Can You Get a Ph.D in Education?

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Updated August 3, 2020

Educators looking for career advancement opportunities may wish to get a Ph.D in Education. Educational degrees act as stepping stones in the teaching field, allowing teachers to broaden their scope of influence by becoming curriculum coordinators, program administrators, teaching supervisors, university professors and researchers, educational psychologists or advanced learning specialists, according to the Houston Chronicle. While the time involved to obtain an advanced level degree can seem daunting, the benefits associated with earning a post-graduate degree motivates doctoral candidates to complete program requirements while continuing to work in their present jobs.

Foundations for Considering an Educational Doctorate

Interested candidates to get a Ph.D in education will likely be current teaching professionals who hold a master's degree. Their experience and knowledge about learning and instructional programs are valuable assets for focusing their careers in specific educational directions. According to the Global Post, since doctoral programs by nature are intensive with a minimum completion time of four to five years, potential Ph.D candidates should consider the type of program they can complete and how it will coordinate with family and work commitments.

Doctoral Program Pathways

Accredited Ph.D programs usually offer flexible formats of study to accommodate work schedules. These programs provide rotational, year-round units of study that can be completed through on-campus evening and weekend classes or through online, cohort training. Additionally, depending on the area of degree focus and its importance to local educational services, school districts may assist enrolled candidates with financial costs or allow professional leave to complete certain degree requirements.

Types of Educational Doctorates

There are actually two types of educational doctorates. A Ph.D focuses more on research and correlation of educational data, whereas an Ed.D highlights educational leadership and application of educational principles in the classroom. As a result, the focus of study depends upon the type of doctorate pursued along with the degree's specialization in one of many relevant educational areas including:

  • Educational policy
  • International education
  • Early childhood education
  • Middle school and secondary education
  • Psychology
  • Educational leadership
  • Curriculum and teaching
  • Adult education
  • Information technology
  • Higher education
  • Instructional design
  • Special education

Curricular Requirements for a Doctorate in Education

Regardless of the type of degree, program completion requires successful completion of coursework, qualifying exams, research activities or educational projects, and a doctoral dissertation. Candidates work under the supervision of an academic adviser who guides their studies in the chosen area of concentration and provides progress assessments. As part of overall training, Ph.D or Ed.D candidates may sometimes be assigned as course instructors in undergraduate education classes, research assistants, or educational project assistants.

Holding an a doctoral degree in education provides diverse, career benefits. A doctorate in education can mean career advancement opportunities with greater compensation at higher levels of educational administration and instruction within current workplace settings. The degree can also open up a broader scope of employment possibilities working outside of traditional public or private educational placements, including settings such as:

  • Non-profit educational foundations
  • Educational policy corporations
  • Educational publishing companies
  • Educational curriculum or testing companies
  • Municipal, state or federal education agencies
  • International educational consortiums

Related Resources:

Top 10 Online Ed.D Programs in Educational Leadership
Top 10 Best Online Master's in Education Degree Programs
Different Master's Degrees in Education

In view of these increased career opportunities, opting to get a Ph.D in education or a comparable Ed.D can be a wise decision for motivated teaching professionals.

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