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Pursuing your EdD in Education vaults you to the elite of the teaching profession. The second largest industry in the United States today, education offers over 13.3 million jobs. Worldwide, that number rises to over 60 million hard-working educators who want to make a difference in their schools and communities.

The Doctorate in Education was first presented by Harvard University in 1920. Today is it considered one of the top degrees in the field, comparable to the storied PhD in Education, and just as much a measure of success.

EdD in Education or PhD in Education: What is the Difference?

For many years, the EdD has been seen at the lesser sibling of the PhD. Here's the truth: the PhD and the EdD are equivalent degrees that are simply oriented toward different goals. The PhD in Education is considered a researcher's degree, while the EdD in Education is seen as the practitioner's degree. Any suggestion that online PhD programs are better than online EdD programs is incorrect.

Earning a Doctorate in Education prepares you to climb the administrative ladder, while providing an opportunity to convert theory and research into hands-on change in the classroom. Choosing to specialize your EdD in Education can open doors to the global teaching world as well.

EdD in Education Specializations

As you might guess, EdDs come in quite a few varieties. With a myriad options at your fingertips, it's important to pick the right program before you sign on that dotted line. Because of admissions limitations, competitive programs, and preset rules within departments, many universities will make either extremely difficult or downright impossible to switch programs midstream. Here's a list of just a few of the potential specializations available with an EdD:

  • Adult and Continuing Professional Education
  • Comparative Education
  • Curriculum and Teaching
  • Educational Leadership (general)
  • Educational Leadership (K-12)
  • Education Technology and E-Learning
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)/English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
  • Exceptional Student Education
  • Global Training and Development
  • Health Professions Education
  • Higher Education Leadership/Administration
  • Instructional Leadership
  • International Education
  • Organizational Leadership (general)
  • Organizational Leadership and Communication
  • Training and Development

Remember to thoroughly research all of your options before choosing a program. Each of the above doctorates will prepare for a career in education, but whether you're better trained to be in front of a classroom or behind a desk may depend on your choice.

How to Apply for an Online EdD Program

The application for any graduate education program should begin with in-depth research--but before that, it is necessary to have a firm grasp of what you want to do with your EdD in Education after you graduate. Do you have a particular place in mind for employment? Do you have a specific goal as to what you to accomplish?

Making these decisions will allow you to narrow down your search to the schools that offer what you really need. When you know what you want out of your Doctorate in Education, it's time to evaluate how you want to get there.

On Campus, Online, or Both?

Choosing to pursue your educational dreams can be an easy decision. Choosing exactly how to make that happen can be the hard part! The options for graduate education programs are widely varied. Many students choose to earn their Doctorate in Education strictly online, and never once set foot inside a college classroom. Others opt for the traditional college experience and pursue their doctorate through daily classes.

Another popular option is the hybrid learning experience. Students might opt to enter an online PhD program or an online EdD program, yet also plan to take in-person classes on a nearby college campus. Students who are working full-time or have families to support can opt for an online EdD program, yet can fulfill any short residency requirements in a satellite classroom close to their home.

EdD in Education Must-Haves

No matter your choice of specialization, there are some absolute requirements you should consider for when researching a potential graduate education program.

  • Accreditation. The quality of any graduate education program can be determined by accreditation. Schools are reviewed by private, non-governmental boards that have been created specifically to test the quality of an educational program. Accredited schools have proven excellence in faculty, recruiting practices, admissions procedures, and course content. If the online EdD program you choose is not accredited, you might have trouble obtaining financial aid, transferring credits, or advancing your career after graduation.
  • Knowledgeable Faculty. The quality of an online doctoral degree program relies on the knowledge of the faculty who run it. Look at the faculty of the online EdD programs, as well as the online PhD programs--the faculty might overlap and teach classes for both. Do you recognize certain names from seminars, research journals, or other industry publications? Keep in mind that the faculty will be your mentors and eventually your colleagues.
  • Program History and Statistics. When researching potential online EdD in Education programs, consider the history of the school. How long has it been in business? What is the graduation rate? How well do they retain both graduate students and faculty? Learning as much as you can about a graduate education program will help lead you to an informed decision.
  • Reputation and Ranking. Over time, the reputation of an online EdD program will become clear. Look for information about the school in industry publications and online. Ask colleagues and former students for their opinion about the doctorate program. If you want hard and fast numbers to aid your decision, look into U.S. News and World Report's annual ranking of the best graduate education programs.
  • Competition for Placement. The best online EdD programs are just like the most prestigious PhD programs--the competition for placement is fierce. Therefore, a graduate education program that seems to accept all comers is waving a big red flag. The offering for an online EdD in Education might be new for that particular school, but there should still be ample competition. If there isn't, proceed with caution!
  • Additional Features of the EdD in Education Program. Consider what additional courses you might need to take, and whether the doctorate program you have chosen will provide for those. If you intend to live abroad after obtaining your EdD in Education, consider the language courses you might need to handle teaching duties in that country. Courses in international studies, diplomacy, and policy might also be helpful to you, depending upon the trajectory of your career path.

Are You Qualified to Begin the Doctorate in Education Program?

Once you have done the initial research, look at your own education and work experience to determine what you need to enter an online EdD in Education program.

  • Qualifying Exams. The GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is a test required for those who intend to pursue a doctorate degree. Those for whom English is not a native language might be required to take the SLEP, or Secondary Level English Proficiency Test. Preparing for these tests is very important.
  • Requisite Degrees. Most online EdD programs require that you already have a master's degree under your belt before applying, though some will accept a bachelor's degree coupled with work experience or additional coursework. If you are lacking in a particular class requirement, taking the course online is a quick and easy way to remedy that situation.
  • Recommendations. Letters of recommendation from professional colleagues and former teachers can hold a great deal of weight with the admissions committee. These letters of recommendation are meant to convince the committee of your dedication, character, and ability to complete the required work to get your EdD in Education.
  • Language and Cultural Requirements. If you are pursuing an educational degree focused on International Education or Comparative Education, your background in cultural studies or experience might be taken into consideration. If you intend to teach in another country upon graduation, can you display the language skills necessary to make a smooth transition? Do you have extensive knowledge of the cultural mores of a particular area? Play up your strengths in these areas and if necessary, take options classes that support your long-term goals.
  • Additional Requirements. When you pursue an EdD in Education with an emphasis on International or Comparative studies, some admissions committees will be interested in your intercultural experiences. They will look at your employment history in the field or education, any research or published works you have to your name, and what your long-term goals are for your career. Competition for EdD in Education programs is rigorous, so the more you bring to the table, the better your chances of acceptance.

Further Research into Online EdD Programs

Finding all the information you need to make an informed decision about online doctoral degree programs can be difficult. These resources provide a wealth of information in one place, saving you time and money in your search for the best EdD in Education program.

  • Industry Publications. Publications that focus on the teaching industry often have feature articles, rankings, news, and other information that can be helpful in your search for the perfect EdD in Education program. Journals such as the Comparative Education Review or Comparative Education will have vital information on your choice of career path and the best way to get there. If your focus is on international education studies, journals such as International Review of Education and International Journal of Educational Development can provide research insight.
  • School Web sites. Quite a bit of information about online EdD in Education programs can be found on the website of the school you are considering. Keep in mind, however, that all of this information will be positive--if you want a well-rounded picture of a school's performance, consult other sources as well.
  • Conferences and Seminars. Attending professional conferences can give you the opportunity to network with others in the teaching profession, and can give you insight into how perceive a certain EdD in Education program. Seminars targeted at those who are interested in International Education or Comparative Education are also helpful resources. Don't hesitate to ask questions!
  • Professional Organizations. Membership in professional organizations can give you an exclusive peek into resources not available to the general public. Consider organizations that cater to your specific needs, such as the Comparative and International Education Society.
  • WorldWideLearn.com. To find information on online EdD programs, as well as further information on online PhD programs, try the excellent resources of WorldWideLearn.com. Take assessment tests to help determine your career path, and find information on financial aid options for your particular situation.

Whether you opt for the online EdD program, choose to pursue an online PhD program, or prefer to earn your EdD on a traditional college campus, you can find the tools you need to help you achieve your educational dreams. Isn't it time get started on that path to your EdD in Education?



  • Asia Society, Global Interdependence and American Educational Reform
  • Comparative and International Education Society, About Us, Purpose
  • Educational Testing Service, GRE: Graduate Record Examinations
  • Inside Higher Ed., Envisioning a New Ed.D., by Elizabeth Redden
  • Northern Illinois University College of Education, Ed.D. Verus Ph.D.: What's the Difference?
  • Stanford University School of Education, International Comparative Education
  • U.S. News and World Report, Best Education Schools

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