5 Ways educators can benefit from a doctorate in organizational leadership

Every educator is a leader in some capacity. This is clearly true of school principals and other administrators, but also of teachers who guide and support students every day. Many instructors even find they’re able to extend their influence beyond their classroom walls by developing some teacher leadership skills.

While it’s nice to know you can make a difference right now, you can’t help but feel you’d be able to drive more meaningful change by advancing your education. You’ve already completed a master’s program, so you’re interested in doctoral degrees. More specifically, you’re thinking about getting a doctorate in organizational leadership.

But before you decide to start looking into programs, you need a bit of reassurance that earning this degree will pay off in the long run. You also want to make sure you choose the right type of program, because you could pursue either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Organizational Leadership or a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Organizational Leadership. It’s a good idea to start by determining which degree makes the most sense for you.

Ph.D. vs. Ed.D. in organizational leadership: Which should you choose?

As with other types of doctoral programs, organizational leadership is offered as both a Ph.D. and an Ed.D. While both options are terminal degrees that teach students about leading in a way that enacts positive change, they differ in a few ways. Most students typically find one degree is a better fit than the other.

One of the most noticeable distinctions between a Ph.D. and an Ed.D. is that the former entails more research that’s intended to inform other scholars. It’s usually the degree of choice for academics who are interested in contributing to journal publications and conference presentations.

“It focuses heavily on developing new theories in an effort to advance knowledge, which is useful,” says Dr. Keith Larick, program chair for University of Massachusetts Global’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership. “But it isn’t always helpful to someone in the field who needs both knowledge and a set of skills to navigate all the complexities of being a leader.”

Ed.D. programs tend to focus more on practical application of theory. Organizational leadership programs in particular aim to help students develop key leadership skills needed to motivate individuals and achieve organizational goals. It’s all about finding actionable ways to address the most pressing challenges for teachers, schools and the larger education system. University of Massachusetts Global’s program, for instance, leverages a cohort model that enhances collaboration, innovation and decision-making. If you’re an educator interested in becoming a principal, a superintendent, or even a leader at the postsecondary level, this degree is probably the best option for you.

“An Ed.D. is a practitioner’s program for people who want to be out in the field leading an organization,” Dr. Larick explains.

5 Ways obtaining a doctorate in organizational leadership could benefit you

Now that you know more about what distinguishes an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership, you’re likely curious as to whether obtaining this degree will be worth it for you. There are multiple ways you could benefit, including some personal reasons you may not have considered.

1. You could advance to a more senior role

Adding a doctorate degree to your resume can help progress your education career in a few ways. An analysis of more than 1 million education job postings from the last year shows that while only 32,961 positions required a doctoral degree, 81,761 listings indicated that a doctoral degree is preferred.* Even if you’re not searching for a new opportunity, this training can help you climb the ladder in your current organization.

More than half of our students receive a job promotion during the first year in the program,” Dr. Larick reveals.

UMass Global's Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership program is unique. Instead of requiring learners to pass comprehensive exams to advance, students complete a transformational change project.

“Our students take what they’ve learned, then go out into the field, identify a problem at their organization or another and actually work on that problem in real-time,” Dr. Larick explains.

2. You can develop practical skills that help you lead more effectively

While everyone has a slightly different leadership style when it comes to guiding their teams, some approaches are undeniably more effective than others. The best leaders, it turns out, share a number of qualities in common.

Researchers Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman polled more than 300,000 professionals to categorize what these competencies are. They identified that the most successful leaders in an organization:

  1. Inspire and motivate others
  2. Demonstrate integrity and honesty
  3. Solve problems and analyze issues
  4. Drive for results
  5. Communicate exceptionally well
  6. Collaborate and promote teamwork
  7. Build relationships

The UMass Global program was intentionally designed around core tenets that help students acquire these critical skills. Those main principals include transformational leadership, political intelligence, collaborative relationships and diversity. Each of these tenets are critical in the work you’ll do. Take diversity, for example.

“Understanding diversity and embracing it is important not just in terms of race or language, but also diversity of ideas,” Dr. Larick offers. “Real leaders will pull together a group with varying ideas who may challenge them and bring new ways of thinking about something.”

3. You could increase your earning potential

It’s difficult to say exactly how obtaining an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership could affect your salary. It varies greatly depending on your specific role, your school or organization, your geographic region and so on. But the odds are good that you can increase your earning potential by furthering your education.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that salary increases along with educational attainment, with doctoral degree holders making an average of $1,883 per week. This figure is 25 percent higher than the weekly average salary among master’s degree holders.

Even teachers who want to continue their roles as classroom instructors stand to benefit. As Dr. Larick points out, no teacher is truly an individual contributor.

“You’re not isolated — you’re working with a team of people,” he explains. “This degree really prepares you, even within a teacher-led team, to lead more effectively.” Perhaps this will translate to being appointed to an advisory board and receiving a pay raise.

4. You could transition into higher education

Master’s qualified professionals can typically only teach postsecondary courses at a community college. To become an instructor at any other type of higher education institution, you’re required to have a doctoral degree. While many professors choose to obtain a Ph.D., any type of doctoral degree in your area of expertise will qualify you to teach at a college or university. This includes an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership.

“I’ve taught a number of people whose ultimate goal is to come back and teach at the university level,” Dr. Larick offers.

5. You can achieve a personal goal and set a positive example

For many learners, obtaining a doctorate is a life achievement in and of itself. “I always have some incoming students who say, ‘This has been on my bucket list and I need to do it for me,’” Dr. Larick reflects.

You should also consider what completing a doctoral program will mean for your loved ones. It may help family members realize just how much they’re capable of and encourage them to achieve their own goals.

“I’ve seen dissertation oral defenses where there have been 20 or 30 family members in the room. It may be that the student is the first in their family to graduate from college, let alone obtain a doctorate,” Dr. Larick says. “They’re leading the way for their entire family and changing generations to come. That’s pretty special.”

Make a lasting impact on education

You’re well-aware of how transformational education can be. You just want to be sure that you choose the right education option. Now that you know more about some of the specific benefits you stand to gain by obtaining a doctorate in organizational leadership, you probably have a better sense of whether it’s the right degree path for you.

If you’ve decided to advance your education, the next step is to start researching your options. The organizational leadership program at University of Massachusetts Global combines a supportive culture and flexibility to help accommodate your busy life and ensure success.

Find out how to start working toward your career aspirations by exploring our Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership.

* (analysis of 636,145 education job postings that listed preferred education requirements and 634,303 education job postings that listed minimum education requirements, November 01, 2019 – October 31, 2020)


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