Doctoral Degrees in Education: Online and Campus-Based Programs

A doctoral degree in education can prepare you to work in an academic setting or for a career in research. Learn about doctoral degree options in numerous areas of education and the requirements for these degrees. Find out about specializations and career paths. Schools offering Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Doctoral Degrees in Education Can I Pursue?

In education there are two terminal degrees: a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). How do you choose which degree is right for you? It depends on your career goals in education and your general research orientation. If you have a theoretical orientation and desire a career in academia, you should pursue a Ph.D. You will gain expertise in theoretical research to advance new conceptual knowledge in education.

On the other hand, if you plan on being an educational practitioner in a leadership position, you may be encouraged to choose the Ed.D. degree path. This degree program emphasizes research applied to problems in localized educational contexts, like school districts or educational businesses. Unlike the Ph.D. program, the Ed.D. program focuses on the use and implementation of existing knowledge rather than knowledge creation. Career paths for people with this degree include leadership positions as learning resource specialists, policy analysts, curriculum designers and administrators.

Despite the differences in orientation, these terminal degrees are equal in rigor and similar in content. The difference between pursuing an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. might be two or three additional courses. Consult an advisor at your school to ensure you select the program that matches your goals.

Degree Options Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Online Availability Online programs are available, mostly in the Ed.D. format
Career Options Learning resource specialist, policy analyst, curriculum designer, administrator
Specialization Areas K-12 leadership, school psychology, learning disabilities, multicultural education, community education

Can I Earn a Doctoral Degree in Education Online?

Many graduate degrees in education, including doctoral degrees, are available online to meet the needs of working educators. Doctoral programs in educational technology and leadership are popular online options. The majority of these programs lead to an Ed.D. If you are interested in working as a university researcher and professor, you'll often need to pursue a campus-based Ph.D. program that provides opportunities for intensive research and faculty interaction.

What Areas of Education Can I Pursue a Doctoral Degree In?

You can earn a Ph.D. or Ed.D. in numerous areas of education. In addition to education specializations, you can pursue a wide variety of sub-specializations, leading to a dense field of options. Popular graduate-level specializations include administration and leadership, curriculum and instruction, educational psychology, special education and educational policy. A sampling of doctoral degree sub-specializations from within these disciplines includes:

  • Educational technology
  • Literacy studies
  • Multicultural education
  • K-12 leadership
  • Community education
  • School psychology
  • Learning sciences
  • Learning disabilities
  • Mathematics and science education
  • International education policy and management
  • History, philosophy and comparative education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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