Ph.D or EdD

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    I am a relatively new nurse educator of about 5 years. I intend to spend the remainder of my career in nursing education. I plan to return to school next year and obtain my doctoral degree. The programs that interest me are the PhD in nursing research and the EdD in nursing education. I would like to scholarly write at some point in my career, but I am not sure about my interest in research. Which degree do you think is best suited for my career goals. And could someone please explain to me the major differences in these two degrees. Thanks
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  3. 4 Comments so far...

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    Is the EdD really focused on "nursing" education -- or is it designed for educators to become administrators of academic programs?

    At the doctoral level, it is really important to know your career goals and the specific foci of the program you choose to attend. They vary greatly from school to school.

    In general though ...
    If your ultimate goal is to be a full, tenured professor at a major university ... it will be critical for you to have a distinguished record of scholarly work (research and publication). The PhD in nursing would be your best choice.

    If you want to become a school administrator, the EdD may be a better choice (but even that is questionable). It is still a good choice and in the past, it has been the best choice for many. But look around. Most department chairs/deans of other academic departments (such as chemistry, English, psych, etc.) do not have EdD's. They have PhD's in their respective disciplines and are respected scholars in their field. In the past, there have been few PhD programs in Nursing -- making it acceptable to have doctoral degrees in other fields. But with more and more nursing graduate programs availabe, at what point will people want the heads of nursing schools to have their terminal degree in the discipline they claim to be qualified to lead?

    In 2012, the EdD is a perfectly acceptable degree for an academic admistrator in most places. Will the range of schools that accept that degree narrow in the future? I can't predict the future. But it's something to think about.

    There is also the DNP ... which seems to be becoming an acceptable degree for people teaching (though there may be some restrictions as to how high you can rise in rank at some big research universities with a practice doctorate). The DNP is a good option for people who want their doctoral education to focus on nursing practice, but who don't want the heavy research focus of the PhD. You could incorporate the CNS or NP role into your DNP studies -- and advance your clinical knowledge, using that clinical expertise as your "claim to expertise" to teach. You could add credibility in the field of education by taking some electives in the field of nursing education, pick up an MSN in Nursing Education, or do a "post-masters certificate" in nursing education.

    Exactly what type of nursing education do you want to do? What type of school do you want to teach at? How high in the educational hierarchy do you want to rise? What are the qualifications for those types of jobs in your area? These are questions you need to explore before you can know what type of doctoral program would be best for you.
    VickyRN likes this.
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    The Ph.D. is theoretical and best suited in academia. It is very research-and-publish oriented. The Ed.D. is more "application" to be used in the field (i.e., "on location"). It would be best suited for teaching. The DNP is relatively new and takes into account practice at a higher level (you might want to look at that one).

    Hillary S., Ed.D. (in education, not nursing).
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    Hilary S, thanks so much for your answer. You have really provided me with thought provoking input to assist me in determining which degree to pursue. Thanks so much
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    I choose an Ed.D in Nursing as my doctorate. I believe it's a personal decision based on what you want to do with it. While I like doing research and have been published, I really enjoy being in front of a class much more... I am an APRN but there is no need for a DNP for me as I am at my terminal position and can't imagine being let go for not having a DNP.


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