vector art of boxing gloves for EdD vs PhD

EdD vs. PhD: Which One Is Right For You?

| | 2 minute read

Educators like you share a passion for changing lives and making their schools better. As you follow that passion into a doctoral degree, you’ll notice that there are multiple routes you can take to further your education. Since there are multiple ways to enhance a change in education, it makes sense that there should be more than one doctoral degree that covers every aspect of the field: Education EdD and the Education PhD. Both of these degrees will equip you with the necessary skills to move forward in your career, but which one is going to help you create the impact you want to make?

What is a PhD in Education?

The PhD in Education, like most PhDs, is acquired by researching the field in an effort to add to the wealth of information. PhD students set out to discover new knowledge and expand what is taught and what is possible about their field. It’s no surprise that a PhD program focuses on research, and how the subject fits into the overall knowledge. After graduation, students typically get jobs teaching at universities or continuing research.

How is an EdD different from a PhD?

A Doctorate in Education (EdD) differs from a PhD in many ways. The key difference is what the program trains students to do. While a PhD focuses on adding to the knowledge base, the EdD focuses on how to bring change to specific issues within the education system. These issues can range from individual curriculums to the complete functionality of the system as a whole. Students who want to make a difference as superintendents, or curriculum coordinators are ideal for this degree, because the program focuses more on studying the structure of institutional learning and how to improve it.

What are some other differences?

According to Dr. Holly Foster, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Higher Education and Student Affairs in the School of Education, there is a pattern of other differences between the two types of degrees. One difference is that an EdD program typically requires less hours to complete the plan of study. You may also find a difference in the program design as well. While the PhD program will usually require a traditional dissertation, where the EdD programs also require a dissertation of some kind, but these are typically more action-oriented, and focus on the needs of professionals already working in the field.

What does that mean for you?

Now with a little clarification, you can narrow down your choices. Both of these degrees will put you on the track to further your career in education, and both are a great way for you to expand your abilities to influence the way students learn.

The only decision you have to make now, is how you want to impact your institution. To put it simply, if your goal is to have a direct effect on what your students learn by teaching them yourself, you may be looking for a PhD in Education. However, if you want to improve the way learning is initiated, and make the system more effective, an EdD is right for you.

The University of Southern Mississippi now offers two fully online EdD programs. For educators looking to work in the high school ranks, there is an Educational Administration EdD. And for those looking to impact higher learning institutions Southern Miss also offers a Higher Education EdD.

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