When considering a PhD in education, you'll first want to think about your career goals. What would you like to do for a career? Once that has been decided, it should be easier for you to narrow your degree program based on the skills you'll need in your future career. In this article, we'll take a look at some common educational PhD programs, and discuss which would be best for you.
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Best PhD Programs in Education
Education careers go beyond the classroom, though that may come as a surprise for the average student. Education is always evolving, looking for new and innovative ways to teach and plan curricula. In this section, we'll take a look at some of the best education programs for future educators, researchers, and administrators.
PhD in Education
While the Doctor of Education (EdD) degree is quite common for those who wish to become professors at universities, the PhD program focuses more on research. These programs are typically 4-5 years in length and require intensive research and study. You'll learn how to create new ways to alter the way students learn. Some course topics you may come across include culture and institutions, education policy, applied data analysis, qualitative research, education program evaluation, and learning and development. You will need to complete a dissertation, and most colleges require a research apprenticeship and a teaching fellowship.
PhD in Teaching and Learning
Similar to the Education program, a PhD program in teaching and learning specifically looks at how you will teach future students. These programs are typically between 45 and 60 credits and will include a dissertation at the end of your education. Depending on the college, you may have even more concentrations to narrow your studies, for instance you may seek specific teaching and learning education in literacy, urban education, special education, or a specific subject area (math, history, etc.). Your program will mostly be tailored specifically to you because your courses and research should reflect your dissertation topic as much as possible.
PhD in Educational Technology and Design
Education and technology are constantly changing. How you use technology in the classroom and to better the learning experience will be the focus of a PhD in Educational Technology and Design. Along with the dissertation or doctoral capstone, you'll have to complete plenty of research courses, typically around 80+ credits to complete the program. After you've completed this program, you'll be able to conduct research on new technologies and analyze the technological needs for the education industry.
PhD in Curriculum and Instruction
With a curriculum and instruction PhD, you'll study the appropriate way to analyze current curriculum and development of new innovative curriculum. Many colleges will ask you to narrow your focus to one specific area of education, such as STEM, motivation and learning, early education, sustainability education, or legal issues in education. You'll typically look at the politics of education and focus on the ways to improve education and learning for students. Many colleges ask that education doctoral candidates complete a written and oral candidacy exam before beginning the dissertation.
PhD in Educational Leadership
Educational leadership is for those who want to seek a leadership position. This could mean as a provost or department chair, or it could mean you'd like to find work in policymaking for the benefit of the education system. These programs vary in length, typically around 70+ credits. Most of your time will be spent on research methodologies and completing your dissertation. You'll also need to complete a mentored research position to practice these skills. Some course topics you may look at include writing techniques specific to education, foundations and methods of research, and educational theory.
Common Admission Requirements
Depending on the university, you may need to have already completed a master's degree. No matter the degree you've completed, you'll need to submit official transcripts with your application and application fee. You'll also need to include a statement of intent about your career and educational goals and why you're applying to the program. To round out the requirements, you'll typically need a 3.0 or higher GPA and some letters of recommendation (commonly three).
Many PhD programs in education look at the ways to improve the current education system and learning processes. Though these are all looking at how best to research and develop innovative tools, you'll also learn how to teach at the post-secondary level. Whether you prefer to work in technology, education, leadership, or curriculum building, there are programs out there for you.