In master's degree programs, students study statistics, research methodology and quantitative research. They learn techniques for gathering and analyzing data. Master's degree students often must complete a thesis.
Doctoral degree programs in this field are not common. Students learn to apply research findings and statistical information to the decision- and policy-making processes in education administration. Students often can focus their studies and research on a specialized area. A dissertation is required, as is a practicum in college teaching.
Master's Degrees in Education Research
There are three types of degree programs related to education research, including a Master of Science (M.S.) in Educational Research; M.S. in Educational Research and Evaluation; and M.S. in Education Research, Measurement and Evaluation. The first program offers concentration areas like statistics, survey research, qualitative research and more. The program consists of rigorous research activities and the development of a master's thesis.
The final two programs consist of traditional coursework, graduate seminars and comprehensive examinations. Graduate students learn to use statistical methods to analyze research and measurement techniques to score tests and evaluate educational data. Admission requirements are a bachelor's degree, resume, personal statement essay and adequate scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
Coursework in the three programs are similar, with most of the focus being on research methods, including studies in quantitative research. Other study areas include the following:
- Data collection
- Classical test theory
- Item analysis
- Parameter estimation
- Inferential statistics
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Doctoral Degrees in Education Research
Doctoral degree options are a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Research, Ph.D. in Educational Research and Evaluation, and Ph.D. in Educational Research and Policy Analysis. These degree programs are relatively rare in departments of education and designed for future leaders and policy makers in the field of education. Students gain evaluation and analytical skills and apply research findings to the advancement of educational practices, policies and programs. Admission requirements are the same as in the master's degree program, with the addition of an academic writing sample.
Ph.D. courses require students to use statistical analysis and analytical methods to create reports based on research findings. Some of the major focus areas in coursework include:
- Evaluation design
- Educational leadership
- School district policy
- Curriculum assessment
- Organizational theory
Popular Career Options
Graduates are prepared for a variety of careers, including jobs at universities, school districts and more. Some careers that graduates might consider are:
- Data analyst
- Measurement adviser
- Research coordinator
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
A Ph.D. qualifies graduates to work as professors at postsecondary (4-year) schools. Graduates can also find employment as education administrators, a profession that includes job titles like chief academic officer and director of student services. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary teachers were projected to see job growth of 13% (faster than the average for all occupations) from 2014-2024 and earned a median annual salary of $72,470 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
There are several degree programs at the master's and doctoral level in education research. Individuals who pursue such degrees will learn key skills in organizational theory, data collection, and curriculum assessment and will be qualified for a variety of interesting research-oriented careers.