Choosing a Doctoral Program, Pt. 1

By Readingintheborderlands

If my previous post didn’t discourage you from pursuing a Ph.D. or an Ed.D., you may be seriously considering applying to a doctoral program. Choose your program carefully! Perhaps the most important thing to consider are your professional goals. Do you want to teach at a college or university? Conduct educational research? Focus on policy? Academia has a fairly rigid hierarchical structure; there are Tier I/Research I universities, which focus on research (and sometimes ignore teaching) and have the highest status in academia; Tier 2 universities, which focus on both teaching and research and are lower status; and teaching colleges, which, as the name implies, focus on teaching. Teaching colleges are generally low status in academia. (Yes, academia gets kind of snooty). However, they have a strong student focus.

This matters because it is extremely rare that you will be hired at a higher status than the place you got your degree. If your goal is to focus on educational research, you will probably want to work at a Research I university, which means you need to get your degree from a Research I university. If you want to focus on teaching, then either a Research I or a Tier 2 doctoral program would work.

Also, remember that you will not be hired to teach at the university you graduated from so if your ultimate goal is to end up in a specific geographical location, don’t get your doctoral degree from there.

More on choosing a doctoral program in the next post.


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