Question: Are there any fully online Doctor of Education (EdD) programs?

Answer: Yes — There are Doctor of Education programs that can be completed entirely online with no campus visit requirements. While many online EdD programs require one or more on-campus sessions, a wide range of schools offer fully online degree options, as well as programs with optional in-person components. Some examples include Arizona State University, Drexel University, Liberty University, Maryville University, Sam Houston State University, The University of Southern Mississippi, and University of Virginia.

As mentioned above, online EdD programs often include a certain number of mandatory in-person residencies, where students travel to campus for anywhere from one or two days to an entire week to participate in orientations, workshops, or other events. However, there are many colleges and universities across the country that offer EdD programs which do not require students to visit campus at any point during their studies. These fully online programs can be a great option for working professionals unable to take time off for residencies or students who may not be able to travel to campus for other reasons.

While in-person instruction can be used to enhance online learning, students are typically responsible for the costs associated with required on-campus sessions. Therefore, students considering online programs outside of their commuting distance, such as one offered by a school based out of state, should check with an admissions advisor about any on-campus requirements before applying. This will help them make an informed decision about whether they would like to pursue a program that is fully online or one that requires limited face-to-face instruction.

To learn more about fully online EdD programs currently available from schools in the U.S., as well as programs with minimal campus requirements, continue reading below.

Fully Online EdD Programs

Students interested in pursuing their EdD entirely online have a variety of options to choose from. In these programs, all of the coursework is delivered online through either synchronous or asynchronous instruction. While students may need to log in at specific times to watch live lectures or participate in class discussions, they are never required to visit campus for in-person learning activities or other degree related matters (e.g., to sit for exams or defend their dissertation). Fully online programs are available in nearly every EdD specialization, from PreK-12th Grade or Higher Education Leadership, to Education Technology, Nursing Education, Organizational Leadership, Sports Management, and more.

For example, at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, students can pursue a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and Management entirely online in one of nine different concentrations: Athletic Administration, Creativity and Innovation, Educational Administration, Educational Policy, Global and International Education, Higher Education, Human Resource Management, Learning Technologies, or Special Education Leadership. Similarly, Concordia University Chicago offers fully online EdD tracks in specializations such as Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education, Education Technology, Gerontology, Health and Human Performance, Organizational Leadership, Sports Leadership, Teach Leadership, and Ready, Language, and Literacy. These EdD programs are all 100 percent online, with no campus-based requirements whatsoever.

Other schools offer EdD programs that can be completed through entirely online study, but have optional campus components students can choose to attend, if they so desire. One such school is Maryville University in Missouri, which offers a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership online, with the option to attend two dissertation research residencies either online or on campus. Likewise, the University of North Georgia has a fully online Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership and Practice with an optional on-campus orientation. At City University of Seattle, students can pursue a Doctor of Education in Leadership entirely online in a number of different concentrations; however, the school strongly encourages EdD candidates to attend several optional in-person residencies throughout their studies to help with dissertation development.

Below are more examples of schools that offer fully online EdD programs. While some of these include optional on-campus experiences, all of them can be completed through entirely online study*.

  • Abilene Christian University – Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership
  • Arizona State University – Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation
  • A.T. Still University of Health Sciences – Doctor of Education in Health Professions
  • Boise State University – Doctor of Education in Educational Technology
  • California University of Pennsylvania – Doctor of Education in Education Administration and Leadership
  • Franklin University – Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership
  • Lamar University – Doctorate in Educational Leadership – Global Educational Leadership
  • Liberty University – Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership, Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, Doctorate in Education in Curriculum and Instruction
  • National University – EdD in Organizational Innovation
  • Northcentral University – Doctor of Education, Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, Doctor of Education in Instructional Design
  • Sam Houston State University – Doctor of Education in Developmental Education Administration, Doctor of Education in Instructional Systems Design and Technology
  • St. Thomas University – Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation
  • The University of Southern Mississippi – Doctor of Education in Educational Administration (P-12), Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration
  • The University of West Alabama – EdD in Rural Education
  • University of the Cumberlands – Doctorate in Educational Leadership
  • University of Virginia – Doctorate in Education in Curriculum and Instruction
  • University of West Florida – Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, EdD in Instructional Design and Technology
  • William Carey University – Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

There are currently colleges in 38 states that offer online EdD programs. For students who do not live within commuting distance to a campus-based program, pursuing an EdD entirely online through one of these institutions may be the only option without having to relocate. Additionally, those interested in earning an EdD online in a specific specialization may need to explore out-of-state options in order to find a program that offers that area of focus. Many of the fully online programs listed above accept students from most, if not all, states in the U.S. However, some programs are unable to or do not accept online students from every state. Therefore, students should always check with an admissions advisor before applying to an out-of-state program to ensure they accept students from their state of residence.

Online EdD Programs with Limited Campus Requirements

While the degrees mentioned above are all fully online with no campus visit requirements, some online EdD programs include one or more in-person components (often called residencies or intensives) which will require students to travel to campus or another location during their studies. OnlineEdDPrograms.com defines a program as “online” only if it requires three or fewer campus visits per year. When researching online degrees, students should be sure to closely examine any and all possible campus-based requirements. While not common, there are some programs comprised of entirely online courses that use the term “fully online,” but include a mandatory orientation or require students to visit campus for their comprehensive/qualifying examination and/or dissertation defense.

There are a number of different ways schools integrate campus visits into the curriculum. Online EdD programs offered by schools such as Appalachian State University, University of Southern California, and University of West Georgia can be completed almost entirely online; however, students are required to attend an in-person orientation prior to starting their studies. Other programs have one or more summer residencies, where students visit campus during the summer semester (sometimes for as long as a week) to participate in various campus-based events or activities. Examples of programs with summer residency requirements include Florida State University, Gratz College, Northern Illinois University, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, University of Findlay, University of Massachusetts Lowell, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, and Western Kentucky University.

Finally, some schools make online students come to campus at certain points throughout their studies for important degree related events, such as their comprehensive or qualifying exam, dissertation proposal, or dissertation defense. For instance, students pursuing a Doctor of Education in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership online from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign must visit campus twice during the program, once for a preliminary exam and again to defend their dissertation. Similarly, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s online Doctor of Education in Kinesiology includes three campus sessions, requiring students to travel to campus for an orientation, an oral comprehensive exam, and their dissertation defense. Belhaven University, Rowan University, and Teachers College, Columbia University all offer EdDs online with similar campus requirements based around different stages of dissertation development. Other schools, such as Indiana University, may require students to attend annual conferences or other departmental happenings.

As noted above, campus-based activities can be a great way to enhance online learning, providing students with an opportunity to meet their instructors and classmates in person and participate in hands-on training exercises. For students who value face-to-face interactions, but who want or need the flexibility of an online degree, programs with limited campus visits may be a great alternative to traditional campus-based or hybrid programs. However, these online programs require certain time and travel obligations, as well as additional expenses on top of tuition costs and universities fees. As such, students should be sure to weigh the pros and cons of required in-person sessions when researching programs, in order to choose one that best fits their particular scheduling needs and learning style.

*Disclaimer: Programs requirements, including in-person instructional activities, can change over time as schools review and update their curricula. Therefore, students should check with their programs of interest to determine if they have any on-campus requirements before applying.