A doctoral degree in education equips educators at every level—from K-12 to post-secondary—with the tools they need to impact and transform the field.

By immersing themselves in research and investigation, doctoral-degree holders in education develop the power to discover, refine, enhance, and spread best practices. The ripple effect of earning a doctoral degree in education has the potential to elevate the entire discipline.

Educators with PhDs or EdDs are often leaders in their field, specializing in everything from higher education to K-12 teaching to educational technology. There are a wide range of roles for professionals with a doctoral degree in education, as well as a variety of workplace settings, including public and private schools, corporations, consulting firms, and government agencies.

What is the difference between a PhD and an EdD?

Generally speaking, a PhD provides preparation to teach at the college or university level, while an EdD is geared more toward a career in administration or leadership. EdD graduates are seen as practicing scholars who stay in the field of experience, while PhD graduates tend to be scholars who add knowledge to the field. The best doctoral programs equip both PhD and EdD students with a deep understanding of foundational theory and how it directly applies to the current and future needs of their profession. Graduates of either program will gain the skills and knowledge to help them become outstanding leaders, researchers, teachers, and consultants in the field.

Dissertation: Gateway to the PhD

PhD students are expected to extend the body of knowledge in the field of education to solve a real-world problem. This is demonstrated through original research and a dissertation. A dissertation addresses a new research problem, or a gap in existing research, that will contribute to the knowledge base of the discipline.

Capstone: The Final Step for an EdD

EdD students are expected to apply existing knowledge in the field of education to a real-world problem in their workplace or community. At Capella University, this is demonstrated through a doctoral capstone. Unlike the dissertation, the doctoral capstone can take on many different forms, such as: a program evaluation, a change management plan, a monograph paper, or portfolio. Whatever the form, the capstone is intended to extend or apply research to immediately deliver a solution to a real-world challenge in the educational space.

Ultimately, deciding whether to pursue a PhD or EdD starts with an educator knowing their career goals, how they plan to apply their degree, and what kind of research most interests them.

Learn more about Capella University’s online doctoral programs in education.

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