Choosing an Ed.D. or Ph.D. in Education – Learn the difference between earning an Ed.D. or Ph.D. in education.
Though there are often similarities in coursework, Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) programs tend to be more focused on theory and scholarship, while Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) programs focus on administrative leadership.
Both programs focus on research and solving problems, but the Ph.D. prepares students to generate new theories for understanding educational problems, while the Ed.D. aims to teach students how to apply non-theoretical solutions to the complex problems and challenges that education administrators face daily.
For those who want to become a university professor, a Ph.D. is the way to go. For those seeking leadership positions in an educational institution, school district, nonprofit organization, government agency or the private sector, an Ed.D. is the better option.
Though certainly not true in every case, oftentimes Ed.D. students are working a full-time, professional job while engaged in their studies. It’s not uncommon to have an Ed.D. class or cohort of students who all hold prominent administrative or professional positions, giving students an opportunity to learn from each other about what works in their field.
Many universities offer graduate programs in education. Individuals wanting to elevate their career, earn an advanced degree beyond a master’s and open doors to more job opportunities within the field of education should consider pursuing an Ed.D. or Ph.D.
One of the first decisions a student will need to make is the choice between applying for a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in education. So which one should a student choose?
Both are doctoral degrees
A Ph.D. and Ed.D. in education are both doctoral degrees. The one a student chooses will significantly affect their graduate school experience and career.
The decision between these two culminating degrees can be career-defining as each serves a vastly different purpose despite being equivalent in level. To ensure a student chooses the path that best aligns with their future career goals, it is important to take the time to first understand the differences in program curriculum, learn about the benefits of each program, and discover future career opportunities that relate to each degree.
What is an Ed.D. in Higher Education?
Before deciding between an Ed.D. vs. Ph.D., it is important to understand the meaning of a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). The degree is well suited for seasoned educational leaders and executives in a variety of fields designed to prepare individuals to establish positive change in governments, corporations, nonprofits, and school systems. Common Ed.D. specializations include organizational change, leadership, administration, and workplace learning.
A Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) is degree oriented towards professionals who want to learn to use educational leadership skills. Combining both research and application, the Ed.D. applies to a broad range of industries inside and outside of the world of education. In other words, this degree aims at creating highly experienced educators who want to bring productive changes to an organization.
Benefits of an Ed.D. in Higher Education
There are many benefits of a doctoral degree in education. An advanced education degree can help individuals stay competitive in their field while preparing them for a variety of administrative roles. Another benefit of earning an Ed.D. is students get the opportunity to explore a targeted area of interest and learn strategies for addressing social challenges through their dissertation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graduates with a doctoral degree may earn an average salary that approaches six figures.
What is a Ph.D. in Higher Education?
A Doctor in Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is similarly the highest degree an individual can earn in the field. A Ph.D. in education qualifies students primarily for research and teaching positions. Students learn to find gaps in existing research, contextually interpret relevant literature for posing new hypotheses, and produce new original research.
Benefits of a Ph.D. in Higher Education
There are many benefits to pursuing a Ph.D. in education. Students will learn to enhance their research skills and hone their technical abilities. A Ph.D. also gives students the opportunity to conduct research in an area that interests them, making their own discoveries and contributions to knowledge in the process.
Similarities Between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D.
Looking at the degrees side-by-side, there are some clear similarities. An Ed.D. and a Ph.D. are the highest level of education an individual can achieve in their field of study. Both degrees take several years to complete, typically 3–4 years for an Ed.D. and 5–7 for a Ph.D., depending on the area of interest and research. Both an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. require a significant amount of research and writing. To earn either degree, students must complete a dissertation after completing initial coursework, which requires extensive research and a detailed manuscript presenting a student’s research objectives, methods, and results.
Differences Between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D.?
While there are many similarities between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D., there are also some key differences. One of the main differences is that an Ed.D. is geared more toward practical application or research, while a Ph.D. is typically more focused on theoretical research. Another difference is that an Ed.D. can typically be earned in a shorter amount of time than a Ph.D. If students are interested in pursuing a career in education administration or leadership, then an Ed.D. might be the right choice.
On the other hand, if a student is more interested in conducting research and teaching at the college level, then a Ph.D. in education might be a better fit. Ultimately, deciding which degree to pursue depends on a student’s specific goals and interests. Both an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. in education can lead to rewarding careers in education, administration, government, and even leadership. Students are encouraged to speak with faculty and investigate which degree program makes the most sense for meeting their professional goals.