Ph.D. vs. Ed.D., Which One is Right For You?
Back in 2005, I entered an Ed.D. program at Jackson State University. After weighing all of the benefits of the Ph.D. and the Ed.D., I decided that pursuing the Ed.D. was the best decision for me. The choice between the two degrees is an important one, as each can be career-defining. To chose the path that aligns with your career goals, you must take some time to learn about and reflect on each degree and the career opportunities that correlate with each degree.
Is this short piece, I will discuss the differences between the two degrees, so you can make an informed decision.
The PH.D. vs. the ED.D.
A Ph.D. in education is designed to help students prepare for teaching and research careers. An Ed.D. in education, by contrast, is designed for educators who would like to pursue education leadership roles. In the next two sections we will illustrate the defining features of each degree.
The Ed.D. in education
An Ed.D., or Doctor of Education, is a terminal degree that is tailored to meet the unique needs of veteran educators and administrators that would like to take on education leadership roles.They work in a diverse array of fields ranging from K-12 and higher education to healthcare, the government, and the military. The Ed.D. is for practitioners that not only want to do research in the field of education but in turn, use that research to influence educational law and policy.
The Ph.D. in Education
A Ph.D. in Education is a terminal degree that is tailored for people who would like to pursue a career in research or academia. In their degree programs, they take courses that offer a theory-based approach to learning. In many instances, their objective is to add evidence-based research to the literature. They aim to disseminate their research in revered journals, present at conferences, and to learn how to educate future teachers. Ph.D.’s live a “publish or perish” environment, where spreading their empirically-based knowledge to the academy is the only thing that matters. Those that cannot get published in referred journals don’t last long, and those that can end up receiving the spoils.
Now that you know the differences between these two degrees take some time to reflect on the merits of each, using your future goals to make your final decision. Honestly, it is a win-win situation. Obtaining either degree will open up so many doors for you within the field of education.
Obtaining the Ed.D. for me allowed me to land a tenure track assistant professorship in education at a selective university in Pennsylvania. It allowed me to become a department chair and, eventually, a dean of education. Ultimately, it established me as a thought leader in education, which I leveraged to start my own successful education company. Who knows where your terminal degree will take you.
Good luck on your journey, and as you make your final decision, just remember to trust your heart.