One of the most frequently asked questions from aspiring doctoral students is, "What is the difference between a Ph.D. program and a practitioner-based doctoral program like a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)?"
Knowing the differences between these two doctoral degrees will help prospective students make the best educational decision for their career goals. If a student is interested in higher education academics or scholarly research, a Ph.D. program will likely be the right fit. Those who are interested in executive management, administration, or consulting should consider a practitioner-based program.
Here are the objectives of both types of doctoral programs in education:
Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D.)
- 3 - 5 years in length
- Usually higher credits than practitioner-based doctoral programs
- Traditional 5 Chapter Dissertation
- Trained to explain why things happen in an organization
- Main focus is on theory
- Independent Research that focuses on new theory
- Suited for students whose ultimate goal is to work in academia (teaching, training, research)
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
- 3 years in length
- Usually fewer credits than Ph.D. programs
- Non-traditional Dissertation project required
- Trained to explain how things can be improved
- Main focus in on practice
- A practitioner-based degree, with research based on application of theory
- Suited for students whose ultimate goal is to work in management or administration (school system or business setting)
Learn more about our 100% online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) and Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership (Ph.D.) programs.