Considering a PhD in Education? Here’s What You Need to Know

You probably have some questions about getting a PhD in education. We have the answers.

Getting a PhD, a doctorate in philosophy, can be a prestigious title to pursue in a field that you are interested in. If you have a passion for education, then getting a PhD in education might be a real consideration. But as always, it’s good to know about what you’re getting into before you take the plunge.


We’re going to go through what you need to know about getting a PhD in education. We have the answers to common questions on what it’s all about.


Source: Pexels


What is a PhD in education?

A doctorate in philosophy in education is one way to pursue a career in academia where the focus of the degree is on theoretical research in a given field of study. Now, you might be wondering what then is an EdD? An EdD is a doctorate in education. It’s more of a hands-on practice-oriented role for educators interested in leadership, whether that may be in education, the government, or in non-profit organizations.


There are more differences between the two:

  • A PhD in education takes four years to complete, while an EdD takes two.
  • A PhD requires doing a dissertation, while an EdD doesn’t.
  • A PhD focuses on developing new research. EdD students, on the other hand, use existing research to guide decisions about issues within their area of study.
  • A PhD requires taking 90 credits, whereas an EdD requires 60.


Source: Pexels


Why study a PhD in education?

There are many reasons why a PhD in education is valuable and worthy of your effort. Here’s why:


1. It’s one of the most highly respected credentials in education.


A PhD in education is a terminal degree, meaning its the highest that you can achieve in the field of education.


2. You’ll use research-based methods to solve problems and identify gaps in the field that you’re specialized in.


And you will have the expertise and credentials to publish in professional journals or present your findings at conferences around the world.


3. You’ll be advancing in an area of education in which you’re passionate about.


Are you fascinated by childhood development? Or do you have a passion for classroom management? If you have a desire to advance a particular field in education, a PhD is an excellent way to do so.


4. You’ll earn respect in your field and gain personal satisfaction.


Since a PhD in education requires doing a dissertation, that alone is not an easy feat! Accomplishing it will be surely give you a rewarding feeling. Plus, being called Doctor isn’t so bad either.


Just like any degree, a PhD in education involves a certain skill set. Some learned along the way, and some you may have naturally. These are some skills involved in a PhD in education:


Technical skills:

  • Analysis and problem-solving, project management and organization, research and information management, and written and oral communication are all important in such a research-based degree.


Soft skills:

  • Interpersonal and leaderships skills, self-management and work habits, concentration, and patience are all important personal skills to have when you’re spending lots of time on one specific topic.


What careers options are there? And what’s the salary like?

Did you know that in America, PhD graduates will earn $1.4 million more than BA holders in their working lifetimes? There are all kinds of career options for PhD in education graduates. Their salaries will range according to each job.


Here are some examples of typical careers and their average salaries in the US:

  • Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists: $72,710
  • Education Teachers, Postsecondary: $65,630
  • Survey Researchers: $53,000
  • Sociologists: $78,120
  • Training and Development Specialists: $60,780


Many PhD in education graduates want to become professors. Here’s what the average annual salaries look like around the globe for professors:

  • US: $102,402 USD
  • Canada: $98,400
  • Switzerland: 125,250 to 158,783 CHF
  • UK: £79,030
  • Germany: €49,548 to €57,373
  • France: €36,560 to €73,343


There are other career options as well, such as school administrator, superintendent, curriculum coordinator, and principal. Check out Payscale if you want to know some more PhD in education job options and their respective salaries.


Source: Pixabay


What do I need beforehand?

Considering that a PhD in education is the highest level you can achieve in education, it means that you will already have a bachelor’s under your belt, and in most cases, a master’s degree as well. In other words, you probably like being a student. There are lots of years dedicated to earning a PhD.


Another important thing to know is that almost all PhD candidates have background experience in research. So if education is your field of interest, getting a PhD will mean coming to the table with previous research experience from your prior degrees.


Always check with the schools you are interested in to see what their specific prerequisites are.


What programs and schools offer a PhD in Education?

There are many schools that offer PhD in education programs. Just like most subjects, there are going to be online/on-campus options as well as throughout the world. Some are even fully-funded.


Online programs


University of the People has a Master’s in Education degree. This could be a great choice for those of you who may be aiming for a PhD in education, but only have a BA. the next step is getting that MA. And why not choose a tuition-free program? Learn more about our online Master of Education (M.Ed.) here.


Liberty University, Walden University, University of Colorado, and the University of Nebraska are just a few of the more popular online universities that offer a PhD in Education. Here’s a longer list of online degrees that are rated the best in 2019.


Studying in Europe


Studying in Europe can be both exciting and low-cost. Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Finland offer free doctorate tuition for university students, regardless of their nationality! France offers low-cost PhD tuition fees. If you want to see some specific schools in these countries, look at this list.


Fully funded programs


Fully-funded sounds wonderful, and it is! But it doesn’t mean there’s no cost. What it means is that your tuition is paid for, but textbooks, living expenses, supplies, fees, and the rest are coming out of your pocket. That said, it’s still an awesome option. One condition: it has to be on campus. Why? Because you need to pay with your time — teaching and doing research.


University of Michigan School of Education, Vanderbilt Peabody College, and Steinhardt School at NYU all offer tuition-free on-campus PhD in education programs.


Source: Pexels


Online vs On-campus


You might be wondering what it’s like to do a PhD online, as compared to on-campus. Like all degrees, there are advantages and disadvantages to earning your degree entirely online. In regards to a PhD in education, you will need to consider a few things.


Online PhD programs are best suited to students who work better solo. They are also great for those who have worked in the field for some time and want to advance in their area of study. And, of course, it’s the best option for those who work and are raising families. On the other hand, you aren’t in the presence of peers and professors that can be a valuable resource in the research-driven program of a PhD.


Earning a PhD on-campus has its pros and cons as well. While they’re generally more expensive than online programs, on-campus PhD programs allow you to communicate face-to-face with your professors, supervisors, and other students.


Source: Pexels


What do you study in a PhD in Education?

Completing a PhD means doing your dissertation, or research thesis. Naturally, it is going to be based on the field of study that you are most interested in. You can specialize in a certain area. Some common specialization options for a PhD in education are:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Special Education
  • Adult Education
  • Teacher Leadership
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Educational Psychology
  • Leadership


Aside from the research involved in planning and executing your thesis, you will also have professional development activities and coursework relevant to your area of study. They’re designed to help give you the skills needed to succeed in your research and your future career in education.


While curriculum is going to vary according to your specialization, there are some general core courses that most PhDs in education involve. You will likely see group psychology, leadership, learning models, ethics, education and globalization, and analytics courses as part of your curriculum.


So, should you go for it?

If you choose to study a PhD in education, chances are you’re passionate about teaching and learning and everything in between. You may not be the teaching type per say, but you want to provide something to existing and future teachers and students by adding to the field of education in some way. It’s a respectable route to take to advance a career in education.


The way you decide to earn your degree is up to you. Either online or on-campus, prepare yourself for lots of reading, writing, researching, and communicating. Whatever you chose, we’re sure you’ll give it your best shot. Good luck!



You might also be interested in: