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The Doctor of Education degree (Ed.D. or D.Ed.) is a discipline-based doctorate that prepares the student for academic, administrative, clinical or research positions in education. Like other doctorates, (e.g., the Ph.D., D.A., D.Sc., and so on), the Ed.D./D.Ed. is a terminal degree, is an academic degree of the highest level, and recognized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) "as equivalent to the Ph.D."[1].


The first Ed.D. degree was awarded in the United States, at Harvard University, in 1921, around the time that the Ph.D. was being introduced into the United Kingdom. The first Ed.D. arrived in England in 1992, at the University of Bristol. Six years later, 29 British universities were offering Ed.D. programs.


In Australia entry requirements for the Ed.D. are similar to the Ph.D. except that the former requires a number of the years professional experience in education or academic life.


In Canada, the Ed.D. tends to be granted by faculties of education at universities and is a terminal degree in education. Much like the United States and Great Britain, some universities offer the Ed.D. (Simon Fraser University), others offer a Ph.D. in education (McGill University, Queen's University, University of British Columbia), and yet others offer both (University of Toronto, University of Alberta).

South Africa

In South Africa, following a convention of using Latin in academic designations, the doctorate in education is called Doctor Educationis (D.Ed.) and, like other doctoral degrees in that country, it is entirely a research-based qualification.

United Kingdom and Ireland

Differences between an EdD and a PhD

In the United Kingdom, the EdD differs from a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education in that it allows the study of a greater variety of education-related subjects in the first stages of study, focusing on a single topic only at the end. However, both the EdD and PhD are research based degrees demanding the same level of academic rigour. A typical 3-year (Full Time) PhD[How to reference and link to summary or text] in the United Kingdom usually requires the submission of a maximum 80,000 word thesis; the entire study period would be spent researching the topic and writing the thesis. For an EdD, a student might be required to research various topics in the first two years, preparing a 5,000-6,000-word report for each. The last two years would be spent on the thesis, which might be 45,000-50,000 words working out at about the same amount of words overall as a PhD[2]. A key difference between the two forms of doctorate is that the PhD student tends to work alone while the EdD student will initially be part of a learning community although increasingly PhD students are now required to take courses on research methods similar to those taken by EdD students.

In Ireland EdD programs have only recently been introduced and they tend to follow the UK model of initial research modules followed by longer research papers and thesis.

Research by Scott, Lunt, Browne and Thorne (2002) has found that the difference between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D. can be somewhat overstated as students of both tend to follow similar courses of study and to research similar topics.

Professional prospects

The effect on a future career will depend on the area of study. In an ESRC funded report[3] by Professor Ingrid Lunt of the Institute of Education compared the EngD, the EdD and the DBA (Doctor of Business Administration). She concluded that:

"The impact of the development of professional knowledge on employment culture varied considerably; for EngD participants there was a major impact, whereas for those on the DBA, the impact was often more personal, developing and enhancing individual consultancy skills; for EdD participants, there appeared to be little impact on employment, though frequently considerable impact for the individuals themselves."

The EdD is generally presented as an opportunity to prepare for academic, administrative or specialised positions in education, favourably placing the graduates for promotion and leadership responsibilities, or high-level professional positions in a range of locations in the broad Education industry. In the UK and Ireland both the EdD and PhD are recognised for the purposes of appointment as a lecturer or professor in universities.

United States

In the United States, the Ed.D. tends to be granted by the schools of education of universities and is a terminal degree in education. A typical doctorate of education in the United States usually requires several years of course work as a doctoral student achieving generally 15 courses beyond a Masters degree, a comprehensive exam, and at its conclusion a dissertation. The dissertation presents the doctoral candidate's research and findings and is submitted for defense to the candidate's dissertation committee (Advisor/1st, 2nd, and 3rd reader). Majors within the Ed.D. may include: Curriculum and Instruction/Curriculum and Teaching, Education Policy, Higher Education, Educational Administration, Educational Leadership, or Language/Linguistics.

Differences between an Ed.D. and a Ph.D.

Both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. are research-based degrees demanding the same level of academic rigour.[4][5][6]The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) recognize numerous doctoral degrees as equivalent (but see footnote 3 here). A list can be found at doctorate.

At most colleges and universities in the United States that offer doctorates in education, the college or university chooses to offer an Ed.D. (Doctor of Education), a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) in Education, or both. Several of the top schools of education in the United States only offer their doctorates in education as Ed.D.s (e.g., Teachers College/Columbia University, Harvard University, George Washington University, etc.), whereas other top schools of education only offer their doctorates in education as Ph.D.s (Stanford University, University of Michigan, etc.), and yet others top schools of education choose to offer Ed.D.s for degrees in applied research and Ph.D.s for theoretical research (UCLA, UC Berkeley, University of Oregon, University of Pennsylvania, etc.). Finally, in rare circumstances, a school of education may offer both degrees with an Ed.D. being project-based and a Ph.D. being research-based (St. Louis University).

Professional prospects

In the United States, the Ed.D. and Ph.D. are both recognized for appointment as a lecturer or professor in a university. It may also be recognized as training for administration positions in education, such as superintendent of schools, human resource director, or principal.

Notable Persons with Ed.D. Degrees

  • Linda Darling-Hammond - is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, where she has launched the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute and the School Redesign Network. She is a leading scholar in teaching and teacher education.
  • Bill Cosby - is an American comedian, actor, television producer, educator, and activist.
  • Michael Apple - is John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin. He is a leading critical educational theorist, recognized for numerous books and scholarly interests, which center on education and power, cultural politics, curriculum theory and research, critical teaching, and the development of democratic schools.
  • Sonia Nieto - is Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy and Culture at the School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is a leading author and teacher in the field of multicultural education.
  • Lisa Delpit
  • Harvey Seigel
  • Jonas Soltis
  • Stephen Raudenbush - is a professor at the Department of Sociology, the University of Chicago. He received his B.A., Ed.M. and Ed.D. from Harvard University.
  • Thomas Payzant - is a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, served as superintendent of the Boston Public Schools from 1995 to 2006, and has been involved in numerous blue ribbon panels on education reform.
  • Sharon Feiman-Nemser - is a leading scholar of elementary education, Jewish education, and teacher education. She is currently a professor at Brandeis University.
  • Jill Biden - is the wife of vice-president elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
  • Anthony Byrk - is a professor and an endowed chair in Organizational Studies by the Spencer Foundation at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.

See also

  • School of Education
  • Bachelor of Education
  • Master of Education
  • Certified teacher


Academic degrees
Associate's degrees (U.S.) AA, ABA, ABS, AS
Foundation degrees (U.K.) FdA, FdEd, FdEng, FdMus, FdBus, FdSc, FdTech
Bachelor's degrees B.Accty, AB or BA, BSc or SB, BBus, BCom or BComm, BCS, BEc, BEng or BE, BS or BSc, BFA, BD, BHE, BJ, BPharm, BPE, BHK, BCL, LL.B., MB ChB or MB BS or BM BS or MB BChir or MB BCh BAO, BMus, B.Math, BTech, BBA, BAdm, MA (Oxon.), MA (Cantab.), MA (Dubl.), MA (Hons)
Master's degrees MA, MS or MSc, MSt, MALD, MApol, MPhil, MRes, MFA, MTh, MTS, M.Div., MBA, MPA, MJ, MSW, MPAff, MLIS, MLitt, MPH, MPM, MPP, MPT, MRE, MTheol, LLM, MEng, MSci, MBio, MChem, MPhys, MMath, MMus, MESci, MGeol, MTCM, MSSc, BCL (Oxon), BPhil (Oxon), ThM
Specialist degrees Ed.S., SSP, B.Acc., C.A.S.
Doctoral degrees PhD, EdD, EngD, DNursSci, DBA, DC, DD, DSc, DLitt, DA, MD, DDS, DMD, DMA, DMus, DCL, ThD, JD, OD, DO, PharmD, DrPH, DPT, DPhil, DOM, OMD, DPM, PsyD, DSW, LL.D., J.S.D., S.J.D. S.T.D

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