How Long Does IT Take To Get A Doctorate in Education?

A doctoral degree in education is a terminal degree in many fields, and the length of time it takes to complete depends on several factors. There are several educational paths you can take to earn this degree.

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Overview

A doctoral degree program in education can take approximately three years to complete. Candidates need to hold a master's degree in education to meet program entrance requirements. Students may elect to take the courses for the degree program online, or they can go to a brick-and-mortar campus full time.

General Requirements

Some schools require a 3.0 grade point average (GPA), and students who do not meet GPA requirements may not eligible for the degree. Students must also complete a comprehensive exam after completing a certain number of credits. Residency requirements must be met, which can mean maintaining full-time status for two consecutive semesters or three consecutive summer sessions. After successfully completing a candidacy project, students become eligible for the Ed.D. and can move on to the next phase of the program.

Students must complete a dissertation to earn the Ed.D., and in order to do so they are required to submit original work that has to be approved by the doctoral committee. Dissertations require a lot of writing and can take considerable time to complete. Students are advised to check with school doctoral committees regarding time limits for dissertation proposal and completion.


Doctoral degrees are based on research and typically require one year of coursework. This amounts to roughly 60-90 credit hours of total study, during which time the student develops a dissertation proposal.

First-year studies include traditional coursework, while the second year is more devoted to research. Students may continue to take courses while conducting research and up until completion of the program at the end of three years.

Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management

This program is designed to put the student on a fast track to receiving the degree. It is a cohort program, meaning that all students admitted into the program follow the same program track. Education professionals and school administrators can pursue the executive program online or use flexible scheduling options with no interruption to their careers.

Executive programs are designed to be completed in roughly two years, including coursework and a dissertation. Students in the online executive programs may need to travel to the college to satisfy training requirements.

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