Earning a Doctor of Education Degree in Virginia
One word springs to mind for Virginia doctorates in education. Quality. In our school listings, you’ll see a lot of heavy-hitters. UVA, VCU, and W&M frequently battle it out in the rankings for Best Education Schools; VCU, Radford, and W&M are also taking part in the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED). Alongside well-respected public research universities, there are CAEP-accredited religious schools and liberal arts institutions.
Each of them has a unique take on the doctorate. There are programs in online & hybrid forms, programs with generous scholarships & tuition discounts, programs with Ed.D. capstone projects instead of dissertations, and programs that can help you achieve the Division Superintendent License. You can opt for a conventional Ed.D. in leadership or choose from a range of intriguing specialties.
Start with the links in our school listings and then have a quick skim through our advice areas. Once you have one or two programs in mind, you may want to consult the extensive career section. We’ve provided directions to administrative job & salary data, state-specific job boards, useful educational leadership associations (e.g. VASS), and career-building conferences & training programs (e.g. VFEL).
Online Doctor of Education Programs in Virginia
Online Ed.D. Providers in Virginia
- Liberty University (CAEP-accredited)
- Radford University (CAEP-accredited)
- Regent University (CAEP-accredited)
- University of Virginia (CAEP-accredited)
- Virginia Commonwealth University (CAEP-accredited)
- Virginia Tech (CAEP-accredited)
What to Know About Virginia Online Ed.D. Programs
Here’s the short & sweet on Virginia online doctoral programs in education—you can have your pick from six CAEP-accredited public schools and Christian private universities. It’s just a question of deciding how much you want to pay. Tuition rates are the same for in-state and out-of-state online Ed.D. students at UVA, Liberty, Radford, and Regent (Radford has a small out-of-state fee); VCU and Virginia Tech charge out-of-state residents more. We explore each option below.
But we also want to highlight the alternatives. A number of so-called “campus” Ed.D. programs in our school listings are technically hybrid. To take just one example—the College of William and Mary’s Executive Ed.D. in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership is primarily online, supplemented by four campus weekends per fall & spring semester and two-week summer residencies. If you live in the area and can afford the commute, you may find a degree that’s right up your alley.
Note: Our overview of online Doctor of Education programs contains a complete list of online Ed.D. degrees offered in every state and our list of the best online Ed.D. programs.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Public Virginia Universities
Most of the programs covered in this section are online versions of the university’s on-campus Ed.D., so they’ve been tried and tested. Better yet, they come with superb credentials. For instance, VCU’s 48-credit Online Ed.D. in Leadership is offered by its highly regarded College of Education (check out the COE’s stellar online education ranking) and informed by the CPED initiative.
We like the fact that it’s a cohort-based program with a close learning community, a group-based capstone that focuses on problems of practice, and a curriculum with annual summer residencies (think networking). It only takes three years to complete and credits aren’t too cumbersome. Plus in-state residents get a great tuition deal.
Another contender for the top public online doctorate in education is UVA. Its cohort-based, 72-credit Online Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction is backed by the Curry School’s U.S. News & World Report ranking and full of quality markers. We’re talking about factors like a field internship, practical portfolio, mentor supervision, and the chance to choose an area of emphasis. What’s more, you can study part-time or full-time.
The 72-credit number is a little misleading—up to 24 credits from a current master’s degree may be applied toward the Ed.D. (Check out UVA’s M.Ed./Ed.D. partnership with Melbourne University.). The extremely affordable per credit tuition rate is the same for in-state and out-of-state students.
Need some flexibility? Radford University’s 63-credit Online Doctor of Education is a part-time, 100% online program made up of seven-week courses—and it can be completed in three years. Better yet, graduates qualify for Virginia licensure as a superintendent. Radford is part of the CPED initiative and tuition rates are very reasonable, so this is an option that’s well-worth considering.
Or you could consider a more focused path. For instance, Virginia Tech’s Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction – Integrative STEM Education is available through synchronous web-based delivery, supplemented with summer residencies. It’s 90 semester hours, but that includes previous Master’s courses. Overall, per credit tuition rates for the virtual campus are better for in-state students than out-of-state ones. And VT claims there has been a 100% post-secondary education placement rate for graduates.
Online Ed.D. Programs at Private Virginia Universities
The remaining online Ed.D. options in Virginia come from private Christian universities: Liberty and Regent. These tend to be a) made for working professionals and b) similar in format & scope. They don’t have the clout of, say, UVA, but they are extremely flexible.
For instance, Liberty offers a raft of online Ed.D. programs, including a standard 54-credit Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership or Curriculum & Instruction specialties, a 60-credit Online Ed.D. in Christian Leadership, a 57-credit Online Ed.D. in Community Care and Counseling in two specialties, and even an Online J.D./Doctor of Education dual degree program.
A few things to note here. All of Liberty’s programs are 100% online, with eight-week courses and optional on-campus intensives for the traditional Ed.D. and Counseling options. All of them accept credit transfers (9-15 credit hours, depending on the program). All of them included an integrated dissertation. And all of them tend to be informed by a Christian worldview. Per credit tuition rates are reasonable and Liberty offers some outstanding discounts. See our funding section for complete details.
You’ll have even more choice at Regent—the university has so many Online Ed.D. Programs that we don’t have room to list them all. They’re 66 or 66+ credits. Like Liberty, Regent offers convenience, with eight-week course sessions. And the program includes an opportunity for Ed.S. graduates to be admitted with advanced standing.
Unlike Liberty, Regent’s online doctorates are not 100% online—they include in-person summer residencies. They’re also more expensive, though Regent allows you to take the Ed.S. first at the lower tuition rate and then apply those credits to the Ed.D. In addition, military and veterans receive a hefty discount; see our funding section for full details.
No Dissertation Ed.D. Programs in Virginia
Doctoral Research Projects & Capstones
Members of the CPED initiative prioritize collaborative work and practical application, so you won’t be surprised to hear that VCU’s Ed.D. in Leadership (on-campus or online) has an “applied group dissertation” (a.k.a. capstone). During the last three semesters of the program, you’ll be able to work with fellow Ed.D. students on a research-based problem of practice. You’ll interpret data, develop findings & recommendations, write a client document (Executive Summary), and present your findings.
UVA’s Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction (on-campus or online), Ed.D. in Higher Education, and Ed.D. in Administration & Supervision also contain a research-based capstone, which looks very much like a dissertation in practice. In other words, you’ll be able to tackle a problem of importance to practitioners. In order to graduate, UVA will also expect you to develop solutions, make recommendations, and communicate your findings to the appropriate audiences.
Doctoral Education Funding in Virginia
Internal Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards
A number of Virginia universities & colleges have stepped up to the plate to offer institutional aid to doctoral students (i.e. internal fellowships, scholarships, tuition breaks, etc.). Big schools such as UVA often have more funding than small schools, but be sure to check out the discounts available at Liberty and Regent. You’ll probably need to supplement these sources with external aid (e.g. federal & private loans, tuition reimbursement etc.). The Office of Financial Aid can provide advice.
College of William and Mary
W&M offers an Executive Ed.D., so it’s unlikely that any of the School of Education’s Educational Policy, Planning & Leadership Awards will apply. However, you may want to ask the program coordinator/director about the Martha L. Muguira Fellowship for Hispanic or Latino women. The School also has a general section on Financial Aid, Scholarships, Assistantships.
Liberty University Online (LUO) has a section on Scholarship Opportunities (internal & external), with detailed info about LUO Scholarships & Discounts. There have been lots of awards in recent years—check to make sure all offers are still current. When it comes to discounts:
- Military receive a 50% discount or more on graduate tuition.
- First Responders receive a 25% tuition discount.
- Canadians taking Liberty University Online courses receive a 15% discount.
- Students who are affiliated with eligible companies or organizations receive a 15% tuition discount.
- Word of Life employees receive a 50% discount on tuition for undergraduate and graduate programs.
In the realm of scholarships and awards:
- Two pastors (one senior; one youth) from Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV) and West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists (WVCSB) are eligible for a 100% tuition award.
- Modest Virginia Army National Guard (VaARNG) Scholarships are awarded to current National Guard soldiers.
LUO also offers a payment plan.
Regent has a rundown of Institutional Aid, with info on:
- School of Education Financial Aid and the Selig Fellowship for Ed.S. and doctoral students who are willing to reside in Virginia Beach.
- Regent-Wide Endowed Scholarships—Christian leaders in the regions of eastern and southeast Asia should apply for the Hulford Scholarship.
- Church Matching Grant Program
- Corporate Partner Tuition Discounts for employees of certain companies and organizations (e.g. City of Virginia Beach).
Military & veterans can have a look at the section on Military Admissions & Aid. Active duty, reservists, veterans, and others receive a 25% discount on doctoral programs; spouses & dependents receive a 15% discount.
Shenandoah has created a section on Financial Aid for Incoming Graduate and Doctoral Students, with details on loans, the Cost of Attendance, Graduate Scholarships & Tuition Discounts, and Graduate Assistantships. In recent years, all Shenandoah University graduate education students received a substantial per credit tuition discount.
University of Virginia
On its Ed.D. program pages (e.g. Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction), the Curry School of Education and Human Development notes that departmental funding is available on a competitive basis to full-time on-the-ground Ed.D. students (i.e. assistantships and tuition remission/tuition adjustment). See the section on Financial Aid for Doctoral Students for more details.
Be sure to apply for any relevant Curry Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards (especially departmental ones)—there are plenty of opportunities for doctoral students. The Curry School also offers UVA Employee Funding. However, students enrolled in doctoral programs are not eligible for the PreK-12 educator tuition rate.
Virginia Commonwealth University
The School of Education (SOE) has a comprehensive section devoted to Financial Aid & Scholarships, which includes details on graduate assistantships for doctoral students and student employment for graduate students. Check with the program coordinator to see if Ed.D students are eligible for SOE graduate & doctoral scholarships. VCU employees can also examine the terms of the VCU Employee Tuition Benefit.
Virginia State University
VSU has some general advice on Financial Assistance for Graduates and the College of Graduate Studies has details on Graduate Assistantships, but we didn’t find a lot beyond those pages. When in doubt, talk to the program coordinator about award possibilities.
Start with the School of Education’s helpful section on Scholarships and Awards, which lists graduate program-specific scholarships in education. You can also use this section to find info on:
- College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Graduate Scholarships
- Graduate School Fellowships and Scholarships
- The Diversity Scholars Program
- Types of Aid for Graduate Students—According to the program pages, Ed.D. students are eligible for funding through assistantships.
- In-State Tuition Waivers
In particular, elementary education professionals should take a look at the Carol A. Brown Memorial Scholarship for current students of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. You can also check with the Bursar’s Office or program coordinator to see if Ed.D. students are eligible for the Reduced Tuition for K-12 Teachers in VA benefit.
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.
Licensure & Endorsement Requirements in Virginia
Administrative Licensure & Endorsement
- Administration & Supervision PreK-12 Endorsement: This is the typical credential for building-level leaders. In Section 620 of the Administrative Code, you’ll find a full list of endorsement requirements for both Level I and Level II.
- Division Superintendent License: This is the typical credential for superintendents. In Section 630 of the Administrative Code, you’ll find a full list of licensure requirements.
We’ve also provided short summaries below. You’ll notice that some Virginia superintendents earn an Ed.D. or Ph.D. in educational administration or leadership in order to fulfill the education requirement for licensure. Radford offers one such program.
Note: VDOE’s section on Licensure has reciprocity instructions for out-of-state candidates.
Administration & Supervision PreK-12 Level I Endorsement
The Level I endorsement is required to serve as a building-level administrator or central office supervisor in Virginia. To earn it, you must:
- Hold a master’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university.
- Complete a state-approved program in administration and supervision from a regionally-accredited college or university (e.g. M.Ed., Ed.S., graduate certificate, etc.).
- Complete a deliberately structured and supervised internship (minimum of 320 clock hours) that provides exposure to multiple sites (elementary, middle, high, central office, agency) with diverse student populations; this is often incorporated into the state-approved education program.
- Pass the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA); individuals who are interested in serving as central office instructional personnel are not required to take this test.
- Have three years of successful, full-time experience in a public school or accredited non-public school in an instructional personnel position that requires licensure in Virginia.
- Be recommended by a Virginia school division superintendent.
Note: The VDOE outlines alternate education routes to this endorsement in Section 620.
Administration & Supervision PreK-12 Level II Endorsement
Level II (Principal of Distinction) is an optional endorsement for experienced building-level administrators. To earn it, you must:
- Hold a Level I endorsement (unrestricted).
- Have successfully served as a building-level administrator for at least five years in a public school or accredited non-public school.
- Complete a formal induction program (or alternative activity) as a principal or assistant principal.
- Meet various performance criteria and submit a portfolio of evidence as proof.
- Be recommended by a Virginia school division superintendent.
Division Superintendent License
There are four pathways to the Division Superintendent License. In the first route, you must:
- Earn a doctorate degree in educational administration or educational leadership from a regionally accredited college or university.
- Have completed five years of educational experience in a public or an accredited non-public school; two of those years should be successful, full-time teaching experience at the preK-12 level and two should be in administration and supervision at the preK-12 level.
However, the three alternate routes don’t require a doctorate. Master’s graduates with an existing Administration & Supervision PreK-12 Level I Endorsement, experience in senior leadership positions, and/or valid out-of-state superintendent licensure should look at Section 630 carefully.
Educational Leadership Jobs in Virginia
Educational Leadership Career Outlook
The government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks employment & salary data for elementary & secondary school education administrators and postsecondary education administrators in every state. If you’d like a glimpse into the future, the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) issues Long and Short-Term Virginia Occupational Projections with the same search terms as the BLS (e.g. Education Administrators, Postsecondary).
Generally speaking, Virginia—like its neighbor, North Carolina—employs a substantial number of elementary & secondary school education administrators. Thanks to its strategic location, the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan area has some of highest employment levels of this category in the country. We also want to mention that the VDOE issues statistics & reports on public schools in Virginia, including School Quality Profiles and the Superintendent’s Annual Report. This will give you a microscopic view of your potential workplace.
Employment levels for Virginia postsecondary education administrators are also solid—the VEC is predicting this occupation to grow quite a bit in a ten-year period. Intriguingly, the Harrisonburg VA metropolitan area often has a dense concentration of jobs, possibly thanks to James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University, and Bridgewater College. You can view the entire higher education landscape by visiting the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and its section on Research & Statistics.
Educational Leadership Salaries
You’ll find annual mean wages for education administrators listed in BLS’s section on State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for Virginia. Compared to the rest of the nation, salaries for Virginia elementary & secondary school education administrators are healthy. You can find exact numbers in the VDOE’s section on Education Workforce Data & Reports, which provides links to Teacher Salary Reports. These annual reports include principal and assistant principal salaries, which are listed by public school.
It’s a similar wage story for Virginia postsecondary education administrators: good, if not outstanding. The real hotspot is the Charlottesville VA metropolitan area—this is often one of the highest paying areas for this occupation in the country. It’s also home to the University of Virginia, which may have something to do with this phenomenon. What’s more, Richmond Times-Dispatch keeps a close eye on State of Virginia Salaries, including employees of public colleges & universities. You can search by agency (i.e. university) and then by employee name.
Educational Leadership Job Boards
Regular job sites (e.g. LinkedIn, HigherEdJobs, SchoolSpring, Indeed, etc.) will advertise openings for educational leadership positions in Virginia. Here are a few more state-specific job sites that may prove more helpful.
- TeachVirginia lists Employment Opportunities for Virginia administrators, including principals, directors, deans, superintendents, and more.
- VAESP posts Job Opportunities for Virginia principals.
- VASSP posts Job Openings for middle & high school principals, superintendents, directors, and more.
- VASBO’s Career Center contains opportunities for Virginia school business officials.
- The Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS) maintains a Career Center with job listings.
- In its Careers section, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) lists job openings in community colleges.
Educational Leadership Organizations in Virginia
Educational Leadership Associations
- Virginia Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (VACRAO): VACRAO supports registrars, admission officers, and records administrators in Virginia colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education.
- Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals (VAESP): VAESP is a professional organization serving elementary & middle school principals and other education leaders.
- Virginia Association of School Business Officials (VASBO): VASBO is a statewide membership organization in Virginia for school business officials.
- Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (VASCD): VASCD is a membership organization dedicated to advancing excellence in Virginia’s schools. It’s a state affiliate of the ASCD. Members include teachers, superintendents, university professors, building leaders, teacher education students, and central office leaders.
- Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrations (VASFAA): VASFAA is an organization composed of financial aid professionals from all sectors of postsecondary education in Virginia.
- Virginia Association of School Personnel Administrators (VASPA): VASPA serves as the statewide hub for Virginia’s K-12 Human Resources professionals.
- Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS): VASS is a non-profit professional organization dedicated to the mission of providing leadership and advocacy for public education in Virginia.
- Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals (VASSP): VASSP is the seventh largest school administrators’ organization in the NASSP state affiliation network.
- Virginia Education Association (VEA): VEA is the largest organization of professional educators in Virginia. It has 50,000+ members who are involved in public schools. It’s a state affiliate of the NEA.
- Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA): VSBA is a voluntary, non-partisan organization of Virginia school boards. It often works closely with superintendents.
- Virginia School Counselor Association (VSCA): VSCA promotes excellence in the profession of school counseling. It provides member support through professional development, advocacy, leadership, accountability, and collaboration.
Educational Leadership Professional Groups
- Virginia Foundation for Educational Leadership (VFEL): VFEL is a non-profit organization that was created to link all education levels—preschool, elementary, middle, high school, and higher education—through a seamless system of leadership learning.
- Women Education Leaders in Virginia (WELV): WELV is a non-profit organization that supports women members in all areas of education in Virginia. It’s affiliated with the Curry School at UVA.
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 Virginia
Educational Leadership Conferences
- VAESP Annual Conference: Held in June, this three-day event for elementary & middle school educational leaders includes breakout session, keynotes, awards, and more.
- VASBO Conferences: VASBO hosts three networking & professional development events: a Fall Conference in November, a Winter Conference in January, and a Spring Conference in May.
- VASCD Annual Conference: This event in December attracts educators and educational leaders who are interested in issues surrounding learning, curriculum development, and school improvement.
- VASPA Conferences: VASPA hosts two professional development conferences for HR professionals and K-12 educational leaders each year: a Fall Conference in November and a Spring Conference in late April/early May. Its Educator Career Fairs are held concurrently.
- VASS Annual Fall Conference: VASS’s annual event for superintendents and district leaders typically occurs in late October.
- VASS-VASBO Annual Winter Conference: VASS also co-hosts a three-day event with Virginia school business officials in January.
- VASSP-VDOE-VFEL Annual Summer Conference: This four-day event for middle & high school principals and district leaders occurs in late June.
- VSBA Annual Convention: VSBA’s flagship event in November brings together 1000+ school board members, superintendents, and school division staff from across Virginia.
- VSBA Capital Conference: Each year in January, board members and superintendents meet at the Capitol when the General Assembly is in session to be briefed on education issues before the General Assembly and to learn effective lobbying techniques.
- VSBA School Law Conference: This annual event in early June provides an update on basic principles of school law and emerging issues. It attracts school board members, superintendents, and school board attorneys.
- WELV Annual Conference: WELV’s flagship event for women education leaders usually takes place over two days in March.
Educational Leadership Training
- VASS Professional Development: In addition to conferences, VASS organizes a range of workshops for superintendents and district leaders. Superintendents can also take advantage of the VASS Executive Coaching Service, the VASS/VA Tech Aspiring Superintendents Program, the VASS Communication Counselors on Call Service, the VASS Educational Services Review Program, and more.
- VASSP-VFEL Professional Program Series: Working with VDOE and VFEL, VASSP provides customized training programs for individual schools and school divisions.
- VFEL Professional Development Services: VFEL’s programs are intended to help school leaders strengthen their knowledge and abilities. Services include Mentoring & Coaching, the NISL Executive Development Program, Diagnostic Reviews & Consultations, short Law Updates Sessions, and more.
- VSBA Orientation for New Board Members, Superintendents and Vice-Chairs: This day-long conference is designed to give new board members and superintendents an overview of the basics of boardsmanship.
- VSBA Superintendent Evaluation Workshop: This workshop provides small group support to superintendents and board members who are responsible for updating their evaluation model.