Earning a Doctor of Education Degree in Alabama
Our school listings for Alabama doctoral programs in education are dominated by public universities—only Samford is flying the private flag. The upshot is reasonable Ed.D. tuition rates, some internal funding (especially at UA), and a few unusual online & blended Ed.D. programs. If you’re considering programs for certification, glance at Professional Leadership Certificate requirements first—the Ed.S. is the standard choice there.
Once you have a doctorate or three in mind, take a quick look at our career section. We’ve pulled up national and state data on AL jobs & salaries that may confirm your suspicions (yep, Tuscaloosa is a hotspot for postsecondary administrators). This section also contains links to state job boards, details on important Alabama educational leadership organizations (e.g. CLAS), and plenty of ideas for conferences & training opportunities.
Online Doctor of Education Programs in Alabama
Online Ed.D. Providers in Alabama
- Samford University (CAEP-accredited)
- University of West Alabama (CAEP-accredited)
What to Know About Alabama Online Ed.D. Programs
We unearthed two online doctorates in education at Alabama schools: one private, one public. Both are CAEP-accredited, but they’re also built for specific learners. In other words, they’re not big, broad-scope programs.
For example, Samford University’s 36-credit Online Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership is only open to candidates with an Ed.S. and a minimum GPA of 3.75 on all graduate work (Samford has an Ed.S. program if you need it). High admissions standards usually equate to strong curricula, and we’re pleased to see that this degree includes a field-based research component. The online Ed.D. includes three mandatory on-campus meetings, but per credit tuition is not outrageous.
And then there’s UWA’s Online Ed.D. in Rural Education—a 60-66 credit program created in conjunction with rural partner schools and superintendents. It comes in two concentrations (Teaching & Learning or Organizational Change & Leadership) and it’s streamlined into 8-week courses. We give it kudos for a) accepting postgraduate transfer credits; b) offering the same reasonable tuition for in-state and out-of-state residents; c) being open to MBA graduates and other community leaders; and d) taking part in the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED).
Not seeing what you want? Keep in mind that many of the Ed.D. programs in our school listings are technically blended or hybrid doctorates. Examples of this phenomena include UA’s Ed.D. in Instructional Leadership for Nurse Educators or Higher Education Administration (Executive Cohort) and USA’s Executive Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. If you can manage some time for a weekend commute to campus, you may find a program that’s in your ballpark.
Note: Our overview of online doctoral programs in education has more info on accreditations and a listing of online Ed.D. degrees in all fifty states.
Doctoral Education Funding in Alabama
Internal Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards
For this section, we’ve highlighted sources of institutional aid for Ed.D. programs (e.g. internal scholarships, payment plans, tuition breaks, etc.). UA is the clear winner here, with multiple sources of funding. Once you’ve looked at these links, chat to the Graduate School and/or the Office of Financial Aid. They’ll have info on external aid (e.g. federal loans).
Alabama State University
The Graduate School has info on Graduate Assistantships for full-time graduate students—check to see if doctoral students are eligible to apply.
Samford has a general section on Graduate Financial Aid with advice on loans and a link to its interest-free payment plan. However, tuition scholarships are not available for the Ed.D.—the School of Education only awards these to students in master’s programs and specialist programs.
The University of Alabama
- Merlin G. Duncan Memorial Endowed Scholarship for full-time graduate students majoring in administration and educational leadership or the administration of higher education.
- Daniel Evan Parker Endowed Scholarship for full-time graduate students who are pursuing doctoral degrees in educational leadership studies.
Then pay a visit to the Graduate School’s section on Funding & Support, which contains details on Graduate School Scholarships & Fellowships and ideas for external awards. Also, talk to the Ed.D. program coordinator about the possibility of assistantships. The COE doesn’t have a specific section on these, but it sounds like they may be available.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is a joint program with UA, so you should ask the program coordinator about how to apply for scholarships & aid at either institution. The School of Education maintains a list of School of Education Scholarships and Awards.
University of South Alabama
USA offers a blended Executive Ed.D., which means conventional financial aid rules may not apply. Check with the program coordinator about funding opportunities.
University of West Alabama
Note: If a university name is missing from the list, we didn’t find specific examples of Ed.D. funding beyond private & federal loans and external aid.
Leadership Certification Requirements in Alabama
Professional Leadership Certification
The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) handles certification for Alabama educators, including public school administrators. The key credential is the Professional Leadership Certificate. This may be issued at the Class A (master’s degree) or Class AA (sixth year/education specialist) level in various areas of instructional support, including:
- Educational Administrator
- Principal (P-6; 7-12; or P-12)
- Career & Technical Administrator
Plus there’s a Professional Leadership Certificate available for Instructional Leaders. The exact requirements for the Professional Leadership Certificate can be found in the Alabama State Board of Education (ALSBE) Administrative Code: 290-3-2 Educator Certification Chapter (see section 290-3-2-.03.).
We’ve provided a brief rundown of the process below, but Ed.D. program coordinators should also be able to help answer certification questions. Some schools make it a part of the entry process. For example, UAB wants to see Ed.D. candidates who have an Ed.S. and a valid Class A Certificate in Instructional Leadership.
Note: ALSDE’s Educator Certification website has reciprocity advice for out of state educators in its FAQ section and a section on Out of State Certificates: Forms. It also outlines alternate pathways such as the Business and Industry to Educational (BIEA) Administrator Approach.
Class A/AA Professional Leadership Certificate: Instructional Support
If you’re interested in applying for the Class A or AA Professional Leadership Certificate as an educational administrator, principal, superintendent, supervisor, or career & technical administrator, you must:
- Meet all the requirements for the Professional Educator Certificate or the Professional Leadership Certificate as prescribed in Rule 290-3-2-.02.
- Hold a master’s degree from a regionally accredited senior institution to earn the Class A.
- Complete a planned sixth-year program at a regionally accredited senior institution (e.g. Ed.S. or higher degree) to earn the Class AA.
- Have three full years of full-time professional educational work experience in a P-12 school system(s), including at least one full year of full-time classroom teaching experience.
See the 290-3-2 Educator Certification Chapter for further details.
Note: Alabama doesn’t offer certification at the doctoral level, but Class AA certification is open to holders of doctoral level professional educator certificates issued outside of Alabama, provided there are comparable standards.
Educational Leadership Jobs in Alabama
Educational Leadership Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks employment & salary data for elementary & secondary school education administrators and postsecondary education administrators in every state. We particularly like the state employment maps.
Overall, Alabama employs a solid number of K-12 administrators (more than Mississippi but less than Georgia). And the Tuscaloosa metropolitan area has a particularly high concentration of postsecondary jobs. This is the home of UA, Stillman, and Shelton State Community College.
Preparing for a job interview?
- Aspiring K-12 administrators will find a gold mine of information in the ALSDE’s Data Center. This contains reports on enrollment, assessment, school budgets, and more. For instance, the LEA Unit Breakdown in the section on Foundation Reports has headcounts of teachers, principals, and staff in every Alabama public school.
- Higher education administrators should check out the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) and its Reports/Data section. The Annual Report is always enlightening, but so too is the State Plan.
Educational Leadership Salaries
You’ll find annual mean wage data for all sorts of AL educational administrators in the BLS’s section on State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for Alabama.
Generally speaking, salaries for elementary & secondary school education administrators in Alabama aren’t great. Like Florida, the state is often in the third wage bracket, lagging behind its neighbor Georgia. Annual Salary Schedules for public school teachers & staff appear in the ALSDE’s LEA Fiscal Accountability section. Schedules don’t include a category for K-12 administrators, but they will give you ballpark figures of Alabama educator salaries for Ed.S./sixth-year and doctoral degree holders.
The wage news for postsecondary education administrators in Alabama is better—the state often beats out Mississippi. You can dig even deeper with ACHE, which posts average faculty salaries for AL public colleges & universities in the IPEDS section of its Reports/Data site. Thanks to their size and reputation, UA and UAB tend to be the top payers.
Educational Leadership Job Boards
The usual suspects (e.g. Indeed, HigherEdJobs, SchoolSpring, LinkedIn, etc.) will have job postings for Alabama educational leaders. But we also wanted to direct you toward some state-specific job boards.
- Teach in Alabama has a Job Board for Administrative Positions in Alabama public schools.
- SSA advertises Job Postings for executive positions (e.g. superintendent, CSFO, etc.).
- AASBO’s section on Career Opportunities features listings for Alabama school business officials.
- CLAS’s Job Bank for Alabama public school administrators can be accessed by current CLAS members.
- The Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) has Job Openings for teachers and administrators interested in AL independent schools.
Educational Leadership Organizations in Alabama
Educational Leadership Associations
- Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators (AAESA): AAESA is committed to serving as an advocate for children and enchancing the effectiveness in the supervision and administration of elementary and middle schools.
- Alabama Association of Middle School Principals (AAMSP): AAMSP represents public school leaders in the middle. Membership is open to principals and assistant principals of middle schools (middle level, junior high, and any combination of middle grades).
- Alabama Association for Prevention, Attendance and Support Services (AAPASS): AAPASS consists of CLAS members who are working in student services support areas in Alabama schools (e.g. counselors, assistant principals, etc.).
- Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB): AASB is the organization and representative agency of the members of the school boards of Alabama. It provides training, advocacy, and a variety of member services.
- Alabama Association of School Business Officials (AASBO): AASBO serves as an advocate for Alabama school business management officials. It runs various Certificate Programs, organizes professional development events, provides help with job searches, and more.
- Alabama Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (AASCD): AASCD is dedicated to the improvement of supervision, curriculum development, and instruction in Alabama schools. It’s a state affiliate of ASCD.
- Alabama Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA): AASPA was created to provide leadership in promoting effective human resource practices within education through professional development activities and a broad-based resource network. It’s an affiliate of the national AASPA.
- Alabama Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP): AASSP acts as a voice and resource for Alabama public school secondary administrators.
- Alabama Child Nutrition Directors (ACND): ACND supports members in their efforts to provide nutritious meals to students and school board personnel.
- Alabama Association of Career/Technical Administrators (ACTA): ACTA exists to promote and develop Career Technical Education through mutual encouragement and assistance of members in the administration and supervision of local programs.
- Alabama Education Association (AEA): AEA is the state’s teacher union and a state affiliate of the NEA. Members include teachers, education support professionals, administrators, professors, future teachers, and education retirees.
- Alabama Council of Administrators of Special Education (ALA-CASE): Members of ALA-CASE strive to promote educational services and programs for all of Alabama’s children with special education needs.
- School Superintendents of Alabama (SSA): SSA is the professional association for Alabama school system executives and their leadership teams.
Educational Leadership Professional Groups
- Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS): CLAS is an umbrella organization that serves ten affiliate organizations in Alabama’s public schools and school systems (e.g. AASSP, AAESA, SSA, etc.). It represents 3,500+ members and offers its own Certified Instructional Leader (CIL) credential. Check out the section on Scholarships for administrators who want to pursue degrees or certification!
Note: National educator organizations also have funds and scholarships available for continuing education (e.g. Ed.D.). Browse through their websites and ask about opportunities.
Educational Leadership Events in Alabama
Educational Leadership Conferences
- AAESA Fall Instructional Leadership Conference: This professional learning event in November is tailored toward elementary administrators in Alabama.
- AASB Annual Convention and Delegate Assembly: AASB’s flagship event attracts nearly 500 school board members and education leaders from across the state. AASB also runs a Summer Conference that welcomes superintendents.
- AASCD Winter Conference: AASCD hosts a two-day instructional leadership convention in late January/early February.
- AASSP/AAMSP Fall Conference: This is a popular event for Alabama administrators in high school and middle school. It often takes place in mid-November.
- ALA-Case Conferences: ALA-Case hosts a Spring Conference in late February/early March and a Legal Conference in October.
- Aspiring Administrators Conference: Led by faculty and staff from the University of Alabama and Auburn University, this one-day conference usually occurs in January.
- Assistant Principals Conference: This two-day training event is organized by AASSP and held in three locations over the winter.
- CLAS & Affiliate Events: CLAS maintains a useful list of events for K-12 administrators in Alabama, including its own offerings (e.g. CLAS Law Conference) and events held by all of its affiliates.
- CLAS Annual Summer Convention: CLAS’s long-running event for Alabama administrators and educators (building-level and district-level) occurs over three days in June.
- SSA Conferences: SSA hosts a Summer Conference in June, a Fall Conference in October, and a Legislative Conference in February. When combo’ed with the New Superintendent Orientation, this makes up SSA’s New Superintendent Professional Development pathway.
Educational Leadership Training
- AASBO Chief School Financial Officer (CSFO) Mentor Program: This program gives new CSFOs a positive start by providing assistance during the first five years of their employment.
- Alabama ASCD Principal Leadership Academy: This year-long professional development opportunity is intended to provide Alabama administrators and leaders with essential learning and coaching skills.
- CLAS Leadership Institute: Each year, CLAS organizes a number of seminars/institutes in North, Central, and South Alabama locations. There is no charge for attendance if your system is a subscriber.
- CLAS New Principals Institute: This two-day professional development event in September is designed for first- and second-year principals.
- CLAS Professional Learning: In addition to institutes, CLAS offers PLU Activities, webinars, lunch & learn sessions, training events, and the like.