Advantages of a Doctorate Degree for Principals

Misty Hance
Misty Hance
Assistant Elementary School Principal; Ed.D. in School Leadership, Carson-Newman University, TN

There are many concentrations and degree options within the realm of education. As a school principal or aspiring administrator, a doctorate degree in educational administrative leadership will provide critical skills and knowledge necessary for running a successful school. A doctorate degree in school leadership consists of an average of 60 to 90 additional credit hours beyond a master’s degree, but the benefits that come with this degree are immeasurable.

The Benefits of a Doctorate Degree for Principals

As a principal, the minimum degree in most states necessary to practice is a master’s degree. However, there is so much more knowledge necessary in order to become an effective administrator. A doctorate degree in school leadership allows a principal to refine their skills and build theoretical concepts. Principals will learn more about educational law, managing curriculum, and building human capital within their school. In addition, the course work for this degree can assist in gaining knowledge about developing policies, programs, and strategies that guide the school’s mission and purpose.

Career Opportunities Available with a Doctorate Degree

For those seeking an administrative role within the school, a doctorate degree discloses one’s desire to improve one’s skillset and stay abreast of current best practices through research and theory. Therefore, it increases the chances of securing a position as a principal. For those currently serving as principal of a school, a doctorate degree can add credibility and open up additional career opportunities. There are multiple district level positions for which a doctorate degree is beneficial. These include Director of Curriculum, who would be in charge of finding a curriculum which meets state standards and best aligns to a state mandated assessment. Another district level position for which a doctorate degree is advantageous is the role of Superintendent or Director of Schools. There are other career opportunities outside of a local school district, such as professor or academic dean of a college, for which a doctorate degree is necessary. There are even career opportunities at the state education department or as a curriculum developer for which a doctorate degree would be crucial.

Other Advantages Available with a Doctorate Degree

One of the most top ranked reasons for attaining a doctorate degree is the additional monetary gains that come with a higher degree. This monetary advantage affects one’s current salary as well as retirement benefits. In addition, there is a flexibility in career options at the highest levels of administration as well as a professional career security that lesser degrees lack. One of the greatest assets of a doctoral degree are those things that cannot be measured financially. With a doctorate degree, there is a sense of prestige and scholarly knowledge that adds to one’s credibility as a reputable educator.

Things to Consider Before Pursuing a Doctorate Degree

The first thing to consider is the type of degree necessary for one’s career. There are two types of doctorate degrees in educational administration. An Educational Doctorate (EdD) is best for those seeking an administration role such as a principal, assistant principal, director of curriculum, or even a superintendent of schools. This degree typically requires less time, two to three years, and less credit hours, on average 60. This degree has an emphasis on educational research and its use in making informed decisions and improving practices of educating youth. A Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in education requires more time to complete than an EdD. Typically, this degree takes a minimum of four years and an average of 90 credit hours to complete. Because this degree is strongly grounded in research, it is for people searching for a profession in the academia world. Whereas an EdD uses research of others, one seeking a PhD will become an expert in their own inquiry an extensive research project. This degree is best for those wishing to pursue a career as a professor, educational researcher or consultant, or a curriculum developer.

There are other considerations prior to starting a doctoral program. First, does the career being sought require a doctorate, or is it just a title being sought? One will also want to weigh the cost of the degree with the length of time to pay it off. Finally, one must consider the time required to complete course work and how it will impact one’s current role as an educator and family member. Getting a doctorate degree is a fairly large commitment, but the knowledge gained is vital to one’s career.

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