FAQ: Should I Get a Doctorate In Education? (Plus Career Options)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A doctorate in education is a degree program that provides students with specialized knowledge in research and educational topics. Students often pursue this degree if they plan to work in administration or executive positions in learning environments. Earning a doctorate in education requires time and money to complete, so it may be helpful for you to learn more about this process before pursuing it to determine whether it's a suitable choice for you. In this article, we answer frequently asked questions about earning a doctorate in education, including requirements, salary expectations and jobs you can qualify for with this degree.

Related: How To Get a Doctorate Degree

What does a doctorate in education cover?

A doctorate education program often covers topics related to educational policy and research. Students attain in-depth knowledge on effective methods of performing educational research and teaching in a classroom.

To complete this degree, students take courses related to qualitative and quantitative research and educational statistics. Graduation also typically requires a dissertation on a topic that an advisory board chooses for each student. A typical curriculum for a doctorate program in education includes:

  • Reading and literacy: Students in these programs learn techniques to improve literacy skills for themselves and others. This helps foster a learning environment that encourages academic excellence and is especially helpful for those choosing a career in education administration.

  • Special education: Doctors of education learn how to properly instruct students with developmental or learning disabilities. This course includes instruction on teaching students with special needs and developing programs for them to succeed.

  • Curriculum and instruction: This program also instructs students on how to develop and implement a curriculum guide and provides effective methods for instruction. Developing or overseeing a curriculum is a primary duty of many careers you can pursue with a doctorate in education.

  • Instructional design and technology: Students learn how to create instructional materials such as tests, worksheets and lesson plans. This program also covers learning styles and methods to accommodate students with various learning styles.

  • Counseling and school psychology: This course is important for educating students about learning environments and how to accommodate students with special needs. School psychology also includes relating to and understanding students' specific desires and needs.

  • Educational technology: This includes classroom devices that assist learning processes. It's useful to learn about software that can facilitate learning and ensure accessibility because professionals who work in school districts may develop staff training or policies that include implementing technology.

Should you get a doctorate in education?

There are several reasons why earning a doctorate in education may be beneficial, including the potential for increasing your salary. With a doctorate in education, you can qualify for executive positions that offer high salaries. For example, a superintendent earns an average annual salary of $82,077 per year.

Pursuing a doctorate degree requires a commitment of resources such as time and money, and this is a factor to consider when determining whether you should earn this degree. Another factor to consider is the career path you want to pursue. Some careers in education require a doctorate degree while others don't. For example, if you plan to teach seventh grade in a public school, pursuing a doctorate degree may be unnecessary, but teaching at a collegiate level or in private schools may require a doctorate degree.

Related: FAQ: Why Should I Pursue an Education Degree?

How long does it take to earn a doctorate in education?

It often takes a minimum of nine years to earn a doctorate in education once you begin undergraduate studies. A doctorate program typically lasts three to five years, but in order to gain acceptance into a program, students first typically require bachelor's and master's degrees, which often takes four and two years to complete, respectively. Some graduates start a career in teaching after receiving their master's degree and take courses in a doctorate program while they work. You can also enroll in an accredited program and attend university until you earn a doctorate degree.

What careers can I pursue with a doctorate in education?

Here are careers you may pursue with a doctorate in education:

College executives

College executives, such as a college president or chief learning officer, develop strategies for improving their campuses for students and faculty. Using their advanced knowledge of learning environments and techniques, college executives can establish academic standards and create effective training programs for their staff. At the executive level of a college, professionals oversee operations and create short- and long-term goals for their organization.

In executive college administration, professionals manage budgets, admissions and alumni relationships. If you earn a doctorate in education, you could work as a college dean or provost. There might be an 8% growth in employment of post-secondary administrators and executives over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Related: 37 Dean Interview Questions (With Sample Answers and Tips)

School administration

There are several career opportunities for someone with a doctorate in education within school districts. For example, a superintendent is an executive position that oversees the budgeting, spending and staffing within a school district. These professionals also help develop policies and create programs to achieve their organization's goals.

School principals may also possess a doctorate in education, which helps inform the development of programs to encourage student achievements. A principal also optimizes classrooms to create a positive learning environment. This career path might also experience an 8% growth rate over the next decade, according to the BLS.

Department of Education

The Department of Education (DOE) is a government organization with available positions for those who have a doctorate in education. The DOE has branches at the state and federal levels, which may increase your opportunities of employment. Professionals in the DOE create policies that offer assistance to educational programs throughout the country. They also help ensure students receive equal access to quality education. At the federal level, employees in the DOE help advise the president on developing educational policies and expectations for the nation.

Please note that none of the organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

College education

Teaching at a college or university often requires a doctorate degree. Professors develop their curriculums and provide instruction to students, both of which are skills that students can develop during doctorate programs. They also perform research and update their expertise regularly by attending seminars and reading relevant news about their industry. Professors may possess a doctorate in education or in the specific subject they teach. According to the BLS, there may be a 12% increase in employment of post-secondary instructors, such as professors, in the next decade.

Related: How To Become a Professor

Corporate executives

With a doctorate in education, you can also work as a corporate executive, which may include such job titles as head of human resources, training and development manager or chief executive officer. These professionals use their degree to research methods for improving organizational strategies and help employees develop their professional skills. Corporate executives also oversee operations in their departments and create initiatives that help personnel achieve the overall goals of their company. Employment for these positions, such as a training and development manager, might grow by 11% over the next decade, according to the BLS.

Nonprofit organizations

You can work in nonprofit organizations as an executive director or another senior leader with a doctorate in education. Executive directors of education develop programs and strategies for fundraising, finding volunteers and creating community outreach campaigns. Having an educational background with strong research skills helps professionals find ways to engage communities.

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