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Doctor of

Program summary

Prepare for a rewarding profession in the education, counseling, or human services field. Customize this online doctoral program in education by selecting courses from multiple disciplines to prepare for a career within educational institutions, private organizations, or all levels of government.

Application deadline

Apply by June 15 to start August 21

Credits and costs

36 Credits $1,007 per credit

Shape the Future of Education and Drive Student Success

At every level, from kindergarten through post-graduate, education is in a state of rapid evolution. The institutions and organizations that will drive education forward to best serve future generations need passionate and educated leaders. Prepare yourself for an influential role by earning the highest level of education degree available. Learn to apply research and data to solve the problems and guide the decisions facing educators, counselors, and organizational leaders.

This online Doctor of Education program is offered through Penn State World Campus in partnership with the Penn State College of Education. The program is based on a flexible, research-intensive, and practical model of study that can prepare students for rewarding professions in the education, counseling, and human services fields. Unlike other programs, it is neither cohort-based nor specific to a single discipline, being offered across the entire College of Education.

NOTE: Penn State awards graduates of this program a D.Ed., recognized as a Doctor of Education degree and equivalent to an Ed.D.

About the Curriculum

This doctorate-level education degree program draws from several disciplines and affords you the opportunity to customize your learning by picking from a wide range of areas of emphasis:

  • Adult Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Educational Leadership
  • Higher Education
  • Learning, Design, and Technology
  • Organization Development and Change
  • Special Education

The Penn State Doctor of Education (D.Ed.) program is designed for people who want leadership roles that shape the future of education. The knowledge that working professionals gain in this program can be immediately applied in their current roles and can lead to promotion or career expansion in the private sector or government. In this program, you can focus on honing your practical skills, rather than on teaching and research like you would in a more traditional Ph.D. program.

Information for Military and Veterans

Note: This program is under review for GI Bill® eligibility, and you may experience delays attempting to use GI Bill benefits toward this program until it has been officially approved.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.


Penn State's online Doctor of Education program offers you the freedom to build a customized doctoral degree. The program is centered on developing knowledge pertinent to problems of practice, while developing the inquiry skills and disciplinary practices to develop, understand, and apply research in new situations.

Completion of a research capstone experience is required for graduation from the program. The capstone experience will culminate with a dissertation and research addressing problems of practice and engaging a specific client in a targeted educational setting. This experience should extend beyond course work and be part of an extended online community.

Prescribed Courses (24 credits)

  • 3

    Provides a survey of major trends in the field of comparative and international education in the last half of the 20th century.

  • 3

    Provides an overview of the skills necessary to design, implement, and assess research studies.

  • 3

    Gives an overview of the fundamentals of reading, evaluating, and conducting evaluations of programs in educational settings.

  • 3

    Through this course, students become more comfortable with analyzing quantitative data sets. Topics include teacher-directed review, modeled analyses, and guided practice. Participants will practice analyses and interpretation with data sets.

  • 3

    Through course readings and the engagement of qualitative research techniques, students will situate and assess qualitative research studies within a broader research context, develop the ability to articulate a coherent research design, gain experience in foundational qualitative methods and analysis, be able to discern what questions are appropriate to qualitative research, and synthesize and write up results of data analysis.

  • 3

    This course studies various education research theories including include Post-Positivism, Interpretivism, the Critical Tradition, Post-Structuralism, and Pragmatism.

  • 6

    Students will research and critically analyze a topic aligned with their career interests. The course covers all phases of the research process from identifying problems of practice to reviewing literature, identifying study methods and analytical techniques, and scholarly writing of research papers.

  • 0

    Students will meet for an intellectually stimulating five-day, in-person summer summit at the University Park campus. As part of the residency requirement, the summer summit includes members from all doctoral cohorts and provides a series of workshops and professional development opportunities to enhance the online learning experience with face-to-face conversations, mentorship, and research skill development. Each student will complete a minimum of one in-person summit.

Electives (12 credits)

Electives will be chosen by students in consultation with their faculty adviser. Students can personalize their degree based on their research interests and career goals (like in these specialized path examples) by selecting their electives from more than 170 online graduate courses offered by the Penn State College of Education within the following areas of emphasis:

  • Art Education
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Earth Sciences
  • Educational Leadership
  • Higher Education
  • Learning, Design, and Technology
  • Lifelong Learning and Adult Education
  • Organization Development and Change
  • Special Education

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2022–23 Academic Year Rates

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? Cost
11 or fewer $1,007 per credit
12 or more $12,082 per semester

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

  • Fall DeadlineApply by June 15 to start August 21
  • Spring DeadlineApply by October 15 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by February 15, 2024, to start May 13, 2024

Admissions Help

Thank you for your interest in applying to this program. Contact an admissions counselor to discuss your educational goals, financial aid options, and application deadlines.

Admission Requirements

For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

Applicants to the D.Ed. program must also have a completed master’s degree or equivalent (30 credits minimum). Admitted students may be required to take additional course work as recommended by the academic program at the time of admission.

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

GPA and Test Scores — GRE or GMAT scores are not required.

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

References (3) — you will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names and email addresses of three references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.

Program-Specific Questions/Materials

Writing Sample — Provide a published or unpublished paper, thesis, or another scholarly writing sample. This sample must be in English.

Résumé or Vitae — Upload your résumé or vitae to the online application.

Statement of Purpose — A written essay discussing your professional goals and how the Doctor of Education program will bring you closer to the realization of those goals.

Start Your Application

Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

Begin the graduate school application
  • Choose Enrollment Type: "Degree Admission"
  • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.

Technical Requirements

Review the technical requirements for this degree program.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State doctorate?

Apply by June 15 to start August 21. How to Apply

Start or Advance Your Career

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You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

The following roles are often held by people with this type of degree:

  • Academic Affairs Director
  • Career Development Counselor
  • District Superintendent
  • Enrollment Management Vice President
  • Higher Education Administrator
  • Instructional Technology Director
  • Learning Development Specialist
  • Special Education Superintendent

Employment Outlook for Occupational Fields Related to This Degree

Estimates of employment growth and total employment are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to change. While these occupations are often pursued by graduates with this degree, individual outcomes may vary depending on a variety of factors. Penn State World Campus cannot guarantee employment in a given occupation.

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Instructional Coordinators

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Education Administrators, Kindergarten through Secondary

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Education Administrators, Postsecondary

employment growth (10 years)
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Education Teachers, Postsecondary

employment growth (10 years)
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Education Administrators, All Other

employment growth (10 years)
total employment

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Specialization Elective Example Paths

The four elective courses that you choose are intended to expand your knowledge base to an area beyond the focus of your existing master’s degree.

You will choose your electives in consultation with your program and faculty advisers to coalesce with the focus of your ensuing doctoral capstone project. Some examples of elective selections based on student interests are shown below to help you envision possible areas of specialization:

Teachers or trainers working with adults in educational or corporate settings may benefit from electives from our lifelong learning and adult education program or organization development and change program:

  • ADTED 505: The Teaching of Adults
  • ADTED 581: Social Theory and Lifelong Learning
  • WFED 865: Implementing Training as an Organization Development Intervention
  • WFED 880: Facilitating Groups and Teams

Teachers, administrators, and other education professionals looking to expand their knowledge or advance into leadership positions in educational settings may be interested in electives from our educational leadership program or curriculum and instruction program:

  • C-S 562: Methods of Classroom Supervision and Coaching
  • C-S 563: Designing Staff Development Programs
  • EDLDR 841: Data-Informed Leadership
  • EDLDR 861: Principles of Instructional Leadership

Instructional and learning designers, trainers, or educational technology specialists working in traditional education settings, cyber schools, remote/virtual environments, or business training programs may benefit from courses within the learning, design, and technology program; the lifelong learning and adult education program; or the organization development and change program:

  • ADTED 533: Global Online and Distance Education
  • LDT 843: Learning Technologies for Good and Evil
  • SPLED 802: Design and Delivery of Evidence-Based Instruction for Learners with Special Needs
  • WFED 876: Facilitating Organization Development and Change through Technology

Those involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts within their organization could find elective courses from our educational leadership program or special education program:

  • EDLDR 831: Leadership for Equity and Diversity
  • EDLDR 859: Planned Change for School Improvement
  • SPLED 525: Teaching Learners with Disabilities in Inclusive Settings
  • SPLED 811: Ethical Considerations for Special Education Populations

Student service professionals, institutional researchers, and others working within higher education may be interested in electives from our higher education program, such as:

  • HIED 545: Foundations in Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • HIED 801: Foundations of Institutional Research
  • HIED 807: Foundations of Academic Advising
  • HIED 860: Enrollment Management

With more than 170 total courses to choose from, you can work with your faculty adviser to select the electives that best fit your career aspirations.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Doctor of Education program, offered through Penn State World Campus in partnership with the Penn State College of Education, please contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
[email protected]

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State doctorate?

Apply by June 15 to start August 21. How to Apply