Admission Requirements for Online Doctorate of Education (EdD) Programs

Admission requirements for EdD programs are rigorous and require considerable advanced preparation. Applicants are expected to display a readiness to complete the intensive classes and dissertation necessary to receive their degree. They must also demonstrate an investment in education administration and leadership in a particular sector of education, whether it be primary education, higher education, education policy, or even human resources and organizational leadership in corporate settings. In general, all EdD programs require applicants to have the following for candidacy:

  • Master’s Degree in an Education-Related Field: Almost all EdD programs require students to hold a master’s degree in an education or education-related field (see below for information about programs that do not require a master’s degree). Students must have completed their master’s degree at a nationally or regionally accredited university.
  • Transcripts for all Post-Secondary Work: Students must submit official transcripts of all their undergraduate and graduate coursework at the community college and university levels. In general, applicants are required to have maintained a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 or higher in both their undergraduate and graduate work.
  • A Professional Resume or Curriculum Vitae: This resume must outline the applicant’s work in education administration, teaching, education policy, research, and/or another area of education. Some programs require students to have completed at least three years of work in a setting related to education and/or education leadership in order to be considered.
  • A Personal Statement: Candidates’ personal statements are their opportunity to explain their motivations for applying to the program, as well as the relevance of their past academic and professional experience to their desired specialization within the EdD program.
  • Three or More Letters of Recommendation: Strong letters of recommendation are an essential component of an EdD program application. While programs differ in their specific requirements for letters of recommendation, in general, they require a letter from at least one of the following people:
    • A professor from the applicant’s master’s program who can speak to the student’s commitment and ability to complete rigorous classes and research.
    • A professional who has worked with the applicant and who can speak to his or her ability to fulfill the requirements for the doctorate degree and also positively impact one or more areas of education in a leadership capacity post-graduation.

Some, but not all, EdD programs also require the following:

  • A Writing Portfolio: Some programs want students to submit writing samples that illustrate an applicant’s past research work and ability to write literature reviews, in-depth analyses of studies, and other academic writing assignments.
  • GRE or Other Standardized Test Scores: Some programs require GRE scores as another metric to evaluate students’ competency in writing, as well as their quantitative skills. Applicants whose primary language is not English may be required to submit TOEFL scores.

Special Considerations for Applicants to Online EdD Programs

Apart from the application essentials detailed above, applicants to online EdD programs should also consider the following when deciding which programs they might want to apply to.

The Cohort Model

Many EdD programs follow a cohort model, in which students join a group of fellow students who start and progress through the program at the same time. The cohort model is beneficial for EdD students because it gives them a natural community of fellow students with whom they can learn and discuss course concepts. Programs with a cohort model, however, may require students to apply at specific times during the academic year. Furthermore, for many of these programs, once students are admitted into a certain cohort, they may not be allowed to defer due to the school’s need to fill their cohort for a specific academic term. Students who wish to enroll in a program that follows the cohort model should make sure they are able to start the program on the start date specified in their application.

Online EdD Programs That Do Not Require a Master’s Degree

While in the minority, there are some EdD programs that admit students who do not have a master’s degree, and who hold a bachelor’s degree in an education or education-related field. These programs still have rigorous requirements, and generally expect applicants to demonstrate their readiness for the program through their professional work and leadership experience.

Students who gain admission into an EdD program with this option should expect to take 20-25 more course credits than their peers who hold a master’s degree, as programs will expect them to take certain master’s-level courses that cover fundamental concepts in education leadership, education policy, learning theory, and curriculum development prior to beginning their doctorate-level classes.