What a Doctoral Degree in Education Can Do for You

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The professionals who land at the top in education often have a doctoral degree in education to back them. Many of my colleagues are earning a doctorate in addition to a master's degree, and finding that it opens up many new career possibilities.

Careers for those with a doctorate in education may include:

* K-12 school principal
* School district superintendent
* Education researcher for the government or nonprofit sector
* Professor of Education at a college or university
* Administrator at a community college

What kind of doctorate
should I get?

When looking at a doctoral degree in education, there are two main categories: Ph.D. and Ed.D.

In short, a Ph.D. in Education typically focuses on research in learning and education, while an Ed.D focuses on teaching practice (hands-on, classroom learning).

Sorting out which degree to get can be confusing. The key is to ask yourself what you want to do with your doctoral degree in education.

If research in Education is your focus, you'll want a Ph.D. That degree prepares you to work in a research setting at a university, think tank, nonprofit, or government agency. If your dream is to uncover the inner workings of students, education organizations, teacher preparation, etc., go for the Ph.D.

On the other hand, maybe you want to become an expert in classroom teaching. Get thee an Ed.D.! People who pursue Ed.D. degrees become lead teachers -- principals, teacher preparation experts, workshop leaders, curriculum directors, and more. The focus is not on research but on practical application of research.

Online, Distance, or On-Campus:
Choose What Works for You

Many professionals who pursue a doctoral degree in education are already working in schools or colleges. Fortunately, many institutions offer flexible options. Best of all, online learning has become a respected way to earn a degree, meaning you can earn your doctorate from home evenings and weekends.

There's a hidden advantage in earning your doctorate online: it's a good bet you'll work at an institution that's trying to figure out distance learning. With your online doctorate, you'll be an expert.

To help you sort it all out, here are a few common terms:

* Distance Education refers to attending a school that isn't necessarily located where you live. I earned my master's degree at a distance education program and loved it. We corresponded with professors during the academic year and attending two in-person, eight-day residencies annually. Schools set up distance learning programs in a variety of ways.

* Online Education means almost all your schooling takes place on the Internet. You'll have an interface that allows you to stay in touch with professors and peers, and you may do chat rooms, video chat (such as Skype), online lectures or presentations, and more. This can be very convenient for working professionals and parents.

* Campus-Based Programs mean you are part of an in-person school community. This can be wonderful for building a personal network, especially if you intend to continue your career in the community where the school is located. Many campus-based programs today offer some "hybrid" options so that some coursework can be done online.

It's a new world, isn't it? And it means education is more accessible now than ever before.

What do I need to know to pursue my doctorate online? Tech tips here.

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