What is an Ed.D. in Christian Education?
A faith-based doctorate of education focuses on the application of educational theory, practice & leadership in a Christian instructional setting (e.g. church, school, university, ministry organization, etc.). To that end, many Christian Ed.D. programs are offered by Schools of Divinity or Theology. They will also be available in Colleges of Education within a Christian university.
You may wish to pursue an Ed.D. in Christian Education or Leadership in order to:
- Explore the intersection of faith and education from a Christian worldview
- Prepare for specific PK-20 educational leadership positions in faith-based settings
- Acquire practical skill-sets in administration (e.g. financial management, staff development, program development, etc.)
- Gain expertise in policy-making, governance, and legal matters that apply to Christian institutions
- Foster collaborative cultures, community engagement, and servant leadership
Note: Interested in Jewish doctoral programs? Check out offerings from Rabbinical and Talmudic schools that are accredited by the Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS). Regionally accredited Jewish universities like Gratz College and Yeshiva University also offer Ed.D. programs in Jewish Education & Leadership.
Types of Doctorate in Christian Education Programs
Ed.D. in Christian Education Leadership
A doctorate in Christian Education Leadership is usually designed for folks who wish to assume faith-based leadership positions in teaching or administration. Regent’s Ed.D. in Christian Education Leadership is a good example—it’s a judicious mix of religious education & practical considerations (e.g. starting and operating Christian schools). Check out our listings for more ideas.
Ed.D. in Christian Education Administration
As the title implies, Ed.D. programs in Christian Education Administration are aimed at doctoral students who aspire to lead faith-based schools. This subject may be offered as a unique degree or a concentration. For instance:
- ORU’s Ed.D. in Christian School Administration is targeted at aspiring PreK-12 superintendents—it’s aligned with National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) and Performance Assessment for School Leaders (PASL) standards.
- NYU’s Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration: Focus on Campus Religious Life aims to develop the next generation of campus-based religious life leaders.
Ed.D. in Ministry Leadership/Christian Ministry
An Ed.D. in Christian Ministry or Ministry Leadership tend to be focused on leadership & management training for church and ministry organizations. However, this doctorate may be relevant in a wide range of settings. For example, Evangelia University’s Ed.D. in Christian Ministry can be applied to local churches, world missions, para-church organizations, Christian schools, and Christian alternative education areas. Check the curriculum links in our listings to get a sense of the program’s direction.
Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from a Theological Seminary or Christian University
In your search, you could also consider a standard Ed.D. from an accredited theological seminary or religious institution. Coursework will typically cover the same ground as an Ed.D. in Christian Education Leadership. For example:
- Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Ed.D. prepares students for the advanced practice of Christian education and educational leadership in the academy, the local church, and in other denominational settings.
- Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Ed.D. focuses on both the theory and practice of education within church, school, and university settings.
Alternatively, you might want to take a look at Ed.D. programs from universities that support Christian values (e.g. Gardner-Webb’s Ed.D. in Educational Leadership).
In the field of Christian leadership & education, we recommend you consider Ed.D. programs from schools that are a) regionally accredited; and/or b) accredited by CHEA-approved faith-related accredited organizations. CHEA-approved organizations are:
- Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
- Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
- Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)
- Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS)
For example, ATS is the standard for theological schools—there are 270+ Member Schools across the country. Within those schools, you’ll find doctoral offerings like the D.Min., Ed.D., D.Ed.Min., and Ph.D. in various concentrations (e.g. Educational Leadership).
Ph.D. vs. D.Min. vs. D.Ed.Min. vs. Ed.D.
You’re going to have a dizzying array of choices for a faith-based doctorate. We’ve provided a brief summary of the differences below, but we suggest you talk to your mentors and the university about your career goals. Recent graduates will also be able to give you a sense of whether the degree is going to be applicable to your professional setting.
- Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in a Christian Field: The Ed.D. is a practical degree that focuses on applied research & theory—these doctorates are designed for faith-based leaders who want to start implementing their educational studies into their professional lives.
- Doctor of Ministry (D.Min): A Doctor of Ministry often follows a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) or the equivalent. You might wish to earn a D.Min. in order to improve your leadership qualities & skills as a pastor; delve into preaching, exhortation, and leadership; use application-oriented research in a ministry setting; and become an expert in ministry affairs & organizations (e.g. church, parachurch, mission, etc.).
- Doctor of Ministry in Education/Educational Ministry (D.Ed.Min.): The D.Ed.Min. usually follows a Master of Arts in Christian Education (MACE), Master of Arts in Religious Education (MARE) or the equivalent. This is a relatively new degree—it was approved by the ATS in 1998—and it’s similar in focus to the Ed.D. It’s aimed at students who are interested in practical educational ministry (e.g. training religious teachers & leaders, developing new ministry methods & outreach strategies, exploring biblical educational theories, etc.).
- Ph.D. in Christian Education: A Ph.D. in Christian Education may follow a Master of Theology (Th.M.), Master of Arts in Biblical Languages (MABL), M.Div. or other theological MA degree. Ph.D. programs are going to be heavily focused on research and deep-dive studies into educational theory & practice. They’re the typical choice for students who want to apply for a university-level teaching position (e.g. professor). But they can also be relevant for folks who are interested in church leadership roles.
Earning an Ed.D. in Christian Education
Christian Education Prerequisites
- Master’s Degree: Most schools will ask for a relevant master’s degree (e.g. M.Ed., M.Div., MA in a religious field, etc.), but check with the program coordinator and explore the admissions links in our listings for more info. Some schools are willing to consider a wide range of subjects.
- Minimum GPA: GPA requirements will vary. The standard minimum for Ed.D. programs is 3.0 in any master’s degree coursework, but we noticed that a number of religious universities & seminaries have a higher threshold (e.g. 3.2-3.5).
- Faith-Based Commitment & Recommendations: This is often included as a requirement in religious doctorates. Universities may ask to see letters from your minister or pastor and evidence of your commitment to the Christian faith.
- Work Experience: Universities may or may not specify work experience in the admissions section, but they’ll always be considering your experiences in teaching, education, and mentorship.
- Additional Requirements: On top of your transcripts, some Ed.D. programs may also require GRE or MAT scores, an autobiographical admissions essay, a résumé, and/or an academic writing sample.
Christian Education Coursework
Ed.D. coursework will depend on your choice of degree or concentration and your choice of university. Every religious school will tailor the doctorate to reflect the university’s denomination (e.g. Baptist, Methodist, etc.) and Christian worldview. Explore the curriculum links in our listings to see how this plays out. Generally speaking, you’ll often be covering bases such as:
- Biblical Studies, Bible Teaching & Christian Education
- Contemporary Education Theory & Strategies
- Principles of Curriculum & Instruction, Educational Technology, and Instructional Design
- Christian Leadership Theory & Practice
- Faith-Based Educational Administration & Management Skills
Christian Education Internship & Fieldwork
A number of Ed.D. programs in religious education will contain opportunities to put theory in practice through fieldwork or job-specific placements. For example, Evangelia’s Ed.D. in Christian Ministry contains an internship. Examine the curriculum links in our listings and chat to the Ed.D. program coordinator about potential opportunities.
Christian Education Dissertation or Capstone Project
All Ed.D. programs in Christian Education will contain a traditional dissertation, Dissertation in Practice (DiP), or a capstone project. We explore the differences between these options in our guide to No Dissertation Ed.D. Programs.
To get a sense of what’s in store, ask the Ed.D. program coordinator for a list of recent Ed.D. dissertation titles. You’ll often end up applying your research interests to practical leadership & educational challenges in the workplace (e.g. church, Christian school, religious organization, etc.).
Online Ed.D. in Christian Education Programs
Are Ed.D. Programs in Christian Education Offered Online?
Yes. Many schools in our listings offer online Ed.D. programs in Christian Education and Educational Leadership. We’ve flagged them all with an “Offered Online” marker.
Do Online Ed.D. in Christian Education Programs Contain Residencies?
It depends. Some universities will offer hybrid Ed.D. programs with campus residencies; some will opt for an all-distance format. For example, Liberty’s Online Ed.D. in Christian Leadership – Ministry Leadership is 100% online, with no in-person elements. When in doubt, ask the Ed.D. program coordinator for details.
Christian Education Careers
Ed.D. in Christian Education Jobs
An Ed.D. in Christian Education will set you up for top-level positions in faith-based schools & universities and leadership roles in religious organizations. Examples of job titles include:
- Principal/Headmaster of a Religious School
- Faculty in a Religious Department or University
- Christian School Superintendent
- Character School Administrator
- Curriculum Developer/Instructional Coordinator
- Training and Development Manager
If you’re pursuing a doctorate in organizational leadership or ministry leadership for a career with your church, mission, or non-profit institution, you could explore job titles such as:
- Director of Operations
- Operations and Outreach Coordinator
- Director of Strategic Initiatives
- Director of Engagement
- Director of a Faith-Based Non-Profit
Ed.D. in Christian Education Salary
Salary numbers for educational leadership positions in Christian institutions will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the institution, your level of seniority, your geographic location, and your role.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes annual job & wage data on:
- Kindergarten through Secondary Education Administrators
- Postsecondary Education Administrators
- Directors of Religious Activities & Education
- Postsecondary Philosophy & Religion Teachers
These will give you ballpark salary figures for your field.
You may also wish to make a shortlist of your preferred job titles and use different salary sites to compare numbers (e.g. Glassdoor, Indeed, Salary.com, Payscale, etc.).
Is an Ed.D. in Christian Education Worth it?
Talk to your professional mentors before you make the decision to commit to an Ed.D. in Christian Education. It may be worth your while if you have a specific job in mind (e.g. superintendency), a burning passion to explore the field, or a desire to become a better educational leader.
Just keep in mind that you have a lot of alternatives in the realm of religious education & leadership, including the D.Min., D.Ed.Min., and Ph.D. Pick the doctorate that aligns best with your long-term goals.
Christian Education Resources and Organizations
- American Association of Christian Schools (AACS): AACS is made up of forty state, regional, and international associations who represent Christian schools. It serves 100,000+ students and teachers.
- Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE): ABHE is a faith-related accreditation organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
- Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI): ACSI is an association of evangelical Protestant Christian schools—it’s the largest Protestant educational organization in the world.
- Association of Theological Schools (ATS): ATS is a faith-related accreditation organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
- Christian Educators Association International (CEAI): CEAI exists to serve Christian educators in K-12 public, charter, and private schools throughout the world.
- Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU): CCCU is a higher education association composed of 180+ Christian institutions around the world.
- Society of Professors in Christian Education (SPCE): SPCE is a scholarly guild for evangelical academicians in the field of practical theology, particularly in the disciplines of education, discipleship, and ministry leadership.
- Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS): TRACS is a faith-related accreditation organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).