Ward's stooping back-post header nine minutes from time brought the Rams level, cancelling out Richard Keogh's first-half own goal.
After the same score at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, it was Bolton's second 1-1 draw in the east midlands in the space of three days and Dougie Freedman's side are still without an away win since November.
For Derby, it was a third stalemate in four outings and they have won just one of their last seven npower Championship matches.
Derby's highly-rated teenager Will Hughes missed his first game of the season with the groin strain that forced him off against Wolves on Saturday.
Michael Jacobs was recalled in the 17-year-old's absence, coming in on the left side of midfield, meaning Craig Bryson moved back into the middle of the park.
Bolton made four changes. One was enforced after Marcos Alonso was sent off at Forest, while Steve De Ridder, Mark Davies and Kevin Davies dropped down to the bench.
Samuel Ricketts, Chris Eagles, David Ngog and Craig Davies were restored to the starting line-up.
Early chances at either end saw Bolton captain Zat Knight block a goalbound effort from Ward before Adam Legzdins got down to his right to save easily from Ngog.
The next notable piece of action was when Kieron Freeman hobble off injured after 29 minutes. He was replaced at right-back by midfielder Ben Davies.
The former Notts County man was soon involved. Good build-up play between him and Paul Coutts resulted in Bryson guiding his downward header narrowly wide after meeting Coutts' cross on the run.
Ngog worked Legzdins again in the 37th minute but, once more, it was simple for the Derby goalkeeper.
Bolton edged ahead in added time at the end of the first half when Jay Spearing's inswinging free-kick from the right grazed the head of Keogh and the ball flew past the helpless Legzdins.
Ngog volleyed over the crossbar from just inside the area at the start of the second half.
Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan was called into action for the first time just before the hour mark. The Hungarian kept out Coutts' volley with a strong one-handed save low to his left.
Bogdan denied the same player again in the 70th minute. Coutts' shot was straight at him this time and he was helped out by his defenders after blocking the ball back into a crowded penalty area.
Derby were on top but just could not make the breakthrough. They came close again after 73 minutes when Conor Sammon's shot from inside the area on the left-hand side went just wide of the far post.
Substitute Theo Robinson then guided a volley straight into Bogdan's arms from 10 yards out.
However, from the next attack Ward arrived at the far post to guide a stooping header across Bogdan and into the bottom corner of the net from Jacobs' cross.
Derby's tails were up, they sensed a winner - and it almost came five minutes later but Bogdan stuck up a hand to keep out Robinson's close-range header.
That would have been harsh on Bolton though, and a draw was a fair result.