EdD Careers: What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Education?

Marymount University student in classroom
Marymount University student in classroom

Learn more about Marymount's online Doctorate in Education program.

Across a broad spectrum of industries, motivated professionals prioritize their ongoing development and career advancement opportunities. Individuals with their eyes on new roles and a desire to create positive change in the world know that these goals require ongoing investment in new knowledge and skills. Earning a doctorate in education is one of the primary paths to developing new forms of leadership better suited to respond to the needs of rapidly evolving societies.

A great deal of the learning necessary for reaching your career goals happens on the job. However, according to the Wharton School’s Center for Human Resources, most employers are dedicating dramatically less time and energy than in decades past to training their employees. Therefore, professionals need to take responsibility as individuals for creating and enhancing the capacity of current leaders and preparing and training future leaders.

Some find this path difficult to maneuver since graduate education can present challenges for working professionals. You may not have geographical access to the kinds of programs that would be most suited to your goals. However, an online doctorate of education offers prospective candidates the opportunity to balance their careers and academic pursuits as they apply best practices and new skills in their day-to-day professional settings.

Graduates with a doctorate of education degree enjoy a wide range of career opportunities and the confidence to promote change across diverse instructional and organizational settings.


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What Are the Unique Characteristics and Benefits of a Doctorate in Education?

The right doctorate in education program will prioritize academic excellence while taking a holistic approach to student learning and development. It will offer a unique opportunity to cultivate deep roots of servant and ethical leadership as part of your personal and professional growth plan.

By completing an EdD program, you can acquire the knowledge and skillset to stand out among other candidates and excel in leadership roles in educational or other public or private sector settings. And that, of course, is the goal - to maximize your career potential while making a meaningful and lasting impact in your community and in the world.

What Knowledge and Skills Does an EdD Offer Me?

An online doctorate in education program enables professionals to enhance their leadership capacities to affect change while continuing to balance work, family, and community responsibilities. An EdD program will model collaborative processes, emphasize problem-solving and connect and adapt schools and organizations to changing external environments.

The curriculum in a doctorate in education program will explore subjects relevant to your current professional position and to future career pursuits. Areas of focus include:

  • Effective organizational leadership
  • Leadership that embraces and brings about social justice
  • Transformative leadership: producing meaningful change
  • Applying educational theory to organizational health and innovation
  • Crisis leadership
  • Systems thinking
  • Change management
  • Cultivating future leaders within an organization
  • Importance of human and social capital

What Are the Differences Between an EdD and a PhD in Education?

An EdD is one of two primary options for terminal degrees in the field of educational leadership. Both an EdD and a PhD are post-graduate programs that offer deeper knowledge and specialized skills that can translate into new professional opportunities. There are a number of critical differences between the two that you should consider carefully.

A more nuanced discussion of the differences between an EdD and a PhD may be helpful for some, but for most people, the primary consideration is one of outcomes. If you’ve decided that a doctorate in education might be a wise path for you, it is important to envision what kind of work you ultimately hope to do and in what setting.

An EdD is designed to equip those interested in hands-on leadership in education, non-profit, government, and even business settings. Some of the advantages of an EdD include:

  • Practical application emphasized over theory
  • Apply research to real-world settings
  • Ability to continue in full-time work throughout program completion
  • Collaborating with fellow classmates to solve problems of practice

A PhD in education is designed to emphasize research, both during the program and in subsequent career pursuits. It tends to emphasize theory over practice and is aimed at producing academic researchers in more focused areas of study. Some of the characteristics of a PhD include:

  • Research intensive
  • More common career path to a research scholar or policy researcher
  • Potential funding options to focus on full-time research

Another notable difference between the two is that a PhD often requires significantly more credit hours and time — sometimes twice as much time — than an EdD. On average, EdD programs require 60 credits and can be completed in three years or more, while PhD programs require 90 credits and usually take five years or more.

What Types of Careers Could an EdD Equip Me to Pursue?

By earning a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree, you’re preparing yourself for a career with lasting impact—on students, on the future of a college or university, on your organization or community. You’re also positioning yourself for advancement. An EdD signals to employers that you’re a thought leader; that you’re someone who has demonstrated the capacity to identify a problem, examine issues from multiple perspectives, and offer relevant insights for practical solutions. With your EdD you’re prepared to take on a leadership role across a variety of organizations.

K-12 School Leaders

Education professionals who aspire to serve as a school leader such as superintendent of schools usually need to earn a doctorate in education. The emphasis on leadership and problem-solving in most EdD programs makes it ideal preparation for superintendents, directors of education, and other school leadership positions.

Postsecondary Administrator

Earning a doctorate in education is often necessary to ascend to administrative positions in college and university settings. The BLS expects employment for post secondary administrators to increase by 7 percent between the years 2018 and 2028. That’s higher than the anticipated growth of all occupations and of other management occupations.

Curriculum Specialists and Instructional Designers

The challenges of effectively creating and revising academic curriculum, guiding educators in implementing curriculum, and teaching methodology, analyzing student data to assess and improve learning outcomes will be better met with an EdD. Like most educational specialties, the BLS predicts this field will grow in the years to come, with an expected 6 percent increase by 2028.

Careers in Other Fields

While a doctorate in education is clearly an asset for those aspiring to advance their roles in academia, it’s also a degree for anyone in a leadership position who is passionate to effect change through leadership. A doctorate in education equips and credentials leaders for a wide range of government, non-profit, business, and consulting careers. Some examples include:

Chief Learning Officer

Some organizations have set out to increase their competitive edge. Chief Learning Officers “steer the learning journey, in line with business.” CLOs coordinate and deliver training programs and opportunities, and demonstrate to their fellow top-level colleagues how such training impacts the bottom line, customer satisfaction, and employee experience.

According to Continu, “The role of a Chief Learning Officer is growing as more organizations recognize the need for learning and development to be central to their success.”

Director of a Civic, Nonprofit, or Grantmaking Organization

Hiring boards for such organizations often prefer candidates with advanced degrees. A doctorate of education can equip graduates with the theoretical framework and practical problem-solving skills necessary to lead an organization effectively. The program’s emphasis on strategy, systems, change, and bringing about social justice will prepare students who want to pursue organizational leadership roles of this nature.

The charitable sector in the United States trails only behind manufacturing and retail in terms of percentage of the workforce — 10% of the workforce works in the charitable sector. That represents 11.4 million jobs in nearly 1.6 million organizations.

Human Resources Manager/Director

Graduates of a doctorate program who desire to craft policies, shape corporate culture, and coordinate training programs and activities may find a human resources manager or director role to be an ideal fit. HR Directors also ensure company compliance with legal policies, so EdD degree holders with an interest in legislation may want to consider such a role.

The BLS expects human resources manager roles to grow six percent between now and 2029, which is a faster rate than the average for all occupations.

Education Policy Analyst

Education policy analysts work within school systems, at think tanks, in lobbying organizations, for nonprofits organizations, and in the private sector. Such analysts research educational topics, evaluate the effects of education policies, and conduct research to produce reports and articles. These analysts may focus on a specific area of education, or they may conduct more general analysis about the state of education and possibilities for the future.

According to Resilient Educator, the field of policy analysis is projected to grow five percent between now and 2028.

Marymount University students at graduation

How Can You Pursue a Doctorate in Education?

Marymount University’s Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Organizational Innovation offers an ideal opportunity to earn an EdD in a convenient format. You can earn a doctorate in education entirely online in less than three years.

The online EdD program at Marymount is a strategically designed educational experience that integrates research, theory, and practice to empower leaders to solve real-world problems. Start building the capacity of your school or organization for high performance and continuous improvement.

If you’re ready to promote change, hone your analytical, strategic thinking skills, and improve systems through leadership and innovation, a doctorate of education may be the ideal next step for you.

Become a leader who can respond to uncertain futures and new challenges with an EdD online from Marymount University.


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