What’s it like to study for a Doctorate in Education?
The EdD works in a similar way to other professional doctorates, but some features are more specific. For example, your programme may involve substantial practice-based work, within schools, colleges or other educational organisations.
How long is a Doctor of Education degree?
The length of an EdD depends on the study intensity of the programme. Full-time courses usually take between 3-5 years to complete. However, part-time study is generally more common, with most of these courses taking between 5-8 years (some Doctor of Education programmes only offer a part-time option).
How will my programme be organised?
Most EdD programmes have two distinct phases:
During the first part of your degree you will complete a series of modules or other organised training. Some of these will explore different topics in pedagogical theory and practice. Others will focus on research skills.
After completing a sufficient number of modules, you will progress to the second part of your programme. This will involve independent research towards your doctoral thesis, usually undertaken with the guidance and support of a designated supervisor.
What will I study?
Each Doctor of Education programme will feature its own selection of modules – this is part of what makes individual degrees unique. However, you can generally expect to cover topics such as:
- Pedagogical theory – This could involve thinking about the cognitive and development science underpinning education processes and / or the effectiveness and principles of different professional practices. Some programmes may specialise in issues related to different learning environments or levels of education (primary, secondary, tertiary, etc).
- Educational policy – This is likely to mean considering the broader administration and design of educational systems, within organisations or by governments. Again, opportunities may exist to specialise in different key policy areas (school systems, higher education, adult education, etc).
- Data collection and analysis – Your programme will probably involve some training in assembling qualitative and quantitative data sets and reflecting on your findings. This will be useful during some coursework, but will be especially important during your doctoral research project.
- Research methods – Most programmes will also feature specific training in wider skills, processes and methodologies for professional research in Education. This could involve learning about key issues such as project design, management and ethics.
Bear in mind that this is only a representative selection. The specific modules offered at actual universities will reflect their interests and expertise. Some EdD programmes may also have a more specific focus, perhaps focussing on particular areas such as educational leadership, higher education policy or other topics.
What’s it like to research an EdD thesis?
The EdD is a doctoral degree and, as such, it normally concludes with an original research project and thesis. Here you will select a specific area of inquiry and investigate it with the support of a supervisor.
Your thesis will be a significant piece of work, but it won’t be as extensive as it would for an academic PhD and you won’t spend as much time researching it.
A PhD research project normally takes at least three years of full-time research to complete and results in a thesis of around 80-100,000 words. An EdD research project, on the other hand, normally only runs for the final year or two of a full-time Education Doctorate (or the part-time equivalent) and produces a thesis of between 40,000 and 60,000 words (the exact length will be determined by the balance of taught and research components on your programme).
In addition, whereas a PhD thesis is normally based entirely on original academic research, an EdD thesis may also reflect on practice-based exercises, such as real-world projects and case studies.