The Doctor of Education (Ed.D. or D.Ed.; Latin Educationis Doctor or Doctor Educationis) is (depending on region and university) a research or professional doctoral degree that focuses on the field of education. It prepares the holder for academic, research, administrative, clinical, or professional positions in educational, civil, private organizations, or public institutions.


When research universities were established in the late 19th century in the United States, they primarily awarded doctorates in the sciences and later the arts. By the early 20th century, these universities began to offer doctoral degrees in professional fields. The first professional degrees were awarded in medicine and law. Shortly thereafter, in response to the societal demand for expert practitioners, doctorates began to be awarded in education.[1] The first Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in the field of education was granted at Teachers College, Columbia University in 1893.[2] The first Doctor of Education (EdD) degree was granted at Harvard University in 1921. Henry Holmes, an educator at Harvard College, raised funds to establish the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Holmes saw value in increasing Harvard's role in the professional training of educators[3] and established doctorate of education, or Ed.D., for students who had had a successful teaching experience, possessed a "working knowledge of biology, psychology, and the social sciences",[4] and who sought a higher position within the school system. The program of study comprised five areas of education plus the study of social theory in education, history of education, and educational psychology.[3] The dissertation served to teach the student to conduct an independent investigation utilizing existing knowledge and producing a "constructive result of importance and value".[5] The purpose of the Ed.D. was to offer a rigorous course of study that would enhance candidates’ prior knowledge and skills and better prepare them to lead as school practitioners.[6]

The EdD degree was then added by Teachers College in 1934.[1] Between 1925 and 1940 many institutions, including the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University, and the University of Michigan followed the steps of Columbia and Harvard and established schools and colleges of education that offered graduate study and eventually, the two doctoral degrees. Despite this growth, however, these and other schools of education struggled to establish their identity as professional schools and were perpetually engulfed in debate over the purpose of the Ed.D.[3]

The history of the Ed.D. throughout the 20th century was one of confusion. In many graduate schools of education it was a practitioner degree, while in others it was considered education's research doctorate. Several factors contributed to the confusion: First, offering two doctoral degrees resulted in constant conflict between the "demands of theory and those of practice".[7] Second, the advancement of professional training was further complicated as schools of education competed with schools of arts and sciences. Graduate programs in arts and sciences were older and more established. Traditionally arts and science faculty offered doctoral preparation in the form of the Ph.D. Both the school of arts and sciences and its faculty had difficulty relinquishing their expertise in doctoral studies or in acknowledging the need for a professional doctorate degree.[3] Third, from the inception of both doctoral degrees in education, unclear goals and similar programmatic content have confused the degree purposes and plagued professionalization efforts.[3]

The EdD is awarded in several countries (see below).


In Australia, entry requirements for the EdD are similar to the PhD except that the former requires a number of years professional experience in education or academia.[citation needed]


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 EdD (Simon Fraser University), while others offer a PhD in education (McGill University, Queen's University, University of Toronto, University of Manitoba, University of New Brunswick), and still others offer both (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, The University of Western Ontario, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of British Columbia).[8][9]

Much like the UK, in Canada, the Ed.D. is a full academic doctorate that can only be granted by AUCC-accredited institutions and shares equal parity with a Ph.D. (Education). The dissertation to be completed as part of an Ed.D. program differs only in focus but not in breadth of study, nor academic rigour required. Ed.D. programs in Canadian institutions must include an original contribution to knowledge which must be chaired (supervised) by an accomplished researcher and orally defended (viva) to internal and external examiners. In many cases, the only salient difference between the Ph.D. and Ed.D. relates to the professional field of practice of the candidate as Ed.D. programs often tend to focus on existing pedagogical problems.


PhD in education — a doctorate in philosophy — can be done in any university recognized by U.G.C. If you have cleared NET (Education) exam then you have to choose a Guide enlisted by the university. On other hand if you don't pass NET exam then you have to qualify Exam conducted twice by every university. The NET cleared students of same university are given preference over those not qualified in NET. You have to submit the synopsis within one year of your enrollment as candidate and you must complete coursework from university recognized center followed by written exam. The rules like Non plagiarism and APA formatting are followed strictly.


In Ireland, EdD programs have only recently been introduced. They tend to follow the UK model of initial research modules followed by longer research papers and thesis.[citation needed]


In Singapore, the National Institute of Education (Nanyang Technological University) is the sole university that awards the EdD degree. The EdD programme has the rigour and expectations of a PhD, but with a professional focus.[10]

South Africa

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

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the EdD is a terminal research degree that is equivalent to the PhD, both which can only be granted by universities with research-degree awarding powers.

The EdD usually involves courses and a dissertation, but as with all doctorates requires at least a dissertation. The EdD thesis may be shorter than that of the PhD, because the EdD normally includes coursework that includes assessed papers, whereas PhD programs of study are focused on undertaking a thesis without such coursework.[11][12] The EdD thesis differs from a PhD thesis only in length and scope but not in quality. As with PhD candidates, all EdD candidates undergo a viva voce examination (comprehensive oral defence of one's thesis/dissertation).

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

In 1991, the Doctor of Education programme at the University of Bristol began and was the first taught doctorate outside of North America. The EdD is delivered through a balance of taught units including research methods, theory, argumentation and evaluation skills as well as a major research thesis that must make an original contribution to knowledge. As with other doctoral candidates, participants of the EdD are encouraged to publish articles and books based on their research. An excellence in doctoral level research is the main aim of the Bristol EdD.[13]

At the Institute of Education in London, the EdD "is for experienced professionals from education and related fields who would like to extend their professional understanding and develop skills in research, evaluation and high-level reflection on practice". Meanwhile, the PhD "is intended to enable [students] to produce [their] own thesis and to develop a range of research and other more generic skills."[11][12]

The University of Cambridge's Faculty of Education provides a useful comparison between the PhD and EdD programmes for their particular university.[14]

An ESRC-funded report found that there appeared to be little impact of the development of professional knowledge on employment culture for EdD participants, though there was "frequently considerable impact for the individuals themselves", and many of the EdD students were employed in the public sector.[15]

United States

In the United States, the EdD tends to be granted by the school of education of universities and is a terminal degree in education. Majors within the EdD may include: counseling, curriculum and instruction/curriculum and teaching, educational administration, education policy, educational psychology, educational technology, higher education, human resource development, language/linguistics, leadership or technology/innovation in instruction. The EdD is recognized for appointment as a professor or lecturer in a university. It may also be recognized as preparation for administrative positions in education and human development field, such as superintendent of schools, human resource director, or principal.

From the very beginning, there was a formal division between the EdD and the PhD in education, and the growing popularity of the applied doctorates was met by faculty in the arts and sciences questioning their legitimacy. They argued that practical and vocational aims were inappropriate for doctoral study, which they contended should be focused on producing scholarly research and college professors.[1] The EdD and the colleges of education that granted them continued to face criticism through the 1980s.[1] In 2013, Harvard University, the first institution to award the EdD degree, accepted its last EdD cohort and instead now offers both the Doctor of Philosophy in Education and the Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdLD) degrees.[16]

Comparisons of the EdD to the PhD in education in the United States

There are similarities between the EdD and PhD which may cause confusion. In theory, the two degrees are expected to constitute overlapping but distinct categories, where the EdD is a degree that prepares educational practitioners who can solve educational problems using existing knowledge, and the PhD in education is the more theoretical of the two as a traditional social science research degree that prepares students for careers as scholars and academics, often from a particular disciplinary perspective (e.g., sociology of education).[2] In reality, however, distinctions between the two degree programs are generally minimal in both curriculum and dissertation requirements.[2] One study on dissertations submitted between 1950 and 1990 indicated that there were no differences between the two degrees regarding basic versus applied research or the significance of the findings. Nonetheless, that same study indicated that "PhD dissertations contained more multivariate statistics, had wider generalizability, and were more prevalent in certain areas of concentration", whereas "EdD dissertations contained more survey research and were most prevalent in educational administration research." The difference is attributed primarily to which type of degree a particular school offers and if existing research or original research is required in the dissertation.[17]

The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) states that "the professional doctorate in education prepares educators for the application of appropriate and specific practices, the generation of new knowledge, and for the stewardship of the profession."[18] To wit, although the CPED describes the EdD as a professional doctorate, it also states that it prepares students for the generation of new knowledge, and this is corroborated by the fact that both the PhD and EdD degrees are considered research doctoral degrees on the Survey of Earned Doctorates, which is a survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, sponsored by six federal agencies, and solicited, under the National Science Foundation Act, from graduating doctoral students at all accredited institutions.[19][20][21]

Colleges and universities in the United States that offer doctorates in education choose to offer only the Doctor of Education (e.g. Webster University[22]), only the Doctor of Philosophy in education (e.g., Stanford University), or both (e.g., UCLA, University of Missouri, and University of Pennsylvania). The distinction between the PhD and the EdD in this last group can take different forms. At the University of Illinois, for example, the PhD in education dissertation requires an original contribution to academic knowledge, whereas the EdD dissertation "is intended to demonstrate the candidate's ability to relate academic knowledge to the problems of professional practice."[23][24] At Teachers College, Columbia University the PhD is designed for students who wish specifically to pursue an academic career, whereas the EdD is designed for broader aims including educational administration and policy work.[25][26] In St. Louis University's Educational Studies program, the EdD requires "successful completion of a culminating project dealing with a problem in educational practice" and the PhD requires a dissertation and an "oral defense of the dissertation proposal and [of] the final dissertation. Most Ed.D., Psy.D. and Ph.D. programs require a dissertation and an oral defense while others have a research project leading to publication as an alternative."[27] Finally, some schools frame the EdD specifically in terms of applied research, such as New York University, The University of Texas at Austin, and the University of California, Berkeley.[28]

In addition to educational settings, the EdD degree is designed to address real-world issues including clinical mental health counseling and human resource development.[29][30][31][32]


Lee Shulman, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, stated that the lack of distinction between the EdD and the PhD has meant the EdD has come to be seen as little more than "Ph.D.-lite", and the PhD in education has likewise suffered.[33] Moreover, it has resulted in "the danger that we achieve rigorous preparation neither for practice nor for research."[2] Arthur Levine, former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, said that the EdD degree is granted to both scholars and administrators and as such makes the degree ambiguously defined, that the programs in educational leadership specifically suffered from low standards, and that "There is absolutely no reason why a school leader needs a doctorate."[34] Barbara K. Townsend, Professor of Higher Education and Associate Dean for Research and Development at the University of Missouri at Columbia, suggests the doctorate of education is most frequently sought for vanity purposes and to improve one's status, citing a 2000 survey of California school superintendents in which they identify the greatest value of the EdD as being its "symbolic value (credibility and respects a basis for leadership)", further adding that there is scant research or evidence to suggest that possession of a doctorate in education improves one's ability to be an effective administrator.[35]

Suggestions for reform

Some scholars in the United States have suggested future reforms for both the EdD and PhD in education by calling for a new doctorate for the professional practice of education, which would be for principals, superintendents, policy coordinators, curriculum specialists, teacher educators, program evaluators, etc.; and the distinction between the PhD in education and the EdD would be analogous to the distinction between the PhD in biomedicine and the MD.[36] This new degree might be called the Professional Practice Doctorate (PPD), or it might retain the old name of EdD but be severed from old associations.[37]

Arthur Levine argued that the current EdD should be retooled into a new professional master's degree, parallel in many ways to the Master of Business Administration (MBA).[38]

David Imig described reforms to the EdD as including more collaborative work involving the analysis of data collected by others. Rather than generating their own data and hypothesis-testing, as PhD students would, a group of EdD students would analyze a specific pool of data from a number of different angles, each writing an individual dissertation on a specific aspect of the data which, when pooled together with the other dissertations, would combine to offer a comprehensive solution to a real-world problem.[33]

The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate is currently working with over 80 institutions to collaboratively redesign the EdD and "to make it a stronger and more relevant degree for the advanced preparation of school practitioners and clinical faculty, academic leaders and professional staff for the nation’s schools and colleges and the learning organizations that support them".[39]

Reforms have already been implemented at some institutions. For example, in 2013 the Harvard University Graduate School of Education enrolled its final EdD cohort.[40] The school now offers the Doctor of Education Leadership (EdLD) and PhD in Education.[41][42]

Notable doctors of education

Jill Biden
Ruth Westheimer

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Toma, Douglas J. (November 2002). Legitimacy, differentiation, and the promise of the Ed.D. in higher education. Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education: Education Resource Information Center (ERIC). pp. 11–12. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d Shulman, Lee S.; Golde, Chris M.; Conklin Bueschel, Andrea; Garabedian, Kristen J. (2006). "Reclaiming education's doctorates: A critique and a proposal". Educational Researcher. American Educational Research Association. 35 (3): 26. doi:10.3102/0013189x035003025. S2CID 40235013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Perry, Jill Alexa (2012). "What does history reveal about the education doctorate?". In Latta, Margaret (ed.). Placing Practitioner Knowledge at the Center of Teacher Education. Educational Policy in Practice: Critical Cultural Studies. Information Age Publishing. pp. 51–75. ISBN 978-1-61735-738-1.
  4. ^ Cremin, Larry (1978). The education of the educating professions. American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
  5. ^ Cremin, Larry (1978). The education of the educating professions. American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
  6. ^ Cremin, Larry (1978). The education of the educating professions. American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
  7. ^ Guthrie & Clifford (1988). Ed school: A brief for a professional education. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-11017-6.
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  9. ^ "Universities Canada Study Program Database - Ed.D." Universities Canada. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  10. ^ "Doctor in Education". Singapore National Institute of Education. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  11. ^ a b "Doctor in Education". Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
  12. ^ a b "MPhil or PhD in Education". Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
  13. ^ Bristol, University of. "Doctoral programmes - School of Education - University of Bristol". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Which Doctorate is Right for you?". Retrieved 21 Dec 2011.
  15. ^ Lunt, Ingrid (2002). Professional Doctorates and their Contribution to Professional Development and Careers. Economic & Social Research Council. p. 5. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  16. ^ "Doctor of Education". Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  17. ^ Nelson, Jack K.; Coorough, Calleen (1994). "Content Analysis of the PhD Versus EdD Dissertation". Journal of Experimental Education. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 62 (2): 158–168. doi:10.1080/00220973.1994.9943837. JSTOR 20152407.
  18. ^ "Home". The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  19. ^ "Numbers of U.S. Doctorates Awarded Rise for Sixth Year, but Growth Slower". National Science Foundation. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help). According to the Survey, a research doctoral degree is "oriented toward preparing students to make original contributions to knowledge in a field and typically entail writing a dissertation."
  20. ^ "Survey of Earned Doctorates". National Science Foundation. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  21. ^ "Survey of Earned Doctorates". National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  22. ^ "Academic Program Finder".
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  26. ^ "Ed.D. Degree Requirements". Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
  27. ^ "Educational Studies Graduate Programs". Saint Louis University. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  28. ^ "Ed.D. and Ph.D". New York University Steinhardt School of Education. Archived from the original on 2012-02-03. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  29. ^ "Psychology Ph.D. Degree".
  30. ^ "Psychology Ph.D. Degree".
  31. ^ "Doctoral Degree". University of Texas. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
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  33. ^ a b Elizabeth, Redden (10 April 2007). "Envisioning a New Ed.D". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  34. ^ Jacobson, Jennifer (15 March 2005). "Arthur Levine Calls for Abolition of Ed.D. Degree and Vast Overhaul of Education Schools". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  35. ^ Townsend, Barbara K. (November 2002). "Rethinking the Ed. D., or What's in a Name?" (PDF). University of Missouri-Columbia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  36. ^ Shulman, Lee S.; Golde, Chris M.; Conklin Bueschel, Andrea; Garabedian, Kristen J. (2006). "Reclaiming education's doctorates: A critique and a proposal". Educational Researcher. American Educational Research Association. 35 (3): 28. doi:10.3102/0013189X035004028. S2CID 220642351.
  37. ^ Shulman, Lee S.; Golde, Chris M.; Conklin Bueschel, Andrea; Garabedian, Kristen J. (2006). "Reclaiming education's doctorates: A critique and a proposal". Educational Researcher. American Educational Research Association. 35 (3): 30. doi:10.3102/0013189x035003025. S2CID 40235013.
  38. ^ Levine, Arthur (March 2005). Educating School Leaders. Education Schools Project. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C.
  39. ^ "About CPED". The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
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  44. ^ "Irwin Hyman, Temple professor". philly-archives.
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