What Is a Doctorate in Education? Four Questions You Need Answered

Higher education institutions comprise many different departments, each with its own focus, goals, and needs. Professionals who hold a Doctorate in Education have the option to move into various leadership roles in each of these different departments. They can work in admissions, as an academic dean, or as an academic officer, to name a few. Those with Doctorate in Education degrees should have a passion for higher education and want to hold positions in which they deal with the daily challenges and administrative duties of higher education.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree, how to do earn one, what career options are open to those who have one, and what makes the EdD degree unique.

doctorate in education graduate

What are the benefits of an EdD?

Professionals looking to earn a doctorate and pursue a career in higher education administration are a perfect fit for an EdD program. This program is practice-based, and students don’t just research their areas of interest; they also leverage the results of their research to influence the decision-making process of an institution or organization.

Pursuing an EdD means a student will focus on qualitative research, collecting data, conducting interviews, making observations, and participating in focus groups to identify problems and develop strategies that can help clarify or even solve those problems.

It’s also valuable to note that, for professionals interested in putting an advanced degree to work in as little time as possible, an EdD takes less time to earn than a PhD. On average, a PhD takes five to six years to complete, with some studies showing that students regularly take as many as eight years. On the other hand, earning an EdD generally takes between three and four years.

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What does a Doctorate in Education Program Coursework Cover?

Doctorate in Education students usually take courses covering a wide range of topics that are designed to prepare them for a career in higher education administration. They’ll learn about the workings of the academic community, including the student experience and the competitive nature of academia. They’ll learn about gathering and analyzing data and about implementing strategic change within an institution.

Because graduates will be pursuing administrative careers, a Leadership in Higher Education course is required. This course will provide a general overview of many aspects of leadership roles, including theories, the concept of a multiple frames approach, strategic planning, and different decision-making processes and models.

EdD graduates will enter a field of constant evolution, and future academic leaders must be prepared to understand, manage, and implement new ideas in order to evolve with the industry. Therefore, students will take a Strategic Change and Innovation course as part of their requirements. This course focuses on change models, barriers and resistance to change, and innovation and how that looks for the future of higher education.

What Careers are Available to EdD Graduates?

A Doctorate in Education degree helps to prepare graduates for a range of professions within the higher learning sphere. The leadership and decision-making skills they learn, in addition to the research and doctoral study experience they gain, make graduates ideal candidates for college administrative positions, such as chief academic officer and academic dean.

Chief academic officers (CAOs) are responsible for providing direction to an institution’s faculty and staff, monitoring programs, and ensuring rules and regulations are followed. They create curricula and academic programs and are often involved in creating and implementing budgets and financial plans. CAOs ensure that their institutions are creating the best possible environment for students, faculty, and staff.

Their hefty responsibility is reflected in a generous salary. In 2017, a CAO’s median salary was around $136,000, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts the profession will continue to grow steadily over the next decade.

Academic deans are responsible for managing all aspects of their respective departments, including hiring, firing, and providing budgetary oversight. Academic deans work closely with professors and other faculty members to create plans of action, execute those plans, and evaluate the results. They’re responsible for setting department standards and reviewing faculty and staff performances to ensure those standards are met.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, academic deans earn a median salary of approximately $89,000 per year.

What makes an EdD degree unique?

An EdD is unique in that it is, generally speaking, a practice-based degree, rather than a research-based degree. EdD students tend to be experienced education professionals who are interested in expanding and advancing their careers in a specific direction. Doctorate in Education degree programs are often structured so that they may be flexible and part-time to accommodate the lifestyles of already working professionals.

The better-known PhD is designed for professionals who plan to devote their careers mostly to research, whereas the EdD better suits the needs of individuals who want to take on leadership roles within their areas of focus.

The EdD program entails coursework that aims to prepare students for leadership roles by helping them develop the skills they need to work in higher education as teacher educators, academic advisers, or administrators, such as department deans or even college presidents.

If an EdD degree sounds like it could be right for you, you may want to check out Maryville’s online Doctor of Education program.

Now that you know what a doctorate in education is all about, learn more about potential careers you can pursue with an EdD degree.