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Opportunities Made Possible With a Doctorate in Educational Leadership

Every person deserves a quality education. While professional educators are the leaders of this charge, one question still stands—who is teaching the teachers? Moreso, who decides the proper educator preparation needed, including the right methodologies, theories, and systems used for teaching?

That’s where a Doctorate in Educational Leadership steps in. 

If you are passionate about helping others reach their greatest potential, a Doctorate in Educational Leadership (EdD) may be your grad school calling. This educational leadership degree offers numerous opportunities to advance your career, creating a meaningful impact in the education sector by improving leadership in schools

First—What is a Doctorate in Educational Leadership?

So, what exactly is a Doctorate in Educational Leadership? In short, it’s the final step towards being the top of your class in the education field.  

An EdD prepares students to pursue leadership roles in any education setting from school principals and higher education instructors to policymakers. However, an EdD is a terminal degree—i.e., the highest degree possible to earn in its field.1 This means most EdD programs will require you to hold a graduate school degree to enroll. Additionally, you’ll likely need some educational background or experience to earn this degree.

Most EdD programs take about three to five years to complete, requiring extensive coursework, research, and usually a dissertation.2 While education leadership programs differ in curriculum, they will typically cover the same educational leadership areas and skills, which include:

  • Educational administration
  • Educational policy & analysis
  • Educational philosophy
  • Leadership theory
  • Organizational management
  • Research methods

What Career Opportunities Does a Doctorate in Educational Leadership Provide?

Achieving a terminal degree in any field can appeal to many employers. But, what is educational leadership and what can you do with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership? Essentially, an EdD allows you to pursue high-power positions in education with more oversight, authority, and expertise. Here are a few career paths and roles to consider once you earn this degree.

#1 Educational Administrative Leader

Every school and school system needs its leaders—and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership can help you become a qualified one. 

Educational administration leadership roles, such as principals or deans, are very common career choices for those with an EdD. By leading educational facilities, these positions take on a wide array of management and leadership tasks, including:3

  • Establishing school missions and goals
  • Creating a safe learning environment
  • Overseeing curriculum quality
  • Monitoring school finances
  • Evaluating teacher and student performance
  • Enforcing disciplinary actions
  • Facilitating school public relations
  • Ensuring school-government compliance

Depending on the school or school system, the roles of an educational administrator may vary. With a doctoral degree, you could pursue these high-level administrator roles:

  • Principal – A principal is the leader of a primary or secondary school. This leadership role will typically manage the school’s daily operations, supervise teachers and staff, and ensure students receive a high quality education. While some principals only have master’s degrees, those with an EdD could bring more advanced knowledge in curriculum development, teacher supervision, and educational policy.

  • Superintendent – A superintendent is the top administrator of a school district. Typically, they are responsible for managing the district's budget, programs, and personnel—essentially all moving parts. Superintendents typically have a doctoral degree in educational leadership or a related field, as well as extensive experience in education.4

  • Dean – A dean oversees a college or university’s academic programming and faculty. This role is usually responsible for pursuing institutional missions by setting academic policies, managing budgets, and overseeing staff members. In particular, those with an EdD can bring skills like strategic planning, organizational development, and personnel management to a dean position.


#2 Education Public Policy Analyst

If your work in education is mission-driven, then you may have an eye for public policy. Fortunately, an EdD can be your pathway toward shaping the structures and goals within educational systems.

An educational public policy analyst is the “big-picture” role of the education field. This job analyzes and advocates for policies that they believe will improve the education of others. Typically, policy analysts work for learning institutions or governments to directly influence how educational facilities work. To shape the future of education, analysts may:5

  • Conduct research on education-related topics
  • Collect data on school and student performance
  • Present findings to private or public parties
  • Create new policies for educational facilities
  • Monitor educational initiatives or trends

#3 Educational Consultant

Consulting isn’t just for finance and management. If you hold an EdD, you can help improve the outcomes of educational facilities by consulting them on their policies, missions, and work. 

Put simply, an educational consultation provides feedback and solutions to other educators. Some may serve on the boards of educational facilities, while others may be contracted to handle certain issues. For example, an educational consultant could reorganize a university’s faculty hierarchy for more efficient communication.

Most consultants have a specialty, such as college preparation, but they all should offer a high level of expertise. Some other educational consultant specialties include:6

  • Curriculum design
  • Financial aid
  • School testing
  • Teacher training
  • Program augmentation

#4 Education Researcher

Yes, it’s true—you can study how people study. Education research is an exciting and dynamic field for those with a great passion for learning, particularly those with an EdD. 

Educational researchers study, analyze, and report data on anything to do with learning, all in hopes of improving educational quality. Since this endeavor requires rigorous scientific work, many education researchers hold an EdD to demonstrate their expertise. Through their data, researchers can help shape the policies that imbue educational systems. Some common research topics may include:7

  • Teaching methodologies (lecture-based instruction, problem-based learning, etc.)
  • Curriculum design
  • Student evaluation (testing, portfolio assessments, etc.)
  • Classroom management
  • Educational psychology
  • Educational reform (political forces, social trends, etc.)

#5 Social and Community Service Managers

Not all learning happens within schools. Local programs can offer incredible educational opportunities to the public—and they need intelligent managers to lead the way.

A social and community service manager coordinates programs that enrich the lives of community members, from neighborhood revitalization projects to after-school programs. While often hired by governments, these roles can also work under nonprofit organizations or social service agencies. Typically, a social and community service manager will be responsible for:8

  • Program design
  • Budget management
  • Staff supervision
  • Program data & analysis
  • Collaboration with community members
  • Government advocacy

An EdD degree equips you with the skills to handle complex systems, social climates, and economic issues – useful across many environments. Your educational expertise can improve the lives of those even outside of traditional schools. 

#6 Education Writer or Journalist

They always say to write what you know. If you earn an EdD, you’ll definitely know a thing or two about education—thus, welcome to the world of education writing.

Like any other topic, education requires savvy and expert writers to share its intricacies. An EdD program offers an incredible breadth of knowledge on education, as well as requiring extensive writing. It’s safe to say this degree can prepare students for a future as an education writer or journalist, covering any of the following topics:

  • Teaching trends
  • School violence
  • University rankings
  • Government educational policies
  • Student behavior or performance

How Does an EdD Differ from Other Graduate Degrees in Education?

PhD, master’s, EdD—what’s the difference? When pursuing a graduate-level degree in education, your options can get a little confusing. To help you decide, let’s break down these different options.

A master’s, PhD, and EdD are all considered graduate degrees you can pursue after college. However, the focus and intensity of each degree vary. Consider which post-grad options would best suit your needs in the educational field:9

  • Master’s degree in education – Usually taking just two years to complete, a master’s in education offers training in a more specific area like curriculum development or educational leadership. Usually, higher-level educational positions (principals, community service managers, etc.) will require this degree.

  • PhD in education – Standing for Doctor of Philosophy, a PhD in education takes about 4 to 6 years to complete. PhD programs are very academic, usually requiring students to conduct original research on education. This program may suit students pursuing educational research, high academic positions, or policy. Depending on the facility, a PhD program may require you to hold a Master’s degree.

  • EdD in education – Similar to a PhD, an EdD in education is a more intensive graduate degree typically lasting 3 to 5 years. However, an EdD focuses on leadership roles in education rather than research and academic roles. Students usually apply research to the “real world” for practical or administrative use, opening the door to careers that combine both of these areas. Most EdD programs require you to hold a master’s degree.

Find Your Educational Path with Alliant International University

In education, the learning never stops. If you wish to reach your full potential and new career heights in this field, then pursuing an EdD could be the first step in your path—and we can help get you started.

At Alliant International University, our Doctorate in Educational Leadership program gives you the wide knowledge, real-life applications, and confidence you need to become a leader in education. No matter the role you wish to pursue, our faculty can help you feel prepared to make positive and lasting changes as a student, a teacher, and a leader in education. 

Learn more about our online Education Programs today.


  1. “What Is a Terminal Degree and Do You Need One?.” Coursera. Accessed April 19, 2023.
  2. “Online Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership” US News.…. Accessed April 19, 2023.
  3. “School Administrator Job Description, Career and Salary: Resilient Educator.”, September 1, 2020. Accessed April 19, 2023.
  4.  “Educational Leadership: Master’s vs. Doctorate Degree”., December 23, 2021.…. Accessed April 19, 2023.
  5.  “Jobs in Education Policy: Career and Salary Information: Resilient Educator.”, January 25, 2023. Accessed April 19, 2023.
  6. “How to Become an Educational Consultant (plus Salary Info).” Indeed.…. Accessed April 19, 2023.
  7.  “Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development.” Institute of Education Sciences,

    U.S. Department of Education. Accessed April 19, 2023.
  8.  “Social and Community Service Managers : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 8, 2022.…. Accessed April 19, 2023.
  9.  “Ed.D. vs. Ph.d. vs. Ed.S.: What's the Difference?: BestColleges.”, April 6, 2023. Accessed April 19, 2023.


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