Online Doctor of Education (EdD) Programs in California

Updated: June 1, 2023

There are currently five schools in California that offer EdD programs online: California Baptist University, Fresno State, National University, the University of Massachusetts Global Campus in Irvine, and the University of Southern California. In total, these schools have 13 distinct online programs for students to choose from, with degrees in fields such as Educational Leadership, Instruction Design, Organizational Innovation, and Organizational Change and Leadership. There are also a wide range of specializations available, including Early Childhood Education, E-Learning, Postsecondary Educational Leadership, Special Education, and K-12 Leadership in Urban School Settings.

All of the schools listed on this page are non-profit universities regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Several departments are also accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)*.

Schools in California with Online EdD Programs

California Baptist University, located in Riverside, offers an online EdD in Organizational Change and Administration through its Department of Online and Professional Studies. This program is comprised of 56 credits and follows a cohort model, with 100% online classes spanning eight weeks. The curriculum for the online EdD in Organizational Change and Administration focuses on organizational strategy and leadership, human resources management, data-informed program planning and innovation, fostering multiculturalism and diversity, contemporary organizations and their structures, and advanced qualitative and quantitative research. After completing their main courses, students progress to their dissertation work, where they examine a research question that is relevant to their place of work and desired impact on educational and/or organizational settings. There is no residency requirement for this program.

California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) offers an Online Doctorate in Educational Leadership through its Kremen School of Education & Human Development. The program can be pursued in one of two specializations: PK-12 Educational Leadership or Community College/Higher Education Leadership. A total of 60 units are required to earn the degree, which is designed to be completed in three years of full-time study. The curriculum is comprised of nine core courses, seven specialization courses, and 12 hours of dissertation units, and students complete their course of study in cohorts of 10 to 12. While the majority of coursework is delivered online through the Canvas learning management system, the program does include three on-campus residencies on the Fresno State campus, each approximately one week in length.

National University in La Jolla offers an Online EdD in Organizational Innovation through its Sanford College of Education and Center for Advanced Graduate Studies. Available only to California residents, the program is entirely online, with coursework that utilizes both synchronous and asynchronous components, and a three-day summer orientation that can be completed either online or onsite. The nine-course, 81-unit curriculum is designed to prepare professionals with the advanced knowledge necessary to facilitate innovation and enact positive change in any organization, and includes courses in areas such as theories and methods of inquiry, knowledge management, innovation in education, emerging issues and trends, and collaboration and ethical practice. Students can expect to finish the program in three years, but have up to seven years to complete their required Culminating Project, if necessary.

National University also offers three EdD programs online through its School of Education. The first is a Doctor of Education with 17 different specialization options, including Curriculum and Teaching; Early Childhood Education; E-Learning; English Language Learning; General Education; Instructional Leadership; International Education and Globalization; Leadership in Higher Education; Learning Analytics in Higher Education; Learning Analytics in K-12 Education; Nursing Education; Organizational Leadership; School Safety, Security, and Emergency Management; Social-Emotional Learning; Special Education; Sport and Athletic Management; and Trauma-Informed Educational Practices. The fully online program boasts weekly start dates (every Monday), asynchronous instruction, no group assignments, and no campus visit requirements. Each degree track consists of 16 courses (48 credit hours) and is designed to be completed in 40 months. This online program also features an All But Dissertation (ABD) option for students who have completed most or all of their EdD coursework at another institution, but who have not completed their dissertation. This ABD track gives students intensive support and an accelerated sequence of classes that help them get back on track with their dissertation and earn their doctorate degree.

National University’s School of Education also offers an online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and an online Doctor of Education in Instructional Design. Both are comprised of 54 credit hours and require the completion of 18 courses. The online EdD in Educational Leadership is a 45-month program, for those interested in obtaining advanced knowledge and skills related to leading in a variety of educational settings, from the PK-12 system to corporate learning environments. The Instruction Design program, which takes 36 months to complete, helps prepare students to develop and manage advanced educational or training programs for schools, businesses, government, the military, and more. Both programs are delivered entirely online, and students are not required to visit campus at any point during their studies. In addition, both the online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and the Doctor of Education in Instructional Design have ABD tracks for qualified applicants.

The University of Massachusetts Global Campus, which formerly operated as Brandman University and whose administration is located in Irvine, California, offers an Online Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership. This program is comprised of 57 total course credits, with students taking classes in organizational communication, conflict management, team management, transformational leadership, strategic thinking, education assessment and accountability, diversity and multiculturalism in leadership, innovative and sustainable change, assessment and accountability in education, and educational and organizational resource management. In addition, students take advanced qualitative and quantitative research courses to prepare them for their work on their dissertation. The program requires two in-person immersion sessions on the Irvine campus and has both virtual and in-person cohorts that meet two times per term. In-person cohorts are formed throughout California near University of Massachusetts Global Campus’s campus locations depending on the number of students.

The University of Southern California’s (USC) Rossier School of Education, located in Los Angeles, offers a total of three EdD degree tracks online. The first option is a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with a concentration in K-12 Leadership in Urban School Settings. Comprised of 43 units, this primarily online program is designed to be completed in three years, and includes one two-day immersion on the USC University Park Campus, where students attend orientation events and meet their classmates and instructors face to face. After that, they begin a 15-course curriculum, featuring courses in topics such as Foundations of Urban Education, Resourcing Schools for Equity and Excellence, Leadership Enactment, Education Policy and Politics, Advanced Research Methods, and Leading for Instructional Improvement.

USC’s other online offering is an EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership (OCL) with two different program tracks: one that requires a master’s degree and one that only requires a bachelor’s (although applicants must have significant professional experience in leadership roles). Students entering the program without a master’s degree can expect to complete their EdD in four years, taking the full 60-unit OCL curriculum. Those already possessing a master’s are admitted to the program with advanced standing status, and are only required to take 43 units over three years in order to earn their degree. Both pathways include courses such as Creativity and Innovation, Leadership, Diversity, Accountability, Education Performance Problems, Using Communication to Facilitate Organizational Change, and Evaluating and Assessing System Outcomes. While the majority of the OCL program is delivered online, it does include one mandatory two-day orientation event on the USC campus.

Online EdD Programs in California

Below is a list of all the online EdD programs offered by schools in California. To learn more about any of these degree programs, click on the corresponding program name below to visit the school’s website.

California Baptist University

Accreditation: WSCUC
Department: Online and Professional Studies

California State University, Fresno

Accreditation: WSCUC, NCATE

National University

(La Jolla)
Accreditation: WSCUC, NCATE
Department: Sanford College of Education - Center for Advanced Graduate Studies
Department: School of Education

University of Massachusetts Global

Accreditation: WSCUC
Department: School of Education

University of Southern California

(Los Angeles)
Accreditation: WSCUC, NCATE

*The Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Preparation (CAEP) is now recognized as the sole accrediting body for education preparation programs in the United States. NCATE accredited programs will become CAEP accredited when their accreditation is up for renewal.