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Today’s leaders are faced with new challenges—and one way to elevate leadership skills and find improved ways to run an organization is to enroll in a degree program. That’s why Fortune compiled a list of the top online doctorate of education (Ed.D.) in organizational leadership degree programs. In total, we ranked eight Ed.D. in organizational leadership programs in 2022-2023.
Educational leadership is the science of helping individuals achieve success through the management and improvement of educational programs. While it often refers to administrative positions within primary and secondary schools, as well as higher education, degrees in educational leadership can also provide skills to develop new solutions in any field. Continuing education is booming in corporate America, and chief learning officer (CLO) positions are an increasingly important and fast-growing position for graduates of doctorate of education (Ed.D.) programs. These programs help students build transformative leadership skills to spur initiative and foster change both in traditional educational and corporate work environments.
Admission requirements can vary on a school-to-school basis, but generally include all or a combination of:
Degree prerequisites vary depending on each school and program, though typically, a master’s degree is needed prior to enrolling in an Ed.D. program. Some programs, like Vanderbilt University’s online Ed.D. program, don’t require a master’s degree—though it can often boost a candidate’s application.
Like other program prerequisites, whether or not you need to take the GRE test (and submit your score) will depend on the institution. Among the eight Ed.D. programs on Fortune’s ranking, none of the schools require applicants to submit a GRE score. That said, a GRE score may be an application requirement for some universities and other Ed.D. program options that didn’t appear on Fortune’s ranking.
An Ed.D is a doctorate in education, and it’s a program meant for individuals who hope to become leaders in their field—and it prepares students for administration or leadership positions in academics and beyond. The focus of these programs is to give students the skills to develop new solutions within the industry. Through coursework and collaboration among peers, students will be able to use what they learn and apply it to both their work and dissertation.
If you’re looking to make a difference in organizational leadership, and earn a higher salary—the answer is yes. A doctorate in education can teach students how to use resources available to them in efforts to combat institutional issues. What’s more, this degree program provides individuals with a professional network and a greater appreciation and deeper passion for the education industry. Additionally, applicants who are already working in the field will have the option to move up the ladder and achieve their career goals with an advanced degree.
The perspective gained by students enrolled in organizational Ed.D programs lends itself to multiple roles in the education industry, particularly leadership roles—that can mean becoming a university dean, a principal, or a superintendent. People beyond education may find value in this degree, as well, and it’s applicable in corporate roles such as a chief learning officer. A doctorate in education in organizational leadership is tailored to those who hope to lead effectively and ethically. A Nova Southeastern University Ed.D program professor told Fortune that the program’s goal is to make its lessons, assignments, and discussion relevant in the real world. Programs with a focus on organizational leadership give students the time and space needed to develop the resources to address challenges in their given industry, with the goal of finding long-lasting solutions.
How long it will take to earn a doctorate in education can depend on two things: Whether a student is full-time or part-time and whether the program is online. But of course, there are multiple factors that contribute to the length of time needed for different programs, like credits needed to graduate and specializations. Ed.D programs can generally take two to three years to complete; for example, Vanderbilt University’s Ed.D. program in leadership and learning is a three-year commitment.
While both a Ph.D and an Ed.D. are graduate degree paths that typically appeal to people who want to pursue careers in education, they have different purposes. An Ed.D is for people who want leadership positions in the education field, whereas a Ph.D really focuses on the study of education itself. Most students who earn a Ph.D in education go on to become professors. The options are wider with a doctorate in education, in that students can pursue leadership roles in both primary and secondary education.
Online Ed.D. programs offer accessibility and flexibility for those people looking to leadership roles in education or more broadly. By attending classes online, students can choose the institution and degree program that’s the best fit for them—while still obtaining transformative skills which can be utilized in corporate and traditional educational environments. Online programs can make the task of balancing school, a full-time job, and personal commitments more manageable, and can potentially save on cost.
Since an Ed.D. is similar to a traditional Ph.D., some programs do require a research-based project, typically fulfilled as a dissertation. However, some Ed.D. programs don’t require a dissertation at all, and other programs have shifted to alternative examination strategies, such as a capstone project or dissertation in practice (DiP). In addition to eliminating Ed.D. specializations, Johns Hopkins University is also moving to a choose-your-own-adventure style in which students present their work in a variety of formats beyond the traditional dissertation model.