32 Days ’til 40: EdD vs. PhD…..

20 Jan


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!



Posted by on January 20, 2013 in attitude, Education


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35 responses to “32 Days ’til 40: EdD vs. PhD…..

  1. Toni

    January 20, 2013 at 21:09

    I think it depends on if YOU think that piece of paper makes you better.

    • 400daystil40

      January 20, 2013 at 22:58

      Ah, I wish it were that easy! The answer is, no I do not think a piece of paper makes me better, but many of the jobs in my field (at my current level even) are being advertised only for candidates with doctorates – years ago my MA would have been enough, sadly it is not anymore…. 😦

  2. Ray Laskowitz

    January 20, 2013 at 21:29

    Do you mean to say that you don’t know what you want to research? Forget all this talk about Harvard or UM and figure out what you want to learn and how it will apply to your career, rather than what a prospective employer will think. Then you’ll be able to figure out the school.

    • 400daystil40

      January 20, 2013 at 23:00

      I am actually looking at what I want to research right now and working to match my interests with professors at institutions so that I find a university that matches my interests instead of having to conform my interests to match a certain university.

  3. Lawrence Grodecki

    January 20, 2013 at 21:37

    This sounds like a pretty rough decision for you. It almost sounds like you’d prefer to not go through the process of obtaining this doctorate, as if it is a roadblock to attaining your dream.

    This is not meant as a knock on the education system, but it is food for thought, and for me a very wise quote from a pretty smart guy:

    “The only thing that interfered with my learning was my education.”

    – Albert Einstein

    • 400daystil40

      January 20, 2013 at 23:18

      I do not think it is so rough… just a matter of weeding through things. The lack of a doctorate, sadly, is a roadblock in my career, so I did have to come to terms with the fact that I need to obtain one….. yet, if I am going to obtain one, I want a real process, not this watered down, dumbed down process so many are using in order to get the title without a meaningful learning experience attached to it. Yes, I can SOO relate to that Einstein quote! (In fact, I have used it in prior blog posts this past year!) 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by!

  4. Lani Longshore

    January 21, 2013 at 00:08

    The purpose of education is to get you where you want to go. My son wanted to explore ideas, so he has a B.A. in Philosophy. Not great for jobs, but he was happy. You want to continue contributing to education – you need the documentation to convince the hiring committee you would be a good candidate. Do you want you need to do, and I suspect you’ll find something thrilling along the way.

    • 400daystil40

      January 21, 2013 at 11:08

      Yes, my thoughts exactly! Sometimes it is about doing what we need to do, but if we can embrace that process, it sure makes it more enjoyable!!! 🙂

  5. Lani Longshore

    January 21, 2013 at 00:09

    Okay, the last line got messed up – I meant to write, Do what you need to do, and I suspect you’ll find something thrilling along the way.

  6. walkwiththerabbi

    January 21, 2013 at 00:18

    We are cut from the same cloth. I, like you, will be a student right up to the moment my heart beats its final beat. There are those committed to a journey of excellence, where the acquisition of additional degrees is part and parcel of a never-ending quest for “higher” (you). Then, there are those who pursue additional degrees, as “cover” for acting out and hiding behind, their oftentimes nefarious personal agendas (not you). One thing we lifelong pursuers of “more” must be mindful of:There is coming a “last time” for everything and everyone. There are no exceptions! Time is a non-renewable resource. We can only invest time once and then it’s gone. We can only be doing one thing truly well at a time and be only in one place at a time. We can NEVER get time back. Something we all need to think about, before “the last time” arrives.

    • 400daystil40

      January 21, 2013 at 23:55

      Yes, I love being a student and I love the journey and I love that student and journey do not always mean school!

  7. dogdaz

    January 21, 2013 at 04:06

    Yes, there will always be people with titled degrees that got there with less work, but if the title is all you want then you’ve answered your question. If its the knowledge, then go where you will be the most challenged. Good luck.

  8. appletonavenue

    January 21, 2013 at 04:30

    I think there are too many unaccredited schools with questionable testing policies. I suppose if I were you, I would do the same and look only to the “reputable” schools. If you’re going for a PhD, you’d be better served and can better serve, with the “real thing.” Even those of us who never went to college can tell the difference between someone with and education and someone who bought an education.

  9. Julie

    January 21, 2013 at 06:09

    This is why you need this to continue. You love the process. Realize the importance of the process to development of the future generations. I think you already have your topic. You recently brought it up regarding high school preparing kids to meet college entrance not being sufficient. Why? For the reason you state here. Many degrees are paper and not knowledge. Whether or not the process in obtaining them make a student employable. Or at least that is a possibility as I see it. (My perspective is kaddywampus.) Go big, go bold. It isn’t just your education at stake here, it is every student whose life you have touched already, as well as those to come. You will go great.

    • 400daystil40

      January 21, 2013 at 23:54

      Hmmm, I did not think of that one! I have a few other things up my sleeve, but I think I have to add that into the mix as a possibility too!!! Thanks!!! 🙂

  10. AR Neal

    January 21, 2013 at 20:27

    Social construction has influenced the ways in which we view terminal degrees. I chose to pursue an EdD. The work I put into my program, the options I chose within it, and the areas of inquiry I explored were certainly not dumbed down. While I agree that there are people who want a doctorate but would prefer to simply pay for letters rather than to earn a degree, simply selecting a PhD instead does not guarantee quality. You identify a number of world-class institutions and if I had had the financial means along with the flexibility of schedule (as a wife, mother, community activist, and full-time higher education administrator I had to select a program that would allow room for the life In which I was already deeply invested), I too might have chosen one of those universities as well.

    • 400daystil40

      January 21, 2013 at 23:49

      You make very good points and I can relate…. I am the main breadwinner in our family and we have two kids….. a part-time program would be more user-friendly and certainly has been considered… but I look at it at the expense of the education. As you say, PhD vs EdD does not guarantee quality, which is why institutions must be carefully scrutinized as well. There are some top schools that do allow part-time PhD work, by the way. Oh, and I am very jealous of those who can more easily pick up their lives….. with those like us, it is a much larger sacrifice…… we choose to do it sometimes, but not easy.

      • AR Neal

        January 21, 2013 at 23:58

        All the best on your journey!

  11. Another Thousand Words

    January 22, 2013 at 04:01

    Thinking long and hard, 400, will allow you to come up with the right decision–for all of you! The Rabbi senses this also…and I feel certain you will choose wisely…because THAT is who you are, a very wise being! P.S.: But, don’t let it give you any headaches, please…AND, I love, love, LOVE today’s gloriously abstracted image of shadows and highlights…kind of like Life, yes?

  12. TomBoy

    January 22, 2013 at 04:32

    I’m doing an Ed.D., and it doesn’t seem to be much different than a Ph.D. I think that I would not have to do Comps. Most in my field do Psy.D.s. However, I had heard that Ph.D.s are old standards and are often thought as more research oriented in comparison to practical. Good for you for considering furthering your career and education.

    • 400daystil40

      January 22, 2013 at 20:45

      Yes, it is true, that is the problem with the EdD degree – some are as rigorous as the PhD and others as not – so those like you work hard to get a degree that is less valued due to the other programs… sadly! Ah, yes PsyDs are also out there now for those in the psychology realm – usually those in educational counseling or educational psychology head towards the EdDs…. Good luck!

  13. thelastsongiheard

    January 22, 2013 at 05:56

    Good for you! I’m sure you’ll do well 🙂 Incidentally, this reminds me of some very wise words someone once gave me regarding job interviews… “remember, you’re interviewing them too.” 🙂

  14. Michael

    May 17, 2013 at 07:28

    Johns Hopkins is not dropping its Ed.D. program — it is starting a new (online) one, in fact. Also, I don’t believe that Harvard has determined that it is dropping its Ed.D. program, either. Where do you see that as confirmed?

    • 400daystil40

      May 17, 2013 at 07:54

      You can Google and see the articles that this year’s EdD class at Harvard is the last as they are moving only to a PhD – as for Johns Hopkins and others, while they may be keeping the EdD for now, the trend seems to have been set in motion by Harvard and it will be interesting to see what happens in the future and the reality of what will happen with the EdD…

  15. Dr. K. Williams

    May 21, 2014 at 06:24

    The College of Arts and Science at Harvard has been trying to reign in and control the school of education at Harvard since it invented the EdD. This is documented.The decision to discontinue the EdD had nothing to do with rigor, just politics. Don’t believe the hype. The other Ivies that offer terminal degrees in Education still offer EdD’s and Harvard announced the change in 2011. (Penn, Teachers College). Good luck on your journey.

  16. Steven R. Maxwell

    August 10, 2014 at 01:40

    For starters you may want to RESEARCH the impact the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) is having upon the Ed.D. degree in U.S. Higher Education. It will provide you with some illuminating and instructional insights. Note the Ed.D. is not going away, in fact, its being “reinvented.” Harvard in addition to offering the Education in conjunction with the School of Arts and Sciences, it is rebooting the Ed.D. check it out. RESEARCH the literature on why the Ed.D. is thriving in Great Britain i.e. Cambridge University.

  17. docmax

    August 10, 2014 at 18:06

    Addendum: Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, USC, UC Berkley, University of Virginia, George Washington University, NYU and the list goes on of schools that offer the Ed.D. degree.

  18. docmax

    August 10, 2014 at 18:26

    RESEARCH the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) and its impact upon the Ed.D. degree in U.S. Colleges and Universities. The result is that the Ed.D. is being “reinvented” and “rebooted.” You will find CPED’s information illuminating and instructional. Harvard’s School of Education is still going to offer a Ed.D.L. degree in addition to a Ph.D. that will be awarded in conjunction with Harvard’s School of Arts and Sciences. RESEARCH the growth and development of the Ed.D. in Great Britain i.e. Cambridge University.

    • 400daystil40

      August 20, 2014 at 17:38

      Thanks for your reply, first you should note that this post is almost two years old, so of course it is a bit dated. Second, Harvard does NOT have an EDD – but an EdLd, which is a very different educational degree program – good to look up. Doctorate without a dissertation, but run as one that requires a residency/ internship instead. In the UK there are still amazing EdD programs, but in the USA many institutions of questionable character have, sadly, cheapened the degree for others. In fact, I was on a conference call with one once (listening in) where potential students wanted to know if they could do group dissertations. Unbelievable. Anyhow, it is sad that the requirements and merits of this particular degree are from high quality to garbage, making it hard for those who really earned it, and I worry that one day all will be questioned, or you will have to state where you studied to determine if it is a valid and worthy EdD

  19. Tails Around the Ranch

    March 2, 2015 at 07:30

    Best wishes on this profound journey. I hope you figure it all out and then can share it with people like me who whistled past 40 ages ago and still have no clue. 🙂


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