Earning a Doctor of Education Degree in Colorado
Colorado has an intriguing mishmash of doctoral programs of education. In our school listings, you’ll see familiar public names, a highly regarded private player, and even a for-profit option. It’s worth knowing that the University of Denver is participating in the Carnegie Project on the Doctorate (CPED)—a move which often adds extra rigor to an Ed.D. program.
Considering distance learning? Check out the discussion of Colorado online Ed.D. programs. Wondering what kinds of doctoral funding might be available? Discover our list of university scholarships & awards. Thinking of earning an Ed.D. for Colorado licensure? We have info on leadership license requirements and CDE-approved prep programs.
While you’re skimming and scanning, you may also want to take a look at our career section. This has data on CO administrative jobs & salaries (K-12 and higher education), links to useful job boards, descriptions of important professional associations (e.g. CASE), and dates for leadership conferences & networking opportunities.
Online Doctor of Education Programs in Colorado
Online Ed.D. Providers in Colorado
- Aspen University
- University of Northern Colorado
What to Know About Colorado Online Ed.D. Programs
There aren’t many online doctoral programs in education in Colorado; UNC is your only regionally accredited option. Having said that, it’s a good one. We profile both of your choices below.
Also, bear in mind that many of the so-called campus Ed.D. degrees in our school listings are technically hybrid—a mix of online and face-to-face courses. Colorado programs that fall into this category include CU’s Doctor of Education in Leadership for Educational Equity and UNC’s Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. Some have more campus visits than others.
Note: Our overview of online doctoral programs in education has a listing of online Ed.D. degrees in every state.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Public Colorado Universities
UNC is a public research university with an established history in teacher education, so its 64-credit Online Doctor of Education in Educational Studies is worth a look. It’s mostly online, with one five-day session on the Loveland campus each summer. We particularly like the fact that the curriculum includes targeted coursework in leadership (e.g. the Innovation and Education Reform Emphasis) and a scholarly paper requirement.
UNC accepts transfer credits for graduate work, including the Ed.S. It also charges a flat rate for Extended Campus programs. That means there are a) no fees; and b) tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state residents.
Online Ed.D. Programs at For-Profit Colorado Universities
The alternative comes from a private, for-profit school that specializes in online programs for working adults. Aspen University is nationally accredited, but it’s not regionally accredited. We mention this because many state licenses & certificates require a degree from a regionally accredited school.
If you’re comfortable with national accreditation, the 100% online, 60-credit Online Doctor of Education in Leadership and Learning comes in a host of specializations (e.g. higher education, K-12, organizational leadership, etc.). It’s also affordable. Thanks to low overheads, Aspen tuition rates are similar to low-charging public universities.
Doctoral Education Funding in Colorado
Internal Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards
Colorado universities are pretty good about listing funding opportunities for the doctorate in education (e.g. Ed.D. scholarships, tuition breaks, assistantships, etc.). But specific awards may be buried three pages deep! To save you time, we’ve put all the sources together in one section. If you want info on external aid (e.g. federal & private loans), the university’s Office of Financial Aid and the Graduate College are your best bets.
Aspen University is approved by the U.S. Department of Education to offer federal student aid for all of its degree programs. Plus Military and their spouses are eligible for a tuition discount & fee waiver on doctoral degrees. Aspen uses a monthly payment plan, but you can also choose to pay in installments.
University of Colorado Denver
The School of Education & Human Development (SEHD) has a helpful section on Financial Aid, Scholarships & Tuition, with links to Financial Aid procedures, Tuition & Fees, and Scholarship sources. Be sure to check out the sections on Scholarships for All SEHD Students, the Virginia Schuman Scholarship for Doctoral Students (ask if Ed.D. candidates can apply), and scholarships for specialty areas (e.g. Early Childhood Education, STEM Students, etc.). CU also offers Tuition Assistance to current employees of University of Colorado schools.
University of Denver
Each Ed.D. program page contains advice on Financing Your Graduate Education, with details on tuition costs and financial assistance. Doctorate in education students in the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) often take advantage of the:
- MCD Dean’s Scholarship: This is awarded based on academic merit; no separate application is necessary.
- MCE Grants & Scholarships: Aspiring Curriculum & Instruction students should check out the Uhrmacher Scholarship.
- Teaching/Research Assistantships: These are selected by each department/program chair. Consult the Ed.D. program advisor for more info.
- Other Assistantships & Employment Opportunities
- Graduate Grants & Fellowships
- Gift & Endowed Scholarships: The MCE application automatically ensures you are considered for all applicable awards.
University of Northern Colorado
UNC seems willing and able to help students with doctoral funding. The Graduate School has a comprehensive section on Funding & Costs, with details on
- Graduate Assistantships
- Graduate Financial Aid
- Graduate Grants & Loans
- Graduate Scholarships
- Student Employment
You can also browse through UNC’s full list of scholarships. In particular, ask the Ed.D. program coordinator if you’re eligible for the:
- Dr. Kathryn Whitaker Educational Leadership Scholarship
- Arthur R. Partridge Educational Leadership Scholarship
- Peter Roknich Teaching Scholarship
- Any College of Education & Behavioral Sciences Scholarships
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.
School Licensure Requirements in Colorado
The Licensing Office in the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) handles licensure for public school administrators and career & technical educators. You’ll find full details in General Requirements for Licenses & Authorizations and the section on Leadership Licenses in the Endorsement Requirements. In Colorado, there are four major categories for educational leaders:
- Principal: Building-Level Leadership Endorsement
- Administrator (Superintendent): District-Level Leadership Endorsement
- Administrator (Director of Special Education): District-Level Leadership Endorsement
- Administrator (Director of Gifted Education): District-Level Leadership Endorsement
There are also three types of license: Initial, Professional, and Master Certificate. We provided a summary of Initial requirements for principals and superintendents below; see the CDE website for full details.
Wondering which degree to choose? The CDE maintains an Educator Preparation Program Search, which you can use to search by endorsement area.
- There are Ed.D. programs that lead to administrator licensure (e.g. DU’s Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and UNC’s Ed.D. in Educational Leadership).
- Some Colorado doctorates will also prepare you for specific endorsements (e.g. DU’s Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction – Gifted Education).
Initial Principal License (K-12)
To earn the Initial Principal License, you must:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution.
- Complete a state-approved program for the preparation of principals at a regionally accredited institution.
- Have at least three years of full-time experience under a state-issued teacher or special services license in a K-12 (elementary and/or secondary) school.
- Receive a passing score on the Colorado-approved content exam for building-level leaders: Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision PRAXIS 5412 (effective as of September 1, 2019).
Initial Administrator (Superintendent) License (K-12)
To earn the Initial Administrator (Superintendent) License, you must:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution.
- Complete a state-approved program for the preparation of district-level administrators at a regionally accredited institution.
- Receive a passing score on the Colorado-approved content exam for district-level leaders: School Superintendent Assessment PRAXIS 6991 (effective as of September 1, 2019).
Educational Leadership Jobs in Colorado
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. The employment maps on these pages offer an easy way to tell where hotspots exist.
Broadly speaking, Colorado—like its neighbor, Arizona—employs a fair number of K-12 education administrators. You can hone these numbers even further by paying a visit to the CDE’s SchoolVIEW. This contains a gold mine of data on budgets, school performance, enrollment, and more. In Colorado Education Statistics, you’ll find a section devoted to School/District Staff Statistics. Check out the reports on principals and assistant principals.
It’s a similar job story for Colorado postsecondary education administrators. Employment numbers are solid, and often beat out New Mexico and Utah. For a nuanced picture, visit the Colorado Department of Higher Education and its section on Data & Research.
Educational Leadership Salaries
The BLS posts annual mean wage data for all kinds of Colorado education administrators (including preschool) in State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Colorado. Wages for Colorado elementary & secondary school education administrators tend to be fairly low. But we recommend you compare these stats to the CDE’s section on School/District Staff Statistics. This has hard data on average salaries for Colorado principals, assistant principals, and superintendents.
In contrast, salaries for Colorado postsecondary education administrators are usually healthy. As you might expect, CU Boulder employees are well-compensated. The CU Salary Database provides a summary of annual base salaries for CU employees, organized by campus, job family, and department. Colorado State University’s Accountability section lists CSU salaries in its Compensation Report. Other universities may require a little digging (e.g. MSU of Denver’s Staffing Pattern).
Educational Leadership Job Boards
Conventional job sites (e.g. Indeed, HigherEdJobs, TopSchoolJobs, SchoolSpring, etc.) can get you started. But we also wanted to highlight some state-specific job boards.
- CASE has a Career Center where you can search for building-level and district-level administrator jobs in Colorado.
- CASBO lists Employment Opportunities for Colorado school business officials.
- CASB posts Superintendent Openings and organizes Superintendent Searches.
- The Colorado League of Charter Schools hosts a Career Center where you can search for K-12 administrative jobs.
- The Association of Colorado Independent Schools (ACIS) allows you to Search for Positions.
- CU Careers lists job opportunities in all four CU campuses.
Educational Leadership Organizations in Colorado
Educational Leadership Associations
- Colorado Association of Financial Aid Administrators (CAFAA): CAFAA is a non-profit organization representing individuals within the financial aid industry—from public and private school officials to lenders and student service organizations.
- Colorado Association of Latino/a Administration and Superintendents (CO-ALAS): CO-ALAS is a professional education association that advocates for aspiring and current Latino/a administrators and educational leaders in Colorado.
- Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB): CASB represents 1,000+ school board members and superintendents in Colorado.
- Colorado Association of School Business Officials (CASBO): CASBO is a non-profit organization serving school business officials in Colorado school districts, BOCES, charter schools, and colleges & universities. It offers voluntary certification.
- Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE): CASE is a professional organization representing administrators in Colorado K-12 education. Superintendents, principals, and other school & district leaders are eligible for membership. CASE has seven different departments (see below) who focus on different areas of concern.
- Colorado Association for Supervision, Curriculum, and Development (CO ASCD): CO ASCD serves to empower educators and students statewide through innovation and the educators’ voice. It has 2,500+ active members and it’s a state affiliate of the ASCD.
- Colorado Education Association (CEA): CEA is the state’s largest education union and a state affiliate of the NEA. Members include K-12 teachers, higher ed faculty, and education support professionals, as well as students in teacher education.
- Colorado Association of Educational Specialists (CAES): CAES serves as an advocate for educational specialists in all Colorado public schools.
- Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals (CAESP): CAESP exists to support PreK-Grade 8 elementary and middle school administrators in Colorado. It’s the Colorado arm of the NAESP.
- Colorado Association of Leaders in Educational Technology (CALET): CALET provides professional development opportunities that help educational technologists grow into educational leaders.
- Colorado Association of School Personnel Administrators (CASPA): CASPA organizes the cooperative efforts of public school administrators who have a professional responsibility for administering personnel programs involving licensed and/or classified school employees.
- Colorado Association of Superintendents and Senior Administrators (CASSA): CASSA organizes programs and activities for Colorado superintendents and senior administrators. It’s the Colorado arm of the AASA.
- Colorado Association of Secondary School Principals (CASSP): CASSP supports middle level and secondary school principals throughout the state. It’s the Colorado arm of the NASSP.
- Department of Business Officials (DBO): DBO is dedicated to developing and improving school business management and administration.
Note: Remember that state and national educator organizations often have funds and scholarships available for continuing education (e.g. Ed.D.). Check the website and ask about opportunities.
Educational Leadership Events in Colorado
Educational Leadership Conferences
- CASB Conferences: CASB organizes a four-day Annual Convention in December, a two-day Winter Legislative Conference, days at the Capitol, a two-day Fall Delegate Assembly Conference in October, fall regional meetings, and school bus tours.
- CASBO Conferences: CASBO’s Annual Spring Conference for Colorado school business officials is held over three days in April. The Annual Fall Conference usually takes place in mid-October.
- CASE Annual Convention: CASE’s flagship professional development event is held over five days in July. Two days are dedicated to pre-convention workshops and three days are reserved for the conference, which includes 50+ sessions and a legislative and policy program.
- CASE Superintendents Conference: Sponsored by CASSA (a CASE Department), this three-day event in September gives Colorado superintendents a chance to discuss and debate current issues facing school districts.
- CASE Winter Leadership Conference: CASE’s three-day leadership event in early February attracts public education leaders from every job position in the state.
Educational Leadership Training
- CASB Board-Superintendent Strengthening: CASB strives to build the strength of governing teams through personal meetings, online resources, workshops, events, and more.
- CASE Professional Learning: CASE runs a number of targeted programs for Colorado K-12 educational leaders, including the Aspiring to the Principalship Workshop, Leadership Coaching, the Leadership, Equity, and Diversity Program (LEAD), and the Effective Feedback for Effective Educators Seminar Series.
- CDE Professional Development: Professional development programs from the Colorado Department of Education include workshops, training modules, online courses, and more.