What's the Difference Between an EdD and a PhD in Education?

Jennie Kroeger


There are two primary doctorate programs in the field of education: the Ed.D. (doctor of education) and the Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy). Both of these degrees are great for those who are pursuing a career in education, but each comes with its own focus. The best way to decide which degree best suits you is to understand how each degree compliments a specific career path within education.

For Research & Teaching

A Ph.D. is great for those who are pursuing research positions within education or continuing teaching at the college or university level. A Ph.D. in education is best for educators who study and research a specific field of interest, such as sociologists, counselors, and school psychologists. This degree is often used for researching and contributing new information to the field of education, such as information on how students learn or insight into behavioral patterns. A Ph.D. graduate is someone who breaks new educational ground and is a primary source when it comes to educational research.

For Leadership Roles

An Ed.D. is great for practitioners who are pursuing leadership roles within education. The primary focus of those with an Ed.D. is often in administrative positions, including public K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and even private sector jobs. Instead of contributing primary research into the education field, those with this degree are responsible for the application of this research in the classroom and workplace settings. Those with an Ed.D. are ideal for leadership positions in education, such as principals in public and private schools, deans at the college and university levels, and training and development managers with private companies. Another important distinction between these two degrees is the curricular focus that each entails. A Ph.D. will often require study outside of the typical classroom setting, usually within a specific field such as history, psychology, sociology, etc. A Ph.D. is typically pursued by those who want to continue teaching and researching, so a focused area of knowledge is key. Ph.D. students are often required to pursue internships within education and give a dissertation to obtain their degree. The curriculum for an Ed.D., however, will focus almost entirely on the classroom and practice settings. Learning to problem-solve at the administrative level and to implement new programs and practices within the classroom is key for those with an Ed.D. Ed.D. students are often required to participate in workshops and research how programs are conducted in a classroom first-hand. Understanding the differences in a Ph.D. in education versus an Ed.D. is vital when deciding which degree is right for you. Your field of study and the career path you intend to pursue can help you make the right decision. , . Learn More About Our Ed.D. and Ph.D. Programs