By W. H. Deyamport III
If you’re considering an educational career path, you might be wondering if you need to attend graduate school and if so, what kind of degree to get. There are two common doctoral designations you can choose from: The Ph.D and the Ed.D. Now the question is, which one is right for you?
The Ph.D (Doctor of Philosophy) is a research-based degree program and is usually pursued by individuals interested in pursuing tenured-track teaching careers in higher education. With the exception of clinical programs, Ph.D. programs are specifically designed to develop new academic research.As a result, Ph.D. candidates are groomed to become researchers and generally attracts people who either want to pursue a career in research or a career in academia, such as becoming a college professor. And unlike the Ed.D., there is a lot more choice available to those seeking a Ph.D., in that Ph.D. programs can be found in almost every academic discipline, while the Ed.D. is an education-focused degree program.
The Ed.D (Doctor of Education) is an education-focused, practiced-based degree program and is usually pursued by individuals seeking careers in K-12 leadership or who have interests in teaching, consulting or executive leadership in government, non-profits, or higher education. Ed.D. programs are primarily designed to take existing research and apply it to a specific issue, problem or setting. Individuals who choose an Ed.D are people who want to take a more hands-on role within an organization. Like Ph.D students, Ed.D candidates do conduct scholarly research. It is important to note that being education-focused doesn’t mean that all Ed.D programs are offered in schools of education or are designed with K-12 or higher education in mind. National Louis University, for example, offers an Ed.D. in Adult Education out of its College of Arts and Sciences. If you are interested in a tenure-track teaching position and interested in pursuing an EdD, be sure to choose an EdD that requires a dissertation. Not all EdD’s require one; some opt for a field project
There are advantages and disadvantages to choosing a Ph.D and advantages and disadvantages to choosing an Ed.D The main advantages to earning a Ph.D. are the choice of academic disciplines to choose from, its focus on research, and its ranking in the academic food chain. The main advantages to earning an Ed.D. are its education-focus, its focus on critical and creative thinking, and its concentration on industry or field-related workforce skills. The one you choose should be based upon your academic interests as well as your ultimate career goals.
Will Deyamport, III, MSEd is the former chief social strategist for StrengthsFactors. A filmmaker and family life educator by training, Will has interned for J.T. O’Donnell and has worked in the field of education for 11 years. He has a B.A. in film production, a B.S. in child and family studies and an MSEd in professional studies in education. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership and management at Capella University. You can follow him on Twitter at @peoplegogy.