superintendent endorsement. Courses can be chosen according to interests and the desired career path. The program trains both principals in a 30 credit degree program and Superintendents in a 15 credit certificate.

School Overview

In-State Graduate Tuition: $6,700
Out-Of-State Graduate Tuition: $17,000
Enrollment: 16,692
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University of Iowa

  • Iowa City, Iowa

The University of Iowa offers a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies with a focus in Educational Leadership. This particular program does not result in a licensure or endorsement, but does prepare students for a variety of leadership positions in both private and public schools. The program consists of 90-semester hours and focuses on leadership, research, and policy.

School Overview

In-State Tuition: $13,476 per year
Out-Of-State Tuition: $32,424 per year
Enrollment: 31,240
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University of Colorado

  • Boulder, Colorado
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The PhD program in Educational Leadership, Research, and Policy at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is designed to meet the professional and personal needs of leaders in school districts, higher education institutions, the military, business, state agencies, and other non-profit organizations. This innovative cohort-based program combines challenging coursework with collaborative faculty-student research labs to prepare students for successful completion of a dissertation and professional application of leadership, research, and policy knowledge and skills.

School Overview

In-State Tuition: $7,154 per year
Out-Of-State Tuition: $14,642 per year
Enrollment: 12,807
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Portland State University

  • Portland, Oregon

The Doctoral program in Educational Leadership at Portland State University offers the chance to learn in both in-person and online course offerings. Geared toward working professionals, all students in the program will choose a specialization area that reflects their career goals. Everyone who finishes the program will be qualified to work in a variety of educational settings from pre-K to career in public or private settings.

School Overview

In-State Tuition: $11,784 per year
Out-Of-State Tuition: $17,328 per year
Enrollment: 25,321
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Texas A&M University

  • Kingsville, Texas

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Texas A&M University Kingsville, is a professional degree. Courses in the program emphasize leadership in education through educational theory, research, policy, innovations, and philosophy. The program consists of 60 hours, with 42 of those being required coursework and the rest can be chosen from areas that support professional goals of the student.

School Overview

In-State Tuition: $5,702 per year
Out-Of-State Tuition: $13,763 per year
Enrollment: 7,479
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Harvard University

  • Cambridge, Massachusetts

There are many facets to the Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) program offered through the Harvard Graduate School of Education. It is a practice-based program that delivers leaders in all levels of education, from pre-k through high school. The curriculum brings in resources from other departments at the school, including the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School. The third year of the program also includes a 10-month residency.

School Overview

Tuition: $24,724 per year
Enrollment: 31,655
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Kansas State University

  • Manhattan, Kansas

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D) in Educational Leadership offered at Kansas State University can be tailored to each student’s needs. This is dictated by a student’s interests, goals, and previous expertise. For any student who does not already have a district level superintendent endorsement, that license requirement can be met with this program. This program is geared toward developing leaders who have a broad understanding of many aspects of education.

School Overview

In-State Tuition: $11,856 per year
Out-Of-State Tuition: $21,524 per year
Enrollment: 21,719
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Virginia State University

  • Petersburg, Virginia

Virginia State University offers an EdD program designed for those looking for a career in pre-k-12th grade public schools. Coursework is designed to meet the needs of busy professionals, and can be completed within three years, with additional time needed for dissertation preparation. They offer an online and face-to-face option.

School Overview

In-State Tuition: $8,375 per year
Out-Of-State Tuition: $18,627 per year
Enrollment: 4,365
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DePaul University

  • Chicago, Illinois

The Educational Leadership doctoral program at DePaul University is the 4th largest in the nation. With excellent program outcomes, 99% of graduates of the program were continuing their education or employed within six months. Coursework includes six core courses, an elective, five research courses, five concentration courses, and two dissertation courses. Anyone aiming for superintendent licensure also must complete an internship.

School Overview

Tuition: $15,720 per year
Enrollment: 22,064
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University of Maine

  • Orono, Maine

The University of Maine offers an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. The program is meant for educators with experience who are ready to take their career to the next level. The faculty is nationally recognized and has expertise in many areas, including rural educational leadership. This course of study is offered through the College of Education and Human Development.

School Overview

In-State Tuition: $11,064 per year
Out-Of-State Tuition: $24,024 per year
Enrollment: 11,561
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Fordham University

  • New York City, New York

An Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy is available from Fordham University-New York. The program consists of 50 credits and is meant for those seeking careers in k-12 education. It is available at the Lincoln Center, Bronx, and Westchester campuses or online. There are four core areas explored in this program, educational leadership and organizational change, policy and advocacy, engaging and transforming schools, districts, and communities, and leading teaching and learning.

School Overview

Tuition: $35,304 per year
Enrollment: 16,972
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Florida Southern College

  • Lakeland, Florida

Learn through both online class and face-to-face classes when enrolled in the Ed.D. of Educational Leadership at Florida Southern College. The education program at this school has a rich history. Those who choose the Ed.D. of Educational Leadership will have a K-12 focus. The experienced staff offers an engaged learning experience and a dissertation is required.

School Overview

Tuition: $11,838 per year
Enrollment: 3,305
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Saint Louis University

  • St. Louis, Missouri
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(photo courtesy of Saint Louis University)

Students who wish to enroll in the Educational Leadership, Ph.D. program at Saint Louis University must have a master’s in education, leadership, or other related field. The course selection in the program will correspond to the student’s professional goals. Fieldwork and research opportunities are available and an internship is required for anyone who is aiming for superintendent certification.

School Overview

Tuition: $20,400 per year
Enrollment: 12,799
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Still unsure about which Ph.D in Educational Leadership program is right for you?  Use our degree finder tool to help you decide or find a program that’s close to you.

PhD in Educational Leadership Program Ranking Methodology

We found tuition rates on each school’s website.  The structure of each program is a little bit different and in some instances, classes may be spread over a longer timeframe.  For the sake of keeping things uniform, we used the in-state yearly tuition cost when given.  When tuition was given by semester, we multiplied by two, and when tuition was given by credit, we multiplied by 12 to get the semester cost.  Enrollment numbers reflect the specific campus of the program, nother the parent school.

After we sorted by tuition, we assigned points to each school and completed the same process for enrollment.  After sorting by both categories, we added the numbers together to get a final score for ranking.

If you are an employee with one of the schools that we ranked and you notice a problem with the information that we used, please contact us so that we can correct the error. 

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