EdS vs. EdD: Which One Is Right for Me?

Female teacher sitting in her classroom with students

If you have decided to pursue a doctorate degree to potentially further your teaching career, you may want to consider whether an Education Specialist (EdS) or a Doctor of Education (EdD) is better suited to you. While an EdD is perhaps a better-known degree, you may find an EdS to be just as rewarding if it ends up being a better fit for you. 

You likely have many questions as you explore your options. Exactly what is an EdS degree? What is an EdD degree? Is an EdD a doctor? And is an EdS vs. EdD better suited for your career goals? Let’s take a look.

In This Article:

How Does an EdS Differ From an EdD Degree?

What Is an EdS Degree?

An EdS degree is similar to an EdD program in that both degrees aim to prepare working professionals in education to work toward increasing their qualifications and expertise. However, an EdS program is not considered a true doctorate program. It isn’t a terminal degree — it’s a post-master’s degree program.

Because the EdS degree is not a doctorate, it typically requires fewer credit hours, features no dissertation requirements, and may have little or no residency requirements when compared to a terminal degree like the EdD degree.

What Is an EdD Degree?

A Doctor of Education is a doctoral degree — a type of terminal degree. It may help learners prepare themselves to potentially pursue leadership positions within schools. Compared to an EdS degree, an EdD degree typically takes longer to complete because it has more credit hour requirements. You can also expect to be required to complete and defend a dissertation, and depending on the school, there may be residency requirements.

Why Earn an EdS Degree? 

An EdS can be beneficial in many ways, providing opportunities to gain more insight into the areas in which you already work. It may help you to significantly enhance your impact within your existing teaching environment. An EdS degree typically supports continued work in a classroom or school setting, emphasizing educational administration and curriculum instruction.

What Types of EdS Degrees Are There?

There is a wide variety of EdS degrees in the U.S. Most degree programs focus on subjects that are directly related to teaching, instruction and administration in K-12 environments. Your specific experience as a learner in an EdS program may vary depending on the focus of your degree program.

The types of EdS specializations available to you depend largely on the school you choose to enroll in. Some schools offer EdS degrees that emphasize curriculum development or special education. Others, such as GCU, offer EdS degrees that emphasize either teaching and learning or K-12 leadership.

What Jobs Can I Get With an EdS Degree? 

You may decide to stay in your current position after earning an EdS degree since you can apply what you’ve been taught to your work. Alternatively, you might consider one of the following career pathways where the knowledge you gain from your EdS degree may benefit you:1

  • Instructional designer
  • Curriculum leader

Why Earn an EdD Degree? 

An EdD offers a robust course curriculum that, when approached with sufficient time, energy and dedication, can yield rewards and valuable outcomes. The EdD degree may be a better fit if you are passionate about pursuing a higher-level leadership position in a school district or in a higher education institution.

When weighing the pros and cons of pursuing an EdS vs. EdD degree, it’s important to consider your intended career outcome. If educational leadership is your calling, the EdD may prove to be a good fit for you.

Is an EdD a Doctor?

Someone who has earned a Doctor of Education degree is not a medical doctor (unless, of course, they have also graduated from medical school and earned a Doctor of Medicine degree). However, the Doctor of Education degree does indeed confer the “Dr.” title, just like a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) does. That means that if you decide to earn an EdD, you could indeed use the title “Dr.” in front of your name upon graduation.

What Types of EdD Degrees Are There?

Like the EdS degree, the types of EdD degrees available depend largely on the school you choose to attend. You’ll find many Doctor of Education degree programs available to choose from at GCU, including specializations such as:

All of these specialization options can be completed with either an emphasis in qualitative or quantitative research.

What Jobs Can I Get With an EdD Degree? 

Earning an EdD degree may open the door to a range of career possibilities. With a foundation in education competencies, you might pursue roles within adult and continuing education and teaching or educational leadership and administration.

EdS vs. EdD Degrees at GCU

Whether the EdS or the EdD is the degree for you, GCU offers flexible class scheduling via our e-learning platform. The EdD degree is also available through evening classes. While both degrees can enhance your academic qualifications, it’s best to work with an enrollment representative to choose the right degree for your personal goals and needs.

Wherever your career path takes you, you’ll have opportunities to build a firm foundation for the future at GCU. The College of Education and the College of Doctoral Studies are pleased to offer numerous higher education options to educators, including the Education Specialist in K-12 Leadership and the Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership: K-12 Leadership (Qualitative Research). Click on Request Info above to learn more about furthering your academic qualifications at GCU.

1Botes, N. (2023, May 2). FAQ: What is an education specialist (EdS) degree? Indeed. Retrieved Nov. 21, 2023. 

Approved by the dean of the College of Doctoral Studies on Dec. 13, 2023.

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.