Ph.D. in Education requirements – All You Need to Know!

Getting a Ph.D. a doctorate in philosophy can be a prestigious title to pursue in a field that you are interested in.  If you have a passion for education, studied education at the university, or pursued a career in education, getting a Ph.D. in education might be a good consideration. But as always, it is good to know about what you’re getting into before you take the bold step. I will take you through the Ph.D. in Education requirements and all you need to know about getting a Ph.D. in education. We will explore that in the following sections:

  • What are the Ph.D. in education requirements?
  • Why should you pursue a Ph.D. in Education?
  • What is the difference between a Ph.D. in Education and EdB in Education?
  • The Career options available for a Ph.D. in Education holder
  • What do I need beforehand?
  • Different programs and schools that offer a Ph.D. in Education
  • What do you study for a Ph.D. in  Education?

Now I know you are expectant, let’s dive right in! 

What is a Ph.D. in education? 

A Ph.D. is a globally recognized postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities and higher educational institutions to a candidate who has submitted a thesis or dissertation based on extensive and original research in their chosen field. The particularities of Ph.D. degrees vary depending on where you are and what subject you’re studying.

A Ph.D. in education is the highest level of degree a student can achieve, and it usually follows after a master’s degree. However, some institutions allow some students to progress straight to a Ph.D. from their bachelor’s degree. In contrast, some institutions offer the opportunity to upgrade or fast-track a master’s degree to a Ph.D. degree, provided you have the necessary grades, knowledge, skills, and research abilities.

A Ph.D. in education takes about three to four years of full-time study. It is required of students to complete original research presented as a thesis or dissertation. Some Ph.D. programs accept a portfolio of published papers, while in some other countries, it requires coursework to be submitted.

What are the Ph.D. in education requirements?

Most institutions would require that candidates hold an honors degree or a master’s degree with high academic standing, along with a bachelor’s degree with at least a second class upper division. You can also apply for a Ph.D. in education based on your master’s degree grades.  

Some institutions require that you find a tenured professor in your chosen institution to serve as your formal advisor and supervisor throughout your Ph.D. program before you can be formally accepted into the program.

Other Ph.D. in education requirements might need to prove proficiency in the language you intend to study. To satisfy this, you can either provide a result of an approved standardized language exam or show evidence of completion of undergraduate or postgraduate study in the relevant language.

Also, some institutions may ask for a record of your employment, such as a resume, academic transcript, details of a research project completed, and any publication features that can help your application. Many Ph.D. applicants are asked to provide references from two or three people in the academic setting, such as professors, undergraduate or postgraduate tutors. These references must focus on academic performance, coursework, research abilities, and interest in the chosen field of study.

In addition, many institutions ask for a personal statement which is a short essay demonstrating a passion for your chosen subject. Here you outline your reasons for wanting to study Ph.D. in Education, personal motivations for doing so, relevant extracurricular activities, and lastly, any flexibility in your chosen area of research. 

Why should you pursue a Ph.D. in Education?

There are many reasons why a Ph.D. in education is valuable and worthy of our effort. Here is why:

It is one of the most highly esteemed credentials in education as it is a terminal degree and the highest you can achieve in education. Also, you will be advancing in an area of education that you are passionate about. If you desire to advance a particular field in education, a Ph.D. is an excellent way to do so.

You will also earn respect in your field and gain personal satisfaction as obtaining a Ph.D. degree requires a dissertation which is not an easy feat. Accomplishing it gives a rewarding feeling. Also, just like every other degree, a Ph.D. in Education involves acquiring a certain skill set. Some learn along the way; others possess these naturally.

Some skills that you could acquire during a Ph.D. degree in education requirement are technical skills that involve project management and organization, analysis and problem solving, written and oral communication, research, and information management. While for soft skills it includes interpersonal and leadership skills, concentration and patience skills, self-management, and work habits skills.

The Difference Between A Ph.D. in Education requirements and that of the EdD in Education

A Ph.D. in education is one way to pursue a career in academia, where the focus of the degree is on theoretical research in a given field of study. Now, you might be wondering what then is an EdD? An EdD is a doctorate in education. It’s more of a hands-on practice-oriented role for educators interested in leadership, whether in education, the government, or non-profit organizations.

Other differences between the two degrees are: 

  • A Ph.D. in education takes four years to complete, while an EdD takes two.
  • The Ph.D. in education program requires doing a dissertation, while an EdD doesn’t.
  • A Ph.D. focuses on developing new research. On the other hand, EdD students use existing research to guide decisions about issues within their area of study.
  • A Ph.D. requires taking 90 credits, whereas an EdD requires 60.

The career options available

A Ph.D. in education Graduate in developed countries earns about $1.4 million more than BA holders in their career path. There are several career opportunities for Ph.D. education graduates. Their salaries range according to each job done. There are other career options such as school administrator, superintendent, curriculum coordinator, and principal.

Here are few examples of typical careers and their average salaries in the US 

  • Clinical, Counselling and School Psychologists. $72,710
  • Education Teachers, Post-Secondary. $65,630
  • Survey Researchers $ 78,120
  • Training and Development Specialists: $ 60,780  

Many Ph.D. in Education graduates are looking to become professors, and here is what the salary range looks like around the globe.

  • US $102,402 USD
  • Canada $98,400
  • Switzerland: 125,250 to 158,783 CHF
  • UK: E79,030
  • Germany: E 49,548 to E 57,373
  • France: E36,560 to E 73,343 

What Do I Need Beforehand? 

Considering a Ph.D. in education is the highest level you can achieve in your career path. It means you should have completed your bachelor’s degree and, in most cases, your master’s degree program.

Also, you need background experience in research, so if education is your field of interest, getting a Ph.D. will come with previous research experience in your prior degrees. Also, it is important to check the requirements of schools you’re applying to.

You can seek mentorship from those who have gone ahead of you to help in such tasks and utilize the internet to get additional resources.

Different programs and schools that offer a Ph.D. in Education

There are a lot of schools that offer a Ph.D. in Education Program. But it is advisable to search for institutions whose Ph.D. in Education requirements align with yours to avoid guesswork. Just like most subjects, there are online/on-campus options throughout the world. Some are even fully funded. As the pandemic has changed the face of learning globally, you can virtually run a Ph.D. program in education.

For online programs, the University of the People has a Master’s in education degree. This could be a great alternative for those who may be aiming for a Ph.D. in education but only have a BA. 

Choosing a tuition-free program is very competitive. If you want a fully-funded Ph.D. in education program, most learnings require participants with high academic standing and highly motivated individuals.

However, fully funded sounds wonderful, and it is! However, there are still costs to pay. They would fully pay your tuition, but textbooks, living expenses, supplies, fees, and the rest will come out of your pocket. That said, it’s still an excellent option. One condition is that it has to be on-site. This is because you need to pay with your time — teaching and doing research.

However, learning institutions like Liberty University, Walden University, University of Colorado, and the University of Nebraska are just a few more popular online universities that offer a Ph.D. in Education. You can check for others online when looking for a country to study for a Ph.D. program in education. Studying in Europe can be exciting and cheaper. Also, countries like Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Finland offer free doctorate tuition for university students, regardless of their nationality! 

What is entailed in a Ph.D. in Education?

To have a Ph.D. in education completed means doing your dissertation or research thesis. Usually, it is based on the field of study that you are most interested in. You can specialize in a certain area. Some common specialization options for a Ph.D. in education are:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Special Education
  • Adult Education
  • Teacher Leadership
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Educational Psychology
  • Leadership

However, aside from the research involved in planning and executing your thesis, you will also have professional development activities and coursework relevant to your area of study. They’re designed to give you the skills needed to succeed in your research and career in education.

Most times, the curriculum will differ based on your specialization. Though, there are some general core courses that most PhDs in education must take. You will likely see group psychology, learning models, leadership, ethics, education and globalization, and analytics courses as part of your curriculum.

If you choose to study for a Ph.D. in education, the chances are that you’re passionate about teaching and learning and everything involved with that. However, you may not be the teaching type per se, but you want to provide something to existing and future teachers and students by adding to education somehow, more like solving a problem.


In conclusion, a Ph.D. in education is a respectable route to take to advance your career.  You have the liberty to choose how you want to earn your degree, either online or on-site. Either way, prepare yourself for lots of reading, researching, writing, and communicating. 

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