December 29, 2022

The Value of an Ed.D. Degree

While professionals in the education sector aren’t historically among the highest-earners, one option for increasing one’s salary and advancing one’s career is earning a doctorate in education (Ed.D.). Fortune magazine’s education site recently explained that while an Ed.D. is compared to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), the degrees have different goals. Generally, a Ph.D. program involves research into or the academic study of education, whereas an Ed.D. program is intended for practitioners – those who want to pursue leadership roles in the field. An Ed.D. is often sought by professionals who wish to teach college, become educational or mission-driven leaders, or move into an administrative role such as a school principal.


Marisa Cannata, program director of the Ed.D. program at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, told Fortune that Vanderbilt’s Ed.D. programs are aimed at developing scholar practitioners focused on improving their practices.  Of course, graduates should have the capacity to read and understand rigorous empirical research, but the focus is on applying this to their professional practice.


Cannata told Fortune that typical Ed.D. applicants have five to seven years of professional experience. Typically, graduates don’t go back for an Ed.D. for a job change; rather they are moving up within their current organizations. Many graduates move from middle-level leadership positions to more senior-level positions. For example, becoming the president of a community college requires a doctoral degree. Many organizations will pay for employees to pursue an Ed.D. degree, giving them a raise—the range varies widely–upon completion. A leadership role running a community college can mean a substantial salary bump, but graduates working for a nonprofit or a museum may see more modest salary bumps.


Here are typical K-12, higher education, and private sector roles and corresponding salary ranges that may be filled by Ed.D. holders:


  • School superintendents can earn between $105,000 to $228,000 (Source: School Superintendents Association)
  • Elementary school principals can earn $85,000 and high school principals $92,000 on average (Source: Payscale)
  • University presidents can make an average salary of $316,000 (Source: Payscale)
  • College professors average $88,000 (Source: Payscale)
  • Private sector chief learning officers average $210,000 (Source: Payscale)
  • Non-profit executive directors average $69,000 (Source: Payscale)


For those interested in the full Fortune Ed.D. article, click here. If you need help with your Ed.D. applications, contact us today!