There is more than one difference between a Ph.D in Special Education and an Ed.D. Each program has a distinct curriculum with a dissimilar academic direction that will lead to a different type of job after graduation.
- Online MSEd in Special Education (Ranked #11 Best Online Master’s in Special Education Program by U.S. News & World Report 2021)
- Master's and Graduate Certificate Programs in Special Education
- Online Master of Education (M.Ed) In Special Education Intervention
The biggest difference between a Ph.D. in Special Education and an Ed.D is the focus of program’s curriculum. Although both degrees result in a higher level of education after a master’s degree, the Ph.D. is primarily used by Special Ed. teachers who want to continue their work or become university level researchers. Most Ph.D. in Special Education programs tend to focus on enhancing the educator’s knowledge and increasing their academic competencies, as well as encouraging students to conduct valuable research that will improve the education system.
Related Resource: Top 10 Online PhD in Special Education Programs
Both programs’ courses will cover how to develop curriculum and improve classroom learning rates. However, as the Ph.D. in Special Education program progresses, the focus will shift to field work that must take place outside of the classroom. Due to the fact that the purpose of a Ph. D. in Special Education is to expand teaching skills, most programs require students to conduct in-depth quantitative research and complete an internship and a dissertation. Many Ph.D. programs also offer unique specializations.
Conversely, Ed.D programs mostly require in-classroom work and research. However, they do expect a limited amount of external community research to be completed. For example, a student might create a classroom program and analyze the educational results. Therefore, students who want to become trainers and administrators in schools or corporations should consider joining an Ed.D program. Most educators with an Ed.D go on to create curricula or improve education systems within schools or the private business sector.
Ph.D. in Special Education Program
Any student who wants to become more involved in the academic side of special education should consider joining a Ph.D. in Special Education program. A PhD candidate may write their thesis paper about how children with special needs learn, develop and interact with their world. Another candidate may focus on improving school and state policies regarding available academic choices for special needs students. Students who want to remain a hands-on teacher can find employment as a college professor.
The coursework for Ph.D. in Special Education programs will vary, depending on the area of interest and the school itself. However, most classes will offer opportunities for students to specialize in their field of interest. For example, an early childhood program will train students to teach and support toddlers, little children and their families successfully manage a wide range of developmental delays, such as cognitive or communication impairments.
Any student who wants to become a leader or administrator should join an Ed.D program. Two common specializations include K-12 and higher education policy and leadership. To illustrate, the K-12 educational policy and leadership program prepares students to become permanent scholars and researchers of issues related to educational policies and leadership roles. Students may choose to concentrate on a certain school setting, such as charter schools, district offices or government agencies.
On the other hand, a higher education policy and leadership concentration will prepare students to become administrators in universities, professional associations and private consulting companies. Coursework will cover teacher evaluations and incentives, along with student feedback and academic achievement gaps.
The biggest difference Between a Ph.D in Special Education and an Ed.D. is the first degree will transform students into teachers and researchers, while the second degree will train them to be administrators.