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America’s education system is continually in need of leaders equipped with the right knowledge and skills to effect change. From increased classroom size and decreased funding to high-stakes testing and a growing need for technology in the classroom, today’s educators face many – and often have to do so with fewer resources at their disposal. Working at the ground level can be a great way to make an impact. Teachers get to work one-on-one with students, allowing them the opportunity to make a difference in individual lives. But for some educators, the right career path – and the best way to implement change – is through executive leadership in system-level roles.

If you’re an educator looking to move into educational leadership or high-level administration, going back for your doctorate could be the right move. Earning a doctorate in education can help open careers at the top level of the education industry. You might be out of the classroom, but the possibility to impact education is greater than ever. With an education leadership doctorate you can help develop education policy, set curriculum and even conduct research that can help further education in this country.

Of course, going back for an advanced degree is a big decision – and one that may require a commitment of both time and money. If you’re considering going back to school for your doctorate, let us help you gather the facts and explore the career possibilities before you decide.

EdD vs. PhD: Types of Doctorate Degrees in Education

If you’re going back for your doctorate in education, you have two choices of degree:

Doctor of Education (EdD): This doctoral degree will help educators develop the skills and strategies required to manage an organization, lead faculty and staff, and address educational issues in the workplace.1 This degree focuses on practical application in real-world environments. An EdD program will help equip you to work closely with teachers and students to help shape an organization and its educational policy.

Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD): This educator preparation doctoral program is ideal for those who want to conduct and publish education research. A PhD in Education focuses on theoretical application. If your goal is to become a university professor, a PhD is usually the more appropriate degree to pursue.

Careers in Education for Doctorate Degree Holders

What can you do with a doctorate in education? Earning a doctorate in education can open up career possibilities in a variety of settings. Whether you want to work in a traditional school setting, a university or even outside academia, a doctorate degree in education will help qualify you for a number of different positions.

School Systems

If you want to stay in the traditional setting of a public school system, several career options are available, most notably as a school principal or superintendent. Both positions carry great responsibility, as decisions made by these roles affect a large number of students.

  • School Principals - Principals help create and implement professional development programs and work closely with teachers to make sure the school is meeting its overall educational goals. They also review learning materials and make decisions on school-wide curriculum.
  • School Superintendents - Superintendents manage school districts and serve as the chief executive officer and educational advisor to a public school board. They help develop and implement educational policy for the district, manage top-level personnel, monitor budgets and work with school board members, politicians and financial advisors to create a thriving, competitive environment for students.2
  • College Presidents - They are the highest-ranking officials in their respective institutions.  Their duties include creating and executing the school’s vision-mission; managing all academic, operational, and financial aspects; and supervising staff and faculty. College presidents build relationships with government officials, alumni, donors, and the local community. They are accountable to the Board of Trustees. 

College or University

A variety of career paths in a collegiate setting are available to those with a doctorate in education. You can work as a professor, college admissions director, department chair, dean or provost. These higher education leadership positions carry great responsibility, and the decisions you make as an educational leader can affect the institution for years. For example, as an admissions director, it's your job to accept the right number of qualified applicants to balance funding, tuition costs and the quality of the student experience. A department chair handles all aspects of staffing, scheduling and coordination.

  • Academic Deans - Academic deans are responsible for the management of their respective academic departments. They play a crucial role in designing programs, recruiting staff, managing finances, and representing their department in college-wide meetings. Typically, academic deans are accomplished professors who possess school leadership skills, administrative expertise and deep knowledge in their area of specialization.
  • Provosts - The provost holds the position of the highest-ranking academic officer. They have direct authority over academic deans and are typically regarded as the second in command after the college president. They recruit and appoint deans, play a role in faculty hiring decisions, and oversee instructional planning and delivery as well as research activities. They may also work with or supervise academic support services.
  • Instructional coordinators - They develop and implement academic instruction in their respective schools. One of their many primary responsibilities is to do research methods and design education program plans that meet the needs of students. They also analyze student data to determine their progress and identify areas for improvement. By doing so, they can create customized instructional plans that cater to the needs of their students.

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Non-Traditional Settings

With a doctorate in education, career possibilities aren’t limited to only academic settings. The research, communication and professional development skills you build in an EdD program translate well to other fields, including nonprofit organizations and state and federal government agencies. You may even work in business environments as a corporate trainer, helping businesses educate their employees on best practices for their particular industry.3

  • Chief Learning Officer - The role of a CLO involves overseeing the training and professional growth of all employees within a corporation or organization. This includes developing training plans that are in line with the organization's overall objectives, assessing the results of such training, and exploring innovative techniques and technologies for cultivating employee and executive talent. The reason it's a sought-after job for EdD graduates or those with an EdD degree is because of their advanced understanding in human development, teaching, and learning as well as statistics, technology, and other relevant fields. 

Alliant’s Doctoral Programs in Education

At Alliant International University, we offer several doctorate in education degree programs.

Our EdD in Educational Leadership and Management helps prepare educators who want to pursue educational administration and executive leadership roles. The EdD in Educational Leadership and Management degree is offered as a hybrid program, allowing busy professionals to advance their knowledge and develop a network of professional colleagues. To learn more about our doctorate degrees in education, contact us.


  1. “Edd vs. PhD Degrees,” Teach, accessed November 24, 2021,
  2. “School/District Administrators,” National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE), accessed November 24, 2021,….
  3. “Career Options & Opportunities with an EdD Degree: Resilient Educator,”, accessed November 24, 2021,

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