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Is An Ed.D. Worth It? A Step Towards Professional Success


Going back to school for a graduate degree is a serious consideration. Many people who already have experience in the field of education consider earning their Doctor of Education, or Ed.D. But doing so begs the question, “Is an Ed.D worth it?” The answer really depends on what you want to do with the degree and where you earn your degree.

To find out more about if getting an Ed.D is the right path for you, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about the degree and the steps to make to achieve professional success.

What Is An Ed.D?

An Ed.D stands for Doctor of Education. It is a research and professional degree that creates opportunities for a graduate to pursue a career in positions related to education. These opportunities span academia, research, clinical, professional services, and administration in public, private, or government organizations.

The Ed.D was created in 1921 at Harvard University. It is less research-based and more practical when compared to a PhD in Education.

Stack of books on a desk
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

First, Consider Your Goals

When considering if an Ed.D is right for you, you’ll probably come across a PhD in Education, too. The first step to making the right decision is to understand your career goals. This is because an Ed.D is more fitting for those who want to work in education policy or school administration. On the other hand, those who earn their PhD generally work within academia, as a college professor, for example.

Although there are these differences between the teaching style of each program, they can also be interchangeable in most instances. So, if you have a PhD already, then an Ed.D is not really worth pursuing.

But, if you are choosing between the two and administration is your goal, then an Ed.D is likely worth the time, effort, and cost. Those with their Ed.D have the opportunity to create positive change within the realm of education by affecting policies, a school district’s curriculum, and more.

To sum it up, an Ed.D will be a good fit if you want a career in any of the following positions:

  • Administration
  • Chief Learning Officer
  • Chief Academic Officer
  • Social and Community Mangers
  • Survey Researchers
  • Postsecondary Teachers

Commitment Required: How Long Does An Ed.D Take to Earn?

If you’re at the stage of considering this type of degree, then you likely know what it’s like to have earned your master’s degree. It requires serious commitment and perseverance.

Most programs can be completed in two years when enrolled full-time. However, most students who earn their Ed.D do so part-time as they maintain jobs. In a PhD program, the situation isn’t the same as the majority of people are solely students and not working.

When you work while earning the Ed.D part-time, it could take an average of 4 to 5 years. For some people, it may even take up to 7. The actual time it takes will depend on the hours of time that you can dedicate to school each semester.

How Much Does An Ed.D Cost?

Program costs greatly vary depending on:

  • Tuition Costs
  • Program location
  • Cost of living
  • Employment status
  • Tuition reimbursement

Yet, the general amount of credits it takes to earn an Ed.D degree is 60-66 units. Let’s estimate that each unit costs between $350 to $775. Then, in total, the degree can cost an estimated $21,000 to $55,000.

Funding your education is one of the primary concerns for any student. Since most students are able to earn this degree while working, you can try to use some of your salary to pay for your education. If that’s not doable, consider loans, scholarships, grants, and tuition reimbursement offers from employers.

How Can An Ed.D Impact Earning Potential?

One of the main reasons that people choose to earn their Ed.D is to increase their job opportunities and move up the career ladder. Top-level positions inherently demand higher earning potentials.

Here’s a look at some of the positions that require an Ed.D, along with their average annual salary (taken from data across the United States).

Positions that require an Ed.D and salary infographic by UoPeople

5 Reasons You Should Earn Your Ed.D (Besides The Boost In Earnings)

  1. Affect Positive Change: As an Ed.D graduate, you’ll hone management and communication skills that will help you affect positive change in any organization.
  2. Boost Agility: The landscape of education continues to change. With this degree, you’ll have insight into educational trends, ways of learning, and an understanding of digital literacy that can support the changes in education as they come.
  3. Resume Enhancer: The degree is a terminal degree, meaning it is the highest level of expertise you can attain within this field. Therefore, when you seek any job within the field, you are a strong contender.
  4. Leverage Technology: The new ways of teaching incorporate technology. With an Ed.D, you’ll know how to use technology to teach and learn.
  5. Leadership Positions: Most high-level positions in the field require that you have an Ed.D (or PhD). With this degree, you open the door to many job opportunities and positions that place you within the leadership of organizations.

Prerequisites To Earn Your Ed.D

Before you can apply to most Ed.D programs, you will need to have completed a master’s degree. You’ll also have to provide the following with your application:

  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • GRE or GMAT

What You’ll Learn

Most of the programs include an array of classes that span from leadership to theory. From teaching about the way different societal norms affect learning, to the different ways that students learn, the program provides details so that graduates can design educational policies.

Some course titles may include:

  • Educational Leadership
  • Advanced Leadership in Educational Systems
  • Advanced Learning Theories
  • Curriculum and Instructional Reform
  • Foundations of Research in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Professional Development and Teacher Learning
  • Perspectives in Curriculum, Teaching and Teacher Education
  • Critical Pedagogy Foundations
  • Issues in School Improvement
  • Issues in Teacher Education
  • Sociocultural Perspectives
  • Diversity in Learning
  • Teacher Learning and Socialization in Poverty School

Where Can I Earn My Ed.D?

The decision to earn your Ed.D at a traditional on-campus program or online is up to you. The location in which you choose to study may also depend on your family, significant other, and job. Here’s a list of schools where you can earn your Ed.D online.

For students who first need to earn their Master’s in Education, that can also be done online. The University of the People offers a fully online and tuition-free Master’s in Education (M.Ed). Graduates who earn their Master’s in Education can become teachers in K-12 schools or work in community colleges, nursery schools, tutoring centers, health and wellness centers, and more.

female graduate facing classmates
Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

So, Is A Doctorate In Education Worth It?

Ultimately, if you want to hold a high-level position in colleges and universities within administration or work in educational public policy, then you need your Ed.D. The skills you will learn and the knowledge that you come away with are irreplaceable. If this is your goal, then an Ed.D is surely worthwhile.

However, if the type of career you want within education can be accomplished with a Master’s in Education or a Bachelor’s degree alone, then it may be a good idea to start with that and work for some time. If you find yourself itching for more, you can always apply for a doctorate degree after gaining some experience.