Online EdD Programs in Diversity, Multiculturalism, and Social Advocacy

Updated: March 27, 2024

Every student is different, coming from a unique background with their own learning style and challenges, and the classroom of the 21st century has become more diverse than ever. In order to keep up with shifting demographics and stay inclusive to all learners, schools and other educational programs need to constantly innovate and adapt their strategies and practices to support students from all walks of life. With a solid understanding of the social and pedagogical issues surrounding diversity in the classroom, education professionals can enact positive change in not only educational systems and organizations, but the community at large.

There are currently 13 schools that offer online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) programs with specializations in Diversity, Multiculturalism, or Social Advocacy. These programs prepare students to be leaders and advocates for diversity and social equality in academic, corporate, and government settings. These program concentrations train students in organizational leadership, education administration, diversity advocacy, and social justice, with the goal of preparing graduates to foster diverse communities of learning and manage educational institutions while promoting tolerance and equality.

This page contains online EdD programs with specializations related to diversity, multiculturalism, and/or social advocacy, including degrees in fields such as education reform, social justice, equity in education, urban leadership, and more.

Curriculum for Online EdD Programs in Diversity, Multiculturalism, and/or Social Advocacy

While not as common as other EdD specializations, students interested in pursuing an EdD in Diversity, Multiculturalism, and/or Social Advocacy online have a few options to choose from. Some schools have defined tracks in these fields, while others offer several electives in these areas as part of a more general EdD program. Keep in mind, program titles and curricula may vary by school, and focus on a range of different areas related to diversity and social advocacy in education, from policy reform to leadership in urban settings. Some examples of available programs include:

  • Online Doctor of Education in Leadership for Organizations (Emphasis on Social Justice)
  • Online Doctor of Education with a Specialization in Urban Leadership
  • Online Doctor of Education in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership with a Concentration in Diversity and Equity in Education
  • Online Doctor of Education in Educational Sustainability (Diversity and Social Justice)

The majority of EdD programs consist of anywhere from 50 to 70 course credits, and can be completed in three to five years of study. Core courses in Diversity, Multiculturalism, and Social Advocacy EdD programs cover topics such as systems of education, curriculum and program development, education research, and education policy. Examples of core courses may include:

  • Organizational Leadership in Academic Settings: The organizational structure of different institutions of education at the primary, secondary, and higher education levels, and the role of education administrators within these institutions. How different departments within an academic institution collaborate to create and achieve goals concerning the education of their students.
  • Curriculum Development and Assessment: The principles of curriculum development and instruction for public and private schools in both the K-12 and higher education systems. How to determine students’ learning needs and address them by developing effective curricula, training teachers and managing their professional development, and evaluating the learning outcomes of programs in order to improve upon them.
  • Education Funding: How institutions of education acquire the necessary funding to operate and serve their students. Education finance policy, the principles of education finance, and effective budgeting and resource management for schools and school districts.

After completing the core classes in their program, students progress to courses that focus on multiculturalism, diversity in education, and human rights principles. Such courses may include:

  • Foundations of Multicultural Education: How schools and the larger community that they serve depend on and impact one another. How diversity and multiculturalism intersect with social justice and education systems at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary level in order to foster social responsibility in students of all ages. How to incorporate cultural acceptance and anti-discrimination into curricula and extracurricular programming at schools.
  • Linguistics in Education: The relationship between language, learning, and culture, and how studying the forms and origins of language from multiple cultures benefits students’ learning. The best practices for fostering a community that encourages multilingualism.
  • Issues of Diversity in Education: Issues of diversity that impact academic communities, their origins, and how to address them. Topics covered include discrimination and bullying, children with special needs, English language learners, and methods for creating a safe and productive space for learning for children and adults across different academic environments.
  • Diversity Research for Educational Leaders: How to use quantitative and qualitative research methods to investigate diversity issues within education. How to develop and frame a research question, and design, implement, and analyze the results of research projects that use qualitative and/or quantitative research procedures.

To supplement students’ concentration courses, EdD programs typically allow students to take several electives in subjects that are relevant to education and education leadership, but which are not included in the core or specialization classes. Elective courses may be classes from a different EdD concentration at the school, or be from a different degree program or academic department. Examples of such courses include:

  • Collaboration and Communication: How to promote collaboration and communication between instructors and students, as well as between students in a group. The principles of effective team dynamics and how to apply them to different group learning situations.
  • International Education Systems: How primary, secondary, and post-secondary education are structured in other countries, and how these systems of education differ from those of American education institutions. How culture influences education systems, and vice versa.

During the latter half of their program, students complete a dissertation that investigates an issue in education relating to diversity, multiculturalism, and/or tolerance of difference in educational environments. Students earn academic credit for their research, discussion, and writing of their dissertation, typically through classes such as dissertation seminars, independent study, and dissertation research. Students complete their dissertation under the guidance of a faculty member who serves as their research mentor. Dissertations require a significant time investment for students, as well as advance planning on the topic and scope of their research project. For more information about the dissertation component of online EdD programs, please refer to our Dissertations and Doctoral Capstone Projects resource page.

Prospective students should note that the curriculum details explained above are general overviews, and that course content and sequencing vary from program to program.

Career Paths for Graduates of EdD Programs in Diversity, Multiculturalism, and/or Social Advocacy

Graduates of EdD programs with a concentration in Diversity, Multiculturalism, or Social Advocacy are prepared to serve in leadership positions in a wide variety of educational institutions, including K-12 schools, colleges and universities, school districts, and even corporate settings. Jobs for graduates of these types of programs include but are not limited to:

  • Primary or Secondary School Principal: School principals manage the operations of all the departments at the school(s) over which they preside, and are responsible for ensuring that school campuses remain safe, accessible, and supportive learning environments for all students. Their responsibilities include coordinating teacher schedules, curricula, and professional development, collaborating with other school staff to develop and manage budgets, and collaborating with school district officials and other principals to develop plans for students’ educational attainment.
  • School District Superintendent: School superintendents preside over an entire school district, which is generally composed of multiple schools in a given region. School superintendents collaborate with a larger school district board, as well as principals, parents, teachers, and education advocates to help schools meet educational benchmarks. Superintendents oversee the development and evaluation of educational programs, standardized testing, school facility updates, and school district budgets.
  • Public Policy Leader: These professionals work in a variety of settings, developing, implementing, and analyzing educational policies and strategies for school systems, districts, governments, and other organizations. Their job generally entails conducting research and collaborating with school and government officials, all with the goal of improving the laws and rules that govern the operation of education programs, tackling issues such as class size, teacher pay, school choice, curricular content, graduation requirements, testing methods, and more.
  • College or University Director: College and university directors oversee non-academic departments at these institutions, which can include the Office of Admissions, the Office of Career Development, and the Office of Education Accessibility, among others. Academic directors supervise the daily operations of their department, which may include such tasks as overseeing the review of student applications for admission and/or financial aid, developing and implementing career development services, or working to ensure that school buildings abide by American Disabilities Act standards.
  • Education Researcher: Education researchers conduct research that investigates issues within systems of education, and/or finds methods for improving students’ learning outcomes. EdD graduates who specialize in diversity and multiculturalism in education may work at research universities or education non-profits.

Online Ed.D. Programs in Advocacy, Diversity, and/or Multiculturalism

The following schools are sorted by state for easy reference; however, most online EdD programs accept students from other states as well. For out-of-state programs, students should confirm with an admissions advisor that the program accepts students from their state of residence before applying.



Accreditation: WSCUC, CAEP
Department: School of Education


University of Northern Colorado

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Department: College of Education and Behavioral Sciences - School of Teacher Education


University of Illinois

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Accreditation: MSCHE
Department: School of Education


Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Department: Stender School of Leadership, Business and Professional Studies


Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Department: School of Education

New York

Accreditation: MSCHE
Department: School of Education and Human Services

North Dakota

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Department: College of Education and Human Development


Antioch University

(Yellow Springs)
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Department: School of Education and Health Sciences (SEHS)


University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

(Stevens Point)
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Department: School of Education