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Should I get a Doctor of Education (EdD) Degree?

At a glance

  • Earning a doctorate in education (EdD) can help prepare students for educational leadership roles in academic institutions, nonprofits and government.
  • An EdD degree program generally takes three to four years to complete and often has an on-site, online or hybrid residency requirement.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary range for education administrators across all education levels in May 2021 was approximately between $47,630 and $150,540 per year.
  • Learn more about earning a doctorate in education at University of Phoenix!

There are many advanced education degree options to choose from, but for those who want to make an impact, earning a doctoral degree can help prepare them for leadership roles that can change the future of education. Exploring an advanced degree, like a doctorate in education (EdD), is one of the best ways to elevate your professional experience and develop useful skills for a number of career paths.

How long does it take to earn a doctorate in education?

Most doctorates take several years to complete, and earning a doctorate in education is no different. You should be prepared to spend an average of three to four years working on your doctorate. However, the time it will take you to finish the program depends on several factors.

Credit hours

Most doctoral education programs require students to complete 40 to 60 credit hours of coursework. For example, doctoral candidates at University of Phoenix have to finish 54 credit hours before they are awarded their EdD. How many credit hours you choose to take in a semester will impact the time it takes to earn your degree. Whether or not you have a master’s degree or transfer credits from another institution can also affect your time frame. To plan for your future, you will have to decide whether to attend part time or full time.

Residency

Many doctoral education programs have an on-site, online or hybrid residency requirement, which can also influence the time it takes to complete your EdD. Some programs require a full-time on-campus residency, while others require an in-person residency for only a few weeks or weekends a year. Are you planning on working while earning your degree? Are you a parent concerned about managing your family and your education? You’ll need to decide what type of residency is the best fit for your life and career goals. 

Dissertation

Most doctorate-level education degrees require candidates to complete a dissertation to graduate. A dissertation is a robust, research-based study that doctoral candidates conduct to demonstrate a deep understanding of their field of study.

Sometimes students do not complete their dissertation before they finish their program, which can add on a few months or even years. You don’t have to know what your dissertation will cover before you apply to doctoral programs, but it can be helpful to have a general idea within the first year. For example, EdD students at University of Phoenix start their dissertations in their third course, which makes it easier for them to finish their research when they complete their doctoral coursework.

Testing

Some terminal degree programs require applicants to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) before applying. Those doctoral programs may also require specific scores for their application process. If you select a university that requires testing, consider factoring in space to take these tests multiple times so you can submit the best possible score. Since you can take the GRE only once every 21 days, it can significantly impact the time it takes to be accepted into a program.

How much does it cost to earn an EdD?

There are a lot of factors in choosing the right doctoral program, and cost is certainly a big one for many people. According to the Education Data Initiative, tuition for a Doctor of Education can cost an average of $111,900. However, that price tag may not include some additional costs.

The blog College Ave Student Loans points out that some of the most often overlooked costs are:

  • Books, which can cost $1,200 or more each year
  • Application fees, which can range from $60 to over $100 
  • Computers, which can cost from $400 to over $1,000, depending on your needs
  • Remote studies equipment, such as webcams and internet service
  • Testing for the GRE, GMAT and other tests, which often cost $200 or more 

Another commonly neglected financial consideration is the cost of living. You may find an excellent in-person residency EdD program, but if you have to relocate to a city with a high cost of living, you could be looking at additional expenses in rent, transportation, child care, healthcare, food and more.

University of Phoenix (UOPX) can help doctoral students save on their terminal degree. UOPX locks in tuition from the start to finish of your program with its Tuition Guarantee. Candidates for the UOPX EdD should expect to pay $810 per credit for approximately 54 credits. To learn more about the cost of this UOPX degree, visit phoenix.edu/degrees/education/edd

Does earning an EdD affect how much I’ll make?

A variety of variables affect a person’s earning power, including but not limited to their education level, experience, employer and employment location. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that possessing an advanced education degree has a positive impact on both earnings and employment.

According to its 2021 “education pays” data, BLS shows that full-time employees older than 25 with a doctoral degree had median weekly earnings of $1,909, compared to $1,574 for those with a master’s-level degree. Doctoral degree holders also had an unemployment rate of 1.5% compared with 2.6% for master’s holders.

The BLS Employment Projections for 2020-2030 is published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data reflects BLS’ projections of national (not local) conditions. These data points are not specific to University of Phoenix students or graduates.

Salary ranges are general and don’t take into consideration things like specialization, years of experience, additional benefits and cost of living. Keep in mind an instructional coordinator living in a part of the country with a greater cost of living may have a higher salary than someone with the same degree working in a different geographical area.

What careers can I choose with an EdD?

Doctoral graduates in education have many potential avenues to find meaningful work in educational leadership in the K-12 field, higher education and more. An EdD can prepare you for a career in education as a school administrator, superintendent, principal and more. 

School administrator

Overview: School administrators are responsible for overseeing student instruction as well as research and education activities at postsecondary education institutions — such as universities, community colleges and junior colleges — or at kindergartens, elementary schools or secondary schools.

This role is broad and can encompass many student support responsibilities ranging from helping students register for classes to overseeing admissions to leading faculty research. Often, the duties of a school administrator depend on the size of the institution. Some common job titles for school administrators include superintendent, provost, academic dean, chief education officer, admissions officer and registrar.

A master’s degree is typically required to become a school administrator, but roles within higher-level positions at a college, such as provost or dean, often require a doctoral degree.

Salary: The salary range for school administrators will depend on the academic level and size of the college, as well as professional factors like the institution and the candidate’s experience and education. Below is a breakdown of earnings by academic level, according to BLS.

Job outlook: BLS only provides occupation outlook data for postsecondary education administrators. Employment for those roles is projected to grow by 8% between 2020-2030.

Principal

Overview: Principals work in elementary, middle and high schools and are responsible for overseeing all daily school activities and operations. Responsibilities may include developing curriculum standards, providing a safe learning environment, managing staff, evaluating faculty performance and counseling students. Principals typically need a master’s degree, but some schools may require a doctorate. Advanced education may also be required for principals who seek education administration roles, like superintendent.

Salary: School principals earned a salary range of $61,480 to $153,520 in May 2021, according to BLS.

Job outlook: Employment for school principals is projected to grow 8% between 2020-2030, according to BLS.

The salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

Careers with an EdD outside of academia

Professionals with an EdD don’t just work in education. They may also discover fulfilling work in nonprofits, the government sector and the corporate world. That’s why it’s important to find a doctoral program that offers career services, which not only connect graduates with career opportunities, but also help align the graduate program curriculum with real-world careers and industry needs and trends.

An EdD is considered an advanced practitioner degree, which means graduates are drawn toward careers where they can apply their knowledge and expertise to make an impact on education systems. However, since an EdD is a terminal degree, many professionals can also conduct research and teach in tenured academic positions. 

What are the top reasons to earn an EdD?

Many people begin their journey to an EdD motivated by advancing their career as an educator and the entire field of education. This career path is an opportunity to effect real change in a system that can improve the lives of individuals and entire communities. Still, there are many additional reasons to earn an EdD, such as:

  • Learning strategies for advancing education amid social and technological challenges
  • Exploring and expanding your interests and expertise with a professional, publishable dissertation
  • Remaining professionally competitive in the ever-changing world of education
  • Enhancing your resumé and expanding job opportunities into leadership, administration and public policy
  • Positioning yourself as a strong thought leader, communicator and critical thinker, skills that can be applied to various careers within the education sector and beyond

Finding the right career path can take time and doesn’t need to be rushed. For educators interested in professional development and discovering new avenues for educational leadership, an EdD is one of many options that may prepare students for a fulfilling and meaningful career. 

Earn a Doctor of Education from University of Phoenix

If you are looking to pursue educational leadership roles, a Doctor of Education degree can help. University of Phoenix offers an EdD that teaches students how to use analytical, critical and innovative thinking to solve complex educational issues. Students also learn how to support an academic institution or organization with practical, research-based tools.

Doctoral programs can be earned completely online and are taught by faculty with an average of 28 years of academic experience. Visit phoenix.edu to learn more about education degrees from UOPX!