While both are terminal degrees—the highest degree awarded in a particular field—EdDs and PhDs in education are distinctly different, each with its own merits and advantages. The one you choose should be based on both your academic interests and your career goals.
An EdD, also known as a Doctor of Education, is a professional doctorate focused on the practice of education. Both on-campus and online EdD programs provide doctoral students with the tools and skills necessary to implement research-based practices in the classroom. EdD programs are primarily designed to take existing research and apply it to a specific issue, problem, or setting. If you’re interested in solving a current problem in the practice of education, an EdD may be a good fit for you.
A PhD in Education prepares you to pursue education-based theory and research and ultimately to add to the body of education research. Whether you decide to pursue this degree on campus or online, PhD in Education program curricula can provide doctoral students with the expertise to become leading education researchers, scholars, and practitioners in a variety of settings. If you’re interested in developing, testing, and confirming education theory, consider a PhD in Education.
Here’s an easy way to remember: While a PhD in Education focuses on theories and research on how people learn, an EdD focuses on how to best put those theories to work in the classroom. So the best way to determine whether to pursue an EdD or PhD in Education is to consider your passions and future career goals.
An EdD can prepare you for a variety of leadership roles within preK–12 and higher education institutions, civil service, private organizations, and public institutions. Education professionals holding an EdD can become school district administrators, university faculty, training supervisors in large and small businesses, chief learning officers in large corporations, and much more.*
Ideal for those who prefer a more research-based role instead of managing or overseeing others, a PhD in Education is the perfect fit for education professionals passionate about research and the theoretical approach of improving how people learn. Those equipped with a PhD in Education can pursue a variety of career opportunities focused on research and training in settings such as universities, government agencies, corporations, public institutions, and more.
An accredited online EdD program or PhD in Education program can help you balance work and family commitments while pursuing your doctoral degree.
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*Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of a degree program.