Earning a Doctor of Education Degree in Kentucky
Kentucky’s doctoral programs in education are going strong. In our school listings, you’ll discover big public names (e.g. WKU), private options (e.g. UC), and a whole host of CAEP-accredited schools. There are 100% online Ed.D. programs with highly affordable rates. There are degrees with great concentration topics and useful internal funding opportunities. There’s even an Ed.D. that fulfills certification requirements for the Superintendent Certificate (i.e. Bellarmine).
Begin by matching the Ed.D. program in our school listings to your goals & budget—each listing has links to the curriculum and cost. You may also want to look carefully at Kentucky schools that are participating in the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED), since this is an intriguing quality marker. CPED members include Northern Kentucky University, the University of Louisville, and Western Kentucky University.
Once you have a choice or two in mind, check out our extensive Career section. Here you’ll unearth detailed data on jobs & salaries for Kentucky education administrators, directions to state-specific job boards, descriptions of important KY leadership associations (e.g. KASA), and ideas for conferences & training programs (e.g. The Leadership Challenge).
Online Doctor of Education Programs in Kentucky
Online Ed.D. Providers in Kentucky
- Murray State University (CAEP-accredited)
- University of Kentucky (CAEP-accredited)
- University of the Cumberlands (CAEP-accredited)
What to Know About Kentucky Online Ed.D. Programs
Your options for Kentucky online doctorates in education are limited to three respectable (and fairly affordable) universities: MSU, UK, and UC. All of them are CAEP-accredited; all of them can be completed 100% online; and all of them have a core of educational leadership. So you can have your pick!
If you live near one of the other universities in our school listings, we also want to point out that a number of so-called “campus” degrees are actually hybrid. For example, Northern Kentucky’s Ed.D. in Educational Leadership only has face-to-face sessions one weekend per month; the balance of the coursework is online. As long as you don’t mind a Saturday commute, a blended doctoral program in education may suit you to a T.
Note: Our overview of online doctoral programs in education has listings for online Ed.D. programs in every state.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Kentucky Public Universities
Eyeing a doctorate in the field of K-12 leadership? UK’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is worth investigating. It’s a four-year program with ~46 credits (42 credits of coursework plus at least 4 credit hours for the dissertation). Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state students. It also has some markers we like to see in distance learning. It is a) cohort-based b) 100% online with the option to attend a useful Summer Doc Week c) strong on field-based activities and d) looking for a candidates with a 3.5 GPA.
Another public option is Murray State University, which started offering the 60-credit Online Ed.D. in P-20 and Community Leadership with four specializations—including Agriculture Education and STEM Leadership—in 2019. This is a 100% online version of MSU’s executive-style, weekend program. It’s a particularly good choice if you have an Ed.S. since MSU will transfer up to 30 Ed.S. credit hours into the Ed.D. Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state and the GPA threshold is lower than UK’s program.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Kentucky Private Universities
Or you could go private. The University of Cumberlands has a 60-credit Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with one of the lowest tuition rates we’ve seen among any private or public school. It’s also fairly short (i.e. three years), packed with relevant core coursework (e.g. grant writing, strategic planning, etc.), and includes the option to pursue a specialty area (e.g. Psychology, Nursing, Information Systems, etc.). You can choose the 100% online path, or you can include on-campus Saturday classes in the mix.
No Dissertation Ed.D. Programs in Kentucky
Doctoral Research Projects & Capstones
Dread the thought of a long Ed.D. dissertation? A couple of Kentucky universities have headed down an alternative route. For example, Morehead State University’s Doctor of Education with three specializations includes a doctoral capstone instead. This is a practice-based, research-heavy project that addresses a particular educational challenge.
For example, some MSU Ed.D. students have chosen to focus their capstone work on a particular school, district, or organization (i.e. working in the role of an analyst‐adviser or management consultant). Others have chosen to collaborate in a small group of Ed.D. students, addressing different aspects of the same issue. Examples of MSU capstone challenges include:
- Analyze a district’s use of time, evaluate its impact on student achievement, and make recommendations for improvement.
- Compare and contrast highest achieving and lowest achieving districts, paying careful attention to strategies to reduce the achievement gap.
- Develop a district technology plan that will ensure full use of all available technology.
Spalding University takes a slightly different approach in its Doctor of Education in Leadership. Like MSU, Spalding wants Ed.D. students to tackle a research-based capstone project that directly applies to their place of employment or to the needs of a for-profit or not-for-profit organization. But it also expects students to produce some specific deliverables, including:
- An approved written capstone project (i.e. a scholarly article to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal and/or a white paper to be submitted to the partner organization).
- An executive summary to be submitted to the organization.
- A technology-assisted oral presentation of the executive summary to be given to the leaders of the organization.
- And a 30-minute oral defense of research findings.
Doctoral Education Funding in Kentucky
Internal Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards
It’s not always easy to locate doctoral funding information on Kentucky Ed.D. program websites. To save you time, we’ve highlighted as many internal opportunities as we could find, including Ed.D. fellowships, tuition breaks, diversity awards, payment plans, and more. The university’s Office of Financial Aid will also be able to assist with advice on the FAFSA and external aid (e.g. federal & private loans, national fellowships, etc.).
Eastern Kentucky University
The College of Education has a section on Student Scholarships that’s worth a look. Possible graduate funds include the: Cooper Memorial Fund and the Lutes Memorial Endowed Scholarship. EKU graduate students are also eligible for Other Awards, including some general scholarships, but it’s always best to ask if doctorate in education students are classified as “graduate.” If so, full-time students can look into Graduate Assistantships.
Morehead State University
MSU has a section on Paying for Graduate School, with details on the financial aid process and Graduate Assistantships. Doctoral students are not eligible for the Dehart Fellowship, because the award only applies to master’s-level students.
Murray State University
The College of Education has devoted a section to Scholarships and Funding. There are some COE awards for graduate students, including one for folks in the Department of Educational Studies, Leadership & Counseling, but it’s best to check if Ed.D. students are eligible. (We noticed that MSU uses the terms “graduate” and “doctoral” in its tuition structure.)
Spalding has a couple of interesting deals on tap for students in the Ed.D. in Leadership (though we recommend you check to make sure they’re still viable):
- The first three current—or former—participants/members of Leadership Kentucky, Leadership Louisville, and the Young Professionals Association of Louisville (YPAL) accepted into the Ed.D. will be granted a 50% tuition reduction—a scholarship valued at approximately $25,000.
- Spalding sponsors Ed.D. students to earn a non-credit Certificate in Global Leadership—two, tuition-free, day-long colloquia. It also covers the costs of the ILA conference in the following fall (e.g. lodging, registration, meals, etc.).
See the Ed.D. website for more value-added opportunities.
University of Kentucky
Start with the degree page in our school listings—some specialties have helpful resource sections. For example, the Department of Kinesiology has info on teaching assistantships and research support.
Then check the College of Education’s extensive section on Scholarships—a list which includes a number of awards for doctorate students. We uncovered the:
- Porter Minority Fellowship in Education
- Edgar L. & Marilyn A. Sagan Fellowship (for students studying Educational Policy Studies)
- Joan P. Gipe Fellowship Fund in Literacy (for students training for a career in literacy). You can also look at Potential Sources of Funding for Literacy Graduate Students.
- Arvle and Ellen Thacker Turner Research Fund (for doctoral research). You can also apply for research grants & awards through the Office of Research and Graduate Success.
- William S. Taylor Memorial Fund (for students with unexpected economic hardships)
Finally, we recommend a visit to the Graduate School’s section on Student Funding. Here you’ll discover info on Assistantships, general Fellowships (e.g. Lyman T. Johnson Diversity Fellowship), the Graduate Student Incentive Program (GSIP) for students who win an external fellowship, and external funding ideas.
University of Louisville
The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership & Organizational Development has a section on Financial Aid, with links to:
- College of Education & Human Development Scholarships and Financial Aid (check out the Paul A Winter Doctoral Fellowship for ELEOD students)
- Graduate Assistantships
- UofL Student Financial Aid Office
We also like UofL’s comprehensive section on Financial Support for Graduate Students, with info on University Scholarship & Tuition Awards (e.g. diversity awards). And the Graduate Student Research Fund.
University of the Cumberlands
Western Kentucky University
The Ed.D.’s section on Future Students includes a list of ideas for funding. The School of Teacher Education also has a helpful rundown of Financial Aid for Graduate Students and the Graduate School has a lengthy section on Financial Resources. You may want to look into:
- Distinguished Minority Fellows (DMF) Program (this is open to doctoral students)
- Research Grants (the Office of Sponsored Programs can also assist you in searching for grants and external funding)
- Travel Grants
- Graduate Assistantships
Plus the list of general scholarships available through the College Heights Foundation. For instance, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership students are eligible for the Dr. Dorothy E. Reeves Scholarship Fund and the Dr. Victor J. Christenson Scholarship Fund.
In addition, WKU offers tuition waivers for credits obtained by P-12 teachers providing supervision of student teachers/interns and tuition waivers for WKU employees.
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 Certification Requirements in Kentucky
School Administration Certificates
The Division of Educator Licensure and Quality, under the auspices of the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB), handles school administrative certifications in Kentucky. There are six types of administrative certification available from EPSB:
- School Principal Certification/Instructional Leadership – School Principal
- School Counselor Certification, Grades P-12
- Superintendent Certification
- Supervisor of Instruction Certification
- Director of Special Education Certification
- Directors and Assistant Directors of Pupil Personnel Certification
We’ve outlined the basics for principals and superintendents below. However, each of these links will also take you to a detailed requirements page.
Instructional Leadership – School Principal Certificate
EPSB’s page on School Principal Certification is a little scanty—we found the requirements laid out in full in KAR Title 16 (see Chapter 3: 050). Generally speaking, School Principal Certificate applicants must:
- Hold a master’s degree
- Complete a State-Approved Educator Preparation Program
- Have three years of teaching experience in a public/non-public school that meets state performance standards or has been accredited by a regional or national accrediting association
- Receive a passing score on the School Leaders Licensure Assessment and the Kentucky Specialty Test of Instructional and Administrator Practices.
If you look at Chapter 3: 050, you’ll discover that Instructional Leadership – School Principal certification is actually split into two levels: Level I and Level II.
- Level I means you’ve completed a standards-based program of studies (i.e. Level I educator prep program) designed for minimal preparation.
- Level II means you’ve completed extra coursework/internship that will entitle you to attain the first five-year renewal of the School Principal Certificate.
In the traditional path, aspiring principals complete a Level I preparation program, receive a Provisional Certificate, find a job in Kentucky school district, and then complete the one-year Kentucky Principal Internship Program (KPIP) and Level II coursework.
A Professional Certificate for Instructional Leadership – School Principal is usually issued following the successful completion of the KPIP. Check the School Principal Certification page for up-to-date details.
Note: University preparation programs for the School Principal Certificate are often in the form of a master’s degree, certification program, graduate certificate, or Ed.S.
Applicants for the five-year Superintendent Certificate must fulfill the appropriate requirements for certification, as established in KAR Title 16. In particular, the applicant must:
- Hold a master’s degree
- Complete a State-Approved Educator Preparation Program
- Have at least two years of experience in an administrative position (e.g. school principal, supervisor of instruction, guidance counselor, director of pupil personnel, etc.)—see the full list of eligible positions
- Hold a valid statement of eligibility for a Kentucky teaching certificate
- Have three years of full-time teaching experience
- Have completed Levels I and II preparation/certification for the position of school principal or supervisor of instruction
Note: A few Ed.D. programs in our school listings will prepare you for the School Superintendent Certificate (e.g. Bellarmine). However, most universities have decided to develop separate certification programs instead.
Educational Leadership Jobs in Kentucky
Educational Leadership Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps close tabs on employment and wage data for elementary & secondary school education administrators and postsecondary education administrators in every state. Kentucky has respectable levels of employment for both categories, though wages aren’t always terrific (see below).
You can get a microscopic view of the K-12 landscape by consulting reports issued by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). KDE has an entire section devoted to School District Personnel Information, with details on Kentucky county staffing numbers and demographics.
Preparing for a KY higher education job opportunity?
- The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education has a Data section crammed with statistics on enrollment, graduate rates, diversity, and more. We particularly liked the comprehensive summaries of Kentucky’s State Universities and KCTCS. These include links to budgets, financial reports, staff directories, and the school’s College Scorecard.
- You can also browse through Data/Reports issued by the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU). Each College & University link contains a profile of the school.
Educational Leadership Salaries
BLS’s page on State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for Kentucky lists annual mean wages for education administrators. Overall, wages for Kentucky elementary & secondary school education administrators are often modest, but they’re not in the lowest bracket. You’ll usually see similar wage numbers in Indiana and Ohio.
Better yet, KDE’s section on School District Personnel Information has reports on certified salary schedules, average classroom teacher salaries, superintendent salaries (organized by district), and more. Jefferson County (the most populous county and the home of Louisville), Fayette County (home of Lexington), and Boone County often pay their superintendents particularly well.
When it comes to Kentucky postsecondary education administrators, it’s a different story. Mean wages for this group can be among the lowest in the country. If you’d prefer specifics, you can use Transparency.ky’s Advanced Salary Search to look up the salaries of employees in public post-secondary educational institutions. Search by Branch (i.e. Executive), Cabinet (i.e. Cabinet for the Universities), Title (e.g. President), and Department (i.e. the name of the university).
Educational Leadership Job Boards
Conventional job sites will contain postings for Kentucky education administrators (e.g. HigherEdJobs, SchoolSpring, LinkedIn, etc.). But we also wanted to point you toward some state-specific job boards.
- KDE’s Kentucky Educator Placement Services (KEPS) lists certified vacancies in public schools and districts. You can also submit your job profile.
- CPAK posts Career Opportunities for higher education personnel—primarily directors, coordinators, and advisors.
- KASS has a list of Job Openings for superintendents and other personnel.
- AIKCU has an Employment section with links to each independent college or university’s HR website.
Educational Leadership Organizations in Kentucky
Educational Leadership Associations
- College Personnel Association of Kentucky (CPAK): CPAK is a state division of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). It’s made up of professionals in varied areas of student affairs, student services, campus life, academic support, and higher education administration. It also offers CPAK Awards to graduate students.
- Kentucky Association of Blacks in Higher Education (KABHE): KABHE promotes the advancement of Blacks in higher education by articulating needs and concerns, promoting unity and cooperation, and enhancing the personal and professional growth of its membership.
- Kentucky Association of Professional Educators (KAPE): KAPE is a professional organization that provides a range of benefits to educators (e.g. legal services, insurance, discounts, etc.). Membership is open to all certified and classified employees of a Kentucky public or private school. It also offers Professional Development Scholarships.
- Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA): One to bookmark! KASA is dedicated to serving school administrators through advocacy, professional development, leadership, and research. Its members include PreK-12 leaders and higher education administrators. Be sure to check out the Administrative Certification Scholarship and the Communities section, which includes a calendar of Upcoming Leadership Events.
- Kentucky Association of School Councils (KASC): KASC is a non-profit membership organization designed to help school councils make decisions that ensure student achievement at higher levels. It provides assistance to parents, teachers, and principals of member schools.
- Kentucky Association of School Superintendents (KASS): KASS is a statewide, non-profit organization that aims to develop the capacity of superintendents—and those who aspire to superintendency—to reach their full potential in transforming their educational systems.
- Kentucky Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (KASFAA): KASFAA is a professional organization that serves practitioners, users, and providers of student financial aid programs.
- Kentucky Education Association (KEA): KEA is a voluntary membership organization for school employees. Public school teachers make up most of the members, but there are school administrators in the mix.
- Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA): KSBA is private non-profit that supplies advocacy, consultation, information, professional development, and district support services to local school board members (e.g. training & events), as well as to district and school staff.
Educational Leadership Professional Groups
- Kentucky Education Cooperatives: Cooperatives provide assistance and expertise to member school districts. This includes comprehensive educational services and programs that support member districts and their schools in their school improvement efforts. Member districts also work through the cooperatives to maximize their purchasing power.
- The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence: We’re mentioning this organization because it’s heavily involved in KY educational efforts, standards & accountability, policy issues, and engagement initiatives (e.g. parent leaders).
Note: You’ll notice that some state and national educator organizations have funds and scholarships available for continuing education (e.g. Ed.D.). Check the association website and ask about opportunities.
Educational Leadership Events in Kentucky
Educational Leadership Conferences
- CPAK Annual Conference and Business Meeting: CPAK’s flagship event for higher education personnel takes place in January.
- KABHE Annual Conference: KABHE’s three-day event in April offers opportunities for higher education administrators, faculty, staff, and students to explore best practices and current trends in higher education.
- KASA Annual Education Law & Finance Institute: This is a focused two-day event in March. It aims to deepen knowledge and improve practice among school administrators and their teams in implementing legal and financial decisions.
- KASA Annual Leadership Institute: This three-day event in July attracts 1500+ school leaders and industry partners. There’s a day of Pre-Event Workshops.
- KASC Conference: KASC’s annual event brings together teachers, parents, and school administrators from across Kentucky. It usually takes place over two days in September.
- KEA Annual Conference: KEA’s two-day event in June is designed to share strategies and successes that take place in Kentucky’s classrooms.
Educational Leadership Training
- CPAK Professional Development Programs: CPAK has developed a Career Mentoring Program for CPAK members and a Professional Shadowing Program for student affairs graduate students and professionals.
- KASA Leadership Development: KASA offers a huge range of professional development opportunities to P-20 administrators, including—but not limited to—Kentucky Women in Education Leadership (KWEL), The Leadership Challenge, Next Generation Superintendents, Principal’s Leadership Series, and more.
- KASC Professional Learning Training: KASC offers individualized training sessions and workshops that focus on helping schools reach proficiency. It also runs educator-focused Summer Academies.
- KEA Training Opportunities: KEA organizes a variety of training sessions for schools, districts, local KEA leaders, and local KEA associations.