What is a Doctorate in Education?

The Doctor of Education degree, or D.Ed, is the highest degree available in the study of education and something that students interested in going beyond the field of teaching are often interested. Focusing on research and academic publication, people who pursue this degree are preparing for work in academic, administrative, clerical, or research positions. Typically the fields that one might go into with this degree include educational, civil, and private organizations.

This degree is often confused with the similar and overlapping degree titled a Ph.D. in Education. The main difference distinguishing these two degrees in the United States is the career path one might follow with each degree. While students pursuing a Doctorate in Education might go on to work in a variety of education-related fields using their skills to enact change, Ph.D. of Education students focus on academics and scholarly research as career paths. Typical programs for a Doctor in Education focus on studies of the latest changes in educational practice and policy and last for approximately five years.

Top Schools in Education: While this program is offered throughout the United States, a few schools have stood out as the top in the nation for many reasons.
  1. Vanderbilt University (Peabody) Nashville, TN
  2. Stanford University Stanford, CA
  3. Teachers College, Columbia University New York, NY
  4. University of Oregon Eugene, OR
  5. University of California--Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
  6. Harvard University Cambridge, MA
  7. Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
  8. Northwestern University Evanston, IL
  9. University of California--Berkeley Berkeley, CA


Most graduate programs for a Doctorate in Education have similar admissions requirements, although it is important to check with the specific school you are interested in. Transcripts from prior schools attended, letters of recommendation from former professors, and a statement of purpose are required across the board.

Most graduate programs also require students to score satisfactorily on the GRE, but not all schools require this test. Additionally, it should be noted that the higher ranked and more competitive admission is to a particular school, the higher your scores need to be to compete with other candidates. While most scores don't have a minimum GRE score required, the average score of students accepted into a high-ranked program is in the 158+ with the highest being 162+.

Acceptance rates into graduate programs in Education are greater than in other degrees, with the requirements being slightly lower more suitable candidates are abundant. However, top rated programs like Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Stanford still accept only a small percentage of applicants into the program.

The same requirements for admission are asked of international students with the addition of TOEFL scores. Some international students that score adequately on the TOEFL will find that if they speak a foreign language, this might put them at an advantage in the search for a career after graduation.


Typical jobs that graduate with a Doctorate of Education might go into our School Superintendent, Director of Student Services, or they might be a university professor. Average salaries for these professions range from $46,000 to $160,000. The salary of university professors is relatively stable in the $80-90,000 range, with little room for growth, while Superintendents may find that they could move from a position in a small district earning in the mid to upper $40,000 range, to a large district where their salary might grow to three-figures over their career.

Of these career options, growth is expected most in the field of Post-secondary Education in the future, providing an excellent job growth potential for those interested in a position like Director of Student Services.

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