I have been thinking a lot about these degrees lately, as I have slowly come to the realization that I need to have my doctorate in order to continue to advance in my career. Not having the title “Dr.” seems to inhibit career advancement….. but what does that really mean?
My partner accused me of being a degree snob when I began to explore doctoral programs. If I am going to invest in furthering my education I want to dive into a meaningful educational experience. I do not want to rush to the end, I want a journey that I can embrace. This means that, for the first time in my educational experience, I find myself highly scrutinizing institutions and realizing that I have to want them even before they can decide if they want me – I have rejected the thought of applying to many – I wonder how many that I am interested in may reject me… come to think about it, I feel that finding a PhD program is a bit like dating – making the calls and introductions until I find a decent match.
There was one school that was the final straw in my decision to NOT pursue an EdD and look towards more rigorous PhD programs (or the AMAZING EdLD program at Harvard). I was listening to an informational webcast with multiple lead professors from this EdD program when one of the prospective students asked if they could team up and do their dissertation in pairs. The professors, seemingly in a desperate attempt to recruit paying students to this less-than-top institution, took the question seriously. If I had been a professor at a decent university I may have been tempted to answer with “You ARE joking, right?” or “Head back to the playground, a doctorate is not for you.”
I think we can look to schools such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins, who are moving away from the EdD degrees to PhD programs in education to begin to understand what has happened. Harvard INVENTED the EdD degree and they are dropping it. Why? My guess would be it is the fact that these degrees have been dumbed down by enough institutions that they don’t mean anything anymore. Therein lies my problem – I need a PhD or EdD in order to move ahead in my field, even though many in my field have these dumbed down EdD degrees. What is sad about this is that there are many individuals who completed rigorous EdD programs – that, on paper, look the same as these mediocre options (granted, Harvard on an EdD diploma means a bit more than some of the other options to a potential employer).
But it makes me wonder – what is education all about? Is it about the learning experience or is it about the title? Is it about pushing oneself to really learn and grow as an educator, or is it jumping through a hoop in order to do what you really want afterwards? Sadly, I think more and more people are going for hoop jumping and titles over really embracing an educational experience.
I find myself looking at some of the top Education programs in the world, such as: Harvard, Vanderbilt, University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins, The Institute of Education at the University of London, and Cambridge. I wonder if I will qualify and/ or get funding for any of them in the coming years…. time will tell – I will certainly try.
Today, 32 days ’til 40, since I have answered the EdD or PhD question (or EdLD – which would be my top choice!) I must now start asking myself (for PhD programs) – “What am I going to research???” I think seeking the answer to that question will keep me busy for a while!