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PhD in Education or PhD in Curriculum and Instruction?


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Hello, everyone.

I’ve been working as a high school English teacher for the past seven years. I’d love to get my PhD to potentially teach college someday. I guess I’m a bit confused about these two degrees: the PhD in Curriculum and Instruction (with emphasis on English Education) versus the PhD in Education.

I’m interested in an online PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at SUNY Albany. I also was interested in the PhD in Education at Rowan University in New Jersey. 

I want a program that will allow me to merge my passion for literature with education. That’s why I was sort of leaning towards Curriculum and Instruction, but a friend mentioned that the PhD in Education would be better. 

Please let me know your thoughts. 

 

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Those names don't really matter at all. Faculty researching the exact same things will be in an Ed PhD at one place and a Curriculum and Instruction PhD at another. Sometimes, Curriculum and Instruction is a sub-category under the Education PhD and even though the program is C&I, the degree is actually still just a PhD in Education.

What do you foresee yourself teaching in the future? It sounds like maybe you want to teach English courses in college and then neither Ed PhD will be useful to you. You would want a PhD in Literacy or Language in an English department instead. Ed (and C&I) PhDs do research on the teaching of English (they aren't trained to teach English themselves). Can you provide some more clarity on your career goals?

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2 hours ago, t_ruth said:

Those names don't really matter at all. Faculty researching the exact same things will be in an Ed PhD at one place and a Curriculum and Instruction PhD at another. Sometimes, Curriculum and Instruction is a sub-category under the Education PhD and even though the program is C&I, the degree is actually still just a PhD in Education.

What do you foresee yourself teaching in the future? It sounds like maybe you want to teach English courses in college and then neither Ed PhD will be useful to you. You would want a PhD in Literacy or Language in an English department instead. Ed (and C&I) PhDs do research on the teaching of English (they aren't trained to teach English themselves). Can you provide some more clarity on your career goals?

Thank you for your reply! My passion is literature, but I gave up on that PhD dream a long time ago, what with the job market being impossible for English PhD’s. I am a high school teacher looking to possibly open some more doors career-wise. Perhaps I can be a curriculum developer or teach future teachers at the college level. I guess I just wanted a degree that’s tailored towards English teachers specifically. That way, I can scratch my literature itch. What do you think? 

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24 minutes ago, PinkTeacher901 said:

Thank you for your reply! My passion is literature, but I gave up on that PhD dream a long time ago, what with the job market being impossible for English PhD’s. I am a high school teacher looking to possibly open some more doors career-wise. Perhaps I can be a curriculum developer or teach future teachers at the college level. I guess I just wanted a degree that’s tailored towards English teachers specifically. That way, I can scratch my literature itch. What do you think? 

The academic market in the Education world is just as competitive as it is in English (more so, maybe, as I know plenty of people who teach undergrads at the college level w/a Masters in creative writing). However, it is true that there are other options re: curriculum development, working for a think-tank, etc. That said, prospective advisors will want to see a *research* focus. Honestly, hearing the reason for the degree as "I want to teach at the college level" is almost the kiss of death, as teaching is just a small(er) part of our jobs.

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I'm on a similar path. I've been teaching elementary school for the past 8 years, and have been looking to expand my influence and possibilities for the future. I am really passionate about education as a field, and wanted the option to stay in the k-12 arena, so I chose to apply for en EdD in Curriculum and Instruction. I already create my own curricula materials and sell them on teachers pay teachers, and this degree would give me the option of working with curriculum writing companies, the option of becoming a curriculum director or superintendent within a school district, and also gives me the qualifications to teach in teacher education programs, which was incredibly important to me. It also just gives me more skills to use in the classroom, if I decide to just keep teaching elementary school. I originally was looking at PhD programs in Education (with all other subfields, like curriculum and instruction or international education) but through all of my research decided that this was the best path for me.

It might be worth looking into education programs in literacy. There are a LOT and teachers with a focus in literacy are in huge demand, at least from an elementary standpoint. I realize that looking into phonics, the science of reading, and comprehension strategies doesn't really align with your passions or your wheelhouse, but with what your background and experience is already it may be something worth exploring. It took me a long time to find the program that fit with what I actually wanted, and quite honestly a long time to hone in what it is that I actually wanted while I was researching. This may also sound common sense, but I wasn't thinking about how PhD programs are really developed around a specific research idea. The whole point is essentially for you to become an academic, and you will be focusing on your own academic research around a particular idea, working with mentor professors on how to hone your idea to eventually write your thesis. This isn't what I was looking for, I really wanted to get my doctorate but wanted a traditional learning environment, where there are professors who are the expert and specific categories of things I wanted to learn about, which is what an EdD is. I've also found that more professors in the EdD programs vs PhD programs have actually taught in the k-12 arena, which was also important to me. 

I hope this helps at least a little. I realize this was more about me than about you, but hopefully some insight into my journey can help you with yours. Like I said, it took me a long time to find the thing that was right for me, so I hope you find the thing that is right for you!

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Hi! 
I am in my 9th year of teaching middle school English right now, and I understand your dilemma! 
My advice would be to contact professors at programs you might be interested in to get a sense of what the EdD entails vs the phd. I had a wonderful zoom call with the head of Virginia’s EdD program, and while it sounded amazing, I could tell it wasn’t quite what I wanted. 
But I also went back and forth a great deal over the years about the two programs. Ultimately for me, I decided that I was ready to devote myself fully to research and to let teaching take a back seat. The EdD is so focused on staying in the classroom or admin (that’s the whole point!) but I felt like it would just be like another masters with a slightly more intense paper at the end - I know that’s a little unfair, but it helped my process! 
I submitted 8 applications this fall for PhD programs and I am SO ready for this new chapter! I know it was the right choice for me. 

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