7 FAQs About Pursuing an Online Ed.D. in Leadership

An educational leader making waves in her organization.
An educational leader making waves in her organization.

What are the benefits of an online Ed.D.? How long does such a program take? Does an online doctor of education in leadership and innovation require a dissertation? 

We regularly hear questions like these from prospective students who are considering an online doctorate of education degree program. In this blog, you’ll find answers to these questions and several more, including:

  • What is an Ed.D.?
  • What are the career paths for working professionals with an Ed.D.?
  • What is the difference between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D.?
  • What courses are included in an Ed.D.?

In this blog post, you will gain the information you need to make a decision about an online Ed.D. program. The answers to seven Ed.D. FAQs will reveal how an Ed.D. prepares working professionals for leadership roles, the specific competencies included in Ed.D. coursework and more.


What is an Ed.D? 

An Ed.D., which stands for Doctor of Education, is a practitioner-focused doctoral degree. Designed for individuals who want to fulfill leadership roles in a variety of settings, the Ed.D. prepares professionals for educational leadership positions in academic institutions, school districts, corporations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. 

The Ed.D. is a terminal degree, which means it is considered the most advanced degree in a field or subject area. This means that individuals with an Ed.D. may work as faculty members in full-time colleges or universities. 


What are the Career Paths for Working Professionals with an Ed.D.? 

While some Ed.D. graduates may pursue career paths as postsecondary teachers or professors in academic institutions, many others choose educational leadership roles in other settings. 

For example, Ed.D. graduates with a health care background may pursue health care education roles in hospitals, community organizations or government agencies. Working professionals in elementary or secondary education may earn an Ed.D. in order to pursue roles like school principals or district administrators. 

Consider a few more of the career paths for Ed.D. graduates with working experience in various fields:

  • Corporate Trainer: Also called training or development specialists, corporate trainers work in most industries. They assess the training needs in their organizations, curate or design resources and materials to meet those needs and conduct training sessions. Corporate trainers earned a median annual salary of $61,570 in May 2021. Such roles are expected to increase by 11 percent between 2020 and 2030.
  • Superintendent or District Administrator: Responsible for oversight of all campuses in the district, superintendents work to improve educational success for all students in their schools. Their duties often include the development of policies and processes, working with school principals and conducting long-range planning for the district. According to PayScale, the average salary for superintendents is $127,039. Roles for education administrators are expected to grow by eight percent between 2020 and 2030.
  • Dean of Students or Faculty: Responsible for overseeing campus programs at a college or university, deans of students or faculty are oftentimes former professors. As deans, they work on behalf of students or faculty members to enhance their experience on campus through collaboration, policy development and implementation and other supportive measures. Postsecondary education administrators earned a median salary of $96,910 in May 2021. The projected growth rate for such jobs is eight percent from 2020 to 2030.


What is the Difference between an Ed.D. and Ph.D.?

Like a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), the Ed.D. is considered a terminal degree — the most advanced degree in a specific subject or certain profession. 

Unlike the Ph.D., the Ed.D. is more focused on practical applications of research than academic research itself. While Ph.D. graduates are most likely to pursue roles in academia, Ed.D. holders may be more interested in leadership roles in a variety of workplaces including schools, communities, government, health care and public and private organizations.


What Courses are Included in an Ed.D.? 

From social justice and ethical leadership to conflict and crisis management, the online Ed.D. coursework at Marymount University encompasses the key competencies necessary for today’s working professionals who want to fulfill educational leadership roles. Courses in the program include:

  • Professional Collaboration and Engagement: Students develop the leadership skills necessary to initiate, build, evaluate and sustain durable coalitions and effective community partnerships. 
  • Integrating Learning Technologies to Transform Organizations: Content areas in this course include the history of technology in educational and other systems, how technology could improve areas like professional development and transparent communications in the future, and creating technology policies and plans for organizations.
  • Administering Social and Human Capital: This course emphasizes the most valuable asset of any organization — people — by teaching students to attract, retain, motivate and develop the best working professionals for their organizations. 

Additional coursework in the online Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation program includes:

  • Leading An Organization: Theory, Practice & Reflection
  • Ethical Leadership & Social Justice
  • Transformative Leadership: Leading Organization Change
  • Approaches to Research Methods
  • Models of Leadership and Coaching 
  • Challenges of Leadership: Conflict and Crisis Management
  • Program Evaluation and Decision-Making
  • Applied Research Methods
  • Global Leadership and Policy
  • Communicating Research Findings

One of the primary benefits of an online Ed.D. is the opportunity to tailor coursework to a student’s career path and desired leadership roles. The classes above do not merely discuss theories or concepts, but instead engage students in developing practical projects that are specific to their interests and vocational aspirations.


How Long is an Ed.D. Program?

The average length of a doctorate of education program is three to four years. However, the fully-online Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation program at Marymount University can be completed in eight consecutive semesters — less than three years — without requiring students to put their careers on hold.


Do I Need to Write a Dissertation for an Ed.D. Program?

The online Ed.D. program at Marymount University includes a dissertation that is specifically focused on a relevant issue that impacts the student’s organization. A faculty advisor supports and guides each student through identifying his or her dissertation topic, conducting research and creating innovative solutions


What are the Benefits of an Online Ed.D.? 

For working professionals who want to pursue leadership roles, the Ed.D. has many benefits. The coursework in such a program will equip such professionals with the skills, competencies and abilities they need to provide effective leadership in their organizations. 

Individuals with doctoral degrees also tend to enjoy low unemployment rates and higher salaries than their master’s degree peers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals who have a doctoral degree faced just a 1.5 percent unemployment rate and earned a median weekly wage of $1,909 in 2021. Comparatively, the unemployment rate for master’s degree holders in 2021 was 2.6 percent and their median weekly wage was $1,574.

Marymount online Ed.D. students also cite several personal benefits, including:

  • The ability to pursue higher education in a flexible way that allows them to uphold their personal and professional obligations
  • Building relationships with fellow students and faculty members, which expands their professional networks and enhances their personal lives
  • Fostering time management and project completion skills

Additional benefits of an online Ed.D. include the ability to personalize coursework to the student’s vocational goals and learning from a diverse population of fellow students across the country.


Become an Educational Leader in your Field with an Ed.D. from Marymount University Online

Do you want to advance your career through leadership roles that create meaningful change in a school, district or organization? Are you interested in the best practices, strategies and innovations that could improve individuals and communities? If so, the fully online Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation from Marymount University could be an ideal degree program for you.

Designed for working professionals, our flexible program features a robust curriculum engaging with the many complex issues that today’s leaders face with a solutions-oriented approach. Our expert faculty, leaders throughout Washington, D.C., and alumni network are actively engaged in empowering students to solve real-world problems through effective leadership. In fact, online Ed.D. student Jessica Burns-Turch says that such relationships, as well as those with her fellow students, have been a highlight of her Ed.D. experience.

“We support each other, we celebrate each other,” Burns-Turch says. “There’s always a team member that is just a phone call away — whether it is 12 noon or 12 midnight. I didn’t know that you could even possibly form these types of bonds this late in life. But I have, and these are bonds that are going to be with me for the rest of my life. That is something that this program did.”

Like Burns-Turch, you can find the community, coursework and content you need to advance your career through an online Ed.D. from Marymount University. Connect with an enrollment advisor to take the next step