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What is the Difference Between a PhD and an EdD in Education

commentary by Jazelyn Hoel | September 30, 2013

Related Topics: higher education, higher education for teachers, professional development, professional development for teachers, doctoral programs for teachers, doctoral degrees, doctorate, PhD, EdD

Pursuing a higher education has become a popular way for individuals to advance their careers as well as provide them with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. The two most common degrees of higher education are usually a PhD or EdD, but what exactly are the differences between the two?

A PhD is the more familiar of the two, it is the abbreviated version of Doctor of Philosophy. Granted by universities, this academic degree is considered to be one of the highest educational degrees obtained. An EdD, Doctor of Education Degree is also a discipline-based doctorate, but with the purpose of preparing the individual for work involving academia, administration, and clinical or research positions in educational settings. The EdD is a terminal degree recognized by the National Science Foundation that is equivalent to a PhD.

Most Doctoral students trying to earn a PhD must complete a verbal dissertation and defense, while students aiming for an EdD must also complete research and create a dissertation; however, a verbal defense is not required.

The question then remains, which degree is right for me? Basically, both the EdD and PhD are research-based and require a sufficient amount of time and academic rigor before finishing the program. In deciding, it is important to consider a few things :

    A PhD offers the skills for a person to become an expert at a wide array of disciplines, while an EdD is more discipline-based.

    A PhD requires somewhat more rigorous training during the first two years while an EdD involves both subject study and course work during the first half.

    The EdD requires a shorter thesis and no verbal defense as opposed to the PhD.

Both EdD and PhD degree holders can qualify for careers as university professors or lectures, school superintendents, human resource directors, or principals. Students going for a PhD often choose a focus or area of study, if you are unsure of your area of study, the EdD is definitely the better option for you. If you are also unsure what program you would like to pursue, 360 Education Solutions is here to help you discover your path. It is our mission to provide you with the degree programs best suited for you.


For more information, check out our EdD programs and PhD programs.

Jazelyn Hoel is a writer for 360 Education Solutions