What are the differences between a Ph.D. and an Ed.D.?

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If you are considering advancing your career in education by earning your doctorate, you are faced with many choices. For instance, you may be confused about the differences between a Ph.D. in education and an Ed.D. degree.

In this article, we will discuss what distinguishes doctoral programs in which graduates are awarded a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree from those in which graduates receive a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in education.

Why are there two different doctorates in education?

When research universities in the U.S. first began awarding degrees, they initially focused on the sciences and later, the arts. Demand for professional doctoral degrees outside of the ancient fields of law and medicine grew in the late 19th century, leading universities to begin offering Ph.D. programs.

In 1893, the Teachers College at Columbia University awarded the first Ph.D. in the field of education. As educators began seeking advanced degrees in their field, some universities sought to provide these students with a more applied education, as opposed to the more-common research-focused Ph.Ds.

This led to the creation of Ed.D. programs. Harvard University granted the first Ed.D. degrees in 1921. Over the course of the 20th century, more universities began offering Ed.D. programs, while others continued to award a Ph.D. in education.

Today’s doctoral students can choose between a research-focused Ph.D. and a more practice-focused Ed.D. program.

What are the similarities between these programs?

Both Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs are designed to provide a rigorous education system and reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the education field. Doctoral students in education will develop a strong knowledge base and learn about the latest developments in education theory, regardless of the type of degree they pursue.

In both Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs, students are exposed to a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Students might also be required to take a class such as research design, that helps them focus on their dissertations. Graduates who earn either degree will have an understanding of the latest research in education and will have developed the skills to analyze these findings.

To earn either degree, doctoral candidates must demonstrate the ability to make an original contribution to the study of education. Both Ph.D. and Ed.D. degrees are highly respected in the field and open the door to many advancement opportunities.

What are the differences between a Ph.D. in Education and an Ed.D.?

In general, a Ph.D. in education program follows a more traditional structure for a social science research degree. The coursework in a Ph.D. degree program focuses on current research and theory in the field of education. Some institutions offering Ed.D programs, meanwhile, require more research classes than their Ph.D counterparts.

Ph.D. students study education from a more-theoretical perspective than their Ed.D. counterparts. Both degree dissertations tend to incorporate multivariate statistics.

In contrast, Ed.D. programs provide a practical education for professionals seeking advancement in their career. The coursework focuses on solving practical problems and preparing its students for leadership positions in education.

Research in an Ed.D. program centers on improving the practice of education. Ed.D. students’ dissertations focus on a multivariate statistical analysis of a specific issue in education administration and typically propose solutions to the problem.

When choosing a doctoral program, you should consider your specific career and educational goals. Ed.D. and Ph.d candidates often plan to pursue a career as an education administrator.

Regardless of the type of program you choose, earning a doctorate in education will prepare you to become a leader in your field.

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