Differences Between Ph.D. Ed. and Ed.D. Degree Programs
Educators interested in getting a research or terminal degree in their field have two main program choices: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education or Doctor of Education (EdD). There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of programs – the type you should attend depends on your education and your ultimate career goals.
Doctor of Philosophy in Education
PhD programs in education are great for students who want to go into research or teacher education. There’s a lot of flexibility with this type of degree, as you can focus your education on the topic that most interest you within the academic field, such as special education research, educational theory, or student feedback. After you graduate, you’ll be prepared to work studying educational processes or teaching at the college level. A small percentage of students also tailor their PhD program to focus on more practical educational skills so that you’re prepared to work as a educational administrator when you graduate (such as a curriculum developer or school superintendent).
The main advantage of earning a PhD is the level of versatility you have both during your education and after you graduate. If you have a specific passion within the educational world, a PhD allows you to explore that passion. Even after you graduate, you can continue learning; most college professors still do research projects, publish papers, and otherwise continue studying in their field of interest. A PhD, in other words, is great for students who want to be students for the rest of their lives.
Doctor of Education
Earning an EdD allows you to take a more practical role in the educational world. Students who choose EdD programs rather than PhD programs typically go on to become administrators or work in other educational leadership positions. There’s obviously some overlap here; with a flexible EdD program, you can also tailor your education to focus more on research, which allows you to take a more academic approach, similar to a PhD program. With an EdD, you can choose a specific broader topic as well in some cases (such as Psychology), or you can simply choose to focus on education itself, learning more about topics that are also available to PhD students, such as educational theory.
The main advantage to an EdD program over a PhD program is that you’ll focus less on research projects, instead concentrating on practical skills you can use in the workforce. With a PhD program, you certainly get to explore more academic areas, this doesn’t always translate to education that will actually help you in your career.
Building Your Resume with a Doctorate Degree
Both a PhD and an EdD will help you qualify for top jobs in the world of education. However, for some students, earning a PhD makes more sense based on the prestige of this kind of program.
Practically speaking, PhDs and EdDs are equal. While one type of degree is slightly better for researchers/educators and the other type of degree is slightly better for practitioners, they are both extremely demanding programs requiring tons of work from students. PhD degrees are older, so some people still give more merit to this type of education on a resume than an EdD, but as more and more colleges start to offer EdD programs, this perception is changing.
Something important to remember is that certifications and honors often mean as much as the degree itself. While earning a PhD or EdD, take as many educational opportunities as you can so that your can build your resume with a high GPA, published papers, strong recommendations from your professors, and more.
How a degree looks on your resume also depends on the school you attend. If you earn your PhD or EdD from a top school in the field of education, it should matter less to employers as much which degree you earn. Harvard has the oldest EdD program in the United States, but there are another great programs out there.
Doctorate Degree Work and Cost
When it comes to the amount of work you have to do to graduate, PhD programs and EdD programs run neck and neck. It depends on the college you attend and the type of research you do, but most programs last three to six years. You’ll start with two to three years of classes, followed by two to three years of working on a dissertation or research project. Some students take even longer, working on a part-time basis. In terms of cost, PhD programs and EdD programs are also equal.