K-12 Doctorate Programs in Education

Educational leaders seeking to apply concepts in research and best practices in education might pursue a Doctorate in K-12 Education. Programs might require professional experience in education.

It’s fun to think of a Doctor of Education as someone who fixes something that’s broken. After all, it’s well known that within our educational system there exist plentiful problems begging to be solved. Even for those who don’t believe that the system is broken (it does, after all, have some wonderful qualities) it’s difficult to deny that it doesn’t at least suffer from some undiagnosed illnesses or misapplied treatments. Nearly all of us could agree that our educational system could benefit from at least some considerate care.

Consider that a Doctor of Education provides that considerate care to diagnose illnesses and bring systems of education into optimum health. Doctoral programs in education therefore exist to transform ordinary educators, leaders, administrators, and thinkers into extraordinary ones—ones who have the mental, social, and practical capacities to influence a system that could use a trained and hand.   

Doctoral Degree Programs in K-12 Education: EDD vs. Ph.D

There are two primary Doctor of Education degrees programs: a Doctorate in Education (EdD) and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Education (PhD). There are similarities and important differences between the two, so take time to consider which might be right for you.

Similarities between the EdD and the Doctor of Education &Programs for K-12 Education doctoral Students

Let’s start by discussing the ways in which the two degree programs are similar: first, both are designed to help prepare you to pursue careers in the field of education and emphasize educational theory, philosophy, and practice. Second, each may give you a better idea of the social, political, and cultural issues and circumstances shaping education today. Through either course of study, you could gain a strong understanding of what educators, administrators, and leaders in education encounter on a daily basis. In addition, you may have an opportunity to learn how to assess and address the impacts of our educational system on our youth today. Finally, both degrees offer opportunities to examine who you are as a leader in your field.

Differences between the EdD and the Doctor of Education Programs for K-12 Education Doctoral Students

Now let’s examine some of the ways in which the two degree programs differ. After all, earning one of these two degrees could ultimately lead professionals down two distinct paths:

One primary difference between these two degree programs is that one of them, the EdD, is basically designed for professionals who want to pursue careers as leaders and administrators in the education industry. The EdD therefore has a much more practical focus, with an emphasis on coursework and experience that is set up to help prepare students to pursue administrative and leadership positions. EdDs might pursue potential career opportunities as educators, managers, administrators, principles, trainers, and in other leadership capacities. They often work in schools, government organizations, or non-profits. Ultimately, EdDs learn how to practically apply what they learn through research to positively influence education.

Conversely, the PhD in education program is typically designed for professionals who want to study the field of education itself during their programs and into the future. PhDs might pursue careers as post-secondary educators or researchers, and they study and share knowledge about core issues and circumstances influencing education. PhD programs therefore tend to have a more research and writing orientation that emphasizes coursework and experience that prepares students to develop and share new knowledge. PhDs might pursue potential career opportunities as professors and researchers in universities, think-tanks, school districts, and governmental or nonprofit organizations. PhDs ultimately apply a more theoretical focus as they learn how to research and share knowledge in the field of education.

If you decide to earn a doctorate in education, determine whether you would like to work on practical or theoretical applications within the industry. Determine whether you want to pursue a career as a leader or administrator, or if you want to aim toward a career as an educator and researcher. Then research options in the program that may be right for you.

Common Areas of Research in Doctorate of K-12 Education Programs

Whether in an EdD or PhD program, you may be required to conduct research, examine results, and learn how to share or apply new knowledge about educational theory or practices. Here are some of the leading-edge subjects of research and study in doctorate education programs today:

  • Instructional leadership
  • Organizational leadership
  • Public leadership
  • Evidence-based leadership
  • Educational technology or psychology
  • Higher education
  • Educational leadership and administration
  • Curriculum instruction and teaching

As you can see, there are numerous options for educators ready to earn their doctorate of education. May your path to enhancing your career as an even more effective educator, administrator, or leader be a wonderful one!

Find Schools