PhD vs Doctorate In Education – What Is The Difference?

Should I pursue a PhD vs a Doctorate in Education? This is a question that stares academics in the face while seeking higher degrees. You are all prepared to pursue a new academic degree in education, given your appetite for acquiring new knowledge. Yet, somehow, you get stuck between two options; whether to get a PhD vs Doctorate in Education. Even though it’s confusing, don’t lose hope, we’ve been there, and we’re here to help you.

We understand how challenging it gets while choosing what degrees to earn that will elevate your career in education. Especially since the result of that choice has far-fetching impacts on your career. Moreover, academics are frontrunners for change and progress in today’s world primarily because of their authority in establishing change in society through innovations obtained from knowledge acquired. Therefore, it is important that academic leaders thoroughly understand what they are getting into by knowing the differences between a PhD vs a Doctorate in Education. So that by carefully choosing the path that aligns with your career, you get the best of your long-term goals.

This article will be sectioned into parts and will cover

  • What is PhD in Education 
  • What is a Doctorate in Education
  • Differences between PhD vs Doctorate in Education
  • Helpful Tips in choosing between PhD and Doctorate in Education

Now that we know what to expect let’s dig right in.

What Is a PhD in Education?

A Ph.D. (Doctor of  Philosophy) is an advanced degree designed for people who want to pursue a career in academics or research at a higher institution level. Obtaining a Ph.D. degree will enable you to easily grab hold of opportunities of any form that will help further your knowledge in the educational system. This happens because your expertise in the particular field will grant you a foothold and make you easily identifiable to organizations and businesses that need the experience you have accumulated. 

Those opportunities, however, may not be open to others who are not at the Ph.D. level. In Ph.D., course programs concentrate heavily on teaching and researching, which gears Ph.D. candidates to learn in the most theoretical ways. “With a Ph.D., [students are] reviewing the research, seeing a gap in the literature, and generating new knowledge based on a theory or hypothesis,” Joseph McNabb, a professor of practice in Northeastern’s Graduate School of Education, explains.

One requirement before deciding to earn a Ph.D. is that you must first have attained a master’s degree. Also, when comparing PhD vs Doctorate in Education, remember that it varies by country. The program, however, runs a maximum of four to six years worldwide. 

A benefit of having a Ph.D. is that it is more research-oriented, that you must have a passion for researching and writing papers if you would like to attain the Ph.D. degree. Some people brag that attaining a Ph.D. means attaining the peak of knowledge in education because of much research involved in the program. The Ph.D. degree is the degree most popular among those who aspire to become a professor. Its career options include working as a university professor, academic researcher, or education consulate.

What is a Doctorate in Education

A doctorate in education (EdD) is a degree that focuses on training graduates to succeed in educational leadership roles in higher education purposes. A doctorate in education is a more practical degree in nature when compared with a Ph.D. It is aimed at candidates who want to attain leadership roles in education, governmental organizations, and other agencies. 

A doctorate in education hinges on applying the knowledge gained to making innovations and real-world educational issues. Comparing PhD vs doctorate in education shows the difference in research and theories. A doctorate in education uses existing theories and research to make informed decisions around issues that will lead to new and better innovation, which will add progress to our society.

The Carnegie Project on the doctorate of education has this to say about EdD “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.” This bolsters the point that an EdD degree is more practical and helps graduates become leaders of educational organizations. Many career opportunities abound for the EdD graduate. Some include becoming a school principal, a college admin, a Dean, or an organization administrator. A central benefit of the doctorate in education program is the opportunity to round out knowledge and experience with practical and not just remain reliant only on theories like the Ph.D. 

Differences Between PhD vs Doctorate In Education

Having discussed and understood in detail all that Ph.D. and Doctorate of Education represent, we will guide you towards making the perfect decision by looking at the key differences that can be when studying a PhD vs a doctorate in education. These differences do not mean in any way that one of the degrees is ‘better’ than the other. These differences are only here to assist you in choosing the best program that suits your wants, values, and evaluation.

Diversity of program options

The availability of more program options in a Ph.D. degree is a significant difference. The Ph.D. has more program options than a doctorate in education, and this makes way for more career paths when deciding which of the degrees to apply for. If you are looking for a program with more career paths, choosing to attain a Ph.D. may be the best option for you. Conversely, if you want

Work flexibility

A doctorate in education gives you the freedom to work while studying, which a Ph.D. doesn’t provide.  One reason being that the EdD focuses more on administrators or leaders. Another reason is that its classroom-type can be more flexible. While the Ph.D. operates like a traditional learning model, a doctorate in education program may apply more flipped classroom learning. So while comparing, you may choose to align with a doctorate in education if it suits you. Therefore, earning while you’re learning is possible.

PhD vs Doctorate in Education: Funding options

Ph.D. degrees offer more funding options when compared to the doctorate in education. This is mainly so because more universities provide scholarships for PhDs than they do for a doctorate in education. In this way, you may want to stick to the Ph.D. program since the possibility of getting external support is higher than in a doctorate in education program.

Time duration

Time duration is an essential factor that affects students when comparing a PhD vs a doctorate in education. Some people want a short time duration program while others do not mind doing a longer one. One who doesn’t want to spend four to six years studying may choose to take on a Doctorate in Education. And vice versa.

Skill differences

Skill differences play a significant role in students’ choices. For example, while some students may love a course program that deals more with research and more research., others want to get a more hands-on and practical approach to things. Therefore they go for that one that suits their passions and skill differences.

PhD vs Doctorate in Education: Research level

If you believe in advancing in your chosen field through learning and furthering knowledge, then a Ph.D. may be your best choice. Even though both the Ph.D. and EdD undergo research, the Ph.D. outs the doctorate in education in this aspect. Since a doctorate in education focuses more on using already researched examples and turning them into innovations. In addition, the doctorate in education program does not focus on the theoretical but on a practical approach to learning.

If you feel you want to discover a knowledge that someone else may build on, or you want to build on someone else’s knowledge, then take the bold step and apply for a Ph.D. in education. But, conversely, some people want to create new knowledge. And also work in getting leadership roles through practical knowledge gained from the hands-on practicals. In this case, you may apply for a doctorate in Education degree.

Helpful Tips in Choosing Between PhD vs Doctorate in Education

At this point, you’ve gleaned enough knowledge and can comfortably make your choice without confusion. However, we have a few helpful tips that you may need in deciding on which of the degrees to choose or if you’d like to validate the choice you have made.  

Evaluate your needs and follow your passion

Ensure that you never make the mistake of ignoring your passions. The truth is that in taking that step to getting any of the degrees, you must first take your likes, passions, drive, and career options into consideration. You must thoroughly understand your needs and what you decide is valuable for you to make a perfect choice. In getting this done, you must also remember to take long-term goals and visions into consideration as these degrees will, in the long run, affect what career you’ll have. The title or fame of the degree doesn’t matter.

Estimate the time factor

Another tip you should have up your sleeve is estimating the time factor. A PhD in education requires a maximum time of at least four to six years. However, a doctorate in education requires less time, and you want a program that suits your needs. For example, do you want to work while schooling? A phD in education won’t give you that much space and time, but a doctorate in education offers you that.

Career options

Another tip is to ensure that you have explored your career options. For example, many PhD in education graduates may secure jobs as university professors, consultants, or administrators. In contrast, a doctorate in Education graduate has deans, principals, college presidents, and more career options available to them.

So what degree do you have in mind? Go for it


Don’t be fooled into believing they are the same thing. We’ve compared PhD vs Doctorate in Education and saw their differences and benefits. A Ph.D. degree is typically geared toward research. It is the ideal degree for a student who wants to become an expert in a field or advance a theory and research.  A doctorate in education, however, aims at applying solutions obtained from research to real-world problems. Students who like to be leaders are the ideal doctorate in Education candidates.

We also saw the differences, some of which include funding and skill set. Some helpful tips are also given to help you decide which degree you’ll go for. Good luck as you make the best-suited choice for you.

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