Online Doctorate Degree in Teaching

An online PhD in teaching program teaches methods to better address the challenges students and teachers face in the classroom. Courses offer ways to examine how students learn and how educators teach in order to create more effective class materials. To do this, courses might include topics in team management and teacher preparation. Classes might also expose students to the vast array of teaching methods.

In addition, you may also have the chance to conduct research alongside your professors or on your own. Data you collect during this process could be used for class or even in your dissertation.  

Earning an Online Doctorate Degree in Teaching: PhD or EdD?

When researching potential doctorate degree in teaching programs, you may notice that degrees are offered as either a doctor of philosophy (PhD) or as a doctor of education (EdD). Though both programs may cover similar material, there are some subtle differences between the two.

For starters, the doctor of education (EdD) focuses more on helping students design enhancements for a school system. This could include speerheading initiatives like professionally developing fellow educators, designing curriculum, or resolving challenges students are having. Classes also emphasize students taking a leadership role in these programs.

A doctor of philosophy (PhD) might be better suited for students who want research to be the primary focus of their studies. While both programs may offer research opportunities, PhD programs devote more of their class time to the principles of research. Instead of designing new programs, students typically research educational trends and use the data to address obstacles in education. This doctorate degree is tailored more for students who want to pursue a research career after graduation.

Despite their different focuses, these degree programs still cover similar course material in terms of studying teaching in general. When choosing between an online EdD and a Phd in teaching, it may be important to consider if you're more interested in teaching, administration, or research. This way, you could choose whether a EdD or a PhD program better aligns with your goals.

Did You Know?

Teachers take part in many different types of training. Development provided to teachers could include workshops, research, coaching, or peer observation. 

General Doctorate Degree in Teaching Online Curriculum

Core curriculum in the online PhD in teaching program is designed to help you better address the needs of faculty and students in a school system. The methods discussed in classes could be used to possibly enhance educators’ teaching practices and classroom techniques.

During your studies, you might come across some of the following general PhD in teaching courses. Classes vary by program. Be sure to speak with potential schools for more curriculum details.

Teaching & Diversity

Many schools include a large student population that has different backgrounds. This could include diversity factors like age, finances, home life, and mental abilities. Designing lesson plans that could be a good fit for each student might be difficult for teachers or administrators. But, the teaching and diversity classes offered as part of an online PhD in teaching program could help you address these unique needs.

You could study methods to help design supportive curriculum or policies that account for schools. This way, you could be more aware of what goes into creating a welcoming and effective teaching space. 

Teacher Preparation

Instead of focusing on the students, teacher preparation courses look towards the educators themselves. These classes teach methods to educate teachers about better using their class time. This could include ways to prepare for lessons or eliminate learning obstacles from their classrooms. To do this, courses demonstrate ways to hold professional development sessions. You could use these skills and knowledge to hold your own classes to help fellow teachers further develop their teaching capabilities.

Did You Know?

Teacher effectiveness impacts student achievement 20 times more than other factors.

Research Methods

Research makes up a large portion of the online PhD in teaching. Students may be asked to research ongoing trends in student education like attendance, exam scores, and more. Classes often cover basic, and then advanced, research techniques to help equip students with the tools necessary to conduct their own research. Some research classes could include the following.

  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Quantitative Research Methods
  • Research in Teacher Education

Additionally, doctoral faculty might offer research opportunities for students. This way, you could take part in actual studies and see how they’re run. You may be required to complete research method courses prior to being allowed to help faculty with research or conducting your own. Be sure to speak with your department head or advisor for more information about research requirements.


When working to enhance the methods used by a school, you may find that management techniques could be an important tool. Management courses teach how to build relationships with peers and others to work together professionally. In this specific case, this could entail learning how to help teachers to strengthen their rapport to help them work towards a common goal with students. Techniques discussed in the class could include things like workplace psychology and management tactics.

Did You Know?

Instead of workshops, many teachers learn from observation. Demonstrating new methods to fellow educators could be a great tool. 

History of Teacher Education

Understanding why previous previous research methods, curriculums, policies, and management tactics were used in education could be an important part of moving forward in the field. Teacher education history classes also examine effective and ineffective methods from the past. Students often have the chance to study real-world, educational scenarios and to evaluate their effects in teaching environments.


Students participating in an online PhD in teaching program may be required to go to a physical campus to complete two apprenticeships. These semester-long classes require students to step inside the classroom to apply their teaching and research knowledge .

A teaching apprenticeship may have students take on the role of teaching assistant for professors in the education department. This is similar to student teaching programs that are typically found in undergraduate degree programs. But, instead of stepping into a K-12 classroom, you may be teaching undergraduate students. For many, this may be their first-time teaching at the postsecondary level. This apprenticeship could be an opportunity to not only test your teaching capabilities, but also be a review of your current studies.

Research apprenticeships may also have you working alongside a faculty member. But instead of teaching, you might be helping them with their research. The apprenticeship might allow you to apply the research methods you studied in your core curriculum. And, the experience could help you better understand the ins and outs of how a research study is conducted. Methods studied in this apprenticeship might also be applied to your own research in your dissertation.

Apprenticeships may differ by school. Be sure to speak with your school’s education department for more information.


An online PhD in teaching dissertation is usually a two-fold process. First, students conduct research about an issue in the teaching field. This could include many topics like the effectiveness of teaching methods, distracting classroom environments, or personal student issues.

To perform this research, students may have to travel to a school. While there, they will likely interact with students, but may also work alongside teachers, parents, and administrators. Research could involve interviews, exam assessment, standardized testing, or other methods. In terms of where you complete this course of your study, universities may offer your choice of research locations that are convenient to your location.

After finishing research, students then go on to write their dissertation. Completed dissertations usually include a summary of students’ research methods and data findings. Students may use that data to uncover potential solutions to the educational issues they were studying.

Schools usually ask students to schedule two semesters for work on their dissertation. During this time, you may not be required to take any other courses. This first semester of this project is often used for research, while the second is spent writing. Many schools also offer the option to extend your program to provide more time for you to work on your research. This may be important for students conducting longer research experiments.  

Dissertation requirements vary by school. Be sure to speak with your school or department faculty for more information.

Online PhD in Teaching Admissions

Online PhD in teaching programs usually require students to submit evidence of a 3.0 graduate GPA. It’s important to note that many of these programs require students to have already earned a masters in teaching, or a related field. This is unlike other programs that may accept a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Additionally, GRE or GMAT scores may be required.

Some schools may also require applicants to be a currently licensed teacher. This means that they have completed state-mandated requirements to teach in a classroom. This is especially important for apprenticeship courses. In some cases, schools may ask the students to submit proof of professionally teaching for three years.

In some cases, schools may ask you to submit an essay outlining the potential education research you want to complete. If admitted, this essay could help the school pair you with an advisor with complementary academic interests so they could possibly better support you during your research projects.  

Admission requirements vary by school. Be sure to speak with prospective schools for more details about their application process.

Graduating from an Online Doctorate in Teaching Program

Students could potentially earn an online doctorate in teaching in two to three years depending on enrollment. During this time, students may be asked to complete 45 to 60 credit hours of courses.

It’s important to note that the dissertation requirement may extend the length of your online PhD in teaching program.  In these cases, student could potentially earn a degree in four years. Many schools require students to earn their degree in a maximum of five years.

Program length may vary by school. Check with potential schools for more information about the expected graduation time. 

Potential Online PhD in Teaching Careers

Students who earn an online PhD in teaching could pursue a career as an educator. While many entry-level positions may require a bachelors in education, postsecondary teaching positions may require a masters or doctorate degree for entry-level positions.

Here are a few teaching careers you could possibly pursue. Also provided are their median salaries in 2015.  

  • Kindergarten & Elementary School Teacher, $54,550i
  • Middle School Teacher, $55,860ii
  • High School Teacher, $57,200iii
  • Special Education Teacher, $56,800iv
  • Postsecondary Teacher, $72,470v

While these positions may require bachelors degrees for initial teaching licensure, many states may require you to complete some graduate education in order to maintain your license. Your doctoral degree may count towards this requirement. For more information about licensure requirements, speak with your school’s education department.

But, the courses you study in an online PhD in teaching might also enhance your ability to pursue leadership positions in the educational field. Courses may have covered ways to develop an employee’s teaching methods. Or, ways to help you construct supportive curriculum for students.

With that background, you could consider pursuing some of the following careers. Also provided are their 2015 median salaries.

  • Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal, $90,410vi
  • Postsecondary Education Administrator, $88,580vii
  • Instructional Coordinator, $62,270viii

These positions may require a masters degree for entry-level roles. But, again, having earned a doctoral degree may demonstrate an advanced understanding of overarching educational concepts and professional teacher development.

Next Steps Towards an Online PhD in Teaching

An online PhD in Teaching could be a great way to engage with techniques to potentially enhance an educational system. With these skills and knowledge you could possibly help students and teachers alike.

To start your search for a perfect program, browse the list of links on this page. To read more about a program, click its link. While on the program’s page, you could also request additional information. This could be a great way to request details like admissions deadlines, course descriptions, and more. Good luck finding a perfect online PhD in teaching!

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