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What is the Difference Between EdD and PhD in Education?

Are you looking to further your education in the field of education but can't decide what type of program to choose? Look no further for the answers to your questions. After obtaining your Master's Degree in Education, you have a couple of different choices if you choose to continue to a doctoral degree; a PhD in Education or an EdD.

Knowing the key differences between these two Doctoral degrees in Education can help you decide which path is best for you. While both degrees focus on higher learning in the field of education, each has different curriculum requirements, different foci and can lead to different types of jobs after graduation.

pen and paper with phd in teaching written

Should I Get a Doctorate in Education? What are the Differences in EdD and PhD Curriculum?

The most important difference to point out between a PhD in Education and an EdD is the focus of curriculum in each program. While both degrees focus on a higher level of education beyond a master's degree, the PhD is typically used by educators who want to continue teaching. The PhD in Education program focuses on furthering your knowledge as an educator and conducting research that enhances the profession and educational system as a whole.

In both Doctoral programs, courses can cover curriculum development and ways to improve learning in the classroom. As your coursework progresses, PhD in Education programs generally require work that is conducted outside of the traditional classroom, whereas EdD programs generally only require in-classroom work. If you are working towards your EdD, you will likely study curriculum geared towards solving problems in the educational system as an administrator or trainer and much of the focus will be on the application of your knowledge base to systems of learning.

There are a few curriculum differences in the two courses of study. While both degrees require a set number of hours and a cumulative project, often projects for Ed. D. programs consist of workshops and research in the community, such as implementing a program in a classroom and reporting the findings. Meanwhile, since the goal of a Ph. D. in education is to continue teaching and researching, generally, teaching-related internships and research are required along with a dissertation to obtain your degree.

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Difference in Career Choices Between EdD and PhD Degree Holders

Knowing the difference between a Ph. D. in education and an Ed. D. is important in deciding which path in education you would most enjoy. Both a Ph. D. in education and an Ed. D. are intended to extend a teacher's knowledge and practice in education, but have difference in where the knowledge is extended. You can typically specialize in both Doctorate in Education programs, depending upon the segment of the population or area of educational study you plan to use your degree in.

Common specialization tracks for both degree types can include:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Special Education
  • Adult Education
  • Teacher Leadership
  • Curriculum, Instruction and Learning
  • Leadership

If you choose to pursue the Ed.D. route, you may also choose to specialize in different leadership tracts such as Administrative Leadership, Higher Education Leadership, Reading and Literacy Leadership or College Teaching and Learning. The Ph.D. in education specialties you can choose from include Educational Technology or Global and Comparative Education.

What Can I Do With A Ph.D In Education?

If you work towards your Ph.D. in education, you will usually look to seek employment as a college professor, so you should want to teach and conduct research at the collegiate level. On the other hand, if you work towards your Ed.D., you will likely seek a position in administration or as a community or district-wide leader, implementing goals to improve schools or curriculum in your area.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, postsecondary teachers in 2017 made a median salary of $76,000 per year, with postsecondary education administrators bringing home an average of $92,360 per year.

Both degrees require research in your intended field as well as the defense of a dissertation before your peers. With either doctorate degree you could work toward becoming the next school board executive, education researcher, or policy maker. If you find yourself asking what can you do with a Ph.D. in Education, you only need to use your own imagination and drive for success to find the answer.

Taking the time to research your options for study thoroughly is an important first step when it comes to choosing a doctoral program in education. We suggest requesting education Ph.D. program details from each of the schools you are interested in to begin. Once you review the different specialty tracts available at each school, along with curriculum and cost information, you should be well prepared to decide which Doctorate in Education programs you'd like to apply to.

Now that you know more about the curriculum, careers and earning potential for education Ph.D. and Ed.D. graduates, you're ready to educate others! You may just find yourself the winner of the next daily double when Alex Trebek gives the answer in the education category: "One of the most compelling ways to elevate your learning, this degree program is for teachers who want to complete their education and become thought leaders in the field." You, of course, ring in and answer: "What is Ph.D. in education?" for the big win!