What Can I Do With a PhD in Education?

A Ph.D. in Education is the highest degree one may earn in the education field. Students who earn a Ph.D. in Education have a variety of career options to choose from, depending on their area of specialization.

Education Ph.D. Overview

Education Ph.D. degrees are given in one of several specializations. Some of these include special education, education leadership, literacy and reading, technology design and teacher development and leadership. Many education Ph.D. programs prepare students for careers in education supervision, administration and instruction at the university level. Graduates of these programs may also be prepared for policymaking and administrative roles at the elementary and secondary school levels.

Regardless of specialization, students are required to take certain core classes within their curricula. These can include foundations of literacy, trends and issues in education, cognition and sociocultural processes in learning and motivation. Depending on the school, a student may also need to pursue a secondary degree emphasis.

The student works on his or her doctoral dissertation throughout the time spent in this program. A faculty advisor guides students through the dissertation process, and students often present their work to a faculty committee. To progress to the dissertation stage, students usually need to pass comprehensive exams.

Students may also be required to submit a portfolio showing accomplishments in coursework, independent study, research, internships and other learning activities completed during the Ph.D. program. If applicable, the portfolio covers the student's teaching job as well.

Career Options

Graduates of doctoral education programs often work as professors at the university level. This involves teaching university students and conducting research on behalf of the university. Professors frequently present their research at conferences alongside other academics.

Individuals who earn a doctoral degree in higher education administration can work in school administration at the postsecondary level. These professionals may create schoolwide policies, make budgetary decisions and analyze student data. Graduates who specialize in educational leadership may find work as school principals or superintendents.


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