Doctor of Education: Educational Leadership Degree Overview

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) programs help teachers, education professionals and administrators develop the skills necessary to manage educational programs, institutions or systems. These programs provide instruction in leadership and personnel management in education.

Essential Information

Doctoral programs with an educational leadership emphasis enable educators and organizational leaders to update and strengthen their abilities to guide the direction of academic institutions. In addition to coursework, students complete and defend a dissertation, as well as complete independent study and research. Prerequisites include a master's degree, often in an education-related field, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and/or professional work experience.

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Educational leadership programs usually consist of a flexible curriculum that varies depending on the student's career goals and interests. Courses in an educational leadership degree program typically include the following:

  • Education law
  • School policy development
  • Education organization and management
  • School finance
  • Educational ethics
  • Curriculum development

Popular Career Options

Graduates are prepared to address the financial, management and educational needs of an individual school, academic department or school district. Doctoral degree graduates have the leadership strategies and learning methodologies to qualify for a variety of administration positions within elementary, secondary and postsecondary institutions, as well as teaching or research positions with colleges and universities. The following are some popular career options:

  • Principal
  • Superintendent
  • Academic dean
  • Curriculum and instruction director
  • Professor

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Elementary and high school principals are projected to see 6% growth in employment from 2014-2024, which is about average compared to all other job sectors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salary for these workers was $90,410 in May 2015.

College professors are projected to see 13% growth in job opportunities between 2014 and 2024. The median annual salary for post-secondary teachers was $72,470 in 2015; however, it should be noted that many of the new positions in the post-secondary teaching field will more than likely be part-time, non-tenured roles due to lack of funding.

Licensure Information

Licensure requirements vary by state, but may include a variation of graduate level training, passing a test and on-the-job training. Additionally, school administrators may be required to complete continuing education requirements to maintain licensure (

A Doctor of Education with an emphasis on educational leadership provides students with a comprehensive foundation in the legal, financial, administrative and ethical issues pertaining to a career as a school principal or educational executive. This degree can also lead to a career as a postsecondary education teacher.

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