On this page

Back to top

The Shortest EdD Programs Online in 2024: Fast-Track Your Doctoral Education

The fastest online EdD programs exist to help working professionals like you take their careers to the next level in record time. Explore top schools, sample timelines, and more below.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

Marcella Ellsworth

Last updated

Feb 28, 2024

Are you ready to move into a leadership position within the field of education? Whether you have ambitions of becoming a superintendent, a school principal, or a university president, an online EdD can help you reach your professional potential. 

The fastest online EdD programs can help you elevate your expertise in a particular area or concentration and demonstrate to potential employers that you’re ready to climb the career ladder — all without the lengthy time commitment traditional programs demand. 

In addition to putting you on the fast track to more responsibility, accelerated online EdD programs equip you to make more money more quickly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who hold a doctorate degree earn approximately $94,000 a year; in fact as of 2022, postsecondary education administrators earn a median annual salary of $99,940 per year.

In this guide, we’ll offer insights into three of the shortest EdD programs online, a breakdown of what it takes to enroll in an accelerated degree program, a sample timeline, and more. Keep reading to learn more about what these programs entail and whether they’re right for you. 

Inside Insights: A Look at the Shortest EdD Programs Online

Finding the fastest online EdD program can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what else to look for — affordability, flexibility, accreditation, and concentration options are all great qualities to consider when searching for the right online program for you. We’ve highlighted three programs that excel in each of these categories to help you get started.

Lamar University

At Lamar University, you can earn your online EdD in just six semesters (approximately 18 to 24 months)—making it one of the shortest EdD programs online. 

Lamar University’s Online EdD Program offers two concentrations: Global Leadership and Educational Technology Innovation. In the Global Leadership track, students study to become education leaders who advocate for innovative change in local, national, and international settings. Students in the Educational Technology Innovation track design, implement, and assess technology-based projects and learn to apply them to curriculum standards. They also gain the critical leadership skills needed to complete the principal certification examination. 

To graduate, students in both tracks must complete a residency requirement of 18 consecutive semester hours in three consecutive semesters —most meet this requirement during their first year of study. 

All students in the doctoral program pay in-state tuition rates regardless of residency. Before additional fees, the 63-credit hour program costs a total of $22,647.87. 

Applicants must meet all the university’s admission requirements and complete a doctoral program application. Additionally, those whose Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are over five years old must retake the exam. 

National University

You can earn your EdD entirely online within 33 months through National University’s Online Doctor of Education Degree program. The convenience of this program begins with its application — National university does not require students to submit GMAT or GRE scores to be admitted into the program.

Over the course of the program, students learn to develop strategies, tactics, and policies to improve practice and ensure regulatory compliance within educational organizations — all with attention to issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, and ethical behavior. 

Students can choose from among 17 specialization options, including Curriculum and Teaching, Early Childhood Education, and English Language Learning. 

To graduate, students must complete 16 courses (48 credit hours). Upon completing the program, students are prepared to take on K-12 and postsecondary positions from educator to education administrator to training and development specialist, among others. 

In total, the program may cost an estimated $52,704. 

South College

The Doctor of Education program at South College is a competency-based program that students can complete in as few as two years by demonstrating master of each competency. The program’s innovative assessments allow students to focus their time and energy on subject matter that is new to them while testing out of coursework with which they are already familiar.

The program curriculum requires students to satisfactorily complete 10 courses — including a dissertation — over the course of 90 quarter hours. Students can choose from six different specializations, including Adult Learning and Development, Higher Education Leadership, and Organizational Leadership. 

Despite the accelerated, independent nature of the program, students are well-supported. A faculty mentor is always on-hand to provide one-on-one assistance to keep students on track to earning their degree. 

Applicants must complete a general admission application for South College, as well as an application for the EdD program. They must also demonstrate that they have earned a master’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.75. 

South College charges a flat tuition rate of $6,000 per six-month term. Residency is not a factor in determining tuition. 

Sample Timeline of Fast-Track EdD Programs Online

By design, the shortest EdD programs online are jam-packed with courses that would typically take three or more years to complete — all in approximately two years. These 54-60 credit programs are intense, and it can be difficult to imagine how exactly they unfold. That’s why we’ve created a general timeline that outlines the average schedule by year below.

6 Months Before

In the six months leading up to your first day of classes, you can and should complete whatever outstanding prerequisites you may have. Next, set yourself a realistic set of goals, expectations, and routines for the upcoming semester, communicate with your employer about any changes to your availability, and get organized. Doctoral programs, particularly accelerated ones, require you to juggle assignments and projects on tight deadlines — set yourself up for success by putting systems in place to help you do so. Finally, reach out to professors and advisors with any pressing questions or concerns you have.

First Year

During the first year of your accelerated online EdD program, you will likely enroll in 12 to 15 credit hours per semester in both foundational and advanced courses, some of which will be in your area of specialization. After solidifying your understanding of and ability to apply skills in research and writing, you will move on to advanced research design courses, in preparation for your dissertation or capstone project.

Second Year

By the fall of your second year, you will likely have completed the required classes in your chosen concentration area and enrolled in directed study dissertation advisement courses. Most universities require students to complete four dissertation courses. At National University, these include Applied Doctoral Introduction, Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Data Collection, and Applied Doctoral Manuscript. Similarly, Lamar University requires students to complete a minimum of 12 semester hours in dissertation courses.

Features of the Fastest Online EdD Programs

There’s a well-known phrase you may be familiar with: “Time is money.” This is especially true when you’re working toward earning your EdD online. The sooner you can complete a fast-track online EdD program, the sooner you can move up the employment ladder. This is why it’s important to know what to look for as you consider an accelerated degree. Here are a few key features of fast-track EdD programs:

Credit Transfer Options

Many online accelerated EdD programs allow students to transfer and apply a certain number of credits from other accredited institutions, shortening the amount of time it takes to complete the program. Others also allow students to receive credit for past work experience or professional licenses. 

For example, Franklin University lets students transfer up to 40% of the credits required to complete the 60-credit-hour EdD program, including credits earned through another master’s or doctoral program.

Flexible Schedule

Most accelerated EdD programs are offered online, meaning you can complete coursework on your schedule and at your pace. This means you can move more quickly through topics in which you have prior expertise and spend more time on topics that are new to you. 

Additionally, since most courses are offered asynchronously, you don’t need to adhere to set class times to access course material. 

Generous Funding Options

Accelerated online EdD programs with generous funding options give you the financial stability to focus more, if not all, of your time on completing your studies. Doing so can not only get you through your program faster, but also make your degree more affordable. 

Schools with a competency-based education model like the one at South College are particularly affordable because they offer subscription-based tuition rates that allow students to pay a flat tuition rate for six months. You can apply for federal aid, grants, and scholarships to further ease the financial burden of completing your EdD online. 

Summer Sessions

Enrolling in summer sessions can give you the opportunity to complete courses that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to during the year. This can help you progress through the program and earn your degree more quickly. 

Additionally, enrolling in a summer session would give you time to focus on the coursework without the typical distractions of a regular academic year. 

Is an Accelerated Degree Right for You?

Completing an online accelerated EdD program is tedious work, but for those capable of handling the pace and intensity, they are worth it in the end. To help determine whether an accelerated degree is right for you, ask yourself whether this kind of program is uniquely suited to meet your needs and whether you possess the skills to succeed — we’ve written a checklist of some of these needs and skills below to help you get started.

You Need an Adaptable Learning Format

Just because a program is accelerated, doesn’t mean you’ll have less work to do. In fact, you’ll need to complete the same amount of coursework as a traditional EdD program, but within a condensed timeframe. 

Furthermore, most online accelerated programs offer classes asynchronously, meaning you will set your own pace. This means you’ll need to motivate yourself to complete assignments and exams within set deadlines. Without this motivation, it can be easy to fall behind and become overwhelmed. 

You’re Highly Motivated

Just because a program is accelerated, doesn’t mean you’ll have less work to do. In fact, you’ll need to complete the same amount of coursework as a traditional EdD program, but within a condensed timeframe.

Furthermore, most online accelerated programs offer classes asynchronously, meaning you will set your own pace. This means you’ll need to motivate yourself to complete assignments and exams within set deadlines. Without this motivation, it can be easy to fall behind and become overwhelmed.

You’re Looking to Advance Your Career Quickly

Most accelerated online EdD programs can be completed in approximately two years — markedly shorter than many traditional EdD programs, which can take three or more years to complete. Gwynedd Mercy University, for instance, offers an online, accelerated EdD program that takes just two years and eight months to complete.

If you’re anxious to climb the career ladder quickly and can handle the intensity of a program that prepares you to do so, then an accelerated online EdD is for you. 

You Want a Practical and Applied Focus

Most accelerated programs offer specializations that prioritize practical, career-based material that equips students with skills they can apply directly within the field. If you have your heart set on pursuing a niche or other advanced career in the field of education, an accelerated online EdD can help you cut through the noise and delve deeper into a specific subject area. 

The online EdD program at National University offers numerous areas of concentration including specializations in curriculum and teaching, E-Learning, and early childhood education, among others.

Even if an accelerated online EdD program isn’t for you, knowing you want to take a more practical approach to your education can help you choose a program that is and concentrate on relevant coursework, research, and training.