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Charlie A. Roy

One advantage is the number of future doors the PhD can open. There's always a trade off. I'm in the same boat right now with a number from my master's cohort going on for the doctorate. One friend says he wants to get back into teaching and earning the PhD allows him to teach with an income he can live on. An interesting thought.

Brandt Schneider

You need a sabbatical! Wouldn't that be nice?

Melinda Miller

I think about this all the time too. I had planned to get my PhD but only got my Specialist before I became pregnant. I could have gone on for another year and get my Doctorate but I just could not balance two little children and the "busy-work" being assigned. My frustration was having to do PPT presentations all the time and write papers that just seemed like we were writing papers because they had to assign something.
I got a lot out of class discussions and the networking and collaborating. I really miss my cohort and all the people in my class. That was the best part for me.
Working in district office is also not something that sounds appealing to me either. I like the kids and the teachers and the "fun" of being in a school.
Many of the people who I was taking class with have aspirations of teaching at the college level. I would love that too.
Higher Ed doesn't seem to be making any more strides of changing than research shows that our schools are. Even the online courses want you to sign in to a chat room just to sign in and get credit. What's up with that? Purpose?
Has the dissertation changed over the years? Do you still have to write a 100 page paper just to say you did? One of the professors we had told us that all the studies have been done so just find one and use some of that information for your research.
Oh I bet I am going to get some grief for this comment. I want my doctorate but I guess I am rebelling against the paper. I do not want that hanging over my head. I am also frustrated with colleagues who got their PhD years ago and act like they had to write it on a stone tablet and pay someone $500 to recreate it digitally. They give me grief because I have a computer and google docs and can create things instantaneously and do not have to meet in person with my groups. We can work collaboratively online and still have time with our families and have a life.
I guess this hits a nerve with me.Our Admin. team has been reading Classroom Assessment for Student Learning and I posed the question, "What is the purpose of the dissertation?" Everyone's answer was so that they could be called "Dr. ????" Do we have to have Dr. in front of our name to qualify for something?
Go easy on me! I know some of you may just being wanting to bite my head off.

Kimberly Moritz

Dave,

I've had the same questions that you have now about this issue. I think it honestly depends on where you want to land and what's required in your area. I live in rural WNY and my passion has always been small school districts, where a doctorate is less common. Had I decided to pursue my career in one of the bigger districts to the north, it would have been more necessary. Quite frankly, the pool of candidates for admin positions is quite shallow. I think you have to ask yourself if a lack of this degree will preclude you from an opportunity you desire.

I do think that the time spent on the degree will make us better administrators. Any time spent deeply researching and learning in our field will make us better. But is it necessary to secure the job? Are there other ways to learn and to connect without driving to a campus? As fellow bloggers that answer may be easy. Sounds like you've already thought about the cost/benefit analysis in regard to your personal life--a huge factor in your consideration.

For me, I've got a daughter in her senior year in college and a son who's a junior in high school. I've decided to wait until he's firmly planted in college to pursue this idea. Then I'll see how life is--am I hungering to learn more and to grow? If I do go for it, the only reason that will provoke me is a desire to learn more. As far as being the best candidate for a job--I think that there are far more important qualities and skill sets than that piece of paper.

Jon Becker

[Caveat: I am a professor of educational leadership who is the coordinator of our Ph.D. program.]

I could (maybe even should) write a really long reply, but for now, let me just say these few things...

If you enter a doctoral program solely for the purposes of putting another notch in your belt, that's a losing proposition for everyone involved. So, peer and supervisor pressure are not reasons to begin a doctoral program.

If, however, (personal and professional)learning is your main goal, that's great, but then time definitely becomes an issue. A colleague of mine always says, "there is never a good time for doctoral study." So, now is as bad a time as any. (-:

And, again, if learning is your main goal, the trick is to figure out what program of study makes the most sense. I'm clearly biased, but there's a lot of good work being done across a group of universities involved in the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/programs/index.asp?key=1867). You might want to take a look at the list of participating institutions to see what they're doing to strengthen their doctoral programs. For example, at my institution (VCU), we now have a Ph.D. program and an Ed.D. program. They are VERY different programs; one oriented toward research and one oriented towards practice.

I can say/write more, but I'll stop now...if anyone has specific questions, I'd be happy to lend my insider perspectives.

Jeff

Working toward a PhD is definitely an excellent opportunity for structured professional dialogue, learning, and the generation of new ideas. One of the reasons I have been most satisfied with my program (not yet finished) is that I have explored and written about things that I would never have learned so much about before - and it has helped me in my work as a school administrator.

This should be less about the credentials as others have mentioned and more about learning. Most of us are learning and growing each day - why not get a few credits for it and, if it works out, another degree. You could study an area that you would have explored as an administrator anyway so it would be time well spent.

Balance has to be a priority though. It is not a race to finish the degree. If you set aside time and commit to a certain amount of work on your program per week, it can be done in a reasonable amount of time.

Good luck!

Kevin W. Riley

I completed a doctorate a few years ago...(ok... the truth is it was 20 years ago.) I completed it when I was 31. I wasn't married at the time and I didn't know which direction my career was going. I was torn between going to law school to specialize in school law... or starting the doctorate. It took 4 years-- I think. I don''t know when or how or if I ever paid for it. But I know this, in retrospect, it was worth every minute of work and sacrifice.

The doctorate has opened many doors... most of which I chose not to walk through. It has influenced how I read and conduct research, the questions I ask, and ultimately the core values from which I operate. I wrote a 430-page dissertation-- an historical/legal analysis of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and how it has been used to further a vision of academic equity. That has proven to be my life's work.

I agree with all of the previous comments that you do not have to have the letters Ed.D. or Ph.D. after your name to be an extraordinary educator or to make a profound difference in the lives of children and the adults you lead. But it can be a motivating factor for teachers and colleagues (we currently have 5 teachers in doctoral programs at my school)... it can be a motivating factor for children "Dr. Riley... are you a real doctor?!")... and it is a life achievement that no one can ever take away from you. If you do it right, you will find that you go to work every day aspiring to rise to the level of expectation that the degree confers.

Finally, on a personal level, my children, now in college, have always appreciated what it took for me to complete an advanced degree ("Geez... if Dad can do it... anybody can!!!) My dissertation committee moved up my defense several months just so I could finish my degree while my dad was still alive. He had a terminal illness. The day I came home after my successful defense, I went to visit him. He greeted me from his old warn chair when I walked through the door..."Hello Doctor."

Sweetest words I have ever heard.

Frank Buck

Dave,

You have already gotten some wonderful feedback. The doctorate opens doors that you may or may not want to walk through. The people in your cohort will teach you more than the professors. I agree with those things.

The point I would like add is about the dissertation. Is there a dissertation topic that you are passionate about? If so, jump in. You are going to have to write a paper for every class you take anyway, so find a way to make every one of those papers relate to your topic and build the dissertation as you go. Otherwise, leave it alone. You don't have to have a doctorate to be a great school leader. You are obviously someone who has it together and knows what he wants from his life and his career. Good luck on whatever decision you make!

Greg Carroll

I'm with Frank and Melinda.
In New Zealand I only know of 2 principals with Doctorates and although they are both people whom I respect tremendously I am not sure that it is the PhD study that has made them effective leaders.
Leadership is not a theory, it is a practice and an art form. You get to be a better artist largely through practice. I am reasonably sure Picasso or Warhol don't have academic honours.
Be good at what you do ... a track record is surely a great source of satisfaction and something that is marketable. A school achieving well is an honour as much as a PhD or other expensive qualification, surely.
cheers
Greg

Glenn E. Malone

Great post Dave!

I say Ed. Do

I just started a superintendent credentials program with a Ed.D. from WSU. And I love it!

The program is for practitioners exactly like you!

Here's some things about me that helped me to decide:

My kids are grown, one finished college BA @ UW the other still in college.

My district pays $5000 annually for a Supt Credential and another $5000 annually for a Ed.D or Ph.D.

It's a cohort model I have 3 colleagues that have joined me.

I have been a principal since 1990.

Prayer helped too.

Good luck :)

Kate

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Kate

http://educationonline-101.com

David

Never say you don't plan on going to the central office. I felt the same way as principal of a combined middle and high school (there is no better place than watching kids grow from 6th grade to graduation). Then, one day, the sup up and quit, and the board tagged me. With the encouragement and prodding I received from the rest of the district, there was no turning back. I was set to begin a doctoral program this spring. No need now. I found the place I plan to finish out my career in and there are plenty of well-educated administrators and teachers to push my thinking and learning.

Cristina Igoa, Ed.D.

Dear Dave,
Getting an Ed.D while you are an educator is very important. I did it. I also spent time teaching at a university, but returned to the classroom full time and yet still keep one foot in the universities in the summer.
This was the best thing for me since I love to teach children. The doctoral degree made me very versatile. I teach third graders during the school year, sometimes I teach a college course in the summer to teachers and publish to contribute to the field.I try to balance theory and practice in my publications--the best of both worlds, I believe.I can also accept invitations to speak in the summer which takes me to interesting places!
In the classroom, I am a teacher/researcher so I can do in depth participatory research to find out why many of the students are not making it. I also find out how the gaps in their education prevent them from getting a strong foundation for their future. I plan strategies to close those gaps.
I do believe that we need more Ed.D teachers in the primary grades (for that matter all the grades) to help change the outdated system where often teachers have "to teach to the middle" by the very way the system is structured. I believe we need to give all our primary grade students that most important beginning that will point the way towards academic achievement for life.
We, as educators, must change the way we look at a doctoral degree. It does not always have to be linear--to go up and work in the District office. But to have an Ed.D. and to stay with the children can be most fulfilling for both teacher (or principal) and students. I vote for a doctoral degree for all educators.
Cristina Igoa, Ed.D.
The Inner world of the Immigrant Child

Cristina Igoa, Ed.D.

Dear Dave,
Getting an Ed.D while you are an educator is very important. I did it. I also spent time teaching at a university, but returned to the classroom full time and yet still keep one foot in the universities in the summer.
This was the best thing for me since I love to teach children. The doctoral degree made me very versatile. I teach third graders during the school year, sometimes I teach a college course in the summer to teachers and publish to contribute to the field.I try to balance theory and practice in my publications--the best of both worlds, I believe.I can also accept invitations to speak in the summer which takes me to interesting places!
In the classroom, I am a teacher/researcher so I can do in depth participatory research to find out why many of the students are not making it. I also find out how the gaps in their education prevent them from getting a strong foundation for their future. I plan strategies to close those gaps.
I do believe that we need more Ed.D teachers in the primary grades (for that matter all the grades) to help change the outdated system where often teachers have "to teach to the middle" by the very way the system is structured. I believe we need to give all our primary grade students that most important beginning that will point the way towards academic achievement for life.
We, as educators, must change the way we look at a doctoral degree. It does not always have to be linear--to go up and work in the District office. But to have an Ed.D. and to stay with the children can be most fulfilling for both teacher (or principal) and students. I vote for a doctoral degree for all educators.
Cristina Igoa, Ed.D.
The Inner world of the Immigrant Child

Linda704

Every comment here has very good points, nad it would take a "dissertation" of a post to reflect on all of them.;-) I am currently in my 4th year of my PhD program, working on my dissertation proposal (which needs to be done *soon*). It is the hardest thing I have ever done; I have no regrets about starting, and intend to finish. The advice I give to anyone who asks the question you did is don't do it unless you are absolutely certain you want it. Good luck in your decision-making.

Tracy Rosen

Very timely post for me. I am in the first year of a PhD program and am re-evaluating if it is really what I want to do. Am I doing it because I like the idea of it? or because it is right for me? Not sure.

I do know that I work full time, at the school from 7 to 5 most days, and study part-time. Between those 2 things I do not have much time for anything else. Luckily I do love teaching and learning! But there is little balance with other activities (exercise, painting, personal reading, family...).

Also, I am finding the whole methodological approach of the PhD program I am in to be .... ugh. I am not interested in stats. Really. I am not interested in isolating variables. I am interested in uncovering stories and relationships. So maybe what I need to do is look for another program, one where I will feel more at home.

So...those are my 2 cents. Consider work/life balance, and consider the program that is the right fit. That's where I am now. Luckily I go to school in Canada, where the fees are not outrageous, so I can afford to spend some time figuring out where I fit.

Whatever choice you make, make it right for you.

Angie

I considered going into a PhD program a year ago but a took a position teaching in a private school for gifted in Texas. NCLB has greatly hurt the gifted programs statewide so a public teaching position was not even close to what I had in Louisiana. I taught 4-6th grade gifted students all subjects-all day.

The private school still doesn't have it right. Students should be placed according to their academic and social needs, not by their chronological age!

I am looking at a PhD program for two reasons: I can't affect change in a teaching position for this unique population and I want to research how one can affect change through the use of technology and other means. I am a life-long learner so I feel this is the route for me. My application has been submitted for Fall '09.

The journey is my goal. No need to rush, just a need to be thorough and to communicate. I'm 47 and I know I won't recoup the cost, it's one that my husband is encouraging me to take. Check in frequently to see how I'm progressing.

Marshall

Dave

It seems that everyone here thinks the doctorate is great as a learning tool but that a person shouldn't get it to move ahead in and of itself. Great thoughts, superior motives, lack of reality. PhD is a title of accomplishment and access, and hopefully there is some learning in there too.
I entered a mid-range program which qualifies me to work as a superintendent, but is not a PhD - although that option can branch from where I am. It nearly dismayed me on the whole thing to find that I was told, "you'll recoup the investment with your first raise." I am actually in it for an option in the future and to stay where I am to be the best I can. The really tough part is that I do feel that the cohort is the key to the learning, and the hoops and the faculty are the keys to getting the degree. I've enjoyed the course work, glad I did it, LOVE the people, and don't plan to do the PhD. That's my story...and I'm sticking with it.

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