Earning a Doctor of Education Degree in Illinois
Ed.D. programs in Illinois come in all shapes and sizes. In our school listings, there are offerings from big public players (e.g. ISU) and well-known private names (e.g. DePaul). There are programs that lead to PEL Administrative Endorsement; doctorates with intriguing concentrations (e.g. urban leadership); and Ed.D. degrees that have been shaped by the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED). It’s a lot to take in.
Start with your field of interest—each listing has a complete title, a curriculum description, and cost info. Then check out the section on doctoral funding, which contains links to internal awards for each school. Some of Illinois’s public universities, in particular, offer lucrative doctoral fellowships. If you like the look of a distance learning option, skim through our comparison section on online programs.
You may even want to start preparing the ground for job interviews. Our career section has hard data on jobs & salaries for IL educational leaders, links to important associations & organizations (e.g. IASA, IASB, IPA, etc.), and directions to professional development opportunities.
Online Doctor of Education Programs in Illinois
Online Ed.D. Providers in Illinois
- Bradley University (CAEP-accredited)
- Concordia University-Chicago (CAEP-accredited)
- Governors State University (CAEP-accredited)
- National Louis University (CAEP-accredited)
- Northern Illinois University (CAEP-accredited)
- Olivet Nazarene University
- The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- University of St. Francis (CAEP-accredited)
What to Know About Illinois Online Ed.D. Programs
Like other major educational states (e.g. Texas), Illinois offers distance learners a lot of quality choices. All of the online options here are regionally accredited, some of them are CAEP-accredited, and a number have excellent track records in education. Plus there are plenty of leadership concentrations available—you can really have your pick.
When it comes to price, public universities tend to be the cheapest option for Illinois residents. With the exception of The Chicago School, tuition rates for private schools are quite similar. So you won’t have to spend hours playing the calculator game.
Having said that, a fair number of online Illinois Ed.D. programs include on-campus components (e.g. residency, hybrid courses, etc.). Before you commit to any choice of action, we recommend you ask the program coordinator about subsidiary costs (e.g. travel, accommodation, food, etc.).
Note: Unsure about investing in an online degree? Check out our overview of online doctoral programs in education, which includes listings for programs in other states.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Public Illinois Universities
Online doctoral programs in education from Illinois public universities are highly affordable. Both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Governors State University offer low tuition rates; UIUC and NIU are willing to charge out-of-state residents the same rate.
UIUC is not CAEP-accredited, but its College of Education has invested a great deal of time and effort into doctoral programs (see our listings for evidence). The 64-credit Online Doctor of Education in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership comes in multiple concentrations that allow you to match the degree to your educational aims (e.g. learning design). According to the COE, the degree is 100% online and backed by UIUC’s experience with distance learning.
Prefer a CAEP-accredited option? GSU’s high-level, 60-credit Online Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership might suit. It also comes in multiple concentrations, including Higher Education Administration, Not-for-Profit/Social Entrepreneurship, and one that will prepare you for the Superintendent Endorsement. GSU tends to attract older students, including single working mothers, who are in the mid stage of their careers. Just keep in mind that this online program will include some hybrid courses.
Another CAEP choice is NIU’s 54-credit Online Ed.D. in Higher Education – Community College Leadership. It’s not completely online—you will be taking hybrid and on-campus courses in the summertime—but fall and spring credits are through distance learning. We like the fact that it includes a dissertation of practice, which means you’ll be able to focus on a challenge at work. Also, three years of professional experience is preferred for admission, which tends to make for interesting classmates.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Private Illinois Universities
You may also want to consider private Illinois universities with a strong history of education. For example, Concordia University-Chicago, which holds CAEP accreditation, began its existence as a college for teacher education—the university claims to graduate the state’s largest number of public school teachers among private Illinois colleges. The convenient, 61-credit Online Doctorate in Education in Leadership comes in scores in concentrations. Courses only last 8 weeks and learning is asynchronous—there are no set times for classes.
National Louis University is in the same ballpark. It has a long tradition in early childhood education—it helped found the National Kindergarten Movement and the PTA—and it holds CAEP accreditation. We like the fact that the 60-credit Online Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership is a) available in an online or hybrid executive format and b) it can be combined with an Ed.S. A number of students finish the specialist program in 1.5 years and then use the extra year to earn an Ed.D. The program includes a weekend residency in the second and third years, but these can be attended virtually.
Working in a postsecondary setting? Bradley University’s 48-credit Online Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration comes in two focus areas: Higher Education Leadership or Community College Leadership. If you look at the curriculum, you’ll notice that it’s short (~7 semesters) and focused on applied learning. There’s a mandatory 6-credit internship and a lengthy Action Research Project (i.e. a capstone). Bradley is also CAEP-accredited.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Private Religious Illinois Universities
We’ve grouped the University of St. Francis (Catholic Franciscan) and Olivet Nazarene University (Nazarene) together because they are Christian schools that integrate their spiritual ethos into their education doctorates. These are wide-ranging programs—with similar tuition rates—that could be applied to any field of leadership (e.g. corporate settings, public organizations, healthcare, education, business, ministry, and military).
For instance, in the description for OSU’s 60-credit Online Ed.D. in Ethical Leadership, you’ll see an emphasis on ethics, values, and change management. The integrated program includes networking and case studies. And the degree can be completed in as little as 27 months.
At USF, which is CAEP-accredited, the aim is very similar. The 60-credit Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership – Educational Stewardship, Leadership, and Learning Concentration attracts both educators and non-educators. The program is structured as a cohort. And doctoral students are committed to finishing it (88% degree completion). It’s a longer program than OSU—around three and a half years.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Specialist Illinois Universities
Finally, you could investigate The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. It’s not CAEP-accredited, but it has chosen to take part in the CPED Initiative. Like its parent, the 60-credit Online Ed.D. in Educational Psychology and Technology is a specialized option. It’s a technology- and brain-focused doctorate in education that comes in multiple concentrations for different levels of leadership (e.g. higher education, K-12, and instructional design).
Overall, the degree takes three years to complete on a part-time basis. You’ll need to factor in two on-campus residency sessions (three and half days each) for learning, networking, and competency exams. The Chicago School is the most expensive option on our list, but it’s also the most targeted. See our Funding section for scholarship ideas.
Doctoral Education Funding in Illinois
Internal Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards
Colleges of Education don’t always think like paying students—it can be hard to find funding info for an Ed.D amidst the program descriptions. To save you time, we’ve assembled this section on institutional aid (i.e. money offered by the university), with links to all the relevant sections and opportunities. Keep in mind, too, that the Office of Financial Aid or Graduate School can help with the FAFSA and provide ideas for external awards.
AU awards AU graduate grants to on-campus students who are enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program (check to see if doctoral students qualify). It also has an interest-free monthly payment plan.
Benedictine offers two general graduate scholarships (both are small): a $1,000 Alumni Scholarship to Benedictine alumni and a Graduate Merit Scholarship to students with a GPA of 3.75 or higher. This award pays for the last course of your graduate program.
Chicago State University
Chicago State’s section on Financial Aid for Graduate and Professional Students lays out funding options for Ed.D. candidates. If you’re interested in a graduate assistantship, you’ll need to contact the Department of Doctoral Studies Chairperson.
Start with the College of Education’s section on Graduate Aid. Doctoral students are eligible for graduate assistantships and a few scholarships (most of the awards are aimed at teachers). What’s more, eligible alumni of any U.S. Catholic college or university can receive a 10% discount for graduate and professional programs through Graduate Catholic Scholarships.
Governors State University
The College of Education section on the Graduate Scholarships page has details on relevant awards. If you’re interested in the on-campus Ed.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision, you may also want to inquire about Graduate Assistantships for the Health and Student Counseling Center and Career Counseling.
Illinois State University
- For the Ed.D. in Educational Administration & Foundations, see the degree section on Financial Assistance. Doctoral EAF majors are eligible for EAF Department Scholarships and tuition waivers through the Graduate School.
- For the Ed.D. in Teaching & Learning, see the degree section on Financial Assistance for info on departmental TCH tuition waivers.
- For the Ed.D. in Special Education, see the degree section on Financial Assistance for details about Special Education assistantships, departmental scholarships, and tuition waivers.
Two Ed.D. candidates are eligible to receive a 50% tuition discount for the duration of the program. Scholarship applicants must be either a teacher or an administrator in a Catholic school in the Chicago area. Better yet, Lewis’s College of Education (COE) offers separate COE Graduate Scholarships and Graduate Assistantships.
Loyola University Chicago
Loyola’s Graduate School has a helpful section on Financial Assistance & Funding, with details about general fellowships, research funding, and assistantships. The other website to visit is the School of Education (SOE)’s section on Graduate Financial Assistance, which has details on SOE assistantships and fellowships.
In addition, Loyola offers a 20% tuition discount to students enrolled in cohort programs, a group which includes the Ed.D. in School Psychology and the EdD in Administration & Supervision with Superintendent Endorsement (Lake County). And it has a monthly installment plan.
National Louis University
- The Alumni Scholarship for NLU alumni (and Kendall alumni with a bachelor’s degree), which results in a 15% discount off tuition.
- Merit Scholarships for graduate students, including a number of awards for education majors and the Linda S. Tafel Endowment Fund for a doctoral student in Educational Leadership (preference is given to single mothers).
Scholarship amounts typically range from $500-$4,000.
Northern Illinois University
Scholarships for NIU’s College of Education (COE) are listed in MyScholarships and administered by the NIU Financial Aid and Scholarship Office. If you’re considering the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, check out the:
- Harold “Rip” Collins Scholarship
- Dr. Thomas R. Crowell, Jr. & Mrs. Judith F. Crowell Education Scholarship
- Dr. Keith R. Getschman Memorial Scholarship
If you’re eyeing the Ed.D. in Adult & Higher Education, have a look at the:
- Robert M. Smith Memorial Scholarship in Adult Learning
- John A. Niemi Memorial Scholarship for Travel
- Wesley I. Schmidt Scholarship
Olivet Nazarene University
ONU doesn’t award grants or scholarships to graduate students. However, you can pay for the Online Ed.D. using a monthly payment plan.
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
SIUE gives a fair amount of Financial Assistance to graduate students, including:
- Graduate Assistantships
- Research Grants for Research Doctoral Students
- Travel Grants
- Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award
- Outstanding Thesis Award
- Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Program (DFI) Scholarships
However, tuition waivers are not accepted for the Ed.D. program.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The Chicago School offers reduced doctoral tuition rates to certain categories of student, including alumni, K-12 school personnel, law enforcement officials, mental & behavioral health professionals, military & veterans, supervisors who are currently affiliated with The Chicago School, and Thresholds employees.
In addition, online graduate students are eligible for certain scholarships such as the Dr. Michael Horowitz/Dr. Jeannie Gutierrez Immigrant/First Generation Scholarship and the Theodore Weber Scholarship. Check with the Financial Aid office for exact details.
University of Illinois at Chicago
Doctoral students in UIC’s College of Education (COE) are eligible for tuition waivers, UIC awards, and a number of graduate fellowships. There are one or two COE graduate scholarships and assistantships that may be worth investigating.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
UIUC’s College of Education has a comprehensive section on Tuition & Financial Aid for graduate students. It has details on graduate assistantships, COE graduate scholarships and fellowships, and stand-alone tuition waivers. You can also use the Fellowship Finder to look for internal and external funding and consult the section on Graduate College Fellowship Competitions.
Doctoral students in education are eligible for some excellent awards, including the:
- Al S. Davis Leadership Award
- Frederick A. Rodgers Award
- William Chandler Bagley Scholarship
- Wanda Taeschner Babcock Fellowship
- Letitia Walsh Fellowship
Online students are not eligible for graduate assistantships and tuition waivers. However, in-state and out-of-state students pay the same per credit tuition rate.
University of St Francis
Begin with USF’s section on Financial Assistance for Graduate Students. Although it doesn’t have much in the way of internal graduate scholarships, USF offers tuition discounts to graduate students employed at companies or agencies participating in its Corporate Educational Partners program.
Western Illinois University
WIU’s College of Education & Human Services awards a number of Educational Leadership Scholarships. Ed.D. students qualify for the Robert F. Hall Dissertation Award; aspiring public school administrators should also take a look at the Diversity Partners Program and AASA 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 Administration Licensure & Endorsements in Illinois
Professional Educator’s License (PEL) Administrative Endorsement
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) handles educator licensure & certification requirements for school administrators. In order to serve as an administrator in Illinois at a public or recognized non-public school, you will need to obtain a Professional Educator’s License (PEL) Administrative Endorsement. There are 5 types of endorsements (see below), including ones for principals and superintendents.
As part of the PEL, you’ll be required to complete an education program that’s designed to lead to endorsement (e.g. Ed.D., post-master’s certificate, Ed.S., etc.). A large number of schools in our listings have developed Ed.D. programs with endorsement options. ISBE also maintains a Directory of Approved Programs.
Note: In 2014, ISBE discontinued the Type 75 certificate with a General Administrative Endorsement and replaced it with the PEL Principal Endorsement. In Ed.D. programs that lead to superintendency, you may still see admissions requirements for a Type 75 certificate or its equivalent. This is the PEL with a Principal Endorsement.
PEL Administrative Endorsement Requirements
All PEL applicants have to meet basic general requirements. If you do not have a comparable out-of-state administrator’s license, you will need to:
- Hold a master’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution.
- Complete a preparation program in your chosen field of specialization (e.g. superintendent).
- Complete pre-approved PEL coursework that addresses methods of teaching exceptional children, reading methods, content area reading, and methods of teaching English language learners.
- Complete an internship or have equivalent experience.
- Pass the appropriate licensure tests (see below under additional requirements).
- Pass a test of basic skills. This is only required for the issuance of a PEL. Educators who hold a valid PEL and have already taken the test won’t have to take another.
Principal – Pre K – Grade 12: Additional Requirements
In addition to fulfilling the general requirements, you’ll need to:
- Have 4 years of teaching or school support personnel experience.
- Pass the Principal as Instructional Leader (195 & 196) test.
Superintendent: Additional Requirements
In addition to fulfilling the general requirements, you’ll need to:
- Have 2 years of experience working full-time as a principal, director of special education, or chief school business official, or other administrative position while holding a valid administrator license.
- Pass the Superintendent (225) test.
Chief School Business Official: Additional Requirements
In addition to fulfilling the general requirements, you’ll need to:
- Fulfill one of 3 options that prove you’ve received educational training & job experience as a school business administrator. ISBE has more details on specific requirements.
- Pass the Chief School Business Official (185) test.
Director of Special Education: Additional Requirements
In addition to fulfilling the general requirements, you’ll need to:
- Have 2 years of full-time experience providing special education services.
- Complete approved coursework in special education topics. ISBE has more details on specific requirements.
- Pass the Director of Special Education (180) test.
Teacher Leader: Additional Requirements
There are no additional requirements beyond the general PEL requirements (see above) for the Teacher Leader endorsement.
Educational Leadership Jobs in Illinois
Educational Leadership Career Outlook
One look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’s data for elementary & secondary school education administrators and postsecondary education administrators will tell you everything you need to know about educational leadership jobs in Illinois. Namely, there are tons of them.
- For instance, you’ll often see Illinois in the top 5 of states with the highest employment levels for both types of administrator.
- The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI metropolitan area is second only to New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA for employment.
You can compare these data with ISBE’s interactive graphs on Illinois Educator Supply and Demand. This tells you where the immediate shortages are (hey, there, Cook County). If you want to prepare for the job interview, ISBE also issues annual statistical reports on staff data (e.g. Number of Illinois Public School Teachers by County) as well as financial topics (e.g. Instructional Expenditures) and pupil statistics. The Illinois Report Card uses some of this info.
Educational Leadership Salaries
ISBE monitors Illinois Administrator and Teacher Salary and Benefits. You can search by year and district name to see exact numbers. Alternatively, you can read the annual Salaries of Superintendents and Principals report issued by the Illinois School Board Journal and posted by the IASB. These convenient reports are based on ISBE data, but they also include discussion & interpretation.
National resources to consult include the AASA’s Superintendents Salary and Benefits Survey published in AASA’s Research Papers section and Payscale’s cumulative data for all holders of the Doctor of Education (EdD) Degree. This allows you to compare average salary data by job title (e.g. High School Principal vs. Education Director).
Educational Leadership Job Boards
General job sites can get you started (e.g. Indeed, HigherEdJobs, SchoolSpring, etc.). But we also wanted to highlight a few IL-specific job boards that are devoted to educational leaders & administrators, including:
- The IASA Illinois Education Job Bank, which allows you to sort by position and grade level.
- Current Job Openings in the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.
- Job Links from the Illinois Education Association (IEA).
- Current Career Opportunities/Openings for principals at Chicago Public Schools.
- Openings for school business officials posted in the Illinois ASBO Job Bank.
Educational Leadership Organizations in Illinois
Educational Leadership Associations
- Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA): CPAA is an organization (not a union) that provides city administrators with resources, advocacy, and support.
- Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education (IAASE): IAASE is a non-profit organization that promotes educational opportunities for all students with an emphasis on students with disabilities. This includes areas of policy development, finance, and legislation.
- Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS): IARSS supports the role of Regional Superintendents of Schools and Assistant Regional Superintendents and of Regional Offices of Education in Illinois.
- Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA): The one to bookmark! IASA is the state-chartered association of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). It serves as an advocacy organization for school administrators and has nearly 2,000 members.
- Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB): IASB is a voluntary, non-profit organization of local boards of education. It’s committed to strengthening Illinois public schools through local citizen control.
- Illinois Association of School Business Officials (IASBO): IASBO provides school business official members and stakeholders with a range of professional development activities, services, and advocacy efforts.
- Illinois Community College Faculty Association (ICCFA): ICCFA is a statewide organization that represents the common interests of all faculty in the public community colleges in Illinois. It holds a joint conference with ICCCA.
- Illinois Principals Association (IPA): IPA is a membership organization devoted to developing, supporting, and advocating for Illinois educational leaders. It provides members with professional development, networking opportunities, and state & federal advocacy services.
Educational Leadership Professional Groups
- Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS): CGCS is an organization of the nation’s largest urban school systems, including Chicago Public Schools.
- Illinois Council of Community College Administrators (ICCCA): ICCCA provides a resource network, a networking forum, and professional development services to IL community college administrators.
- Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance (Alliance): The Alliance is made up of the IASB, IASBO and the IPA. It allows all three organizations to lobby together and speak with a unified voice on educational issues.
- Illinois Vision 20/20: This is a joint effort of the IASA, IASBO, IPA, IASB, SCSDD, and IARSS. The aim of the project is to develop a long-range blueprint for improving public education in Illinois.
- Superintendents’ Commission for the Study of Demographics and Diversity (SCSDD): SCSDD is an educational organization composed of elementary and secondary superintendents and school districts of the Suburban Cook and Collar Counties.
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 Illinois
Educational Leadership Conferences
- Alliance Leadership Summit: Organized by the IASA, this two-day summit is open to superintendents, school board members, principals, school business officials, and other stakeholders in public education. It’s intended to help educational leaders meet to learn, plan, and engage legislators.
- Education Leaders Annual Conference: IPA’s yearly conference is held over three days in October. IPA also organizes a Women in Education Leading and Learning (WELL) Summit and an Assistant Principal and Dean Summit.
- IASA Annual Conference: IASA’s flagship event is held in Springfield and attracts more than 650 school administrators, including school superintendents, assistant superintendents, state agency staff, and college professors of educational administration.
- IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference: One of the nation’s largest state education conferences takes place over three days in November. The event is open to school board members, superintendents and secretaries, school administrators, school attorneys, state and regional educators and officials, university staff, exhibitors, and guests.
- ICCCA/ICCFA Joint Conference: This two-day event for commuity college administrators occurs in November.
- New Superintendents Conference: This two-day complimentary event is sponsored by IASA. Topics include superintendent/school board relations, school law and administrative regulations, curriculum and instructional requirements, personnel and contract administration, and much more.
- Raising Student Achievement Conference: This is the IARSS’s annual conference. It usually takes place over two days in December.
Educational Leadership Training
- IARSS Professional Development: IARSS offers foundational services, a gifted education seminar, workshops, and online webinar/instralogues.
- IASA Professional Development: In addition to hosting multiple conferences & events, IASA organizes PD courses, an Aspiring Superintendent Academy, a School for Advanced Leadership, training sessions, and more.
- IPA Professional Development: IPA offers a wide range of PD services, including administrator academies, teacher evaluator training, mentoring & coaching, leadership networking, and more.