Earning a PhD vs. EdD vs. DBA – Part 2

By Michael Berger, EdD
Dean, College of Doctoral Studies

Posted on August 13, 2015  in  [ Doctoral Journey ]

In a previous post, I discussed how there are two major categories that can be used to compare and contrast the doctoral degree programs at GCU: degree type and degree content.

I described how GCU’s Doctor of Education (EdD) degree isn’t a doctorate IN education. It does not cover education content the way a Master of Education (MEd) program does. There are not classes on pedagogy, classroom management, educational policy, curriculum and instruction, etc.

The degree content of our EdD is organizational leadership. The core courses of the program cover organizational leadership theories and application, change management, organizational culture, etc. Each EdD program emphasis is experienced through the lens of organizational leadership.

As an example, the special education emphasis does not cover how to be a special education instructor, but how to lead special education organizations through content such as the interpretation of state or federal policy on special education, the finances of special education and the management of special education personnel.

Similarly, the K-12 leadership emphasis, the behavioral health emphasis and the health care administration emphasis are about leadership of those kinds of organizations.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in general psychology does not cover philosophy content, but rather psychology content. So learners interested in GCU’s PhD program should be interested first and foremost in the study of psychology.

Each of the PhD program emphases, such as cognition and instruction, will be experienced through the lens of psychology.

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program is more self-explanatory as it covers business content.

So when choosing the right doctoral degree for you, be sure to consider both degree type as well as degree content. Good luck!

Learn more about GCU’s online degree programs for doctoral learners by visiting our website or contacting us today!

More about Dr. Berger:

Dr. Michael Berger has over a decade of experience in higher education and joined GCU in 2004. Dr. Berger participated in the teams that earned HLC accreditation for the current doctoral programs as head of curriculum design and development before moving to the College of Doctoral Studies in 2012. His dissertation focused on instructional techniques that online faculty can use to better connect with their students. He has presented at numerous regional and national conferences on the subjects of higher ed. assessment, online learning and virtual doctoral education. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from the University of Dayton and he received his doctorate in education from GCU. He started his doctoral program five days after his daughter was born, so he has experienced firsthand trying to simultaneously balance school, family and full-time employment.

About College of Doctoral Studies

Grand Canyon University’s innovative doctoral degree programs prepare learners for leadership roles in their professions, communities and society. Our dynamic online learning community, integrated dissertation process, wealth of resources and collaborative environment support a successful and meaningful doctoral journey. We believe earning a doctoral degree is a journey and similar to climbing a mountain—challenging, invigorating and completely rewarding when you reach the top. Our goal is to help you conquer your own mountain and succeed on your doctoral journey. Readers of The Doctoral Journey blog, presented by the College of Doctoral Studies, will find resourceful and knowledgeable posts regarding the doctoral process, research best practices and dissertation tips among other topics from GCU’s doctoral faculty.


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