Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in education offered in a fully online format are rare, but some are available; hybrid programs with both online and on-campus requirements are more common. Most online Ph.D. programs require at least some in-person class time.
Applicants to these programs typically need to hold a master's degree and teacher certification; some teaching experience may also be necessary. Many programs offer various specializations, including educational leadership. In general, Ph.D. programs in education prepare graduates for administrative roles.
Doctor of Philosophy -- Ph.D. in Education
While not extremely common, there are a few Ph.D. in Education programs available online. Ph.D. programs in education are rather diverse, with programs offering specializations in areas such as human resource studies, educational leadership or educational management. All programs seek to train students for leadership positions within their fields. A master's degree is usually required for admission, and some programs may also require that the student already has experience working in the education field and hold a valid teaching license.
Information and Requirements
Programs can last anywhere from under three years to five years, including summers. Most online programs are actually hybrid programs, meaning that although much of the coursework can be completed online, on-campus courses are also required. Online course content is delivered through applications such as virtual classrooms, as well as through textbooks, CDs and DVDs. Some programs may use phone or video conferencing in order to connect the student with his or her professors and fellow students.
Given the online nature of these programs, schools require that students have certain programs and applications. For example, schools may insist that students use a computer running Windows XP or Mac OS X equipped with at least Microsoft Office 2007 and Quicktime or Windows Media Player. Virtual classrooms may be accessible only through recent versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Most schools ask that students use a high-speed Internet connection when accessing their online coursework so that content is rendered properly.
Courses Common to Ph.D. in Education Programs
These programs cover subjects such as leadership, administrative practices and theories, technology and personnel development. Because these programs usually require students to conduct research and write a dissertation, courses in different types of research, data interpretation and research writing are also included. Below are examples of some of the courses found in these programs.
Legal Issues in Higher Education
This class may look at the legal issues that face universities and colleges. Coursework may focus on state and federal statutes, the legal responsibilities and rights of higher education administrators, case law and legal theory.
This course may discuss federal, state and local factors that affect the development of educational policy. Current policies at both the state and federal levels may be evaluated and critiqued, as may trends such as the development of charter schools. Fieldwork may be required.
One of many research courses related to the dissertation aspect of the program, this class discusses research methods and how to design research projects. Discussion in data interpretation, analysis and evaluation may also take place. Some programs cover how statistical software can be implemented in the research process.
Career Information for Graduates
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), post-secondary education administrators typically hold at least a master's degree, although some entry-level positions may be available to those who hold a bachelor's degree. The provosts and deans of colleges and universities, the BLS notes, typically hold a Ph.D.
Graduates of these programs may seek employment as higher education administrators at 4-year institutions. The BLS reported that as of May 2015, 135,690 post-secondary administrators worked in the U.S. and earned an annual average wage of around $102,610. The top-earning ten percent earned a median annual salary of $174,280 or more, while the bottom-earning ten percent earned $50,240 or less.
Experienced educators who want to advance to positions of educational leadership, especially within post-secondary institutions, may be interested in an online Ph.D. in Education. Programs in this field provide classes in the challenges that educational administrators face, as well as the chance to conduct high-level dissertation research in the field.