Some Professional Doctorate, such as the EngD, come with a clear career path and/or a proven track record of improved career prospects. For others, such as the Doctorate in Education (EdD), experiences, expectations and outcomes are very individual. This article profiles two educators who attained an EdD, their motivations, and what it has done for their careers.
Dr Alison Bruton: Head of Queen Mary’s School for Girls
As a school Head, Dr Bruton is the most typical EdD applicant. She pursued her EdD at the University of Birmingham, where she had done an MEd previously and knew the staff and their work.
She found the opportunity to engage in formal academic research and develop research skills that she sought. “I enjoyed the analysis of my data and drawing conclusions from my evidence.,” she says. “My supervisor was excellent and my meeting with him were most helpful.”
Importantly, although an EdD is not a requirement for Headship, Dr Bruton feels it helped: “As it happened the very fact of working on an EdD got me more Headship interviews than I had experienced previously,” she says. “ In fact, I was able to discuss my research at interview, which may have helped me get my current post—though governors were anxious that I would have time to both be a Head and do my research. Clearly I convinced them!”
Her tips for EdD postgrads: “Stick with it through the hard times, and there will be some. Be prepared for steps backward before making progress. Revel in the intellectual challenge. Keep your eyes on the goal—it may take a while to reach.”
Dr Joanna Goodman: Education entrepreneur
Dr Goodman, who currently owns an educational assessment consultancy, completed her EdD at London University, King’s College London. She chose Kings because it was home to experts in her field of specialism: “My research area is assessment, specifically assessment for learning, and at King’s I was able to work with such experts in the field as Prof Paul Black and Prof Dylan Wiliam,” she says.
Postgraduate study was the cap on a career that had already included many years of practical experience. “I wanted to extend my knowledge and gain more advanced research experience at the highest level,” says Dr Goodman, who cites the opportunity to like theory with practice as the strongest aspect of her programme.
During the first year of her EdD programme, she had a great deal of contact with University staff, but after that, like most PD candidates, she was busy working independently towards her research goals.
Her advice to potential students: “Go for it! It requires a great deal of determination to study at this level part-time. Think carefully about your chosen research and what you want to achieve at the end. Be prepared for setbacks, and develop your own motivation. You will have to devote chunks of time to your research and writing, and be hard on yourself. It is worth it at the end!”