Educator leading an education seminar

EdD vs PhD – Key Differences Compared

EdD and PhD programs are degrees in education but cater to distinct career goals. Learn more.

Why should I get an EdD degree?

Are you considering a doctorate to propel your career in education? A master's degree has equipped you with valuable knowledge, but you're hungry to make a bigger impact. Doctor of Education (EdD) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs offer a path forward, but how do these doctorates differ? The key lies in their focus. 

What is an EdD degree? 

An EdD degree is oriented toward professionals who want to learn to leverage educational leadership skills. Combining research and application, the EdD can be applied to various industries inside and outside of education. With an EdD, you can spearhead educational change at the district or school level, craft innovative curricula, or guide future educators.

EdD vs PhD 

Are you a passionate educator ready to take the next step and become a leader who shapes the future of education? Then, an EdD program might be the perfect fit for you. The focus of an EdD program is on practical application. You'll delve into the latest educational theories and strategies but with a clear emphasis on how to implement them effectively in real-world educational settings. EdD programs are designed for busy professionals, so expect a curriculum that blends rigorous coursework with flexible learning options.

If you’re more interested in delving deeper into the theoretical underpinnings of education or seeing yourself as a future professor who teaches and conducts groundbreaking research, a PhD in education might be a better fit. A PhD program emphasizes original research, pushing the boundaries of educational knowledge.

The key takeaway? Both EdD and PhD programs are degrees in education, but they cater to different career goals. An EdD equips you to be a change agent in the field, while a PhD prepares you to become a scholar who advances educational knowledge.

EdD Degree Online

Arizona Online’s EdD in Educational Leadership – in the Educational Leadership & Policy (EDLP) unit – is designed to advance knowledge and address enduring and future problems in education by:

  • Exploring issues of social justice for educational equity and opportunity
  • Engaging in research situated in socio-cultural, economic, and political contexts
  • Addressing the significance of changing and challenging educational contexts

Students continue to work as full-time practitioners while studying and applying new knowledge to their daily practice.

The benefits extend far beyond the classroom. EdD programs often attract experienced professionals, creating a unique learning environment. Your classmates – who are often current school administrators, deans, and educational professionals – bring much practical experience. This collaborative atmosphere fosters knowledge exchange, allowing you to learn from each other's successes and challenges. The connections you build in the program can evolve into valuable professional networks that propel your career forward long after graduation.

Doctor of Education Salary

EdD degree jobs vary depending on your goals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), EdD graduates who become school principals, leading middle or high schools, enjoy a competitive median salary of $101,320. According to Payscale, superintendents – responsible for the whole district's success – command even higher salaries, averaging $144,547 nationwide.

But leadership isn't the only option. EdD graduates can also work to develop curriculums and set educational standards. Instructional coordinators, for example, earned a median salary of $66,490 in 2022, according to the BLS.

For those passionate about technology, EdD programs focusing on e-learning can lead to careers overseeing tech initiatives or online programs. Education Technology Specialists, for example, currently earn an average annual salary of $80,965 (Glassdoor).

And, of course, an EdD qualifies graduates to teach. College professors enjoy a median annual salary of $80,840 (BLS, 2022), with varying salaries based on experience and institution.

EdD Programs

If your career goals aren't limited to teaching or research, an EdD is better than a PhD. An EdD goes beyond traditional academics, equipping you with the skills to make a real-world difference in the field of education. An EdD is your springboard to impactful careers across the educational spectrum. Think school administration, curriculum development, or policy leadership in K-12 or higher education. The possibilities extend beyond the school walls, with opportunities in healthcare, government, and even the business sector. Earning an EdD could be the key to unlocking your potential if you're passionate about leading and making a tangible impact.