Earning a PhD in Educational Technology Online

Browse our ranking of the top online PhD in educational technology programs in the country, and learn how to take your next steps to a better career in educational technology today.

Should I Pursue a Ph.D. in Educational Technology Online?

Ideal for experienced educators, educational technology specialists, and instructional designers, earning a doctorate in educational technology online can prepare professionals for leadership positions in the field. Schools, colleges, and companies need educational technology experts. Educators constantly work to integrate the latest technology and digital media into their instruction, and an increasing number of institutions now offer courses online. Along with school settings, educational technology professionals can work in any industry that uses technology to train employees or customers.

Professionals who enjoy using technology to enhance teaching and learning should consider earning a Ph.D. in educational technology to advance their career. A doctorate in the field qualifies professionals to design and manage instructional technology systems and to oversee the work of instructional designers and programmers. Pursuing the degree online allows learners to progress through the curriculum according to their schedule and can save time and money compared to on-campus programs.

Employment Outlook for Ph.D. in Educational Technology Graduates

After earning a doctorate in educational technology online, graduates can qualify for leadership roles in the field. With the continuing growth of online learning and instructional technology, employers in nearly every industry need educational technology experts. The section below includes information about common careers for graduates, including salary expectations.

Ph.D. in Educational Technology Careers

For individuals passionate about using the latest technology to enhance teaching and learning, earning a doctorate in educational technology online can lead to a variety of leadership positions in instructional design and technology. Educational technology professionals help design educational products and services, create workplace training programs, and use technology to improve educational access and outcomes. Doctoral degree holders often pursue the positions below.

Curriculum Developer

Annual Median Salary: $64,450

Curriculum developers design or select the lessons and materials instructors use to teach a particular topic. These professionals typically specialize in a certain content area. Curriculum developers with expertise in educational technology may advise schools and teachers on ways to incorporate technology into their instruction.

E-Learning Specialist

Annual Median Salary: $56,257

These specialists need expertise in educational technology, learning theories, communications, and instructional design. These professionals develop, assess, improve, and manage online courses and workplace training programs. E-learning specialists work in a variety of settings, and those with graduate degrees often assume responsibility for large projects or multiple course offerings.

Learning Management System Administrator

Annual Median Salary: $56,665

These administrators use their understanding of online learning platforms and other forms of educational technology to manage the software systems instructors use to deliver educational content. Learning management system administrators often work for companies, schools, and universities.

User Interface Designer, Educational Apps

Annual Median Salary: $64,089

These designers apply knowledge of graphic design, human-computer interaction, and educational theory to design the user experience of educational apps. User interface designers typically work as part of a software development team, and those with a doctorate may lead teams and projects.

What Can I Expect From an Online Ph.D. in Educational Technology Program?

Online doctoral programs in educational technology require different courses, according to each school's curriculum and the student's concentration. All programs, however, prepare students for leadership positions within the educational technology field. Although course requirements vary, most educational technology programs require the courses below.

Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Educational Technology

Leadership in Educational Technology

Students gain the leadership skills necessary to implement instructional technologies in schools and organizations. Learners gain abilities related to team building, resource management, instructional needs assessment, and program evaluation. Coursework may also cover education policies related to technology, organizational change management, and current research findings.

Topics in Educational Technology

This course provides an advanced overview of current trends and hot topics in education technology research. Students explore legal and ethical issues, including diversity, equal access, and the impact of emerging technologies. Learners also identify topics for further research and exploration.

Educational Technology Systems Design

Students learn to design, implement, and assess educational technology systems that maximize student engagement and learning. Learners explore topics like setting goals, stakeholder engagement, system design models, and evaluation strategies.

Instructional Design

Educational technology doctoral candidates may take one or more courses in instructional design. These classes teach students to employ learning theories, design models, and digital media to develop online courses. Students prepare to conduct needs assessments, design learning modules to meet these needs, and evaluate the success of modules.

Research Methods

Doctoral candidates typically take several research courses in preparation for their dissertation. These courses provide an understanding of statistical research methods, experimental design, and statistical analysis.

Certifications and Licenses a Ph.D. in Educational Technology Prepares For

  • Certified Education Technology Leader: K-12 educational technology specialists with at least four years of experience can earn this credential to demonstrate leadership abilities. Applicants must pass a two-part exam that tests mastery of essential skills in educational technology.
  • Certified Professional in Learning and Performance: Training and development professionals with at least one year of university training and four years of experience can pursue this professional credential. Candidates must pass certification exams that cover 10 areas of expertise.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Professional organizations provide graduate students, job seekers, and professionals with networking opportunities, career services, and resources. Membership in a professional association offers many benefits and demonstrates commitment to the profession. These groups often advocate on behalf of members at the state and federal levels and keep members informed about policies relevant to professionals in the field. Many professional organizations offer continuing education programs and certifications that help job seekers stand out.

  • Association for Educational Communications and Technology: This professional association hosts meetings and an annual conference. AECT publishes an educational technology journal for instructional designers and other educational technology specialists. Members can join special interest divisions, including a graduate student assembly.

  • Educause: This nonprofit offers networking opportunities for information technology professionals in higher education. Educause provides scholarships and a variety of resources, including career services, mentoring, and a research center.

  • International Association for K-12 Online Learning: This association advocates at the state and federal levels for competency-based education. iNACOL offers resources that include reports and research briefs and organizes an annual conference.

  • International Society for Technology in Education: This membership organization provides resources related to educational technology, including digital learning standards. ISTE also offers leadership and policy summits, an annual conference, and a professional certification.

  • State Educational Technology Directors Association: This association of state educational technology leaders advocates for policies that use technology to enhance learning. SETDA publishes reports and press releases, offers professional development opportunities, and hosts annual conferences and other events.

  • American Educational Research Association: This association promotes educational research by sponsoring research projects and publicizing research findings. AERA offers professional development opportunities for researchers, and the organization advocates for policies promoting educational research.

  • IEEE Technical Committee on Learning Technology: This professional committee provides a bulletin and other resources for learning technology specialists. TCLT sponsors events and awards for professionals and researchers in the field.

  • New Horizons for Learning EdTech Resource Database: This website provides access to educational technology tools and resources, along with an avenue to share ratings to benefit other educators. Site visitors can search for tools by grade level or content area.

  • Online Learning Consortium: This nonprofit organization provides professional development, conferences, publications, and awards for higher education professionals. The consortium fosters collaboration and networking among digital learning leaders at the college level.

  • U.S. Office of Educational Technology: This federal office provides resources and information about government policies and programs related to educational technology. This information benefits developers, educators, and the public. Available resources include toolkits, policy briefs, and blog posts.