Doctor of Education

Doctor of Education

The Doctor of Education or Doctor in Education degree (Ed.D. or D.Ed.), in Latin, Doctor Educationis, is a research-oriented professional doctorate that prepares the student for academic, administrative, clinical, or research positions in educational, civil, and private organizations.


Differences between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D.

In the United States, both 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.[1][2][3] Yet although both the Ph.D. and Ed.D. are considered similar in this sense, there are differences between the two in theory and in practice.

In theory, the two degrees are expected to constitute overlapping but distinct categories, where the Ed.D. is a degree that prepares educational practitioners who can solve educational problems using existing knowledge, and the Ph.D. 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).[4] In reality, however, distinctions between the two degree programs are generally minimal in both curriculum and dissertation requirements.[4]

Colleges and universities in the United States that offer doctorates in education choose to offer only the Doctor of Education (e.g., Harvard University), only the Doctor of Philosophy in education (e.g., Stanford University), or both (e.g., UCLA, University of Oregon, and University of Pennsylvania). The distinction between the Ph.D. and the Ed.D in this last group can take different forms. At the University of Illinois, for example, the Ph.D. in education dissertation requires an original contribution to academic knowledge, whereas the Ed.D. dissertation "is intended to demonstrate the candidate's ability to relate academic knowledge to the problems of professional practice."[5][6] At Teachers College, Columbia University the Ph.D. is designed for students who wish specifically to pursue an academic career, whereas the Ed.D. is designed for broader aims including educational administration and policy work.[7][8] At the Institute of Education in London, both the Ed.D. and the Ph.D. are research-oriented, and the difference in designation originates from whether the university departments in the liberal arts and sciences can coordinate particular sub-fields of educational studies (e.g., a Ph.D. in the economics of education or history of education as opposed to an Ed.D. in second language education).[citation needed] Finally, a school of education may offer both degrees where one culminates in a project and the other a dissertation. For example, in St. Louis University's Educational Studies program, the Ed.D. requires "successful completion of a culminating project dealing with a problem in educational practice" and the Ph.D. requires a dissertation and an "oral defense of the dissertation proposal and [of] the final dissertation."[9]

In the United Kingdom, one study comparing the Eng.D., Ed.D. and DBA to the Ph.D. found that admissions requirements formally equaled or exceeded those for Ph.D. admission, yet all three degrees involved coursework and research (whereas the Ph.D. only requires research), and the coursework for the Ed.D. was presented specifically as a means of "enhancing general career development." The report claimed that the "orientation of these professional doctorates towards the development of professional practice and the production of professionally relevant knowledge through practitioner research clearly differentiates these programmes from conventional PhDs."[10]

Professional prospects

In the United States, the Ed.D. and the Ph.D. in education are both recognized for appointment as a lecturer or professor in a university. It may also be recognized as training for administrative positions in education, such as superintendent of schools, human resource director, or principal.

In the United Kingdom, the effect on a future career will depend on the area of study. An ESRC-funded report found that there appeared to be little impact of the development of professional knowledge on employment culture for Ed.D. participants, though there was "frequently considerable impact for the individuals themselves," and many of the Ed.D. students were employed in the public sector.[11]

The Ed.D. is generally presented as an opportunity to prepare for academic, administrative or specialised positions in education, favourably placing the graduates for promotion and leadership responsibilities, or high-level professional positions in a range of locations in the broad Education industry. In the U.K. and Ireland both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. are recognised for the purposes of appointment as a lecturer or professor in universities.


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 the social sciences, which included education. From the very beginning there were divisions between those universities that offered an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. in education.[12]

The first Ph.D. in education was granted at Teachers College, Columbia University in 1893.[4] The first Ed.D. degree was introduced in the United States at Harvard University in 1920. The Ed.D. was added by Teachers College in 1934.[12]

Not long after the creation of doctorates in education, some scholars considered whether doctoral studies should be for professional training, as well as for the preparation of researchers.[13] In light of the controversy, many institutions opted to offer the Ed.D. as the exclusive doctorate within their schools of education, including Harvard University, where "in general, a Ph.D. degree tends to focus more on research and an Ed.D. tends to focus more on practice."[14][15]

In the United Kingdom, the Ph.D. in education was introduced in the 1920s. The first Ed.D. was awarded in England in 1992, at the University of Bristol. Six years later, 29 British universities were offering Ed.D. programs.

United States

In the United States, the Ed.D. tends to be granted by the school of education of universities and is a terminal degree in education. A typical doctorate of education in the United States usually requires several years of course work as a doctoral student achieving generally 15 courses beyond a masters degree, a comprehensive exam, and at its conclusion a dissertation. The dissertation presents the doctoral candidate's research and findings and is submitted for defense to the candidate's dissertation committee (including an advisor/first, second, and third reader and usually limited to five - although varies by institution). Majors within the Ed.D. may include: counseling, curriculum and instruction/curriculum and teaching, educational administration, educational leadership, education policy, educational psychology, educational technology, higher education, or language/linguistics.


In the Latin American docta, to get into a Ph.D. program of Education, candidates are required to have a Licentiate or Master's degree in Education.[16][citation needed]


In Australia entry requirements for the Ed.D. are similar to the Ph.D. except that the former requires a number of the years professional experience in education or academic life.


In Canada, the Ed.D. 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 Ed.D. (Simon Fraser University), others offer a Ph.D. in education (McGill University, Queen's University, University of British Columbia), and yet others offer both (University of Toronto, University of Alberta, University of Calgary).


In Singapore, the National Institute of Education (Nanyang Technological University), is the sole university that awards the Ed.D. degree. The Ed.D. programme has the rigour and expectations of a PhD, but with a professional focus.[17]

South Africa

In South Africa, following a convention of using Latin in academic designations, the doctorate in education is called Doctor Educationis (D.Ed.) and, like other doctoral degrees in that country, it is entirely a research-based qualification.

United Kingdom and Ireland

In the United Kingdom, the Ed.D. differs from a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education in that it allows the study of a greater variety of education-related subjects in the first stages of study, focusing on a single topic only at the end. However, both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. are research based degrees demanding the same level of academic rigor.[citation needed]. A typical Ph.D. in the United Kingdom usually requires the submission of an approximately 80,000 word thesis; the entire study period would be spent researching the topic and writing the thesis. For an Ed.D., a student might be required to research various topics in the first two years, preparing a 5,000-6,000-word report for each. The last two years would be spent on the thesis, which might be 45,000-50,000 words working out at about the same amount of words overall as a PhD.[18][citation needed] A key difference between the two forms of doctorate is that the Ph.D. student tends to work alone while the Ed.D. student will initially be part of a learning community although increasingly Ph.D. students are now required to take courses on research methods similar to those taken by EdD students.

In Ireland Ed.D. programs have only recently been introduced and they tend to follow the UK model of initial research modules followed by longer research papers and thesis.

Research by Scott, Lunt, Browne and Thorne (2002) has found that the difference between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. can be somewhat overstated as students of both tend to follow similar courses of study and to research similar topics.

Suggested reforms

Numerous scholars have suggested future reforms for both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. in education. This is due, in part, because, as Lee S. Shulman, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, puts it: the lack of distinction between the Ed.D and the Ph.D has meant the Ed.D. has come to be seen as little more than "Ph.D.-lite," and the Ph.D. in education has likewise suffered. [19] Moreover, it has resulted in "the danger that we achieve rigorous preparation neither for practice nor for research."[4] In response to this, Shulman et al. argued 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 Ph.D. in education and the Ed.D. would be analogous to the Ph.D. in biomedicine and the M.D.[20] This new degree might be called the Professional Practice Doctorate (P.P.D.), or it might retain the old name of Ed.D. but be severed from old associations.[21]

Arthur Levine argued that the current Ed.D. should be re-tooled into a new professional master's degree, parallel in many ways to the MBA.[22]

David Imig described reforms to the Ed.D. as including more collaborative work involving the analysis of data collected by others. Rather than generating their own data and hypothesis-testing, as Ph.D. students would, a group of Ed.D. 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.[19]

Notable people with Ed.D. degrees

  • Michael Apple - leading critical educational theorist, writer, and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Bill Ayers - American elementary education theorist, activist, and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Jill Biden - the wife of the Vice-President of the United States, Joe Biden
  • Bill Cosby - American entertainer, educator, and activist
  • 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.
  • Sonia Nieto - leading author and teacher in the field of multiculturalism.
  • Thomas Payzant - former superintendent of Boston Public Schools, former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Education, and professor at Harvard University
  • Neil Postman - American author, media theorist and cultural critic
  • Jonas Soltis - Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Betty Shabazz - American educator and civil rights advocate and wife of Malcolm X.
  • Ruth "Dr. Ruth" Westheimer - American sex therapist, media personality, and author

See also


  1. ^ Numbers of U.S. Doctorates Awarded Rise for Sixth Year, but Growth Slower, National Science Foundation, . According to the Survey, a research doctoral degree is "oriented toward preparing students to make original contributions to knowledge in a field and typically entail writing a dissertation."
  2. ^ "Survey of Earned Doctorates". National Science Foundation. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Survey of Earned Doctorates". National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Shulman, Lee S.; Golde, Chirs M.; Conklin Bueschel, Andrea; Garabedian, Kristen J. (2006). "Reclaiming education's doctorates: A critique and a proposal". Educational Researcher (American Educational Research Association) 35 (3): 26. 
  5. ^ "Ed.D. Degree Requirements". University of Illinois College of Education Student Academic Affairs Office. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Pd.D. Degree Requirements". University of Illinois College of Education Student Academic Affairs Office. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Ph.D. Degree Requirements". Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Ed.D. Degree Requirements". Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Educational Studies Graduate Programs". Saint Louis University. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  10. ^ Lunt, Ingrid (2002). Professional Doctorates and their Contribution to Professional Development and Careers. Economic & Social Research Council. pp. 6. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  11. ^ Lunt, Ingrid (2002). Professional Doctorates and their Contribution to Professional Development and Careers. Economic & Social Research Council. pp. 5. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Toma, Douglas J. (November 2002). "Legitimacy, differentiation, and the promise of the Ed.D. in higher education". Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education: Education Resource Information Center (ERIC). Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Rudy, Willis (1968). Higher education in transition. New York: Harper and Row. pp. ???-???. 
  14. ^ Nelson, Jack K.; Coorough, Calleen (1994). "Content Analysis of the PhD Versus EdD Dissertation". Journal of Experimental Education (Taylor & Francis, Ltd.) 62 (2): 158–168. JSTOR 
  15. ^ "Degree, Program, and Course Information". Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Doctorates, Masters and Licentiates degrees in Argentina[dead link]
  17. ^ "Doctor in Education". Singapore National Institute of Education. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "Recognition of Professional Doctorates" in 'ESRC Guidelines'[dead link]
  19. ^ a b Elizabeth, Redden (10 April 2007). "Envisioning a New Ed.D.". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  20. ^ Shulman, Lee S.; Golde, Chirs M.; Conklin Bueschel, Andrea; Garabedian, Kristen J. (2006). "Reclaiming education's doctorates: A critique and a proposal". Educational Researcher (American Educational Research Association) 35 (3): 28. 
  21. ^ Shulman, Lee S.; Golde, Chirs M.; Conklin Bueschel, Andrea; Garabedian, Kristen J. (2006). "Reclaiming education's doctorates: A critique and a proposal". Educational Researcher (American Educational Research Association) 35 (3): 30. 
  22. ^ Levine, Arthur (March 2005). Educating School Leaders. Education Schools Project. 1. Washington, D.C. 

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