Doctor of Education Degree (Ed. D.)

The UVA School of Education and Human Development Doctor of Education prepares highly qualified practitioner-scholars who will be educational leaders within their organizations. These individuals will be well prepared for employment in a number of settings (e.g., K-12 settings, non-profits, policy organizations, or in higher education).

A successful Ed.D. candidate is:

  • planning to continue work as a practitioner in a school/college/university/organization, as an educational leader in a foundation, NGO, or other organization focused on educational practice and policy;
  • resolved to critical study of personal and professional practices in education settings for transformational learning;
  • committed to on-going study of educational research and trends to bolster success;
  • interested in studying specific settings, the impacts of these practices and policies, and the ways that schooling can improve the lives of communities, schools, families, and individuals;
  • interested in practical applications of research and evaluation to improve educational ends for all students;
  • concerned with advocating for equity in educational settings;
  • interested in identifying and solving educational problems within a specific context using systematic research methods.

The Education Doctorate (Ed.D.)

The Education doctorate is a professional degree that places emphasis on professional knowledge, reflecting on professional practices, and conducting and applying research in professional contexts. By bridging practice and research, the program prepares students to strategically confront the complex realities and challenges facing education now and in the future from a broad-based disciplinary perspective.  The degree allows students to become agents of change, to develop reflexivity, and perform and use systematic ways of studying practice.

Throughout the program, practitioners transform their professional learning through examining the values and beliefs found in educational contexts. Professional practices and the practices of others are changed based on new knowledge and skills. The core of the program is the expansion of professional knowledge; that is multi-disciplinary, insightful, creative and focused on the complex issues and practices found in teaching and learning settings.

Drawing on both academic and professional knowledge, students strategically confront, analyze, and change the complex realities facing schools and educational organizations.  The Ed. D. program provides students the opportunity to identify a problem of practice that can be studied systematically for the purpose of fostering positive change in a specific organization.  Students understand how different kinds of knowledge are produced and the differences between the roles of a practitioner-scholar and a researcher in knowledge production. Educational change based on systematic study and the opportunity for success for all populations is the ultimate goal.

Distinctions between the Ed.D. and Ph.D.

The Education Doctorate is a professional degree designed to support practitioner-scholars in their pursuit of identifying, studying, and solving problems of practice in a work setting.  To this end, the curriculum consists of research knowledge and skills that can be applied to problems of practice, skills to analyze and apply research, knowledge of content and theory and current educational issues. 

The Education Doctorate differs from the Ph.D. that is offered at the Curry School of Education and Human Development. The Ph.D. develops academic scholars who develop a line of research in conjunction with a mentor and often within a disciplinary setting.  The curriculum is focused on research knowledge and skills, advanced methodological skills, and research design and procedures along with preparing and sharing research results.  Applying academic and theoretical knowledge to academic research allows students to reflect critically on methods and results within a body of knowledge. 

Ed.D. Program Basic Beliefs

  1. Professional practice is sensitive to context and time.
  2. Professional knowledge is multi-disciplinary.
  3. Practitioner research is the systematic study of complex problems of practice.
  4. Critical reflection, knowledge, and research can lead to transformational learning for expert practitioners.

Ed.D. Program Focus Skills

  1. Analysis of educational contexts and needs
  2. Clear and cogent writing
  3. Synthesis of empirical and practitioner literature
  4. Identification and systematic study of a problem of practice
  5. Establishing and communicating clear recommendations to an organization for positive change
  6. Development of professional capital
  7. Hone cooperative and collaboration skills

Curry Ed.D. Program Milestones

  1. EDLF 8382: Inquiry
  2. Preliminary exam
  3. Comprehensive exam
  4. Capstone Proposal
  5. Capstone Final Presentation

Curry Ed. D. Offerings

  1. Administration and Supervision
  2. Curriculum and Instruction
  3. Higher Education Administration