The goal of a doctoral program in K-12 education is to help you learn how to apply educational theory in practical ways. In addition to putting great emphasis on research and the science of learning, a doctoral program may inspire you to explore some of the new technology strategies that... teachers and school administrators are implementing. Your doctoral studies may help you make a positive impact on the schools and students you serve.
Doctoral programs are offered to a variety of educational professionals, including those who want to advance their knowledge or qualify for leadership positions within a school or school district. You might consider this program if you are currently working as a K-12 classroom teacher or hold a junior administrative position. For professionals who intend work full-time while completing their studies, an online Doctor of Education in Education Leadership or an online Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction may be convenient options.
Doctoral-level studies in K-12 education usually lead to a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree, although some programs offer a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree as well. An EdD is usually the degree of choice for those who plan to continue working in a school setting. If you prefer to go into research or, in some cases, teach at the university level, a PhD program may be more appropriate. The curriculum for both EdD and PhD programs usually emphasizes analyzing and evaluating current K-12 pedagogy and practices, then applying what you know to solve various issues in K-12 institutions and instructional settings.
Many students use doctoral studies as a springboard to an advanced position in elementary or secondary school administration. If that is your plan, you may want to look for college programs that are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC). Attending a specially accredited program is not necessarily required to qualify for a job as a school administrator, but it may help you meet the requirements for an administrator's license. Consult your state's department of education to locate approved programs for school administrator preparation.
Upon completing your advanced degree, you may also choose to look for jobs such as teacher educator at a college or university; academic chairperson; superintendent; educational researcher; policy maker; or a consultant for a school, educational publisher, or other business that specializes in creating learning materials or programs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for school administrator positions should mirror that of other professions. Employment options may be more numerous in the South and the West, where school enrollments are growing, and in rural or urban school districts.* Instructional coordinator positions, by contrast, should grow much faster than average — per BLS projections. Doctoral students who study curriculum design or instructional technology may be poised to enter this innovative field.
* The preceding information was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) online resource, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition," available at: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos007.htm and ** http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos269.htm
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