“So, You’re Getting an EdD?”

That’s what the little person in my head says as an attempt to cast doubt about my chosen academic path.

The snide remark does and sorta doesn’t work because I don’t doubt my path as much as I’m annoyed at the thought about “explaining” my chosen academic path to others. I’m totally used to it though. When I decided to pursue my master’s in Women’s Studies I was hit with a lot of dumb ass questions like this one: “Women’s Studies, huh? So what do you plan to do with that degree?” It’s not only that the question itself is annoying but so is the tone in the person’s voice when s/he asks me the question. Oh, that tone grinds my gears (cc Peter Griffin) like nails across a chalkboard! Granted, I could be totally misinterpreting the tone; projecting my own doubts on to the questioner. I’m willing to admit that I am a paranoid perpetual projector. However, as one who has a way of reading between the lines in a culture that devalues “gendered disciplines” like in the humanities, social sciences, and especially education, I’m willing to bet that it’s less about my issues with paranoia and projection, and more about people’s dumb ass assumptions toward my chosen intellectual journey.

If you Google "EdD" this comes up in images. Awesome.

Which brings me to the EdD “issue”.  Last year I spoke with one of my mentors about the “PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) versus EdD (Doctor of Education)” question in education. He was honest in telling me that when looking for a job some universities might have conflicting perceptions about the EdD route. However, they tend not to question the degree as much if it comes from an “Ivy League” institution. *eye roll* Another one of my professor’s noted that it would not necessarily be in the best interest of a university to question an EdD from Harvard let alone a cousin school like Teachers College, Columbia University. The EdD is generally recognized as a research degree, whereas the PhD in education is, well, I’m not quite sure how, in relation to the EdD, it’s recognized if not similarly to a high level research degree in education (but you can read more about the differences and similarities HERE). In the end, as my mentor told me, it’s about the dissertation. If you produce a quality dissertation that contributes to the field, or fields, then it’s likely that the “PhD versus EdD” problem (of perception) won’t be an issue when looking for a job in higher ed.

If someone asks why I chose to pursue an EdD over a PhD I can honestly tell them that Teachers College, Columbia University was the only school that was offering a doctoral program I was interested in, which happened to be an EdD program. That’s really it.

But unfortunatley, perception is becomes reality. Broadly speaking, people perceive a PhD differently than they do an EdD; where the former holds more value or prestige for some reason. Perhaps one reason could be because the term “PhD” has been reappropriated in popular culture to connote certain things about higher education whereas the term “EdD” has not. In reality, at least in my program, there is no difference between an EdD and PhD. I put in the same, if not more, research and inquiry into pursuing my degree as a PhD student. So while the rest of society continues to institutionalize the idea of degrees, I’d rather get down to what really matters; the intellectual path of the scholar and how s/he contributes to scholarship.

As I was sitting in class today it dawned on me why I do what I do. (I’m sending virtual apologies to my professor for zoning out during her lecture, but this epiphany was just too good to ignore!) Here’s what I realized:

If you don’t know, I’m currently pursing a doctoral degree in Computing, Communication, and Technology in Education (CCTE) at Teachers College, Columbia University (read more about my program here). My degree plan is somewhat interdisciplinary if you consider that I am studying research and theories spanning multiple disciplines of communication, media, and education. Until today, I was never really satisfied with how I articulated why I chose to interrogate research that intersects with (at least) three major disciplines in both the soft and hard (or rather stiffer) sciences. But I figured it out. I enter into the field with a background in feminist theory and as a practitioner of education and media. ‘Gender’ and ‘race’ studies are my preferred areas of theoretical scholarship. Media are my preferred sites to study identity and knowledge production. And education, namely literacy, is the domain in which I choose to engage my activism as an educator, media maker, and feminist scholar-in-training.

So, why the EdD in CCTE you ask, oh-little-snarky-person-in-my-head? Because this is the one program where I can combine all that I am and do with what I love to study and practice. Plus, the name of this blog sounds way cooler than would “Breakfast Ph.D. Omelet”. o_O

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2 thoughts on ““So, You’re Getting an EdD?”

  1. The second-to-last paragraph is an excellent breakdown of what you are studying and why.

    I always that the EdD focused on policy and administration and was for those interested in pursuing those fields versus the PhD for those interested in more theoretical research, but my preconceived notions have been cleared up via this post.

    I’m surprised that even within the field of education there are conflicting perceptions of Ed.D. degrees. I’d think that at least in that field they’d be understood.

    • Thanks for commenting! You’re right that EdD also focuses on policy and administration. The term, at least in my program, has broader definitions. It’s more a perception issue for sure, but I think things are changing.

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