If you know you want to work in an educational setting, it can be difficult to know which doctorate degree is right for you. The key question to ask yourself is this: What do you want to do in the academic environment you’ll be working in?
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in academia, a PhD (or a Doctorate of Philosophy) might be for you. This degree is theoretically oriented toward researchers and should enable you to do your own research and exploration in a given field of study.
If you want a more hands-on leadership role, a Doctorate in Education (EdD) might be a better fit for you. This degree is practically oriented toward candidates pursuing leadership roles in education, government agencies and nonprofits. This degree is also designed for candidates in the business world who are responsible for improving organizations through teaching and learning.
A Doctorate in Education (EdD) is a terminal degree with a focus on applying research and foundational knowledge to real world organizational, leadership and education issues. EdD programs prepare students for academic, administrative, clinical, professional or research positions in K-12 and higher education, civil service, private organizations or public institutions.
Rather than focusing on developing new research (as with a PhD program), EdD candidates use existing research to inform decisions around specific issues that lead to improved practices within their area(s) of study.
To earn a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) one must accomplish two things: Complete research to master a subject completely and extend the body of knowledge of that subject. Designed for people who plan on a career devoted to research (conducted anywhere from a university setting to a lab), a PhD is a thorough education in a subject as well as the study of how to approach studying it. More specifically, a PhD for educators might focus on the sociology of education, educational leadership and/or policy, childhood learning/cognitive development, or language and literacy, just to name a few specializations.
Rather than a desire to lead or manage organizations directly, PhD students are often more interested in driving change by contributing their knowledge and understanding in some of the following ways: conducting research that reshapes their field of expertise, altering political agendas or simply training the next generation of teachers to approach their craft from a new angle. Learn more about how a PhD can affect your career from teachers like Dr. Laz and Dr. Penny Ferguson.
Doctorate in Education Programs
Earn Your EdD Online From Baylor University
The Baylor EdD online prepares educators and development professionals to apply essential learning principles toward managing the dynamics of organizational change. Complete in three years.
Innovative learning practices grounded by faith- based values
An EdD delivered online from a renowned Texas-based institution
The program can be completed in 36 months, or on a flexible extended schedule
USC Rossier School of Education's online Doctor of Education (EdD) in Organizational Change and Leadership
Earn an EdD from USC Rossier School of Education; 3.0+ GPA required to apply. Designed for leaders with 6-10 years of experience. Accelerated track available.
Master’s not required
Live online classes
Drive innovation across industries
Earn your Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations Online from the University of Dayton
Master holders, earn your Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations online from the University of Dayton in as few as 3 years. 3.0+ GPA required to apply.
Live, online classes
Complete in 36 months
No GRE required
Earn an Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University's Peabody College
Pursue an Ed.D. online from top-ranked Vanderbilt University Peabody College. Master degree or 30 credit hours of graduate-level study required. Build advanced leadership skills in as few as 3 years.
Become an influential leader in your organization
Part-time or full-time schedules available
Complete your Ed.D. in as little as three years
EdD vs. PhD: Candidate Profiles
Doctorate in Education: A candidate with proven leadership experience who is looking for the next step in their career would be an ideal candidate for an EdD program. EdD programs prepare candidates to solve problems in a variety of settings including colleges and universities, K–12 schools and systems, private firms and/or nonprofits and government organizations.
This means that EdD holders can become executives in school districts, faculty at the university level, training supervisors in large and small businesses or Chief Learning Officers in large corporations.
PhD: Anyone who wants to be involved in a more study-based role (e.g., researchers, sociologists, etc.) instead of managing or overseeing others might want to consider a PhD over an EdD. Take someone with an interest in childhood development: A PhD candidate may seek to write papers that inform other educators about how children learn, experiment with new learning technology or change policies about how classrooms are run.
EdD vs. PhD: Coursework and Program Requirements
EdD: Common learing objectives embedded in the curriculum of a doctorate in education are: the application of theory to educational problem solving, training in viewing situations from different perspectives, and developing the ability to identify and eradicate discrimination and advocate for social justice.
In order to earn an EdD, most programs require the completion of 60 units. Some programs will give students credit when they have already earned a master’s degree.
PhD: Coursework for a PhD varies from program to program and is designed to provide candidates with an opportunity to specialize in their field of interest. Classes tend to cover all areas of a subject as well as tools you’ll need to do research and work with data (scientific method, statistics, theory). You’ll also be conducting your own projects, research, experiments and/or dissertation as part of earning your degree.
PhD programs often take 4 to 6 years to complete and require a dissertation or thesis to complete candidacy.