The doctoral degree in teaching (or general education) is the field's highest level of academic pursuit. Those who are interested in pedagogy, educational leadership and administration, and superior learning environments are well-suited for the doctoral teaching track. The ideal candidate has an inherent thirst for knowledge and a desire to better the lives of others through education. The doctoral degree qualifies professionals for an innumerable number of careers in schools and other institutions of learning.
Why a Ph.D?
A Ph.D. provides a level of education and experience unavailable at the master’s or bachelor’s level. There is no way to guarantee a particular academic path will ensure a successful career, but earning your doctorate gives you a distinct advantage over those with lower-level degrees. The program is rigorous and comprehensive, covering all aspects of instructional design, student psychology, student diversity, and the administrative side of learning. In turn, doctoral students are prepared for virtually any teaching job, ranging from kindergarten teacher to chief academic officer at a major university.
Inside a Teaching Doctoral Degree Program
Doctoral programs in teaching can take as few as three years to complete and as many as seven or eight years, depending on the program. The first few years focus on core coursework, while the remaining portion of the program is dedicated to a student’s dissertation. Topics that might be covered in a general education doctoral student’s coursework include diversity in schools, curriculum instruction, education technology, cognition and learning psychology, educational law, and facilities administration. A variety of internships may also be available, which help the student focus their academic efforts toward a lucrative career.
Online students must navigate a slightly different route to achieve their degree. While they are subject to the same courses as traditional students, all course material is available online in the form of PDF files, PowerPoint presentations, and video lectures. Some schools offer online content synchronously, wherein students must login at specific times to watch live video lectures and participate in chatroom conversation for a more interactive educational experience. Alternatively, some schools offer asynchronous online courses, which allow students to access material from pre-recorded lectures whenever it suits their schedule.
What’s Next for Teaching Doctoral Degree Holders?
Degree-holders are eligible to work as teachers in every tier of the educational system, at public and private schools and universities. They may also find government teaching opportunities, corporate educational opportunities, or work abroad. Some work on the administrative end as school superintendents while others continue to build a body of research to help improve the educational system and the lives of students. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that, as of May 2014, postsecondary education teachers earned an average annual salary of $65,180, while postsecondary education administrators earned $101,910.
Beyond earning a doctorate, you may consider publishing your research, most likely in peer-reviewed graduate-level journals. If you’d prefer to teach at a secondary or elementary level, you can do that as well, but you may be required to hold additional, state-specific certifications. There are many online programs offered which make such forms of certification simple and accessible for working professionals.