EdD vs PhD

Obtaining either an EdD and PhD can provide rewarding career paths for organizational leadership. Both degrees combine a strong educational component with practical real-world experience to best prepare working professionals. Furthermore, individuals with these degrees are recognized and respected for what they can provide to a variety of organizations. With that said, it is essential for prospective students to understand the similarities and differences between EdD and PhD programs.

Ed.D vs. Ph.D
Degree Components EdD PhD
GRE Required Varies depending on the program Varies depending on the program
Program Requirements Coursework, on-campus immersions (often required for online programs), dissertation or capstone Coursework, research work and residency, comprehensive examinations, dissertation and approval
Average Length of Program Varies, but the average length is about 3 years. Largely varies between 4-9 years, with an average of around 8.2 years.
Career Examples Top executives, instructional coordinators, school administrators, healthcare administrators, corporate directors, management consultants Chief executive officers, directors of compliance, quality systems, or strategic planning, education administrators, operations managers, human resources staff, management analysts
Career Outlook (from BLS) Top executives: 8% career growth over the next decade): average annual salary is $104,700;
Postsecondary education administrators: 10% career growth over the next decade: average annual salary is $92,360;
Healthcare administrators: 20% career growth over the next decade: average annual salary is $98,350 (data obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Chief executive officers: 8% career growth over the next decade), with an average salary of $104,700;
Human resources managers: 9% career growth over the next decade: average annual salary is $110,120;
Training & Development managers: 10% career growth over the next decade: average annual salary is $108,250 (data obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Curriculum Differences More administrative focus, practical focus within coursework, typically able to also work full-time while attending classes Research intensive, more funding for tuition, focus on academia (publishing papers, presenting in conferences)
Dissertation Required Most programs will provide the option between a capstone or a dissertation. Yes. The dissertation is one of the core tenants of the PhD program. Nearly all programs require the dissertation completion.

What’s an EdD?

An EdD (Doctor of Education) is a practice-based, professional doctorate concentrated on qualitative and exploratory research and application. The EdD best supports working professionals who seek to identify, organize, lead, and implement dynamic change within their organizations.

An EdD program typically entails of workshops and research in the direct community (such as the classroom), and the course curriculum gears towards solving practical and objective problems. Those who obtain an EdD in Organizational Leadership often pursue careers in administrative leadership, higher education leadership, and executive leadership.

What’s a PhD?

A PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is a theoretical, academic-based professional doctorate concentrated on university-level research and elite publication. Currently, PhD qualifications are available in all subjects, and it is the oldest and most common type of doctorate degree.

In general, the PhD opens the path for scholars seeking to pursue rewarding careers in higher academia or professional research and publication. However, a PhD in Organizational Leadership is also ideal for supervisors and executives of all disciplines who desire to become better leaders.

Featured No GRE Required Online EdD Programs

Earn an EdD from Baylor University’s School of Education
  • Live, Weekly Online Classes
  • Award Winning Faculty
Discover Baylor University’s EdD Program

Sponsored Program

Earn an Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College
  • Interactive, Live Classes
  • On-campus convenings in Nashville, TN
Learn More About Vanderbilt University’s Ed.D. Program

Sponsored Program

Explore The University of Dayton’s EdD in Leadership for Organizations
  • Complete in 36 months
  • Dissertation-in-practice
Discover University of Dayton’s EdD Program

Sponsored Program

Strengths of the EdD

Practical Application: The coursework in typical EdD programs focuses on direct solutions and applications for real-life working environments. Course professors have typically worked directly in the specific field (as opposed to solely in academic settings), and the content remains largely practitioner-based.

School and Work Balance: Many students enrolled in EdD programs work in their full-time careers (school administrators, school principals, executives) to support both their academic plans and their families. As many graduate programs demand a full-time focus on coursework, this is a definite strength for individuals who cannot afford to live without a steady paycheck.

Administrative emphasis: The majority of EdD programs focus on teaching and preparing students to acquire formal administrative leadership roles in various institutions (schools, government agencies, nonprofit centers). The average EdD does not have aspirations to work in academia; instead, the average student wants to solve the problems and obstacles plaguing various administrators and organizations.

Organizational leadership: EdD programs are designed for current and future leaders who seek to design and implement dynamic change within their organizations. The blend of classroom education coupled with practical, real-world application creates a powerful platform for students to increase both their skill set and confidence to execute such leadership.

Peer professionals: Because most EdD students work in their desired fields, this creates an advantageous opportunity for peers to learn from one another, network and build relationships with those in various disciplines.

Strengths of the PhD

Original research development: PhD students complete dissertations, which can take several years to finish. The dissertation process focuses on specialized knowledge in a particular field of study and requires advanced skills in research, comprehension, evaluation, and writing. Thus, in their program, students achieve greater depth of knowledge in both educational and research-based skills.

Academic focus: Many prestigious universities consider the PHD as the “holy grail” degree in academia. In fact, most schools require professors to have PhDs to be eligible for teaching. Because many students pursuing the PhD aspire to work in academia, this doctorate track provides a clear path towards success.

Funding options: Many schools offer funding options for PhD students, which can be a lucrative perk for those concerned about the costs of higher education. Universities often provide tuition waivers and stipends during the PhD program. Moreover, students may work part-time or complete fellowships to supplement their tuition.

Universally known: A PhD is recognizable around the world as a degree that carries prestige, quality, and high esteem. The positive reputation of this doctorate alone can potentially have a positive influence on one’s professional opportunities and career avenues.

Who Should Get an EdD?

Many professionals can benefit from the numerous virtues provided by EdD programs. Successful students often include professional leaders within school settings, private firms, government agencies, and nonprofits.

Individuals who wish to enhance their knowledge and skills to manage the changing needs within their organizations can benefit from these programs. In obtaining their degree, students will receive extensive experience in transformational leadership, managerial strengths, and strategy development.

Who Should Get a PhD?

Scholars seeking to expand their leadership attributes in a multitude of dimensions can benefit from enrolling in a PhD in Organizational Leadership program. Successful students often include working professionals within higher education, nonprofit or philanthropic, consulting, or business development roles.

Individuals who wish to cultivate their critical thinking, analytic, and research skills will have the opportunity to learn and apply these principles within their PhD program.

Online EdD

There are numerous online EdD in Organizational Leadership programs available throughout the United States. Prospective students should consider university accreditation, program reputation, and course rigor during their application process. Programs typically entail a combination of live classes and assignments, virtual residency, and a designated number of on-campus immersions.

Online PhD

Those seeking a PhD in Organizational Leadership can also also earn their doctorate degrees online. Likewise, it is essential for students to consider quality programs offered by accredited universities. Most programs utilize a hybrid approach, in the sense that students engage in online coursework while also attending periodic intensive courses via on-campus immersion.