The Doctor of Education (EdD or DEd; Latin Educationis Doctor or Doctor Educationis) is a doctoral degree that has a research focus in the field of education. It prepares the holder for academic, research, administrative, clinical, or professional positions in educational, civil, private organizations, or public institutions.
When research universities were established in the late 19th century in the United States, they primarily awarded doctorates in the sciences and later the arts. By the early 20th century, these universities began to offer doctoral degrees in professional fields. The first professional degrees were awarded in medicine and law. Shortly thereafter, in response to the societal demand for expert practitioners, doctorates began to be awarded in education. The first Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in the field of education was granted at Teachers College, Columbia University in 1893. The first Doctor of Education (EdD) degree was granted at Harvard University in 1921. The EdD degree was then added by Teachers College in 1934. Both reflect the interdisciplinary nature of education and expertise in the range of quantitative and qualitative methods needed to conduct high-quality research. 
The EdD currently is awarded in several countries in addition to the United States (see below).
In Australia, entry requirements for the EdD are similar to the PhD except that the former requires a number of years professional experience in education or academia.
In Canada, the EdD tends to be granted by faculties of education at Universities and is a terminal degree in education. Much like the United States and Great Britain, some universities offer the EdD (Simon Fraser University), while others offer a PhD in education (McGill University, Queen's University, University of Toronto, University of Manitoba, University of New Brunswick), and still others offer both (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, The University of Western Ontario, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of British Columbia). Much like the UK, in Canada, the EdD is a full academic doctorate which can only be granted by AUCC accredited institutions and shares equal parity with a PhD (Education).
PhD in education can be done in any university recognized by U.G.C. If you have cleared NET (Education) exam then you have to choose a Guide enlisted by the university. On other hand if you don't pass NET exam then you have to qualify Exam conducted twice by every university. The NET cleared students of same university are given preference over those not qualified in NET. You have to submit the synopsis within one year of your enrollment as candidate and you must complete coursework from university recognized center followed by written exam. the rules like Non plagiarism and APA formatting are followed strictly.
In Ireland, EdD programs have only recently been introduced. They tend to follow the UK model of initial research modules followed by longer research papers and thesis.
In Singapore, the National Institute of Education (Nanyang Technological University) is the sole university that awards the EdD degree. The EdD programme has the rigour and expectations of a PhD, but with a professional focus.
In South Africa, following a convention of using Latin in academic designations, the doctorate in education is called Doctor Educationis (DEd) and, like other doctoral degrees in that country, it is entirely a research-based qualification.
In the United Kingdom, the EdD is equivalent in level and has equal status with the PhD. It is a research degree that requires students to make an original contribution of knowledge to the field. The EdD thesis may be shorter than that of the PhD, because the doctoral student will have done other research work as part of their coursework, whereas PhD students only write a doctoral thesis without coursework. The EdD thesis differs from a PhD thesis only in length and scope but not in quality. As with PhD candidates, all EdD candidates undergo a viva voce examination (comprehensive oral defense of one's thesis/dissertation). Research by Scott, Lunt, Browne and Thorne (2002) found that the difference between an EdD and a PhD was often overstated, as students of both tend to follow similar courses of study and to research similar topics. The study also found that admissions requirements formally equaled or exceeded those for PhD admission.
The EdD is generally presented as an opportunity to prepare for academic, administrative or specialised positions in education, placing the graduates for promotion and leadership responsibilities, or high-level professional positions in a range of locations in the broad Education industry. Both the EdD and PhD are recognised for the purposes of appointment as a lecturer or professor in universities.
In 1991, the Doctor of Education programme at the University of Bristol began and was the first taught doctorate outside of North America. The EdD is delivered through a balance of taught units including research methods, theory, argumentation and evaluation skills as well as a major research thesis that must make an original contribution to knowledge. As with other doctoral candidates, participants of the EdD are encouraged to publish articles and books based on their research. An excellence in doctoral level research is the main aim of the Bristol EdD.
Similarly, at Durham University, the process of earning the EdD consists of 6 courses (quantitative and qualitative research methods, thesis proposal, and four elective concentrations) that require 5,000 word research papers at the doctoral level and a doctoral thesis of 60,000 words that must also make an original contribution to knowledge. The EdD dissertation must reach the same level and be judged by the same criteria as the PhD thesis. The EdD and PhD degrees have exact parity of degree status.
At the Institute of Education in London, the EdD "is for experienced professionals from education and related fields who would like to extend their professional understanding and develop skills in research, evaluation and high-level reflection on practice". Meanwhile, the PhD "is intended to enable [students] to produce [their] own thesis and to develop a range of research and other more generic skills."
The University of Cambridge's Faculty of Education provides a useful comparison between the PhD and EdD programmes for their particular university.
An ESRC-funded report found that there appeared to be little impact of the development of professional knowledge on employment culture for EdD participants, though there was "frequently considerable impact for the individuals themselves", and many of the EdD students were employed in the public sector.
In the United States, the EdD tends to be granted by the school of education of universities and is a terminal degree in education. Majors within the EdD may include: counseling, curriculum and instruction/curriculum and teaching, educational administration, education policy, educational psychology, educational technology, higher education, human resource development, language/linguistics or leadership. The EdD is recognized for appointment as a professor or lecturer in a university. It may also be recognized as preparation for administrative positions in education and human development field, such as superintendent of schools, human resource director, or principal.
From the very beginning, there was a formal division between the EdD and the PhD in education, and the growing popularity of the applied doctorates was met by faculty in the arts and sciences questioning their legitimacy. They argued that practical and vocational aims were inappropriate for doctoral study, which they contended should be focused on producing scholarly research and college professors. The EdD and the colleges of education that granted them continued to face criticism through the 1980s. In 2013, Harvard University, the first institution to award the EdD degree, accepted its last EdD cohort and instead now offers both the Doctor of Philosophy in Education and the Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdLD) degrees.
Comparisons of the EdD to the PhD in education in the United States
There is controversy in the United States regarding the issue of how the EdD degree compares to the PhD in education. In theory, the two degrees are expected to constitute overlapping but distinct categories, where the EdD is a degree that prepares educational practitioners who can solve educational problems using existing knowledge, and the PhD in education is the more theoretical of the two as a traditional social science research degree that prepares students for careers as scholars and academics, often from a particular disciplinary perspective (e.g., sociology of education). In reality, however, distinctions between the two degree programs are generally minimal in both curriculum and dissertation requirements. One study on dissertations submitted between 1950 and 1990 indicated that there were no differences between the two degrees regarding basic versus applied research or the significance of the findings. Nonetheless, that same study indicated that "PhD dissertations contained more multivariate statistics, had wider generalizability, and were more prevalent in certain areas of concentration", whereas "EdD dissertations contained more survey research and were most prevalent in educational administration research." The difference is attributed primarily to which type of degree a particular school offers and if existing research or original research is required in the dissertation.
The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) states that "the professional doctorate in education prepares educators for the application of appropriate and specific practices, the generation of new knowledge, and for the stewardship of the profession." To wit, although the CPED describes the EdD as a professional doctorate, it also states that it prepares students for the generation of new knowledge, and this is corroborated by the fact that both the PhD and EdD degrees are considered research doctoral degrees on the Survey of Earned Doctorates, which is a survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, sponsored by six federal agencies, and solicited, under the National Science Foundation Act, from graduating doctoral students at all accredited institutions.
Colleges and universities in the United States that offer doctorates in education choose to offer only the Doctor of Education, only the Doctor of Philosophy in education (e.g., Stanford University), or both (e.g., UCLA, University of Missouri, and University of Pennsylvania). The distinction between the PhD and the EdD in this last group can take different forms. At the University of Illinois, for example, the PhD in education dissertation requires an original contribution to academic knowledge, whereas the EdD dissertation "is intended to demonstrate the candidate's ability to relate academic knowledge to the problems of professional practice." At Teachers College, Columbia University the PhD is designed for students who wish specifically to pursue an academic career, whereas the EdD is designed for broader aims including educational administration and policy work. In St. Louis University's Educational Studies program, the EdD requires "successful completion of a culminating project dealing with a problem in educational practice" and the PhD requires a dissertation and an "oral defense of the dissertation proposal and [of] the final dissertation. Most Ed.D., Psy.D. and Ph.D. programs require a dissertation and an oral defense while others have a research project leading to publication as an alternative." Finally, some schools frame the EdD specifically in terms of applied research, such as New York University, The University of Texas at Austin, and the University of California, Berkeley.
In addition to educational settings, the EdD degree is designed to address real-world issues including counseling and human resource development.
Lee Shulman, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, stated that the lack of distinction between the EdD and the PhD has meant the EdD has come to be seen as little more than "Ph.D.-lite", and the PhD in education has likewise suffered. Moreover, it has resulted in "the danger that we achieve rigorous preparation neither for practice nor for research." Arthur Levine, former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, said that the EdD degree is granted to both scholars and administrators and as such makes the degree ambiguously defined, that the programs in educational leadership specifically suffered from low standards, and that "There is absolutely no reason why a school leader needs a doctorate." Barbara K. Townsend, Professor of Higher Education and Associate Dean for Research and Development at the University of Missouri at Columbia, suggests the doctorate of education is most frequently sought for vanity purposes and to improve one's status, citing a 2000 survey of California school superintendents in which they identify the greatest value of the EdD as being its "symbolic value (credibility and respects a basis for leadership)", further adding that there is scant research or evidence to suggest that possession of a doctorate in education improves one's ability to be an effective administrator.
Suggestions for reform
Some scholars in the United States have suggested future reforms for both the EdD and PhD in education by calling for a new doctorate for the professional practice of education, which would be for principals, superintendents, policy coordinators, curriculum specialists, teacher educators, program evaluators, etc.; and the distinction between the PhD in education and the EdD would be analogous to the distinction between the PhD in biomedicine and the MD. This new degree might be called the Professional Practice Doctorate (PPD), or it might retain the old name of EdD but be severed from old associations.
Arthur Levine argued that the current EdD should be re-tooled into a new professional master's degree, parallel in many ways to the Master of Business Administration (MBA).
David Imig described reforms to the EdD as including more collaborative work involving the analysis of data collected by others. Rather than generating their own data and hypothesis-testing, as PhD students would, a group of EdD students would analyze a specific pool of data from a number of different angles, each writing an individual dissertation on a specific aspect of the data which, when pooled together with the other dissertations, would combine to offer a comprehensive solution to a real-world problem.
The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate is currently working with over 80 institutions to collaboratively redesign the EdD and "to make it a stronger and more relevant degree for the advanced preparation of school practitioners and clinical faculty, academic leaders and professional staff for the nation’s schools and colleges and the learning organizations that support them".
Reforms have already been implemented at some institutions. For example, in 2013 the Harvard University Graduate School of Education enrolled the final EdD cohort. The school now offers the Doctor of Education Leadership (EdLD) and PhD in Education.
Notable doctors of education
- Michael Apple – leading critical educational theorist, writer, and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Katherine Albrecht, - Privacy expert and talk-radio host
- Bill Ayers – American elementary education theorist, activist, bomber, and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago
- Deborah Bial – President and Founder of The Posse Foundation, Inc.
- Jill Biden – Former Second Lady of the United States
- Bill Cosby – American entertainer, educator, and activist
- Mark C. Curtis – American news broadcaster, author and political analyst at WLNE-TV ABC 6 Providence, RI
- Linda Darling-Hammond – writer, researcher, education adviser to Barack Obama, and professor at Stanford University
- Lisa Delpit – American educator, author, and professor at Florida International University
- E. Gordon Gee – Times' top 10 university presidents, current president of West Virginia University.
- Carol C. Goodheart - American Psychological Association president in 2010
- Irwin Hyman - researcher and professor known for researched on the negative effects of corporal punishment.
- Timothy R. Lannon – president of Creighton University
- Ronald Levant - American Psychological Association president in 2005, famous for research regarding fatherhood.
- Sonia Nieto – leading author and teacher in the field of multiculturalism
- Shaquille O'Neal - American retired basketball player, analyst, and businessman
- Thomas S. Popkewitz - Curriculum theorist and professor
- Neil Postman – American author, media theorist, and cultural critic
- Betty Shabazz – American educator and civil rights advocate and wife of Malcolm X
- Karen A. Stout - President/CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc. and President Emerita of Montgomery County Community College (Blue Bell, PA)
- Chris Spence – a Canadian author, former educator, and former Canadian football player
- Ruth "Dr. Ruth" Westheimer – American sex therapist, media personality, and author
- Wayne Dyer - therapist
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A candidate with proven leadership experience who is looking for the next step in their career would be an ideal candidate for an EdD program. EdD programs prepare candidates to solve problems in a variety of settings including colleges and universities, K–12 schools and systems, private firms and/or nonprofits and government organizations.
This means that EdD holders can become executives in school districts, faculty at the university level, training supervisors in large and small businesses or Chief Learning Officers in large corporations.
Interested in earning a Doctorate of Education while pursuing your career? An online Doctorate of Education may be right for you!
In order to earn an EdD, most programs require the completion of 60 units. Some programs will give students credit when they have already earned a master’s degree.
EdD Job Opportunities
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2013, common job titles and average salaries for EdD graduates include:
- Education Administrators (Elementary and Secondary School): $90,670
- Education Administrators (Postsecondary): $100,600
- Trainers and Development Managers: $107,770
- Social and Community Service Managers: $65,750
- Education Administrators (Preschool and Childcare Center/Program): $52,010
Read more about our partner The Doctor of Education program at USC Rossier School of Education.
What Is a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD)?
To earn a PhD one must accomplish two things: Complete research to master a subject completely and extend the body of knowledge of that subject. Designed for people who plan on a career devoted to research (conducted anywhere from a university setting to a lab), a PhD is a thorough education in a subject as well as the study of how to approach studying it. More specifically, a PhD for educators might focus on the sociology of education, educational leadership and/or policy, childhood learning/cognitive development, or language and literacy, just to name a few specializations.
Rather than a desire to lead or manage organizations directly, PhD students are often more interested in driving change by contributing their knowledge and understanding in some of the following ways: conducting research that reshapes their field of expertise, altering political agendas or simply training the next generation of teachers to approach their craft from a new angle. Learn more about how a PhD can affect your career from teachers like Dr. Laz and Dr. Penny Ferguson.
Who Should Get a PhD?
Anyone who wants to be involved in a more study-based role (e.g., researchers, sociologists, etc.) instead of managing or overseeing others might want to consider a PhD. Take someone with an interest in childhood development. A PhD candidate may seek to write papers that inform other educators about how children learn, experiment with new learning technology or change policies about how classrooms are run.
PhD coursework varies from program to program and is designed to provide candidates with an opportunity to specialize in their field of interest. Classes tend to cover all areas of a subject as well as tools you’ll need to do research and work with data (scientific method, statistics, theory). You’ll also be conducting your own projects, research, experiments and/or dissertation as part of earning your degree.
PhD Program Requirements
PhD programs often take 4 to 6 years to complete and require a dissertation or thesis to complete candidacy.
PhD Job Opportunities
According to the BLS, as of May 2013, common job titles and average salaries for this degree might include:
- Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists: $72,710
- Education Teachers, Postsecondary: $65,630
- Survey Researchers: $53,000
- Sociologists: $78,120
- Training and Development Specialists: $60,780
Interested in earning your Doctorate in Education (EdD) online?
Visit our partner the USC Rossier School of Education for more information about earning your EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership.
Learn more about how to get your teaching jobs.