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Distance Learning Doctorate Degrees in Instructional Leadership

Learn about online doctoral degree programs with instructional leadership courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

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Essential Information

Offered by public and private four-year institutions, distance learning doctoral degree programs in instructional leadership are typically for seasoned educators who have a master's degree in an education-related area and extensive experience in the field. These programs are research-intensive, and students can typically focus on a specialized niche of educational leadership.

Once accepted to the program, students typically earn their Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Education in three to four years, although schools may give them up to seven years to meet all requirements. Many programs require some campus-based coursework due to the intensity of this level of study and the work involved in completing a dissertation.

Doctorate's Degree in Philosophy - Instructional Leadership Specialization

A major focus of doctorate degree programs is the dissertation, which involves extensive research and writing. Classes feature instruction not only on core subjects within instructional leadership but also on research and analysis. Dissertations may require field research and usually must be defended before a committee on campus.

Common Course Topics

Possible topics include the following:

  • Organization, supervision and leadership
  • Reading and literacy
  • Curriculum design
  • Teacher preparation
  • Student assessment

Online Learning

Individuals enrolled in online programs usually work with the same materials as those used in on-campus programs. Distance learners receive assignments and view class seminars via the Internet, but they may also attend a short on-campus residency that offers condensed versions of classes not available online.


Career Information

Doctorate programs in instructional leadership can help prepare students for high-level positions in education. Graduates may pursue administration and curriculum development positions in public schools, private learning institutions, nonprofit agencies and other educational environments. Some positions that students with doctoral degrees in this field may qualify for include:

  • Professor
  • Principal
  • Superintendent
  • Curriculum designer
  • Program director

Individuals seeking a doctorate degree in instructional leadership can enter a program that is blended, with online and on-campus requirements. Experience in the field is usually a requirement, and topics studied include curriculum and design, leadership, student assessment and literacy.

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