Best 16 PhD in Educational Leadership Programs in 2021 - Best Value Schools

Best 16 PhD in Educational Leadership Programs in 2021

Staff Writers by: Staff Writers

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, 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.  

Which School Has the Best Ph.D. in Educational Leadership Program?

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

1.  University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA

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.  

Tuition:$4,709 per year

Enrollment: 26,675

2.  University of Missouri – Columbia, MO

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.  

In-State Tuition:$9,478 per year

Out-Of-State Tuition: $25,946 per year

Enrollment: 30,014

3.  Clemson University – Clemson, SC

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.  

In-State Tuition:$9,200 per year

Out-Of-State Tuition: $19,050 per year

Enrollment: 25,822

4.  Montana State University – Bozeman, MT

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.

In-State Tuition:$6,605 per year

Out-Of-State Tuition: $20,502 per year

Enrollment: 16,692

5.  University of Iowa – Iowa City, IA

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.  

In-State Tuition:$13,476 per year

Out-Of-State Tuition: $32,424 per year

Enrollment: 31,240

6.  University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, CO

Students have nine years to complete all coursework in the Ph.D. Educational Leadership, Research, and Policy program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs if needed.  There is a specific course of study and sequence to follow and students engage in coursework, research labs, and preparing a dissertation.  In addition to educators, this program attracts those in the military, non-profit organizations, business, the ministry, and state agencies.  

In-State Tuition:$7,154 per year

Out-Of-State Tuition: $14,642 per year

Enrollment: 12,807

7.  Portland State University – Portland, OR

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.  

In-State Tuition:$11,784 per year

Out-Of-State Tuition: $17,328 per year

Enrollment: 25,321

8.  Texas A&M University – Kingsville, TX

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.  

In-State Tuition:$5,702 per year

Out-Of-State Tuition: $13,763 per year

Enrollment: 7,479

9.  Harvard University – Cambridge, MA

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.  

Tuition:$24,724 per year

Enrollment: 31,655

10.  Kansas State University – Manhattan, KS

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.

In-State Tuition:$11,856 per year

Out-Of-State Tuition: $21,524 per year

Enrollment: 21,719

11.  Virginia State University – Petersburg, VA

The Doctor of Education Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision is available through the Department of Educational Leadership at Virginia State University.  This program is 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 two years, with additional time needed for dissertation preparation.  

In-State Tuition:$8,375 per year

Out-Of-State Tuition: $18,627 per year

Enrollment: 4,365

12.  DePaul University – Chicago, IL

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.

Tuition:$15,720 per year

Enrollment: 22,064

13.  University of Maine – Orono, ME

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.

In-State Tuition:$11,064 per year

Out-Of-State Tuition: $24,024 per year

Enrollment: 11,561

14.  Fordham University – Bronx, NY

An Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy is available from Fordham University.  The program consists of 50 credits and is meant for those seeking careers in k-12 education.    It is available at the Lincoln Center or 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.

Tuition:$35,304 per year

Enrollment: 16,972

15.  Florida Southern College – Lakeland, FL

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.

Tuition:$11,838 per year

Enrollment: 3,305

16.  Saint Louis University – Saint Louis, MO

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.

Tuition:$20,400 per year

Enrollment: 12,799

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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