Doctorate in Education Programs

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Below is a comprehensive listing of accredited Doctorate-level (EdD, PhD) Education programs from schools across the US. There’s an impressive array of specializations available in these advanced programs, and they can serve as a springboard into a number of exciting, challenging careers within the education field.

The Doctorate of Education or Ed.D program is designed to prepare scholars and leaders in teaching, policy construction and professional practice. Ed.D graduates have the knowledge and advanced research skills to make positive impacts on the delivery and quality of educational programs. There are several opportunities for those who have achieved an Ed.D, including roles as members of university faculty, policymakers, researchers and educational leaders in public and private areas of learning.

Earning your Ed.D can boost your career in education to the top levels of the field. Our goal is to make it simple for you to connect with schools and request information. Use our free directory and resources to make the best decision. Contact multiple schools to compare the benefits of several programs to make sure can achieve learning outcomes that align with your goals in education.

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School Profiles

Below, EducationDegree.com interviews Dr. James Spillane, Chair and Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University, Dr. Martin Howell, Dean for Academic & Student Affairs at the University of Washington, and Dr. Clifford Hofwolt of Vanderbilt University's Peabody College about their schools' doctorate in education programs.


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What Degrees/Specialties are Available?

There are two types of doctorate in education degrees. The one you choose depends upon your career goals. A Doctorate in Education (EdD) focuses on the practical applications of educational research. This degree is appropriate for individuals who wish to work as school superintendents, curriculum directors, educational policy makers, or researchers.




A Doctorate of Philosophy in Education (PhD) is theory-based and stresses research that expands the existing body of knowledge in the field. This degree is appropriate for individuals who seek careers as university professors, teacher educators or educational theorists.

Colleges and universities offer doctorate in education programs online and in traditional campus settings.

Individuals pursuing a doctorate in education may choose from any number of specializations including:

  • Educational Leadership
  • Information Technology
  • Adult Education
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Educational Psychology
  • Special Education
  • Higher Education/Community College Leadership

What Are the Program Requirements?

Students who wish to pursue a doctorate in education must be committed to a lengthy course of study. According to a research report by the Council of Graduate Schools, the median number of years between starting graduate school and earning a doctorate in education was 12.7 years in 2007-2008.

Prospective doctoral students must have a master’s degree in education or its equivalent to qualify for admission to a program. Most programs also require qualifying scores on the Graduate Record Examination, letters of recommendation, and a sample of the applicant’s professional writing such as a master’s thesis.

Program structure and coursework varies depending upon the institution and the chosen specialty. However, most doctoral programs require 60 or more units of study.

According to American Graduate Education, doctoral programs are usually divided into three stages. The first stage involves taking core courses and laboratory studies as well as passing a series of written examinations called "comprehensives." The second stage consists of advanced seminars in order to select a dissertation (independent research) topic and develop a research design. The third stage consists of conducting independent research and writing the dissertation. Once the dissertation is completed, the doctoral candidate must defend his or her research in an oral examination in front of a panel of academic advisors.

Online Doctorate in Education Programs

If your professional goals extend beyond the classroom, and you eventually want a position in school or district leadership, then an online doctorate in education program might be a good fit for you.

An online doctorate in education may prepare you for a career in leadership, organizational training and education, or curriculum design.

The chief benefit of online degrees is the convenience they afford. Some programs require short residencies in addition to the online work, while others offer degrees that can be completed entirely offsite. In either case, you'll have more freedom to learn at your own pace and around your own schedule while pursuing an online education doctorate degree.

One drawback to earning an education degree online is that they give students less face time with instructors. It's important to know your learning style. If you're a self-starter who thrives on your own, then an online degree program might be right for you. However, if in-class discussion is important to your learning, a more traditional doctorate program might be a better fit.

An online doctorate program is a big commitment. The degree can take several years to complete. It's important to thoroughly research any online doctorate degree program you're considering. Online programs haven't been around as long as most brick-and-mortar universities, and many are still establishing their reputations. Check with people you trust, such as administrators in your district, and ask if they think the programs you're considering will help you reach your professional goals. If you eventually want to be a superintendent or school principal, check around online to see if the programs you're considering have alumni in those roles. If a program hasn't launched people on career paths that you hope to one day follow, then it might not be right for you.

Benefits of Earning Your Doctorate in Education

Ed.D candidates are education-career minded and decide which specialty to focus on in their major before committing to a program of study. Concentrations are defined in several fields of education for Ed.D studies and several specialty areas offered are defined as follows:

  • Adult Education
  • Leadership, Administration and Education Policy
  • Psychology and Education
  • Quantitative Research Analysis
  • Curriculum Research Design
  • Nursing Education
  • Special Education Studies

Your program may consist of rigorous research training that provides graduates with high level skills and knowledge to impact education and influence academic excellence. Your program of study will dictate core courses in addition to general classes that provide perspectives to solving complex educational problems. The following courses may be included in an Ed.D program of study:

  • Educational leadership is an introduction to defining objectives for the current trends and issues that impact education today in your area of concentration. The focus is on defining purposes of education and providing problem solving strategies. Students also discuss philosophy, self-assessment of their individual values and their goals, commitments and values.
  • Advanced leadership in educational systems provides students with an overview of the concepts and requirements needed to successfully manage and develop education programs for systems, populations or communities.
  • Advanced research and learning theories are applied to organizational theory as it applies to school systems or governmental agencies.
  • Curriculum and instructional reform include the design of educational materials that consider theories of cognition, learning, assessment and professional development for school systems that include diverse populations and multicultural influences.

Career Options for Ed.D Graduates

As a scholar and educational leader, you can have limitless lucrative opportunities to assist in the organization, management and positive influences of complex systems in educational settings. Tenure tracks for faculty members in universities and school systems will be available to Ed.D graduates. For those who specialize in health and psychology, mental health and hospital facilities or organizations require facility policies, system reform and management of educational curriculum. Other areas of career options include the following:

  • Adult Education Specialist in public and private schools or corporations
  • Professor of Special Education in universities and school systems
  • Research and Education Program Director in public, private and nonprofit sectors
  • Director of Online Learning Programs for the design of curriculum and programs
  • Education Counseling and Academic Advisor for students, faculty or school systems
  • Professor of Health and Physical Education in hospitals, school systems or organizations
  • Director of Educational Programs for corporations, universities or nonprofit organizations

New Challenges for Graduates

As an education leader and scholar in your field, you can have access to excellent positions that reflect your high level of knowledge and expertise. As an Ed.D graduate, you will create the future of education and help construct the changes in education reform. In Harvard Magazine, a professor in leadership explains the new trends and changes needed in education for administration and faculty that is related to education reform. For those who are ready for the challenges of preparing educators as the agent of change, many opportunities will be available for graduates that are prepared with a doctorate in education.

Increase your upward mobility in the field of education by earning your EdD. Request information from the featured schools below that accepts students in your area. Many online programs help busy professionals and adult learners continue their career trajectory without putting their professional lives on hold.

Featured Online Doctorate in Education Programs

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