Postsecondary & Adult Education PhD in Education

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Be a leader in higher education

Expand your qualifications to teach at the college level. Our online PhD in Education, Postsecondary, and Adult Education degree prepares you to lead in a variety of post-secondary education settings, including adult education, distance education, continuing higher education, health care education, community development, and military education. You'll study major theories of adult learning, the needs of the multicultural adult learner, the development of effective learning communities and environments, critical analysis, program and curricular evaluation, and best practices. 

At a Glance

  • Online & in-person
  • 6 Core courses
  • 6 Specialization courses
  • 5 Elective courses
  • 3 Residencies
  • Comprehensive exam
  • Dissertation

Reduce your tuition by 30%

Enroll in an eligible program and apply for our Front Line Heroes Discount to save 30% on your doctoral degree.

Apply now »

Classes Start November 9th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

$50 application fee (waived w/promo FALL20).

What you’ll learn

Educate adult learners

Create processes and teaching methods that engage and educate adults.

Create new knowledge

Perform relevant, high-quality, scholarly research to empirically investigate ways to solve a real-world problem.

Become a leader

Provide vision and direction in adult-serving post-secondary education and community settings.

Maintain ethics

Uphold professional ethical standards and socially responsible behavior.

Our unique doctoral structure

Our PhD in Education, Postsecondary and Adult Education program is designed to remove roadblocks for you and demystify the dissertation process. This unique approach centers on supporting you in three ways: through program structure, a dedicated faculty and support team, and online resources. To help generate momentum toward graduation, you’ll begin your dissertation early in the program. Our faculty, support team, and online resources will help guide you every step of the way.

PhD in Education, Postsecondary and Adult Education program features

Our program offers additional benefits you might be interested in.

Become a scholar-practitioner

Gain advanced skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, and research.

Cost & learning format

Online education isn’t one-size-fits-all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

A more structured learning format with an active peer community and faculty guidance. We’ll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$745 per credit, 92 total quarter credits, 16 max transfer credits

Get the details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Ways to save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

Transfer credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools.


There are a variety of need-based federal grants available to help pay for tuition and costs.

$20K toward your doctorate

Apply for a $20K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help you fund your doctoral degree.

Accredited & recognized

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

PhD in Education sample courses

Coursework in our PhD in Education, Postsecondary, and Adult Education program focuses on current theory and research in adult education. It includes instructional models and assessment strategies—all built around increasing achievement in adult learners. The program includes dissertation research seminars which allow you to get an early start on your dissertation.

Show course with description
International and Multicultural Perspectives in Postsecondary and Adult Education

In this course, learners develop the international and multicultural skills and understandings necessary to become culturally competent adult educators in their specialization. Learners define cultural competence for their professional role, learn to address the needs of diverse learners, foster intercultural learning in the classroom or other educational settings, and develop strategies for incorporating relevant international and multicultural perspectives into their curriculum, instructional activities, and assessments. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Faculty Leadership

Learners in this course assess the role of educational leadership in higher education. Learners examine faculty leadership, explore ways to build effective relationships and lead ethically, and assess leadership effectiveness based on theory and self-reflection. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer or prior learning assessment.

4 quarter credits
Curriculum Development and Teaching Strategies for Adult Learning

This course focuses on the evaluation and development of curriculum for adult learners. Learners in this course incorporate trends, theories, models, various instructional strategies, and technology as employed in designing 21st-century learning. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer or prior learning assessment.

4 quarter credits
Teaching Adults

This course presents best practices of higher education teaching. Learners evaluate multiple teaching models and strategies and their underlying theoretical and research bases. Learners also examine cultural influences on teaching and learning; identify ways to incorporate technology into the teaching-learning process; and assess their teaching dispositions and educational philosophy. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits

Postsecondary and Adult Education Career Insights

Quick Guide to EdS, EdD, and PhD Degrees

Compare advanced degree options for K-12 educators, including Doctor of Education and Education Specialist degrees.

Quick Guide to Advanced Degrees for Careers in Higher Ed

Compare advanced degree and certificate program options for higher education administrators and professionals.

Postsecondary and Adult Education professional paths

Here are just some of the career options you could explore with our online postsecondary and adult education doctoral degree.

Related job titles to explore*

  • Dean
  • Provost
  • Community college president
  • Academic affairs vice president
  • Director of grant writing
  • Full-time faculty of education courses
  • Director of non-profit organization
  • Director of training and development

Employment settings to explore

  • Community college
  • Vocational school
  • Military education
  • Land-based or online college or university
  • Corporation
  • Continuing education program
  • Adult education program
  • Non-profit educational programs
  • Governmental educational organizations

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Other programs to explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.

Educational Leadership

Doctor of Education

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