EdD, Doctor of Education Degree
The Doctor of Education (EdD) degree is a doctoral degree awarded by a department of education. Given this fact many programs are focused on education and related areas. However, there are programs such as counseling psychology EdD's, that will be very similar to PhD programs. EdD programs tend to have a more practitioner-oriented focus but still provide strong grounding in research and theory, particularly in applied research. With an EdD you can still be eligible for licensure as a psychologist if your program is APA accredited. In a sense this degree can be viewed as a kind of mix of the PsyD and educational psychology PhD.
Harvard University awarded the first Ed. degree in 1920. The awarding of Doctoral degrees in the United States began with the natural sciences at the end of the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth was expanded to the social sciences.
This change came about in response to an expressed need for more practitioner-oriented education at the doctoral level. Harvard added the EdD to meet that need and other major universities soon followed suit. The EdD Degree has maintained its reputation as a practitioner-oriented degree, in contrast to the research orientation of many PhD programs, but not without controversy.
In the early days of the EdD degree some scholars felt a doctoral level degree should be reserved for the preparation of researchers, not practitioners. Based on contemporary trends, that argument is moot as more and more PhD programs offer practitioner-oriented fields of specialization. In today's world what is the difference between these two degrees?
Areas of specialization within the field of Psychology offered in EdD Degree programs are not as numerous as they are within traditional PhD programs. Typically, you can get an EdD in Counseling Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Educational Psychology. Not every institution of higher learning offers the EdD in all these fields and degree and entrance requirements vary by school. The best source for comparing institutions offering an EdD in Psychology is the APA (American Psychological Association) publication "Graduate Study in Psychology". You can also search for schools using the AlleyDog.com Graduate School Search Engine, which allows you to find schools according to degree, topic of study, and geographic location.
In terms of programs of study and core requirements the steps to complete an EdD will be very similar to that or a PhD or PsyD. You will have core classes in research and statistics and within your field of study, along with individual research work. All EdD programs require some form of dissertation based on original research. Just as is the case with a PhD student, an EdD student must pass oral preliminary examinations as well as a doctoral qualifying examination before being formally declared an EdD candidate. EdD candidates need to present and defend their dissertation proposals, just as PhD candidates do.
In general, the focus and philosophy of the program will be more on applied work and practice more than research and theory. In some programs it may be possible to substitute field work or some type of similar applied practice internship for a formal dissertation, at least in part. Some EdD programs may be able to be completed in a shorter time frame compared to a PhD program, possibly in as little as 3 years.
There are quite a few career options available to holders of an EdD degree. You can work as a licensed psychologist in many settings. You can work in applied settings such as government or education facilities. You can even work in an academic teaching and research capacity. Often the only difference between an EdD and PhD in the same field may be the letters after their name. In practice, the EdD may be viewed as a little limited compared to the PhD degree in some fields, particularly in more research focused academic settings in psychology departments. Although The National Science Foundation (NSF) has pretty much put the issue to rest by officially recognizing that an EdD is equivalent to the PhD. If you're interested in this NSF finding as well as other information about doctoral programs in the US, check out the study at the Department of Education.
The main point is that whether you have an interest in the practice of psychology or applied research you should give EdD programs serious consideration and not be deterred by the different letters. Of course, if you are interested in applied areas of education the EdD will have many great program options. You will, of course, want to look carefully at specific programs as areas of focus will vary considerably.
A couple of sources of information about the EdD degree:
Now that you know all about the EdD Degree in Counseling Psychology, what should you do next? Here are the three most appropriate next steps: