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15 Top PhD in Higher Education Online Under $45,000

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Our higher education system is always in need of good leadership, especially as we go through societal shifts that will necessitate big changes. If you are driven to be a change leader to help promote higher education excellence, workforce development, and to help our system turn out educated and ethical citizens, then a PhD in higher education online is a great way to get you there. Whether you are transitioning from another career, or are looking to rise into executive leadership within your current educational institution, an online EdD higher education program can give you the credential you need to succeed and make an impact.

Who Gets a PhD in Higher Education Online?

Many people who already work in higher education – administration, teaching, counseling, etc. – may invest in an online EdD higher education degree to help them take on more responsibility, do their jobs better, get caught up on the latest research, or get the credential to rise to the next level in their careers. But people from other walks of life may wish to go this route to become a higher education administrator too. If you have experience in business, nonprofit, or other industries, you may want to take your management and leadership skills into the education sector by getting a PhD in higher education online.

There are differed types of online EdD higher education programs, some with a special focus on community college leadership, adult education, quantitative or qualitative research, or ethical leadership. The programs we are highlighting here aim to graduate leaders, higher education administrators, researchers, and policy makers who can help shape and change the institutions that educate our populace. There are other types of online EdD or PhD programs that may focus on other aspects of education, such as K-12 education, education technology, and other fields, but for those who want to work at the junior college, technical college, or university level, the PhD in higher education online is the way to go.

Online PhD in Higher Education Programs, Costs & Careers

In an EdD higher education online program, you can expect to spend over two years to complete the degree, with most programs running around three years or more, depending on how long it takes you to complete your dissertation or capstone. The curriculum in the program will include courses that support higher education administration understanding, such as history, organizational theory, leadership topics, finance, planning, and more. There will also be research courses that will address competencies necessary to plan and write the dissertation or research study, with some credits devoted to completing this culminating work for the PhD in higher education online. Some online EdD higher education programs will have a comprehensive exam to pass before completing the final project as well, and this is often held on-campus.

The total cost of an online EdD higher education degree can vary quite a bit, with the cheapest program clocking in at $20k, while the most expensive programs will cost over $75k. Federal financial aid is available to most students, and discounts for military members or benefits from employers are available to help cover the costs for some students. Plus, the median salary for postsecondary education administrators is $95,410, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the top 10% of workers in this category earning over $194k. Pay for community college administrators is only slightly lower than that for college and university workers, and there are many types of jobs within the category of higher education administrators: academic deans, financial officers, students affairs professionals, government representatives, policymakers, enrollment managers, operations, community college administrators, and many more specialties. Most positions in higher education administration do not require licensure, but if a license is needed, it would be mandated at the state level, so it is important to check with your state board of education to find out if there are any educational requirements you need to fulfill for your desired position when you graduate.

15 Top PhD in Higher Education Online Under $45,000

There are many quality EdD and PhD programs in higher education available for online study, allowing students to continue their current careers while studying for the valuable doctoral credential. We have chosen the top programs with affordable tuition as well as high-quality online education.

  1. University of North Georgia

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $20,280

    The online EdD in Higher Education Leadership and Practice from University of North Georgia is a 60 credit program with new cohorts starting each fall. There is an optional on-campus orientation for those who choose it, and the program takes three years to complete. Sample courses include Trends & Issues in Higher Education Policy & Research, Organizational Psychology in Higher Education, Program Development & Assessment in Higher Education, and Teaching Non-Traditional & Underrepresented Students in Higher Education. Application are due by March 1, and applicants should have a 3.5 GPA on their master’s degree, though provisional admission is possible for those who do not meet this requirement. The EdD higher education online from University of North Georgia is a great choice for those who want to get to know a cohort of peers during remote study and seek an affordable degree program.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership & Practice


  2. University of Arkansas at Little Rock

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $24,129

    Students in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s online EdD in Higher Education can focus on two-year colleges, four-year colleges, or another aspect of higher education. Course requirements are divided into core, skill-based, elective, research and statistics, and dissertation. Titles of courses include College Students in the United States, Management Skills for Effective Leadership, Strategies for Effective College Teaching, Diversity in Higher Education, and Educational Statistics & Data Processing. Regular admission to the program requires a 3.5 GPA with specific minimum scores on the GRE as well as three years of professional experience. For conditional admission, applicants would need the 3.5 GPA but lower GRE minimums with evidence of the ability to succeed in graduate studies, including publications, research, writing samples, or letters of support. Students who have a compatible area of specialty in higher education will especially appreciate the EdD from UA Little Rock.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Higher Education


  3. Texas Tech University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $24,590

    For students who have many applicable credits from either a master’s or doctoral program, the online EdD in Higher Education Administration from Texas Tech University allows up to 30 transfer credits in the 60 credit program. Students choose from a concentration in Community College Administration or College/University Administration. While all coursework is online, students will need to come to campus for an orientation and three summer professional development sessions. Courses include Funding in Higher Education, The History of Higher Education in the US, Adult Student Learning, and Foundations of Mixed Method Research. All online courses will have at least one synchronous session per month, so students will need some flexibility in their schedule to arrange to be present at these. The program operates on a cohort model starting in the fall each year, and is designed to take three years including comprehensive exams and dissertation.

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    Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration


  4. University of Southern Mississippi

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $27,486

    Because there are no out-of-state tuition costs for University of Southern Mississippi’s online EdD in Higher Education, it is a very affordable option for students from anywhere. There is no dissertation required, but instead, a capstone project with real-world application. Classes in this 54 credit program include Social Justice, History of Higher Education, Organizational Theory, and Program Evaluation. The program takes nine academic semesters to complete, with admission dates in the fall and spring. Applicants can waive the GRE requirement if they have successfully completed a master’s degree. Students looking for a practice-focused EdD that is 100% online should take a close look at the program from University of Southern Mississippi.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Higher Education


  5. Aspen University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $28,300

    For maximum flexibility, the online EdD in Leadership and Learning – Higher Education Leadership from Aspen University includes 20 courses with start dates every two weeks. Students can choose to pay tuition in convenient monthly installments. Courses include Historical & Legal Perspectives in Higher Education, Accountability & Accreditation, Financial Management & Enrollment Development, and Problem-Based Research in Action. Applicants should have a master’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The interactive online classes are designed to easily fit around a busy schedule, and students control their own dissertation process. For a deep dive into higher education governance, leadership theory, student affairs, project management, and more, the EdD from Aspen University makes it easy to study around your current responsibilities.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Leadership & Learning / Higher Education Leadership


  6. Northern Illinois University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $28,350

    The online Community College Leadership EdD from Northern Illinois University is designed for mid-career professionals to give them an edge in this special area. The 54 credit program takes three years to complete, with two courses each semester that are fully online in the fall and spring, and summer courses with a one-week on-campus residency as part of the format. Applications are due by March 1 for a fall start, and require an earned master’s degree, three years of higher education experience related to community colleges, but no GRE scores are needed. Courses include The Administration of Higher Education, Pedagogical Innovations & Student Learning, Strategic Marketing & Enrollment Management, Evaluating Higher Education Programs, and Applied Research Design in Higher Education. For those committed to the community college model, this program allows you to specialize, meet peers from other colleges, and develop your skills in a high-quality program.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Adult & Higher Education / Community College Leadership


  7. Notre Dame of Maryland University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $29,010

    Notre Dame of Maryland University offers the fully online PhD in Educational Leadership for Changing Populations with a values-based curriculum and multiple start dates per year. The program divides coursework into core, higher education, research, and dissertation segments. Class titles include Educator as Change Leader, Curriculum Development for Changing Populations, Methods of Quantitative Research, and Dissertation Methodology. A comprehensive examination is required, and must be done on campus over one weekend, but all other courses and elements can be completed as distance education. For those interested in a dynamic and ethical curriculum based on a Catholic tradition in education, the flexible PhD in higher education online program from Notre Dame University of Maryland makes a great choice.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Leadership for Changing Populations


  8. Old Dominion University

    Total Cost (In-State): $29,403
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $31,833

    For those already working in a community college setting, Old Dominion University’s online PhD in Community College Leadership is a rigorous program that prepares students for executive leadership. The courses are “live” online during the fall and spring, with a two-week on-campus intensive featuring a different guest scholar each summer. Students also have the opportunity to study abroad for 10 days in the spring if they choose. Courses include Community College Finance, Fundraising, & Resource Management; The Law of Higher Education; Applied Linear Models in Educational Research; and Trends & Issues of Economic and Workforce Development. The dissertation is conceptualized from early in the program, allowing time to develop the research during the program. Most students complete the online PhD in higher education program in three and a half years including dissertation, and the cohort average size is 16 students.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Community College Leadership


  9. Morgan State University

    Total Cost (In-State): $32,414
    Total Cost (Out-of-State): $58,748

    Morgan State University’s online EdD in Community College Leadership has three 5-week courses during every semester, allowing students to focus on just one subject at a time. The program is organized into cohorts, allowing students to develop relationships and receive support from their peers. Coursework can be completed within three years, but most students take about six years to complete all the elements of the degree including comprehensive exams and the dissertation. Sample classes from this program include Technology in Contemporary Community Colleges, The Learning-Centered Community College, Politics of Higher Education, and Community College Finance & Budgeting. Out of state students who study online can petition to pay in-state tuition rates if their state does not have a program offering this degree. For students who value strong peer interaction, high-quality curriculum, and who believe in the value of community colleges, the Morgan State program is a very attractive doctoral program.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Community College Leadership


  10. Wilmington University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $32,482

    If you seek a program that allows you to customize your learning to your interests, Wilmington University’s online EdD in Higher Education Leadership is 51 credits long and allows students to develop their leadership portfolio throughout their study. The curriculum is divided into professional core courses, which meet asynchronously with synchronous Course Roundtables sprinkled throughout; the research core, where students complete a research project; and the guided study, where students work 1:1 with a mentor on an individualized plan of what they want to learn. Classes include Advanced Academic Research & Writing, History of American Higher Education, and Ethical Decision-Making in Higher Education. Students are admitted to start in the fall, and applicants should have a 3.0 GPA on the last two years of graduate work. The program can be completed in three years, and Wilmington University’s program is great for students who would like a hand in deciding what they need to learn, as well as an affordable online EdD higher education that is entirely virtual.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership


  11. University of Memphis

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $32,562

    The online EdD in Higher and Adult Education from University of Memphis is great for students with many types of academic or professional backgrounds, including business, law, education, health, counseling, and liberal studies. While the higher education concentration prepares students for mid- and senior-level positions in higher education, on commissions, or on boards, the adult education concentration can help students leverage their knowledge to lead in education, health, community, or nonprofit sectors. Admissions to the program are holistic, so the committee considers the total person in choosing students. The 54-credit program is fully online, and course titles include Educational Leadership in Organizations, Policy-Oriented Research, Higher Education Administration, and IT Trends & Issues. For students who come from varied background but seek to succeed in educational leadership, the EdD online from University of Memphis is a great EdD higher education online program to set a career trajectory.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Higher & Adult Education


  12. Liberty University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $37,193

    Liberty University’s online PhD in Higher Education Administration allows students to transfer in up to 50% of the credits required for this degree program, making it especially attractive to students who already have the EdS credential or other graduate work that may transfer. Classes are in convenient 8-week blocks, and there are multiple start dates per year. Classes in the degree include Teaching the College Student, Historical Perspectives of Higher Education, Organizational Analysis & Problem Solving for Educators, and Research Concepts & Methodology. The dissertation is required, but no on-campus time is required. There are tuition discounts for military personnel, veterans, and spouses, as well as aid offered to Virginia residents. For a program that takes a Christian perspective towards educational leadership, the PhD in higher education online from Liberty University offers a high-quality experience for aspiring leaders.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration / Education Leadership


  13. Amridge University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $38,475

    The online EdD in Higher Education Administration from Amridge University puts an emphasis on developing theoretical skills to help graduates effectively address real-world problems. Classes include Students Services Administration in Higher Education, College Curriculum & Program Development, and Theory & Methodology of Qualitative Research. The 51-credit curriculum is divided into 3 credits of orientation, 21 credits of courses in the discipline, 12 credits of research courses, 3 credits for the comprehensive exam, and 12 credits for the dissertation. Full-time students can expect to complete the whole process in about four years, while part time students will take longer. Up to 12 credits can be transferred in for the degree. Amridge University’s online EdD is a good fit for students who want the advanced preparation for executive leadership while taking courses at their own pace.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration


  14. Fairleigh Dickinson University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $41,625

    For the possibility of completing your degree quickly, the online EdD in Higher Education at Fairleigh Dickinson University can be completed in 26 months. There are just 45 credits and 16 courses in the program, and classes are held in an 8-week format. Students have monthly face-to-face meetings with faculty in addition to the classes, and these can be held on-campus or through video conference. In the summer, there are workshops, seminars, and interdisciplinary projects that students may participate in on campus. Courses in the program include Sustainable Development & Higher Education, Building an Inclusive University Culture, and Data Analytics & Visualization in Higher Education. Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA from a master’s degree of at least 36 credits, and work experience in higher education is preferred but not required. Up to 9 credits may be approved for waiver. For a program with the flexibility of asynchronous online classes, but the grounding of monthly meetings with faculty, Farleigh Dickenson’s EdD is a great choice.

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    Doctor of Education in Higher Education


  15. Grand Canyon University

    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $41,850

    Grand Canyon University offers two different concentrations for the online EdD in Organizational Leadership – Higher Education: Qualitative Research or Quantitative Research. Both degrees have 60 credits, allow up to 9 transfer credits, and have classes that are eight weeks long. The programs focus on ethical leadership from a Christian world view and helping graduates find a renewed sense of purpose to bring about change. Sample classes include The Literature Landscape: Organizational Leadership; History & Politics of Higher Education; and Strategic Planning & Change. Applicants should have a 3.4 GPA on their master’s or previous doctoral degree, though exceptions are made. With the ability to focus on one of two types of research, the EdD programs from Grand Canyon University offer the chance to specialize further in one’s career.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership / Higher Education Leadership (Qualitative Research)
    Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership / Higher Education Leadership (Quantitative Research)


Get Started Today!

If you are hoping to either enhance your job prospects with a PhD in higher education online, or transition to educational administration with an online EdD higher education degree, you have excellent choices waiting for your application. Take the time to consider which of these cost-effective doctoral programs would be best for you, and get your fingers typing to get started soon on the next chapter of your career.

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