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Earning an Education Doctorate Degree with UK Online: Choosing Between the EdD or PhD Program

Written: March 2, 2024 by Isabel Ashley
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    Navigating the choice of doctorate degrees in education offered by UK Online involves a decision between either an EdD (Doctor of Education) or a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in education. While both degree paths share a commitment to scholarly research and the enhancement of educational practices, they differ in their focus and orientation. This article explores the differences in both online doctoral programs in Education offered from the University of Kentucky to help you make an informed decision about your choice of direction.

    EdD Program

    The EdD program is strategically designed to equip individuals for leadership roles within educational organizations. Focused on honing skills for effectively leading departments, programs, or entire organizations with an educational mission, this program provides practical training for real-world scenarios. Graduates emerge well-prepared to navigate the challenges in educational leadership.

    Research Focus of EdD Program

    For those seeking a program that integrates data-driven decision-making into educational leadership, the Research EdD is an ideal choice. Participants engage in mixed-method action research designs, using data to inform policy and practice. This program emphasizes the application of research findings to drive progressive change within educational settings.

    PhD Program

    The PhD program is tailored for individuals aspiring to pursue careers as researchers or faculty members with a specific focus on leadership within educational organizations. 

    Research Focus of PhD Program

    Individuals in the Research PhD program delve into the realm of advanced research design, aiming to uncover new knowledge within the field. 

    Program Requirements

    Credit Hours

    Both programs require the completion of 42 credit hours through coursework, along with a minimum of 2 semesters dedicated to dissertation residency.

    Online Modality 

    Both programs utilize a hybrid blend of course modality. All courses have a synchronous (scheduled live) and asynchronous (on your own schedule) component. For the synchronous components, we utilize Zoom and meet per a defined schedule. The cadence is usually 5-6 times per semester and these meetings are either on Saturdays, or after work hours (all times are EST). Students are not required to come to campus for courses, examinations, or the final dissertation defense.


    Both programs admit in the Fall only. Please adhere to the deadlines listed on the program page for the EdD and PhD options.

    Benefits of the Online Modality

    Both programs are offered in similar fully online formats, designed to best fit the needs of working professionals. 

    • Course Schedule: Core courses that require synchronous interaction are scheduled primarily on Saturdays or weekday evenings to accommodate work schedules.
    • Semester Courses: In each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer), the course load is generally 2 courses.
    • Cohort System: Both programs follow a cohort-based model, with new students joining a cohort in the Fall of each year.
    • Flexibility: Physical attendance on campus for courses, exams, or the final dissertation defense is not mandatory. 

    Whether you aspire to lead educational organizations or contribute to advancing research, understanding the distinctions between EdD and PhD programs is important. Align your professional goals with the unique features of each program and pick the path best for you! If you need help, please schedule a meeting to discuss your specific goals. 


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