Advanced college degrees in education may qualify an applicant for work at the district or administrative level, as well as for jobs at universities, and the difference between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. in the field of education may impact the educational route a student takes. Doctoral programs often lead to work in higher education, as well as research and study in the area of the doctor’s expertise. In the case of Ed.D. and Ph.D. degrees in education, there are some subtle differences of which prospective students should take note.
Terminal Degree Versus Professional Doctorate
A Ph.D. in Education is labeled a terminal degree because it’s the highest degree level offered in a given field. In most cases, a Ph.D. is a terminal degree, but some fields offer their terminal degrees at the professional level or as graduate degrees. For example, a Master of Fine Arts is a terminal professional degree, but a Master of Arts isn’t a terminal degree. Someone who earns an MA would likely need to continue into a Ph.D. program to reach terminal degree status. For students in Education programs, an Ed.D. is often viewed as a professional doctorate as well as a terminal degree, and this distinction and the career paths taken by each type of graduate will usually differ.
Careers in Academia Versus the Professional World
At their cores, a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is a terminal degree designed for individuals who want a career in research or academia, and a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) is a professional degree offered to mid-career or senior level administrators in education. Students may earn these degrees in part-time or full-time study, and most students will need at least five years or more to complete their degree. One of the primary differences students will experience in earning a Ph.D. in Education versus an Ed.D. is that work for Ph.D. graduates will usually involve more research while graduates of Ed.D. programs will tend to work in higher education rather than in research roles. Ed.D. graduates may work in district administration, organizational leadership roles, and may pursue jobs with titles like superintendent, principal, or director of education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that K-12 principals may reach a median wage of $94,390 a year. The BLS also reveals that college professors may earn an average median wage of $76,000 a year.
Curriculum Differences for Ed.D. and Ph.D. Programs
Any student who decides to pursue a doctorate will need to spend years earning their degree whether it’s a Doctor of Philosophy in Education or a Doctor of Education. The curriculum requirements of each program may cover the same topics, and the focus of each degree may even proceed in a similar, specific area of education. However, the Ed.D. program will usually feature workshops and implementation of educational programs within the community. Meanwhile, Ph.D. candidates will participate in internships and focus on conducting research while enrolled in the doctoral program. Some of the concentrations available to doctoral students include curriculum & instruction, educational leadership & management, and reading & literacy.
Related Resource: Top 20 Best Master’s in Educational Leadership Online
Since it can take years to earn a doctorate, it’s important for students to choose the best program for their career goals. Many Ph.D. programs and Ed.D. programs offer similar concentrations, and students may even take classes with doctoral candidates in other programs. The difference between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. in the field of education is significant enough that spending some time researching each may benefit the student’s ultimate career goals whether they rest in academia or the professional world.