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 doctorate in education have a variety of career options to choose from, depending on their area of specialization.

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What Is a Ph.D. in Education?

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.

A student in these Ph.D. programs works on his or her doctoral dissertation throughout the time spent on this degree. 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.

What Can You Do With a Ph.D. in Education?

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 school-wide policies, make budgetary decisions, and analyze student data. Graduates who specialize in educational leadership may find work as school principals or superintendents.

Ed.D. vs. Ph.D in Education

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education and a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) are similar in the topic of study, but differ in the actual process of earning the degree as well as how graduates will use the degree. While a Ph.D. in Education usually involves research and theory, an Ed.D. is rooted in the practical, with students required to learn how to develop educational curricula, manage budgets for various types of organizations, and similar tasks. Although graduates of both programs may pursue roles in educational administration, graduates of a Ph.D. program could be qualified for careers in teaching and research, while those who earn an Ed.D. might be best prepared for a career focused on areas such as curriculum development, governance, and organizational theory, in education and beyond.

Salary and Job Outlook

Ph.D. in Education jobs include roles in postsecondary education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary teachers earned a median annual salary of $78,470 in 2018. These jobs are predicted to grow at a rate of 15% during the 2016-2026 decade, which is much faster than average. Additionally, postsecondary education administrators earned a median annual pay of $94,340 in 2018, and jobs are expected to grow 10% between 2016-2026, also according to the BLS.

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