Is an EdD Worth It?

Adult female graduating with her EdD degree

If you’re considering earning your EdD, you likely have questions about whether it is worth it. The EdD, or Doctor of Education, is a doctoral-level, terminal degree that represents the highest level of educational attainment in the field, similar to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Since the first EdD awarded by Harvard University in 1921, this degree has grown in popularity among educators and others who are interested in becoming better able to meet the needs of their organizations by enhancing their academic qualifications.*

The decision to undertake the intensive course of study entailed by a doctoral program is not one to be made lightly. However, if you do decide to pursue an EdD, you’ll likely find that the journey is a worthwhile one that offers immeasurable rewards.

Here are four answers to questions you may be asking yourself if you’re considering earning your EdD:

What’s the Difference Between an EdD and a PhD?

If you are looking to advance your education, it’s important first to establish what you want to get out of the educational experience.

Universities often offer two-degree programs for professionals in various fields such as education, leadership, or change management – Doctor of Education (EdD) and Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD). Both programs lead to terminal, doctoral-level degrees and explore similar subject areas. However, there are some notable differences to be aware of before you apply to a program.


A PhD program is usually research-focused, immersing students in the theoretical frameworks of education and teaching. For their dissertations, students conduct original research designed to add to the body of knowledge in the field by presenting new theories and challenging existing ones. A PhD in Education is ideal for someone who aspires to become a research consultant, university researcher or professor.


Students working toward an EdD focus primarily on exploring practical applications of existing theoretical knowledge rather than on creating new theories.

In addition, an EdD program typically explores educational leadership. The EdD is ideal for those who wish to teach in K-12 schools or become administrators at any level, including at institutes of higher education. Professionals with EdDs can also be found in non-profits or in government roles, as the program prepares graduates for practical application to critical issues in a wide range of workplaces.

What Are the Benefits of Getting an EdD Degree?

There are many excellent reasons to pursue a Doctor of Education. Students each enter the program with their own intentions, the following being especially common:

  • Enhanced job qualifications: With an EdD, you’ll be recognized as an expert in your field. This recognition opens the door to higher-level career opportunities with associated compensation increases.
  • The ability to effect change: The skills and knowledge you’ll gain during your studies will empower you to make positive changes within your organization. You’ll learn in-depth knowledge you can apply to steer your organization toward greater operational efficiency and success.
  • An impressive resume: Earning an EdD is a challenging task, so having this accomplishment on your resume will set you apart from other job candidates. An EdD carries academic prestige, automatically boosting your professional value.
  • Effective leadership skills: This degree prepares individuals to excel in leadership roles in educational organizations. Many senior-level positions, such as superintendent, college president and dean, require a doctoral degree such as an EdD.

In addition, students often reap considerable personal satisfaction from the major accomplishment of earning a doctorate. Although this may not be your primary motivation for enrolling in an EdD program, personal fulfillment is a reward in its own right.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an EdD?

The time it takes to earn the degree is another important factor to consider. Each student’s EdD journey looks different, as multiple factors influence the time it takes to complete the program.

The first factor is the number of credits required for completion and whether you have any graduate-level credits that could transfer to the program. Any transferable credits will reduce the time needed for you to earn the degree.

A second factor is the possibility of completing the program online, which gives you more flexibility. An online program may give you the option of adjusting the number of credits you take in a semester to accommodate your current workload. Keep in mind that you may need to visit the campus for one or two brief in-person residencies.

A third consideration is the structure of the curriculum. At some universities, doctoral students complete all their graduate-level courses before beginning the dissertation process. At other schools, the dissertation is integrated directly into the coursework, enabling students to begin their research while completing classes. This option speeds up the process of achieving the degree.

The most influential factor determining how long it will take to complete your EdD is whether you enroll as a full-time or a part-time student. As a full-time doctoral student, you may be able to complete your dissertation more quickly.

However, most EdD students are working professionals who must balance their work obligations with their academic pursuits. For part-time students, the completion of an EdD degree may take four to eight years.

What Can You Do With an EdD?

If you’re still wondering whether an EdD is worth it, consider what you hope to accomplish with your new degree. Numerous professional opportunities are available to well-qualified candidates with an EdD, either immediately or with a bit of experience. They include:

  • Associate professor
  • Dean of a college within a university
  • Educational administrator
  • Leadership consultant
  • Executive coach
  • K-12 educator
  • K-12 superintendent
  • Provost

If these answers to your questions make you excited about advancing your education, then an EdD may be a fitting path for you. However, before you move forward with your graduate school application, be sure you are fully prepared to undertake a rigorous and lengthy course of study.

Consider discussing the issue with your partner, children or other family members, if applicable. Graduate study is generally easier to manage for students who can rely on a strong network of support, so setting up that support system is an excellent place to begin.

If you’re ready to pursue a doctoral degree, you can apply to enroll in a Doctor of Education program at Grand Canyon University. Available doctoral programs include the Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership: Higher Education Leadership (Qualitative Research) and programs specializing in K-12 leadership, special education and adult learning. Click on the Request Info button to learn more about the Doctor of Education program options and how you can get the most out of your degree at GCU.


*Retrieved from The Vocational Aspect of Education, Implications of the Introduction of the Doctor of Education Degree in British Universities: can the EdD reach parts the PhD cannot, in March 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.