Earning a Doctor of Education Degree in Massachusetts
Massachusetts doesn’t have the largest amount of Ed.D. programs in the country—but what it does have is variety. In our school listings, you’ll see options for STEM leaders, urban educators, language & literacy experts, professional counselors, superintendent licensure candidates, and more. Harvard’s Graduate School of Education has an outstanding national ranking, but Boston College isn’t far behind.
To help you whittle these options down to a manageable shortlist, we’ve done some research. Interested in distance learning? Check out our assessment of online Ed.D. programs. Looking for an Ed.D. that will lead you to Administrator Licensure? Learn why Boston College matches up for superintendents. Searching for the best Ed.D. fellowships? Browse through our school-by-school section on Internal Funding.
Or you can skip ahead to the extensive Career section. In addition to data on Massachusetts employment levels & administrative salaries, we’ve amassed links to useful MA job boards, info about important state associations (e.g. MASS, MSAA, etc.), and ideas for conferences & professional development programs (e.g. NSIP).
Online Doctor of Education Programs in Massachusetts
Online Ed.D. Providers in Massachusetts
- Bay Path University
- Boston College
- Boston University
- Northeastern University
- Regis College
- University of Massachusetts – Lowell
What to Know About Massachusetts Online Ed.D. Programs
You’ve got a number of sturdy choices for online doctorates in education in Massachusetts: one public school (UMass Lowell) and all kinds of private options (Northeastern, Regis, BC, BU, and Bay Path). UMass Lowell, Regis, and Northeastern—plus the on-campus program at Boston College—are taking part in the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED). This is a quality marker we like to see.
Thanks to state funding and a streamlined calendar, UMass Lowell is going to be your cheapest option; private schools will be pricier. Keep in mind, too, that MA online Ed.D. programs include occasional on-campus residencies or Saturday classes. So you’ll need to allow for time & travel in the budget.
Note: For more options, see our overview of online Doctor of Education programs. This contains rankings of the 23 best online Ed.D. programs, a full listing of all schools offering online Ed.D. programs, and additional advice.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Massachusetts Public Universities
UMass Lowell’s 42-credit Online Ed.D. in Leadership in Schooling has a lot going for it. It’s part of a school that often earns a top 20 ranking in Best Online Graduate Education Programs. It’s eligible for fellowships and tuition discounts (see our Funding section). And it’s an affordable full-time program for the PreK-12 field—there’s even a STEM Education option if your interested in leading a STEM department or program.
We should also point out that it includes an annual one-week summer residency and does not lead to licensure. Think of it more as a way to expand your instructional leadership horizons—UMass Lowell is looking for Ed.D. candidates with at least three years experience as a teacher and/or instructional leader.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Massachusetts Private Universities
Multiple Ed.d. Specialties
Looking for an online option from a CPED member? Northeastern has developed a 60-credit Online Doctor of Education with concentrations in Higher Education Administration; Curriculum, Teaching, Learning and Leadership; and Organizational Leadership Studies. It takes around 3-4 years to complete and includes two residencies in Boston, Charlotte, or Seattle. This is a program that can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis.
If you live in New England, you could also consider Boston University’s 60-credit Hybrid Ed.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies: Leadership in Early Childhood Education-Grade 12. This cohort-based doctoral program involves monthly campus visits in the spring & fall semesters and two-week institutes in the summer. It takes 3 years to complete on a part-time basis.
Higher Education Leadership
Aiming for a college or university position? Check out Regis’s 51-credit Hybrid Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership. As the name suggests, this program is for folks who live in the area—students meet on Saturdays four times per semester. All of Regis’s Ed.D. students work full-time while completing this degree; some finish in as little as 3 years.
You can compare it with Bay Path University’s 54-credit Online Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership & Organizational Studies, which is also available in a 30-credit ABD Option. This flexible program contains 100% online coursework and three “Immersive Weekends” (one per year). Collaboration is encouraged—you’ll take part in online, faculty-guided cohorts called Communities of Practice (COPs) and be able to participate in group work, Leader-Scholar Communities, and shared workplace research.
Or you could consider Boston College’s Online Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education with an option to concentrate in Catholic Higher Education. This is a part-time, 3-year program for experienced administrators—candidates must have a minimum of 5-10 years of experience in higher education. You’ll take part in online coursework during the academic year and attend in-person week-long residencies in the summer.
No Dissertation Ed.D. Programs in Massachusetts
Doctoral Research Projects & Capstones
When you’re looking at our MA listings, you’ll notice that a number of Ed.D. programs include a “Dissertation in Practice” (DiP) or capstone. We favor universities who have adopted these models, since they give seasoned administrators a chance to apply their research and skills to an immediate educational challenge. For example:
- In Northeastern’s Doctor of Education (either in Charlotte, Seattle, or Online), students work on identifying a problem of practice and developing an action plan at the very start of their program. A faculty advisor is there to mentor and advise as Ed.D. students initiate cycles of data collection and analysis, collaborate with stakeholders, and reflect on their progress.
- Bay Path University’s Online Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership & Organizational Studies has a DiP that includes a series of four sequential dissertation courses that will engage you in action research. You’ll choose an educational problem to analyze, develop an improvement plan, act to implement the plan, observe the effects, and then reflect on results as a basis for further efforts.
- Boston College’s Online Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education—with an option to concentrate in Catholic Higher Education—culminates in a group-based capstone project that takes place at a partner institution. In collaboration with your fellow Ed.D. students, you’ll tackle pressing questions & challenges facing that higher education organization. BC will help your group find an institution that aligns with your interests.
- Boston University’s Hybrid Ed.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies: Leadership in Early Childhood Education-Grade 12 contains a group-based Dissertation in Practice (DiP). In the final years of the program, your team will be challenged to address problems of practice that are specific to your own schools and districts.
- In Regis’s Hybrid Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership, students are asked to take an in-depth look at a critical issue in higher education, research the challenge, and find ways to create positive change. A primary advisor provides guidance. Examples of past dissertation in practice projects have included “Developing Partnerships: Strengthening Parent Engagement in a Title I School,” “An Investigation of the Relationships Among Life Experiences and Resilience With First-Year College Students,” and “A Quasi-Experimental Evaluation of Training for Social Workers and Health Care Providers in Managing Challenging or Potentially Violent Client Behaviors.”
Doctoral Education Funding in Massachusetts
Internal Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards
Massachusetts universities often hide funding information for doctoral students. To save you time, we’ve tried to source every single website that may be of use (e.g. tuition breaks, internal fellowships, assistantships, etc.). If you’re interested in external awards, grants, and loans, the Office of Financial Assistance is the place to go.
American International College
AIC’s section on Types of Financial Aid only lists external opportunities—AIC does not offer merit-based scholarships for graduate students. However, the college does have a Monthly Payment Plan and a limited number of graduate assistantships are available.
Bay Path University
Financial Aid is available for online Ed.D. students. Most of this will be in the usual form of graduate loans and grants. Bay Path scholarships are reserved for MS students. Military families should check out the section on Military Benefits & Services.
The Lynch School of Education and Human Development has a separate section on Graduate Tuition & Financial Aid, with details on scholarships (i.e. merit-based awards), assistantships, and federal aid. Named scholarships are for master’s students. You may also want to take a look at the general advice given in Graduate Financial Aid.
BU’s Ed.D. programs are run by the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. Wheelock has an entire section devoted to Financial Assistance, with a rundown of:
And more. Be sure to check out the sub-section on Doctoral Fellowships—there are some excellent awards that are aimed at Ed.D. students.
The college’s Ed.D. programs are part of the Van Loan School, so doctoral students are advised to contact the Assistant Director of Financial Aid with any questions on the financial aid process. Endicott also has an interest-free monthly Tuition Payment Plan.
On the Ed.D.L. program page, it states that all students receive a full tuition & student health fee funding package, plus stipends, work opportunities, and a paid third-year residency at a partner organization. Harvard is a well-endowed school, so we’ll believe this incredible deal. Learn more on the Ed.D.L. Applicants page.
If you need extra funding (e.g. for family expenses), the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) has a comprehensive section on Financial Aid, with sub-sections on Fellowships & Grants, Student Work, and external student loans. Be sure to check out the Saul Zaentz Fellowship for Ed.D.L. students in the section on Merit-Based Grant Awards.
For the Ed.D, start with the College of Professional Studies (CPS)’s section on Financial Aid. Doctoral students are eligible for the MacFarland Scholarship, which is open to incoming students who are working—or have the intention of working—as an educator in a public school, at the elementary or secondary level, within an urban area.
The university also has a Northeastern Monthly Payment Plan, administered through Tuition Management Systems (TMS).
The Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership site contains a section on Financing Your Ed.D., with details on Graduate Assistantships. Unfortunately, the Presidential Catholic Leadership Scholarship was discontinued in 2019.
University of Massachusetts-Boston
The College of Education and Human Development lists Scholarships for Education Students; most of the awards are for teachers. UMass Boston’s section on Graduate Student Aid has more general info about assistantships (stipends & tuition credits), grants, and loans.
Full-time employees of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are eligible for tuition credits. UMass Boston recommends that you contact the HR office at your workplace for more information.
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
Graduate Studies has a section on Fellowships & Funding that’s worth investigating; doctoral fellows are eligible for a couple of awards. UMass Dartmouth also has a proximity tuition program in place for Rhode Island residents who are in graduate programs, though it’s best to check if the Ed.D. qualifies.
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
The Ed.D. in Leadership in Schooling has a separate section on Tuition & Financing. It states that Ed.D. students are eligible for the College of Education Dean’s Fellowship (not to be confused with the general Dean’s Graduate Fellowship, which is only for master’s students). In addition:
- Ed.D. students in the STEM concentration who live in neighboring states (CT, ME, NH, RI, VT) may be eligible for reduced tuition through the New England Regional Student Program (NERSP) because Math & Science Education doctoral programs qualify for the discount.
- Full-time, out-of-state graduate students who live in Southern New Hampshire can also check out the Proximity Regional Rates Program.
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 Administrator License Requirements in Massachusetts
Massachusetts’s Office of Educator Licensure handles licensure for Academic PreK-12 administrators in Massachusetts public schools and Vocational Technical Education administrators. Licenses are issued by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE).
There are five relevant Administrator Fields in the Academic PreK-12 Administrator category:
- Principal/Assistant Principal – Grades: PreK-8, 5-12
- School Business Administrator – Grades: All Levels
- Special Education Administrator – Grades: All Levels
- Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent – Grades: All Levels
- Supervisor/Director – Grade level depends on prerequisite license; educators applying for a supervisor/director license must specify a particular role.
In addition, administrator licenses come in a variety of types, which are outlined in the PreK-12 section Administrator License Types and General Requirements. Those types are:
- Provisional (Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent License Only)
The standard progression for licensure is Initial -> Professional (after a few years of job experience). However, the type is going to depend upon your education, experience, license(s) already held, whether you have taken the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL), whether you have completed any required performance assessments (e.g. PAL), and whether you hold the Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement (only if applicable).
Administrator Licensure Requirements for Each Field
The simplest way to find requirements for each Administrator Field is to use the ESE’s Licensure Requirements Tool. For example, you’ll notice that PreK-12 administrators can go down one of three preparation routes to licensure:
- Completing a state-approved educator preparation program (e.g. Boston College’s PSAP Ed.D. in Educational Leadership for Superintendent Licensure)
- OR Completing an administrative apprenticeship/internship
- OR Submitting to a panel review of your education & professional experience
There are plenty of other stipulations for licensure, which are covered in the Licensure Requirements Tool. A few other important things to note:
- All PreK-12 educators seeking a Provisional or Initial license in Massachusetts are required to take and pass the Communications and Literacy Skill MTEL.
- As of September 1, 2014, all educators seeking their first administrator license—principal/assistant principal at the Initial level—must complete the Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL).
- To qualify for a first Initial license in Massachusetts as a principal/assistant principal or supervisor/director, an educator must hold a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement.
- As far as we can determine, many educator preparation programs are not at the Ed.D. level—prep programs tend to be at the Ed.S. or master’s level. (Boston College is an exception.)
The ESE also has entire section devoted to information for Out-of-State Applicants, including details on earning a Temporary or Provisional license while you work on fulfilling requirements for full licensure.
Note: Anxious about investing in the right preparation program? The ESE’s section on Statewide Reports contains a slew of accountability reports on Educator Preparation Programs, including MTEL pass rates and post-graduation employment rates!
Vocational Technical Administrator Licensure Requirements
There are only two types of license for Vocational Technical Education administrators: Initial and Professional. You can find a full rundown of requirements for both types in the section on the VocTech Administrator License.
Under the education requirements, you’ll see that Vocational Technical Administrators only have to hold a bachelor’s degree. But they still must complete one of the three preparation routes (i.e. educator prep program, apprenticeship/internship, or panel review).
Educational Leadership Jobs in Massachusetts
Educational Leadership Career Outlook
For a bird’s eye overview of the MA administrative landscape, begin with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’s employment & salary data for elementary & secondary school education administrators and postsecondary education administrators. As you might expect from its national reputation, Massachusetts is way out in front.
- The Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH metropolitan area has one of the highest employment levels for elementary & secondary school education administrators in the country. Employment across the state is also high.
- Massachusetts is often in the top three of states with the highest employment levels of postsecondary education administrators, right up there with California. It also has one of the highest concentration levels.
Higher education accounts for a large chunk of the Massachusetts’s economy, and the state is packed with 100+ colleges & universities. However, there has been some discussion about whether the phenomenon can last with shrinking student populations. Something to bear in mind if you’re looking at small private colleges.
Are you focusing on an administrative career in the PreK-12 arena? The ESE’s section on Data & Accountability is a treasure trove of information for this sector. It posts School and District Profiles and annual Statewide Reports, with data on average teacher salaries, student enrollment numbers, and more. You may find these sources helpful for your dissertation research, as well as your job prep.
Educational Leadership Salaries
BLS statistics show that Massachusetts elementary & secondary school education administrators are some of the highest paid professionals in the country. You’ll find exact salary numbers in BLS’s section on State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for Massachusetts. In addition, the ESE’s data on Teacher Salaries will give you ballpark educator salary averages for each MA district.
Postsecondary education administrators are also paid well, though Massachusetts is not among the top states for wages in this category. You can compare these numbers to the Comptroller of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s Statewide Payroll, which includes salaries of higher education administrators in MA public universities & colleges.
One caveat—Massachusetts (and the Greater Boston area in particular) is notorious for its high cost of living and housing. So wage numbers are likely to reflect the neighborhood.
Educational Leadership Job Boards
National job sites will have plenty of MA educational leadership jobs on their books (e.g. SchoolSpring, HigherEd, LinkedIn, etc.). However, there are some useful MA-specific job boards to consult, including:
- MASC Superintendent Searches, with postings for in-state and out-of-state jobs for superintendents (including assistant & interim), directors, presidents, and more.
- MASS Job Postings, with openings for superintendents, school business managers, directors, and more.
- MASSLive, with postings for local jobs in education administration (all levels).
- Boston Public Schools TalentEd, which features job listings for principals, directors, superintendents, deans, and more.
- AISNE Job Board, which features openings in member schools of the Association of Independent Schools in New England.
Educational Leadership Organizations in Massachusetts
Educational Leadership Associations
- Boston Association of School Administrators and Supervisors (BASAS): BASAS provides educational and administrative services for schools in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the Local 6 American Federation of School Administrators™ (AFSA).
- Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC): MASC is a member-driven association supporting Massachusetts school leaders (it often conducts superintendent searches). It also acts as a voice of MA school committees, representing their perspective to outside agencies and governmental bodies.
- Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS): MASS is a statewide organization dedicated to the professional and advocacy concerns of school superintendents and assistant superintendents.
- Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association (MSAA): MSAA is a membership organization serving the needs of elementary level, middle level, and high school administrators in Massachusetts. MSAA used to be the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators’ Association, which is why you may see it referred to as MSSAA. It merged with MESPA (the elementary association) in 2017.
- Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA): MTA represents 110,000+ members throughout Massachusetts, including teachers, faculty, support professionals, and administrators at public schools, colleges, and universities. It has a higher education arm.
Educational Leadership Professional Groups
- MassPartners for Public Schools: This is a coalition/advocacy group of teacher, parent, school committee, principal, and superintendent organizations in Massachusetts. It shares a commitment to improving public schools and education standards.
- Massachusetts Women in Public Higher Education (MWPHE): MWPHE serves to strengthen the status of professional women in public higher education.
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 Massachusetts
Educational Leadership Conferences
- MASC Day on the Hill: This is a legislative advocacy day that brings school committee members, superintendents and student leaders to the State House in Boston to meet with executive and legislative leadership, as well as local senators and representatives.
- MASC/MASS Joint School Leadership Conference: This is billed as the largest annual gathering of education leaders in Massachusetts, with a program of speakers, panel sessions, exhibits, demonstrations, and networking opportunities.
- MASSCue/MASS Annual Technology Conference: This October event aims to provide MA educators and administrators with exciting ways to enhance teaching and learning with technology.
- MASS Executive Institute: This 3-day conference/professional development program is for superintendents, assistant superintendents and district administrators. It’s held during the second or third week of July.
- MASS Midwinter Meeting: This one-day event for superintendents includes a keynote address and a panel of practitioners. It takes place in the third or fourth week of January, in close proximity to the release of Chapter 70 State Aid figures. MASS also hosts a similar Spring Meeting.
- MSAA Summer Institute: MSSA’s 3-day professional development event in July includes pre-conference workshops, sessions, and exhibits.
- MWPHE Conference: This one-day event for women in public higher education takes place in late October/early November.
- Women’s Educational Leadership Network (WELN) Conference: Hosted by MASS, this one-day event features presentations, panels, and networking opportunities.
Educational Leadership Training
- Assistant Superintendent Leadership Seminars: Organized by MASS, these one-day sessions take place throughout the year.
- EDE-Sponsored PD Offerings: The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) offers a number of professional development, training, and/or technical assistance opportunities for educators through its offices (e.g. Curriculum and Instruction: STEM).
- MSAA Leadership Licensure Program: MSAA runs a one-year licensure program that prepares aspiring administrators for Initial Licensure as Principals/Assistant Principals (PreK-6; 5-8; 9-12), and Supervisors/Directors.
- New Superintendent Induction Program (NSIP): This 3-year professional development program is a collaboration between the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) and MASS.