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Ed.D. programs: training future education leaders


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If there is one good thing the pandemic brought, it was the time for millions of Americans to reflect on their career paths. Some quit their jobs, while others returned to school to be degree-holders. In particular, doctorate in education (Ed.D.) programs have seen a surge in applicants, which prompted several institutions to add related courses to accommodate aspiring education leaders.

Most applicants are education sector professionals, such as school administrators and teachers. An Ed.D. would help them meet their career advancement goals, which may or may not include working in a school setting. Besides a pay raise, Ed.D. holders are looking at better career opportunities. For example, they can leverage the leadership skills they have learned to land a chief learning officer job, an attractive position in charge of supervising employees to ensure learning happens the entire length of their tenure with the organization.

What exactly is a doctorate in education (Ed.D.)?

Educational theory and practice form the heart of an Ed.D. With a doctorate in education, one can be a school administrator or a policymaker locally or nationally. Also, because the emphasis is on leadership skills, professionals with an Ed.D. can work beyond the education sector. They can secure roles in public and private organizations, including businesses and non-profit groups.

Enrolling in an Ed.D. program requires taking core classes and courses related to one’s selected specialization or concentration. Some examples include:

  • Education leadership: With its emphasis on applied research and learning, this concentration is ideal for those aiming to be a school principal, CLO, or policymaker.
  • Special education: Using an applied, project-based approach, Ed.D. holders specializing in special education (SE) will help gifted and disabled students by planning, assessing, and delivering instruction suited to their needs.
  • Instructional design and technology: Distance or online learning has necessitated the marriage of traditional learning modes with the latest technological tools and aids. Here, doctors in education can use their skills to improve current learning systems and even branch out into corporate training.
  • Entrepreneurship in education: For those interested in business development, management, and education finance, this specialization can help future leaders thrive in education technology organizations, academic research centers, and government agencies.
  • Diversity and multiculturalism: Focused on education reform, equity in education, and more, this concentration also helps students learn about education funding. Budgeting and resource management are often part of the coursework.

Schools offering online courses will likely provide more specializations, but doctoral programs may require additional work regardless of one’s chosen concentration. From field research to an internship to a dissertation or more, students should expect a significant time commitment to earn their Ed.

The typical application process (plus some tips to remember)

Time commitments aside, Ed.D. applicants should consider the financial requirements and the degree of competition, especially in top-ranked schools. Compared to a Ph.D. in education, an Ed.D. takes less time to complete. Still, prospective applicants are looking at over $112,000 in fees, with many using their resources to fund their doctoral studies.

As for admission, a master’s degree and professional experience are the two most basic requirements for applicants. They may also need recommendation letters, an impressive curriculum vitae or resume, and a standout statement of purpose. Certain schools may also conduct interviews to evaluate prospective students.

Online, hybrid or in-person Ed.D. programs usually set similar requirements. The most crucial factor for boosting one’s chances of admission is to research various programs to find the best fit for one’s skills, experience, and goals. As much as possible, highlight leadership achievements and specific projects, always keeping in mind that Ed.D. programs are all about training leaders in education. Lastly, one’s application should clarify why and how an Ed.D. can help one reach their professional goals. Of course, it would help a lot if applicants already knew which concentration they would like to pursue to distinguish their applications from others.

Understanding the goals and benefits of an Ed.D.

Beyond the expected increase in remuneration, an Ed.D. equips students to become exemplary educational leaders. These leaders, who are well-versed in quantitative and qualitative research methods, applied practice, instructional and situational data analysis, human and fiscal resources management, etc., will train and inspire other educators to improve classrooms or whatever organization employs them.

It is also no exaggeration to say that everyone wanting to develop their leadership skills will benefit from this degree. Business leaders, for instance, will find that an Ed.D. is an effective vehicle for personal transformation. Not only does the coursework allow for the development of applied and practice skills, but it also hones advanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills. All these combined are crucial for bringing about change where needed.

Even outside the corporate setting, an Ed.D. is worth considering for those interested in innovative jobs in diverse fields. For students wondering what you can do for a career with a doctorate in education, a reputable institution such as Rockhurst University is an excellent place to start. Through their program, students can gain up-to-date knowledge on policy-making and various technological systems used to teach and hope for career advancement through a thoroughly valuable Ed.D. program.

Is it time to reevaluate your career?

As an educator, a doctorate in education (Ed.D.) is one of the terminal degrees you can pursue. Completing an Ed.D. takes three to four years on average, but applicants can take advantage of different program structures, such as online or hybrid if face-to-face classes are challenging. Regardless of your chosen program, an Ed.D. can help you be a transformational leader in your field. It is also worth noting that some institutions do not limit Ed.D. students to only one specialization. Rockhurst University, for example, encourages students to complement their Ed.D. with graduate certificates in health care management, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and other subject areas.

If you are not an educator, an Ed.D. may take longer to achieve, but it will be worth it. Given that it is practice-based and adaptable, there is no doubt it will lead to many career opportunities, but perhaps the best benefit of it is in helping you achieve and lead a life of purpose.


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