PhD vs EdD

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by David M, Dec 21, 2001.

  1. David M

    David M New Member

    Someone responded to an earlier posting that a PhD is better received in the teaching than an EdD. Is this true and if so, why? What's the difference. Trying to understand, here.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    The Ph.D., based upon a dissertation of original research, is commonly considered superior to "professional" doctorates like the Ed.D. and D.B.A. (Not to be confused with "First Professional Doctorates," like the MD, JD, OD, etc.)

    In the U.S., the Ed.D. and Ph.D. are "taught" degrees. That is, there is coursework followed by a final doctoral project. But the Ed.D. can often take as his/her final project a more practical approach, as opposed to the pure research-style approach of the Ph.D. Therein lies some of the bias.

    Overseas, the Ph.D. is often based upon a much larger, more comprehensive dissertation, whereas the Ed.D. is often a "taught" degree; the gulf between them is even larger.

    Honestly, either degree will suffice in most situations. Your own capabilities, combined with the source of the degree, will matter most. I'd rather have an Ed.D. from Harvard than a Ph.D. from oh, say, Union Institute and University. [​IMG]

    Rich Douglas, not going to Harvard.
  3. David M

    David M New Member

    Thanks, Rich. But my EdD program requires a research based dissertation. So I'm still confused about the difference.
  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    There are some schools where there is no difference between the Ph.D. and Ed.D. curricula, or where they offer one and not the other, using either style. It is not as cut-and-dried as one might wish. The guidelines I gave were general.

    I would not be surprised to find, however, that the Ed.D. program to which you refer allows a greater latitude in the style of your research. Many Ph.D. programs require empirical research only. I'd bet your Ed.D. program will allow a variety of methods, including researching already-available data. Also, Ed.D. programs often allow the dissertation to take the form of an action plan or practicum (supported by all the other trappings of a dissertation, like a literature review, research questions, etc.). Ph.D. programs typically--but not exclusively--require original data be generated by the research.

    The various possibilities and cross-overs are tremendous; I gave you a general idea of the difference between the two, and where some of the bias comes from. I think others would agree that the practical differences between the two programs has been blurred over the years. (I believe it was Nova Southeastern that has/had a doctoral program in education where the student got to choose which degree--Ph.D. or Ed.D.--would be awarded. The curriculum was the same either way. How about that?!)

    Rich Douglas
  5. Guest

    Guest Guest

    The primary distinction involves what you would like to do with the degree. If your future employment will involve planning, conducting and interpreting research then perhaps you should consider a PhD. The Ed.D. is a practitioner's degree and generally is for those who are educational practitioners and leaders who want to serve the educational community from within.

    An example: college professors have PhDs and school superintendents have EdDs. This is not always the case - but that is an example of how the difference is intended.

    That is the main difference and is not always clear in many university programs. In many cases it matters not which degree you have. All of the college/university job listing state "doctorate" not PhD or EdD. Some universities only offer one or the other in which case you don't have a choice. Your future job placement will depend more on your experience and knowledge rather than the kind of doctorate you obtain.

    Sunnie *who cares not which degree and would be happy with either for my future plans*
  6. simon

    simon New Member

    Sunnie: "Your future job placement will depend more on your experience and knowledge rather than the kind of doctorate you obtain."

    Hi Sunnie,

    The fact is that the majority of universities generally prefer the Ph.D over the Ed.D. Although experience and knowledge base are relevant factors this in itself is not sufficient to land a position in the extremely competitive job market for tenured teaching positions. If one's objective is to teach online there may be a lesser degree of emphasis on the Ph.D as a "ticket" for entry level positions.
  7. David M

    David M New Member

    Thanks, Sunnie and Rich for the clarifications. I now see that the difference not only lies within the research process required of the dissertation but with the intended use of the degree. However, as a counseling student, I believe I'ld rather have an experienced practitioner as a professor than a research based guru with no experience in the field. It just makes more sense to me. Again, thanks for your feedback.
  8. PCap

    PCap New Member

    Many professors and most of the administrators at a community college where I taught held the Ed.D.The current and immediate past department chairs hold Ed.D.degrees. There didn't seem to be a preference or requirement by the school regarding this. Some of the older, tenured professors hold only master's degrees.
  9. barryfoster

    barryfoster New Member

    Is it *really* research-based? Are you expected to expand human knowledge?

    Normally, EdD dissertations are expected to come from the 'practioner' perspective. PhD dissertations are expected to generate new knowledge. In regards to the depth of the research required (tranlated to design, data collection and analysis, theoretical formation, lots o' sweat), this creates a substantial difference between the two.

    The EdD can fulfill this requirement by expanding application of knowledge. The PhD must generate better theories, perspectives, paradigms, etc. - theoretically expanding the knowledge base of humanity. (Scary huh?? :)

    Re the idea that US Ph.D.s are "taught" degrees: My experience does not relate to this. Fielding has no "courses" as most of us would think of a course. (Although you could take a course as part of a KA - not that I ever did.) As a student, you are expected to demonstrate your competence in broad knowledge areas (KAs). You must demonstrate competence in three ways:

    - Overall knowledge of the KA
    - Depth knowledge of a segment of the KA (most often the student's choice)
    - A practical demonstration that proves you have assimilated your learnings into a "real life" substantial project.

    For me, KAs were not "taught", but rather contracted with faculty who acted as mentors. None of my KAs were "taught" to me. In whatever the KA, I did research from the perspective of my topic of interest. For example in Systems Theory, my depth included quite a bit of work in complexity theory - which was tied to my dissertation.

    I know that it's been discussed before (most often not a very fruitful discussion), but I wonder about the concept that US dissertations are somehow less substantial than overseas degrees.

    (Page length is not equated with substance. I found it harder to write less and say more .... my dissertation committee demanded it. I can't imagine how many pages were deleted during the process .... Dang, it was good stuff too!! :)

    Barry Foster
  10. EllisZ

    EllisZ New Member

    I know that when I looked at Nova SouthEastern a few years back their catalog stated that the graduate could choose which degree he wanted (Ed.D. or Ph.D.) and there was no difference in academic work between them.

    Obviously all schools are not the same, but I'm not surprised that some schools make an Ed.D. a research degree. Everything else is so darn confusing in this country, why not?

    - Ellis

    (Who also would be happy with either one.) :)
  11. barryfoster

    barryfoster New Member

    Hi Ellis,

    Not that I doubt that you read it, this sounds 'off'. Nova - as I understand it - has more structure to their program. Do you think this was talking about the courses and the dissertation, or just the courses?

    Calling Dr. John W.! As a Nova grad, any thoughts on this?

    Barry Foster
  12. Ike

    Ike New Member

    It is not exactly so. Nova's school of education offers only Ed.D. The School of Computer and Info Sciences on the other hand offers both Ed.D and Ph.D in Computer Technology in Education (CTE). Please take a look at the following web pages:
    1. Graduate School of Education

    2. Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences
  13. Ike

    Ike New Member

    I also want to add that you will have a choice between Ed.D and Ph.D only when you are pursuing a doctorate in CTE at SCIS. FGSE offers only Ed.D., Au.D., and SLP.D.
  14. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Most of the opinions of university folk stating a preference for the Ph.D. over the Ed.D. degree have to do more with perception than reality. The few studies comparing the requirements for obtaining an education Ph.D. versus Ed.D. have shown that there is no significant different between the coursework, research and dissertation requirements for the two degrees. The best research was done by Russ Osguthorpe at Brigham Young U., who surveyed over 650 colleges of education. Another analysis of Ph.D. vs. Ed.D. dissertations showed little difference, other than the fact the Ed.D.'s tended to do more surveys.

    Harvard started the Ed.D. in the 1920's in reaction ot the belief that education should be seen more as a profession, with its own degrees, like the J.D. in law and the M.D. in medicine. Unfortunately, the education world "wimped out" and many colleges of education did not drop the traditional M.A./M.S. and Ph.D. degrees when the M.Ed. and Ed.D. were introduced.

    A few schools--such as UCLA--do, in fact, have separate researcher/practictioner tracks which distinguish between the Ph.D. & Ed.D. These are, however the minority. A silly trend in many schools is to award the Ed.D. in certain fields (e.g. educational administration) and the Ph.D. in others (e.g. educational psychology). Most colleges of ed. just pick one of the two degrees (Harvard and Columbia award Ed.D.s while University of California awards Ph.D.s).

    There are plenty of school principals and superintendents with Ph.D.s and plenty of university professors with Ed.D.s My advice is to find the program and faculty that best meets your needs.

    Tony Pina
    (who did 1/2 of his doctoral coursework from an RA Ph.D. program in Arizona and the other half from an RA Ed.D. program in California and did not noticed any difference in rigor between the two programs).
  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member


    Rich Douglas
  16. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    There is a major issue that I haven't seen mentioned yet.

    David M. hasn't revealed what field the hypothetical doctor would be teaching in. In most fields, a Ph.D. is the standard and expected doctorate. You can earn a Ph.D. in astrophysics, classical archaeology or in Buddhist studies. An Ed.D. is in the practice of education.

    If a department is hiring a professor of condensed matter physics, it is probably going to prefer a Ph.D. in physics over an MS in physics that also has an Ed.D. The Ph.D. has the critical advantage of having done his/her dissertation *in physics*. Just as a biotech firm hiring a molecular biologist will want a Ph.D in molecular biology.

    I think that a lot of the perception that Ph.D.s are superior to Ed.D.s comes from this source. In most fields they are.

    But if the department is an education department looking for a teacher of prospective teachers, a position intended to teach pedagogy rather than abstract educational theory, I expect that an Ed.D. would be competitive with, conceivably even preferable to, a Ph.D.

    Ed.D.s might also find their ways into the administrative ranks.

    Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is the Doctor of Arts, the D.A. This one is interesting, since it kind of falls between the Ed.D. and the Ph.D. Like the Ph.D. it is disciplinary in nature. You can earn a D.A. in mathematics. But the D.A. is a teaching doctorate, with less emphasis on a research dissertation and more on preparing the candidate to effectively teach the entire breadth of the undergraduate curriculum.

    But despite the fact that it would do a lot to improve teaching at the undergraduate level, the D.A. hasn't really caught on. It isn't popular with either doctoral students or departments, since a D.A. program just doesn't have that cutting-edge *research* cachet.
  17. David M

    David M New Member

    Bill, I revealed in several postings ago, that as a counseling student, I would prefer having a practitioner for a professor vs a research guru with no experience in the field. I don't want someone teaching me how to be a counselor when they haven't been out in the trenches, themselves.

    Basically, what I've gleaned from this discussion is that there are little differences, if any, between the requirements for PhD's vs EdD's based on research studies mentioned earlier. I've also learned that in the field of counseling, perhaps, the EdD is a much more competitive degree to have.

    Thanks to all that have participated in this discussion. It has been most enlightening.
  18. Gerstl

    Gerstl New Member

    Then you;ve gleaned wrong. What Anthony noted, which is probably true, is that there is little or no difference (as a whole) in PhD vs. EdD when the PhD is in Education. As Bill has noted, the difference between the PhD and the EdD is not always the difference between a researcher or a practitioner (if I'm trying to get a handle on the latest developments in Physics, the PhD is likely to be more a practitioner than the EdD). In education, the level of the degree seems to depend on the school more than the title [an exception exists for those few schools that offer both degrees. Some of them distinguish between the programs, some not).

    A similar statement can be made about the the Dsc and the PhD in some science fields as well as the PsyD and the PhD for clinical psych--the amount of research depends on the institution more than the degree title*

    As for the Nova story, I too recall such an incident. I beleive it was at the time when Nova first switched to the PhD in some field and gave graduating students (during the transition) the choice. The PhD was the overwhelming choice from what I have heard.

    *an exception for those schools that award both. They seem to have changed it, but Ferkauf (Yeshiva U) used to award a PhD and a PsyD in clinical Psych. The requirements for the PhD program where much more involved IIRC, and the program was much smaller.
  19. David M

    David M New Member

    I was referring to PhD's vs EdD's in education as you said yourself. I wasn't aware that other schools outside the school of education awarded EdD's. Sorry that you misunderstood.
  20. ms

    ms New Member

    I find the comparison between an EdD and a PhD somewhat akin to comparing an MSc(Engineering) to MEng - the latter being research based and the former coursework based with a dissertation as is the case in the UK or Singapore system. Both degrees are just as rigorous. And as a EdD candidate, I find little distinction between doing a PhD and an EdD - they are just as research based - at least in the UK context.

    There are EdD program that are not exactly "education" but more human resource development/ adult learning.


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