Doctorate degree in education
Few professions are more rewarding than education. Whether your job is student-facing or behind the scenes, your work is integral to shaping the lives of young people, creating lasting impact.
Individuals with a passion for education and experience in the field sometimes choose to pursue the highest degree in the field of education – a doctorate. This degree can equip you with the knowledge and skills to solve problems related to schooling, helping you build a better future for young learners.
If you are seeking a doctoral degree, then you have likely already attained a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education. A doctorate degree in education is pursued by individuals seeking to transition into administrative, leadership, or research roles. It can lead to senior positions in education or jobs in highly specialized education sectors.
What is a doctorate degree in education?
A doctorate degree in education is an advanced research or professional qualification that concentrates on the field of education. It is a terminal degree, meaning the highest qualification specialists in education can attain.
Programs you might be interested in:
What can you do with a doctorate in education?
With a doctorate in education, you can take on roles in academia, administration, research, or government. Specific examples of careers include:
- chief learning officer
- school principal
- school superintendent
- academic dean
- curriculum specialist
- education policy specialist
Benefits of getting a doctorate in education
A doctorate in education is the logical next step for professionals in the field seeking to move into research or leadership roles. Along with impressive salary increases, the scope of potential careers widens significantly with this degree.
It can take anywhere between 3 and 5 years to complete a doctorate degree in education when working as a full-time student. For part-time students, it usually takes 5 to 8 years. The timescale depends on the intensity of the program. Most doctoral programs in education require students to earn 60 credits but, once again, this can differ between universities.
The coursework that students must complete changes depending on their concentration. Some of the most common learning objectives that doctorate degrees in education feature include:
- applying theory to problem-solving in education
- identifying and eliminating issues in education policies
- using technology for teaching
- research methods
- learning about administration and leadership roles
As mentioned, most schools ask for prior experience in education. In fact, the majority of students complete a doctorate degree in education alongside a job in an educational organization. Thus, many of these programs do not involve any additional placements or internships.
Costs of an education doctorate
Doctorate degrees in education usually require around 60 credits, and most universities charge per credit earned. How much a school charges per credit is their prerogative, but usually ranges between $350 and $775. Some universities can charge up to $1,500.
Types of doctorate in education programs
When applying for a doctorate degree in education, it is worth considering whether you want the program to be online, offline, or a hybrid. All 3 options are available. Below we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Online degrees are convenient for people with busy lifestyles or other commitments. Time and money are saved by not having to commute to lectures. Some of the lessons are pre-recorded, granting more flexibility. If you are already employed, you might be able to juggle work and school by completing a degree online. However, virtual courses often require more independent work and self-initiative.
Offline degrees offer the traditional learning experience to students. They are highly structured, with scheduled lesson times and distinct deadlines for everything. If you are somebody who struggles to self-motivate or follow a routine, an offline program may be more suitable. Moreover, you can receive immediate feedback from your peers and lecturers. Nothing beats the connections you form this way. However, offline learning is not especially practical for people with other commitments and can be more expensive.
Hybrid degrees offer the best of both worlds by combining online and offline learning. People who need the structure of offline courses but like the flexibility of online degrees may prefer this option.
There are several different concentrations for doctorate degrees in education. This is great news for candidates who already have a clear idea of where they would like to go with their careers. Each university has its own distinct program, so even courses with the same concentration can differ. As such, you should thoroughly inspect the curriculum before deciding on a school, so you can find the right modules for you.
Some of the most common concentrations for a doctorate in education include:
- Ed.D. in educational leadership
- Ed.D. in early childhood education
- Ed.D. in educational technology
- Ed.D. in educational administration
- Ed.D. in organizational change and leadership
These concentrations can ensure you are prepared to take on roles in your specific areas of interest. For example, if you earn an Ed.D. in organizational change and leadership, you could find work in elementary schools, high schools, or colleges as a principal, superintendent, or dean.
Types of doctorate degrees in education
The 2 main types of education doctorates are the Ed.D. and the Ph.D. Individuals focused on practice usually complete the Ed.D. while those interested in research opt for the Ph.D.
Doctorate degree in education (Ed.D.)
An Ed.D. equips graduates with vocational skills to work on the frontlines of education in roles like dean, principal, or superintendent. The program usually lasts 3 years and can be completed while working full time.
Doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in education
A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in education is primarily a research degree pursued by individuals interested in entering roles like policy researcher, academic, or education director. It usually involves 4-6 years of full-time study and is aimed at training experts in specific education topics.
Doctorate in education application requirements
Application requirements tend to vary from school to school and program to program, but there are some common elements.
- A GPA of 3.0 from an accredited university or college in both undergraduate and master’s programs is the most common requirement. The minimum GPA can fluctuate somewhat depending on the school you are applying to.
- A master’s degree in a field relevant to education ensures you have the background knowledge needed to understand the material. Make sure to have your academic transcripts ready for submission.
- Another admission formality that schools might ask for is a GRE score that is less than 5 years old.
- Most universities ask for experience in a professional role related to education. Practical experience is essential because it means a deeper understanding of the inner workings of education and thus being well-equipped for the doctorate. In addition, it can make you a more empathetic leader should you secure a senior educator’s position after completing the degree.
- Applicants are also expected to submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation from individuals who are familiar with their experience in education. Universities typically ask for at least 1 of these people to have been the applicant’s former supervisor.
- You can also expect to have a personal interview with the program’s faculty. All these checks are performed to ensure that the candidate is the right kind of character for the degree, and their claims are legitimate.
Most universities with doctorate programs in education have a springtime deadline for applications. They begin the screening process in the late spring and early summer, then notify successful candidates in midsummer.
Programs typically begin in the fall, though dates can vary depending on the university, so make sure to double-check. Be aware that an application fee of anywhere from $50 to $100 is common.
It is essential to complete your doctorate degree at an accredited university. This ensures your program equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge to practice. Most employers do not accept candidates without an accredited degree because they have no way of guaranteeing that the person can practice to an acceptable standard.
How to tell if your school of choice is accredited
It is relatively easy to tell whether or not your chosen university is accredited. The school should clearly state on their official website what their certifications are and from which accrediting bodies. Some bodies are specific to certain states. There are a few accrediting bodies that candidates can be on the lookout for, though. These include:
- Higher Learning Commission
- Distance Education Accrediting Commission
- National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education
Look at the U.S. Department of Education’s website for more information or to verify the legitimacy of a university’s credentials.
Financial aid options
The initial figures for a doctorate degree in education can be daunting. Fortunately, there is financial aid available. For example, some universities offer scholarships or tuition discounts to certain applicants who meet the right criteria. Perhaps the most useful resource for people seeking help is the website for Federal Student Aid. This is an office of the U.S. Department of Education. It makes acquiring financial aid simple, easy, and accessible to everyone.
Licensing or certification
Before you can begin a doctorate degree in education, you need some experience in the profession. As such, most postgraduates who undertake this program already have a teaching license or credential. These can expire after 5 years, so may have to be renewed before you can obtain work with your doctorate. Licensure might not be essential if you are entering a job outside of teaching.
It is worth noting that your license or qualification might not be valid if you move to another state. This is because different states have different standards. However, some states share interstate agreements, meaning your qualifications may be valid in another state as long as your credentials satisfy their requirements.
The career options that come with a doctorate degree in education are impressive. Anybody who wants to advance into more specialized professions or senior positions can benefit from obtaining this qualification. Let’s discuss the most popular jobs that people with an Ed.D. pursue.
Becoming a college president is an appealing option for postgraduates. Ideally, you would have a concentration in educational leadership to secure this position. The average earnings of a college president are $272,200 per annum.
Becoming the principal of an elementary, middle, or high school is also common among those with an Ed.D. Their average salaries are roughly $96,000 per year.
Leadership roles aren’t the only jobs available to Ed.D. graduates. You can become anything from a community college administrator and education policy specialist to an education coordinator and education technology specialist. The average salary of those with an Ed.D. is $79,200. Of course, this can fluctuate depending on the job you secure.
Beyond earning an Ed.D., you can also obtain a Ph.D. in education. This is the highest credential that a person can obtain in this professional field. It involves becoming a master of a specialized subject pertaining to education. If you prefer academic research to professional work, a Ph.D. could be ideal. Essentially, people with this qualification write the papers that people with an Ed.D. read to improve the education system. Professionals with a Ph.D. earn $85,100 on average, which is slightly more than those with an Ed.D.
The NEA is the largest labor union in the U.S. This organization represents public school teachers and workers, faculty staff at colleges or universities, retired educators, and college students that are preparing to become teachers. The NEA website has loads of resources that are incredibly helpful to professionals who want to better the world of education.
The ACE is a non-profit higher education association in the United States. The organization’s mission is to “shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice.” It is the major coordinating body of North American colleges and universities.
The AAE is the largest non-union professional educators’ organization. It has a modern approach to education advocacy and teacher representation. The association has several resources for professionals and even offers scholarships and grant schemes.