The Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs differ primarily in terms of research expectations. The difference in expectations is reflected in the kinds of research preparation students receive and the kinds of problems that the thesis should address.

The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare students to launch a research career that focuses on studying important problems of the field of education. Thus, Ph.D. students are expected to identify and address a problem that has some fundamental or generalizable significance.

In contrast, the Ed.D. program is designed to prepare students to assume leadership roles in administration, curriculum, and teaching. Thus, Ed.D. students are expected to identify and address a problem that has some significance to a local situation. In addition, the Ph.D. program is a 4-5 year program designed for students to attend on a full-time basis, most often with support from an assistantship or fellowship. In contrast, the Ed.D. program is a 3-4 year program designed to be completed on a part-time basis with students maintaining their current employment.

Comparison Ph.D. Program Ed.D. Program
Master’s degree required? It is not required in most specializations. However, a previous master’s degree is required for the math education area. A master’s degree is required to enter the Ed.D. program.
Preparation Training to conduct research to solve national problems. Training to use data to solve local problems.
Thesis Dissertation, addresses problem of generalizable significance. Educational Leadership Portfolio,
Addresses problem of local, practical importance.
Time commitment Full-time, 4-5 years. Part-time, 3-4 years.
Funding available from UD School of Education Tuition waivers and/or assistantship stipends are possible* No
Typical future employment Faculty member at a graduate university, or researcher in private corporation, foundation, or center. Leader in a school, district, or department of education, or faculty member at a 2- or 4-year college.

* Funding practices are subject to change according to availability.