Question: Are there any online EdD programs that do not require a master’s degree for admission?

Updated: February 1, 2023

Answer: Yes — There are Doctor of Education (EdD) programs students can pursue online with only a bachelor’s degree. At this time, three schools offer online EdD programs that do not require master’s degrees: Southwestern College, University of Southern California (USC), and Vanderbilt University. However, these programs require additional qualifications for admission, such as substantial work experience or previously earned graduate credits. They also may take longer to complete than traditional EdD programs, which are designed for students who have already earned a master’s degree.

While most online EdD programs require a master’s degree for admission, there are a few options available for students who only possess a bachelor’s and want to jump directly into pursuing their doctorate. These particular programs are aimed at educators with significant professional experience, who see earning an EdD as more beneficial than pursuing a master’s at this point in their careers. In fact, as mentioned above, programs that accept students with only bachelor’s degrees often have specific admission requirements related to work experience, to ensure applicants are both in the proper place professionally for an EdD and ready for the rigors of doctoral study. Programs may also call for standardized test scores (e.g., GRE, GMAT, MAT) above a certain threshold, or require students to have already earned a significant number of graduate credits to transfer toward their EdD.

To learn more about the three online EdD programs that do not require master’s degrees, as well as their specific admission requirements for students who only possess a bachelor’s, continue reading below.

Featured Online EdD Programs - No Master's Required
University of Southern California Online EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership (EdD OCL) Visit Site
Students without a master's degree may be eligible for admission to USC's program if they have significant work experience in leadership positions.

Online EdD Programs: No Master’s Required

At Southwestern College, students with a bachelor’s degree and sufficient work experience can apply for the school’s online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program, which offers both a licensure track in building or district leadership, and non-licensure tracks in teacher or higher education leadership. The program is open to bachelor’s-prepared educators who will have a minimum of five years teaching experience by the end of their studies. Bachelor’s applicants must also submit GRE scores of 150 or higher on both the verbal and quantitative sections in order to be considered for admission. Once accepted, students entering with a bachelor’s degree can expect to complete their EdD in five years of continuous enrollment. In comparison, those with a master’s and five years of experience by program’s end can typically finish the degree in three years, and are not required to submit GRE scores.

The University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education also offers a Doctor of Education online for students with bachelor’s degrees who possess substantial work and leadership experience. Specifically, their Organizational Change and Leadership program is open to applicants who have led a team or organization, and whose “academic background, professional goals, personal commitment, and communication skills meet the demands of a rigorous graduate education program.” Students entering the program without a master’s degree must complete additional coursework to earn their doctorate, taking a total of 60 units over four years. Whereas, those who have earned their master’s only need to fulfill 43 units of coursework in order to finish the EdD, which generally takes around three years of study. All applicants must also demonstrate a high level of writing ability, either by submitting GRE or GMAT test scores, or completing an online writing assessment administered by the school.

Finally, bachelor’s-prepared students who already possess some graduate-level credits can pursue a Doctor of Education in Leadership and Learning in Organizations online through Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Offered by the school’s Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, this EdD program consists of a 54-credit curriculum, but requires a total of 84 credit hours to graduate. In order to fulfill the degree requirements, students must transfer 30 credits of graduate-level study toward their EdD. Both those with a master’s degree and students with a bachelor’s who have earned at least 30 graduate credits are eligible to apply. However, applicants must also show evidence of successful leadership experience, as well as verbal and quantitative proficiency, either through standardized test scores or another indicator. Vanderbilt’s online EdD in Leadership and Learning in Organizations is designed to be completed in roughly three to four years.

To learn more about general admission criteria for Doctor of Education programs, check out our Online EdD Program Admission Requirements page.