Online Doctor of Education (EdD) Programs in Illinois

Updated: May 1, 2024

Illinois is home to 11 schools that offer Doctor of Education programs online. Aurora University, Bradley University, Concordia University Chicago, Governors State University, Illinois State University, National Louis University, Northern Illinois University, Olivet Nazarene University, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, University of Illinois, and the University of St. Francis all have EdDs students can pursue through online study, making few or no visits to campus. A total of 14 online EdD programs are available through these institutions, in specializations such as Educational Leadership, Early Childhood Education, Higher Education Administration and Leadership, K-12 Education Learning and Technology, Organizational Leadership, Human Resource Development, Ethical Leadership, and more.

All of the schools listed on this page are nonprofit institutions regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), with the exception of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, which has accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Certain programs or departments mentioned below may also be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Schools in Illinois with Online EdD Programs

Aurora University offers an online EdD with specializations in Instructional Leadership: Coaching and Mentoring; and Leadership in Adult Learning and Higher Education. This program features courses that prepare students to engage in research that connects theory to improving practice in K-12 and higher education settings. The EdD at Aurora is comprised of 60 course credits, regardless of the specialization students choose. First-year courses that students take in this program cover topics such as in organizational theory and change management, educational research, diversity and social justice in education, equality in education, instructional coaching for adults in professional contexts, and curriculum and assessment for K-12 settings. The more advanced second-year courses in this program cover topics in education research design, qualitative and quantitative research methods, curriculum development and assessment for special populations, strategic planning and finance for institutions of higher education, and advanced instructional practices and learning theory for school improvement. All students are required to complete an internship that is relevant to their chosen specialization, and they also devote their final year in the program to their dissertation, which is an independent research project that addresses a relevant problem of practice in education, coaching and mentorship, K-12 learning, and/or higher education.

Bradley University, located in Peoria, offers an online Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration and Leadership that integrates Bradley University’s values of social justice, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy into the coursework to prepare students for a diversity of leadership roles in higher education settings (including community college leadership). This program is comprised of 48 credits divided across 16 courses. The core courses cover key topics in educational governance and higher education boards, education policies and their ethical and political foundations, technology-based learning, and educational assessment, analysis, and accountability. Students subsequently take a Higher Education Administration and Leadership course sequence that covers key concepts and skills in student and academic affairs, contemporary learning, financial management in higher education, and leadership at the university and community college levels. For their final graduation requirement, students must complete a Scholarly Research Project that emphasizes action research. To guide them through the action research process, this program features a Doctoral Research course sequence that introduces students to action research principles, design, ethics, data collection methods, data analysis and reporting, and scholarly writing and presentation. In addition, students receive guidance from faculty mentors throughout the research process. Finally, students must fulfill a relevant internship to fulfill their graduation requirements.

Bradley University also offers an online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in Technology, which is designed to prepare educators to integrate the latest instructional technologies and experiential learning platforms into their work setting to optimize learning outcomes. This program, which is also 48 credits, features the same core courses as Bradley University’s Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration, which cover educational governance, political and ethical foundations of education policy, learning in a technology-based era, and data analysis and accountability in education. However, the concentration courses in this program are specific to educational technology, and cover topics such as instructional design, learning theory and instructional strategies, digital learning and distributed instruction, applied educational media, and digitally driven education practice. Students of this program are required to complete an education technology-focused portfolio before embarking on their doctoral research project, which foregrounds action research as the primary methodology to identify and address a problem of practice that is relevant to students’ current or desired work setting.

Based in River Forest, Concordia University Chicago offers a number of EdD concentrations students can pursue online through its College of Graduate Studies. Their online Doctor of Education in Leadership has specializations in Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education, Educational Leadership, Education Technology, Higher Education, Organizational Leadership, Special Education, Teacher Leadership, and Reading, Language, and Literacy. Curriculum in the program combines specialized coursework in one’s area of focus with an overall emphasis on knowledge management, decision making, conflict and change management, communication, and unique approaches to leadership. Concordia also offers an EdD degree track in Sports Leadership. All of these EdD programs require the completion of 61 credits and are fully online, with no campus visit requirements.

At Governors State University in University Park, students can pursue a Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership online in one of two concentrations: Higher Education Administration or Not for Profit/Social Entrepreneurship Leadership. Offered by the College of Education, the degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours, which includes an 18-credit core curriculum, 33 credit hours of concentration coursework, and nine hours dedicated to development of a final capstone project. Core courses in the program cover topics in leadership, research, planning, communication, globalism, and finance. The remaining curriculum is comprised primarily of coursework in one’s area of concentration. Students in the Higher Education Administration degree track, for example, take courses in Strategic Planning, Political and Legal Issues in Higher Education, Leadership in Colleges and Universities, Organizational Governance and Campus Culture in Higher Education, Theories of Teaching and Learning, Student Affairs, Accountability and Accreditation, and Business and Fiscal Management of Colleges and Universities. In addition to its two fully online EdD specializations, Governors State University also offers a hybrid EdD with a Superintendent (P-12) specialization. This program requires students to come to campus for face-to-face classes periodically during their second and third years in the program.

Illinois State University in Normal offers an online EdD in Special Education through its College of Education that is designed for educators and education leaders who want to design, implement, and enhance special education programs, and/or improve special education systems and services within public and private academic settings. This fully online program consists of 66 credit hours, divided between 51 credits of content coursework and 15 credits of dissertation work. Students take 45 credits of core courses in areas such as applied educational research, legal and policy issues affecting special education programming, personnel preparation in special education, advanced technological applications in education, grant writing and proposal development in special education, and contemporary issues in special education.

Upon completing their core courses, students take 6 credits of electives, equaling two courses; classes that they can choose from cover topics like behavioral challenges for students with autism and related disorders, curriculum development and modifications for diverse learners, moral and political underpinnings of education, teaching and supporting students with emotional and behavioral challenges, and changing behavior through changing learning environments and analyzing their efficacy. Prior to embarking on their dissertation work, students must complete a Doctoral Comprehensive Examination. Once students pass their comprehensive examination, they are qualified to present their dissertation proposals. For their dissertation, students have a choice between a traditional dissertation format, a journal format dissertation, and a dissertation in practice. Throughout their work on their dissertation, students benefit from support, advising, and feedback from a dissertation committee.

Illinois State University also offers an online EdD in Educational Administration and Foundations, with a specific focus on P-12 Administration. This program is comprised of 75 credit hours, divided between 60 hours of content coursework and 15 hours of dissertation work. Required courses in this program include classes on administrative theory in education, research design in education, moral and political foundations in education policy, research design in education, applied educational research, and several doctoral research seminars. For electives, students can choose from courses in areas like school business management, school administration theory, educational policy advocacy, comparative multicultural education, and educational evaluation and assessment. Prior to starting their dissertation work, students must take and pass a Doctoral Exam. Once they pass this examination, students begin their dissertation work under the guidance of a faculty advisor and committee.

National Louis University, which has several campuses in Illinois and a campus in Tampa, FL, offers two online EdD programs. The first is an online EdD in Higher Education Leadership (which can also be completed in an on-campus format, as well as a hybrid format that mixes online and campus classes); this program prepares students to assume mission-driven leadership positions that require sound data analytics and research skills, as well as organizational leadership capabilities. Students of the online EdD in Higher Education Leadership take courses on topics such as doctoral research in higher education, data-driven decision-making, qualitative and quantitative research methods, institutional study, higher education in the United States, organizational leadership and governance, finance and budgeting, academic affairs, strategic marketing, legal issues, and student development. In addition to their core course requirements, students can take electives in areas such as psychological foundations of learning, program evaluation, organizational effectiveness, and diversity and inclusion. For their culminating experience, students complete a Doctoral Capstone, wherein they compile, collate, synthesize, and analyze past work over the course of their program and assemble it into a final presentation.

National Louis University also offers an online EdD in Teaching and Learning with a specialization in Postsecondary Teaching and Instructional Leadership. This program empowers college and university educators to improve their practice by designing and implementing effective curricula; employing a critical, reflection-based approach to teaching; and incorporating research, data analysis, and student development theory into their instructional approach. Students of this program take courses covering topics such as data analysis and interpretation, curriculum and assessment, scholarly writing, leading change, data-informed decision-making, and instructional design. In addition to their didactic coursework, students must complete an internship in Post-Secondary Teaching under the supervision of a faculty mentor and a professional subject matter expert. The EdD in Teaching and Learning also has specializations in Reading, Language and Literacy; Disability and Equity in Education; and Curriculum, Advocacy and Policy, but these specializations are offered in a blended format and are not available fully online.

Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb offers an EdD in Community College Leadership online through its College of Education’s Department of Counseling and Higher Education. The program is designed to help prepare education professionals for career advancement in a variety of areas within community colleges, including student affairs, academic administration, enrollment management, operations, or instruction. To earn their degree, students must complete a total of 54 post-master’s credits, spread over a three-year course of study. The curriculum focuses on theory-to-practice and inquiry-based educational practices, with courses in topics such as Administration of Higher Education, Community College Students, Educational Statistics, Financing Higher Education, Pedagogical Innovations and Student Learning, Public Policy Studies, Strategic Marketing and Enrollment Management, and Legal Aspects in Higher Education Administration. While courses in the spring and fall terms are delivered entirely online, summer coursework utilizes a blended format, requiring students to visit the NIU Naperville campus once a year for a one-week in-person residency.

The Education Psychology and Technology Department at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) offers an EdD in Educational Psychology and Technology online, with optional concentrations in Higher Education Learning and Technology, K-12 Education Learning and Technology, and Instructional Design. The 60-credit program is designed to be completed in three years, and focuses on preparing students with the skills they need to effectively evaluate instructional settings and implement new technology-driven approaches to improve learning outcomes. Required core courses include The Psychology of Learning, The Theory and Profession of Educational Technology, Action Research and Evaluation, Cognition Across the Lifespan and Technology’s Impact, Integrating Technology in Learning Systems, Ethics and Standards in Educational Psychology and Technology, and Culture’s Place in Learning and Technology. Students can then choose to take either nine credits of electives or three courses associated with one of the available concentrations. While the majority of the program is online, there are two required three-and-a-half-day residency sessions, which provide the opportunity for face-to-face mentoring and networking with faculty and peers.

Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais offers an online EdD in Ethical Leadership through its School of Education. This 60-credit program prepares students to head and transform organizations through culturally sensitive and ethics-driven leadership principles, and features courses such as Intrapersonal Leadership; Interpersonal Leadership; Research Theory: Principles and Methods; Management and Strategic Planning; Policy, Politics, and Social Action; Leadership Paradigms; and Ethics, Values, and Cultural Influences in Societal Transformation. After their content coursework, students progress to 12 credits of dissertation work, during which they receive guidance and mentorship from a dissertation committee. This program features completely online classes in an accelerated format that students can complete within as few as 32 months, and also offers online support and tutoring services for its EdD students.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has an online Doctor of Education in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership available through its College of Education. Students can pursue one of six concentrations in Diversity and Equity in Education, Global Studies in Education, Human Resource Development, International Education Administration & Leadership, Learning Design and Leadership, and Learning Design and Leadership: Technology Specialist. Each specialization requires a minimum of 64 credit hours and utilizes synchronous video class sessions that meet once a week in the evenings. Coursework in UIUC’s online EdD program varies by concentration. The Diversity and Equity in Education track, for example, includes courses in diversity, leadership, and policy; historical and social barriers to quality education; race, gender, and sexuality issues in education; special education equity; assessment of student learning; and education and human rights. Meanwhile, the International Education Administration & Leadership specialization features courses in education and human rights, global youth and citizenship, researching global education, globalizing education policy, and global issues in learning. Students pursuing any of the six concentrations online must visit campus twice during their studies, once for a preliminary exam and then again to defend their dissertation.

University of St. Francis in Joliet offers an online EdD in Educational Leadership – Leadership, Learning, and Stewardship concentration. This 60-credit program provides students with the knowledge and skills to engage in academic, sociopolitical, and organizational leadership responsibilities in the public and private sectors. Students of this program take core courses in Qualitative/Quantitative Research, Servant Leadership, and Preparation for the Dissertation Presentation & Publication. Concentration-specific courses that students take include Dynamics of Organizational and Change Theories; Stewardship of Resources; Evaluation & Accountability: Defining Organizational Success; Promoting Learning in the Organization; Leadership, Politics, and Ethics; and Experiential Leadership Projects. Students also complete a dissertation on a problem of practice that is relevant to their current or desired work, and receive guidance and support from a faculty mentor throughout their progress on their dissertation.

Online EdD Programs in Illinois

The following is a list of schools in Illinois that offer Doctor of Education degree programs online. To learn more about any of the EdD programs described on this page, click the corresponding link below to visit the school’s website.

Aurora University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Bradley University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Department: College of Education and Health Sciences
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Department: College of Education

National Louis University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP
Department: National College of Education
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, CAEP

Olivet Nazarene University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Department: School of Education
Accreditation: WSCUC

University of St. Francis

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Department: College of Education