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EdD vs. PhD: Which degree will help you make A difference?

Oct 13, 2021
5 min Read

You’ve always had a natural tendency to solve problems and take on new challenges. Perhaps you’re ready to sharpen your leadership skills even further in order to expand your influence and make a bigger impact in your workplace and community. If this sounds like you, an Interdisciplinary Leadership Doctorate degree may be the key to reaching your potential. 

If you’ve done any research on doctorate programs at all, you’ve likely come across the EdD vs. PhD debate. When it comes to choosing between a Doctor of Education (EdD) or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), it’s important to understand the specifics of each in order to determine which program aligns best with your professional goals. Join us as we take a closer look at the difference between an EdD and a PhD and discover which degree is best for empowering future leaders. 

EdD vs. PhD: The Basic Differences

The fundamental difference between these two doctorate programs all comes down to your desired outcome. A Doctor of Education program is intended for individuals who are looking to lead or manage in an organization – scholar practitioners who want to create change in their places of work or community. On the other hand, a PhD is typically for those who would like to devote their career to research or academia.

While PhD students are focused on testing hypotheses and generating new knowledge on a specific subject, an EdD program is largely concentrated on practice, equipping students to apply their research and findings to solve real-world problems. This doctorate program will allow you to go beyond the research process and find ways to inspire and instill lasting change in your community, workplace and beyond.

Why Pursue an EdD Rather Than a PhD?

If you have an innate desire to make a positive impact, you’re likely not one to sit behind the scenes. Not only are you determined to uncover the cause of a problem, but you’re compelled to be part of activating the solution. An EdD, like the Interdisciplinary Leadership doctoral program at Creighton University, will allow you to merge principle and theory with practice and application.

Unlike a PhD, the EdD leadership doctorate program’s practical approach to research provides an opportunity for you to immediately apply what you’re learning to issues in your current job, industry or field. The adaptability of the knowledge and leadership skills gained from this interdisciplinary EdD program equip graduates to pursue successful careers in industries spanning business, healthcare, criminal justice, education administration, government and more.

“Today’s leaders must work across industries that represent a range of disciplines including human resources, technological advancement, finance, education, and many others,” says Leah Georges, Interdisciplinary Leadership doctoral program director at Creighton University. “Building bridges between people and organizations is the only way to navigate our increasingly complex world and leaders need to be prepared to make evidence-based decisions on behalf of their people that are driven by data and research.”

How Does Creighton's Interdisciplinary Leadership EdD Program Stand Out?

One of the few online interdisciplinary leadership doctorate programs offered among Jesuit universities, this curriculum instills Jesuit Ignatian values that promote academic excellence, respect for human dignity, service to others and justice.

“The concept of leaders as stewards of an organization is emphasized during each course and promoted through research activities,” Dr. Georges explains.

You’ll enjoy the added flexibility this online EdD program offers, allowing you to complete your degree on your own time with limited on-campus requirements. The cohort model also provides an opportunity to foster relationships with faculty and fellow students from all walks of life. These groups are hand-picked to include a diverse collection of accomplished professionals from interdisciplinary fields like non-profits, academia, the military and private business so you can be exposed to different leadership styles and thinking.

“Our students share work in diverse cohorts to explore today’s complex issues. They lean into their diverse professional experiences to change the status quo and use insights from their respective industries to help others do the same. We are interdisciplinary on purpose – it is built into everything we do,” Dr. Georges says.

The interdisciplinary leadership program is grounded by full-time doctorate faculty and adjunct faculty who come from a variety of professional and academic backgrounds, including political science, law, public health, communications, psychology and leadership. “The diversity of thought that comes from our dedicated team of faculty leads to enriching, cutting-edge approaches to teaching and interacting with students both in and outside of the classroom,” Dr. Georges explains.

What to Expect From the Interdisciplinary Leadership EdD Program

The Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership program features a values-based curriculum focused on developing ethical leaders who can make a positive impact on the world around them. Students will strengthen their skills in communication, relationship-building, collaboration, critical thinking and ethical decision-making.

Students take a series of eight-week courses, focusing on one course at a time. The program consists of 60 credit hours that are typically completed in about three to four years. All students will complete a comprehensive set of core courses and research courses. You can customize your degree by choosing three elective courses that align with your personal and professional goals and interests.

Core Courses Include: 

  • Leadership Styles and Reflective Practice 
  • Leadership and Applied Ethics 
  • Organizational Theory and Behavior 
  • Social Justice and Leadership 
  • Systems Thinking in Leadership

Research Courses Include: 

  • Research Design and Professional Inquiry 
  • Proposal Construction 
  • Data Use and Analysis 
  • Analysis and Application of Scholarly Literature

Elective Courses Include: 

  • Technology and Leadership 
  • Change Management and Quality 
  • Human Resources Leadership and Management 
  • Women and Leadership 
  • Leadership in a Global Society 
  • Jesuit and Ignatian Traditions 
  • Leadership in the Health Professions 
  • And more

Students in this online EdD program will also complete a dissertation in practice, in which they will select a real-world problem related to their field of practice, collect and analyze data, summarize findings and draw conclusions. Students will also articulate a potential solution to the real-world problem they identified, with the expectation that they improve upon the challenge they identified. This culminates in a final dissertation in practice paper and oral defense.

Increase Your Impact With an EdD

Now that you understand the difference between an EdD and a PhD, it’s clear which one can equip and empower you to make lasting change in your community. So whether you’re aiming to advance in your current organization, make a difference in a new career, or launch your own endeavor, you’ll find success as you join the ranks of the many highly recognized Creighton alumni.

Learn more by exploring our Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership program page.

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