Doctoral degrees are the ultimate achievement in higher education. For someone who wants to make a difference and become a leader in the field of education, a doctoral degree can be particularly valuable. Whatever your career goals may be, from teaching at the college level to leading a K-12 school system to becoming an organizational leader, you may be wondering whether you should pursue a PhD in Education degree or an EdD degree to meet your goals.

An EdD, otherwise known as a Doctor of Education, is not as commonly known as a PhD; however, both are options to consider as you pursue an advanced degree that allows you to take on leadership roles within the educational community. In this article, we'll compare the differences and similarities between each degree type.

What is an Ed.D?

Have you ever heard of an EdD degree? If not, you’re not alone. An EdD degree is as not as familiar to the public in general as a PhD.

EdD, which stands for Doctor of Education, is a professional doctorate degree for mid- to senior-level working professionals and experienced educators who want to advance their careers, serve in leadership roles, and be an instrument of change within their organizations.

What is a Ph.D?

PhD is short for Doctor of Philosophy. It's one of the highest levels of academic degrees a person can achieve. The term PhD is derived from a Latin phrase abbreviation—(Ph)ilosophiae (D)octor. Those who obtain a PhD degree generally go on to work in academia and research.

Difference between Doctor of Education (EdD) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

A PhD in Leadership is a research doctorate focusing on the theory and practice of organizational leadership; whereas, an EdD in Educational Leadership is a professional doctorate created to train candidates for hands-on leadership roles in educational settings.

An EdD degree is typically meant to equip already experienced educators who want to make a career change by moving into education leadership or administration. The better-known PhD degree is generally pursued earlier in one’s educational path, often right after receiving a master’s degree. An EdD is a doctoral degree built on an already existing knowledge base to prepare the earner for new challenges.

Many educators choose to earn a PhD in Leadership; however, it differs slightly from a practitioner degree such as an EdD. Essentially, research plays a much larger role for someone who has chosen to pursue a PhD.

Flexibility in Scheduling Between EdD and PhD

An EdD degree can be pursued part-time which is especially helpful for someone who is already working in the field of education. A PhD, on the other hand, may not allow the pursuit of it on a part-time basis. In fact, a PhD may require in-residence research and study. Fortunately, University of the Cumberlands offers an online PhD in Leadership Studies, giving students who need or want to work while pursuing their PhD another doctoral degree option.

Wages for EdD vs PhD

Careers requiring a PhD degree often pay less than those requiring an EdD degree. Additionally, jobs mandating an EdD can be found in a variety of private, public, and non-profit sectors. PhDs, on the other hand, often pursue careers in academia.

Similarities of EdD and PhD

Now that we’ve looked at a few differences between these two doctoral degrees, let’s look at some of the similarities. If you want to pursue a career path that leads to educational leadership, both of these advanced degrees will help you meet your goals.

Both degrees offer:

  • Skills to make an impact and difference in the educational community
  • Access to career advancement opportunities
  • A path to the upper-levels of the educational community
  • A boost to your earning potential

Job Prospects for Both

An advanced degree in educational leadership prepares you to make a difference in the educational community. You are trained to excel in careers that require an advanced degree as well as leadership expertise. As more students pursue undergraduate degrees, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects postsecondary educational administrator jobs to increase by eight percent over the next ten years. Postsecondary educational administrators serve in roles that require expertise in both organizational management and education. They often lead and oversee student services, academics, research, and other college or university activities.

A doctoral degree holder may proceed to become a postsecondary educator, preparing and instructing future educational leaders and teachers. The BLS predicts that teaching jobs in postsecondary education will increase by a rate of 12 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average of most other occupations.

Job Prospects for Doctor of Philosophy Degree Holders

For those with a PhD degree, salary ranges can vary widely and depend on various factors like education, certifications, position, and years of experience. Three popular career paths for those who have a PhD degree include:

  • Academic Researcher: An academic researcher may work as a researcher in a university setting. Many researchers use their proficiency and knowledge of specific subject matter to test and design academic programs, helping schools measure the progress of students and develop better curriculum. The national median salary for an academic researcher is $60,480 per year. However, top-level researchers may earn as much as $144,000 per year.
  • University Professor: With a PhD, you’ll be equipped to compete for jobs at any university, large or small. A PhD may enable you to take part in research while also enjoying a teaching career. The national average salary for a university professor is $100,427 per year, although some make as much as $240,707 per year.
  • Academic Dean: An academic dean serves as the head of their respective academic department within a college or university. Academic deans are generally one of the highest-ranking academic officials of an institution, outranked only by the chancellor or president, the provost, or the chief academic officer. As an academic dean, you’d provide vision and direction to your department. The average salary for an academic dean is $73,374 per year; however, the top ten percent could expect to make as much as $104,147 per year.   

Job Prospects for Doctor of Education Degree Holders

An EdD degree typically offers more diverse job opportunities compared to that of a PhD degree. Rather than focusing mainly on working in academia, especially research, as a PhD degree holder typically does, an EdD degree holder may choose to work in public, private, or not-for-profit job sectors. For those with an EdD, popular career paths include:

  • Top Executives: As an educational top executive, you are qualified to act as chief academic officers or chief learning officers. EdD degree holders also serve as senior-level executives, planning strategies and policies to support and ensure their organization or educational institution meets its goals. A top-level executive could expect an average salary of $107,680 per year
  • Elementary and Secondary School Educational Administrators: The top executives of a school district, superintendents, fall into this category. Elementary and secondary school educational administrators manage the affairs of all their district’s educational facilities including academic programs, staffing, and spending. They typically earn an average of $103,010 per year. The top 10 percent is reported to earn as much as $152,500 on average.
  • Postsecondary Educational Administrators: Those who choose the career path of postsecondary educational administration oversee academics, admissions, student services, and faculty research at colleges and universities. Postsecondary educational administration job titles include dean, provost, vice president, and president. According to the BLS, their average salary comes in at $97,500 per year.
  • Instructional Coordinators: Instructional coordinators oversee teaching standards and school curriculums. They create instructional materials, put them into practice, and then assess the effectiveness of the material as well as the instruction methods used. An instructional coordinator's average median salary is $66,970.

Career opportunities for EdD graduates abound. The job prospects listed above are but a sampling.

Which is Right for You?

Both of these advanced degree options enhance your career choices in the field of educational leadership. Which, however, is right for you? If you enjoy research or teaching in a college or university, a PhD degree will serve you well. If, however, you are currently a working professional or an experienced educator who wants to advance your career into a leadership role within your organization, an EdD degree may be the instrument you need to push you up the career ladder.

Take the Next Step at University of the Cumberlands

If your career goals include an advanced degree in educational leadership, look no further than University of the Cumberlands. We offer degree programs in a Christian environment that prepare you for an educational leadership career, providing both a Doctor of Education degree program and a Doctor of Philosophy degree program. Both degree options also offer online programs which focus on putting faith into action.

A doctoral degree in educational leadership can open the way to a number of career opportunities. University of the Cumberlands prepares you for success by providing classes that give you the skills you need to successfully compete for jobs in educational leadership.

If you’re interested in learning more about the educational leadership doctoral degrees we offer, contact our admissions counselor or request more information today. With choices between a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in Leadership degree program and an EdD (Doctor of Education) in Educational Leadership degree program, as well as on-campus and online classes, there’s no reason you can’t take the next step towards you’re advanced graduate degree.