FAQ: Can you become a college professor with an EdD?

Answer: Yes — Earning a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree qualifies graduates to teach at the postsecondary level, at both two- and four-year colleges and universities. Like a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education, an EdD is regarded as a terminal degree in the field of education. While a master’s degree may be enough to teach at a community college or technical school, a doctorate is typically required in order to work at a four-year institution. Depending on what and where they intend on teaching, students may also need additional certifications and/or professional experience to qualify for certain postsecondary faculty positions.

There are a wide range of opportunities for students who possess an EdD and want to teach at the collegiate level. Many go on to work as professors in public or private colleges or universities, teaching undergraduate or graduate students in Education, Organizational Leadership, or related fields. There are different levels of professorship one might attain, each with its own set of responsibilities. For most, the goal is to eventually achieve tenure, moving up from the rank of assistant professor to become a tenured faculty member. Along with overseeing courses and conducting lectures, all of these positions typically involve spending time on research, with the goal of producing original scholarly work to be published in academic journals or other outlets.

Note: Many institutions also hire adjunct professors, instructors, and lecturers to teach both on-campus and online courses. These are typically not tenure-track positions and professionals in these roles may or may not conduct independent research in the field.

For more information on how to become a college professor, as well as the latest job outlook and salary projections for the profession, continue reading below.

How to Become a Professor

The requirements for becoming a college professor will vary based on subject and institution. However, there are several steps one typically must take:

  1. Earn an undergraduate degree (choose an area of specialization)
  2. Gain teaching experience
  3. Attend graduate school and earn a master’s degree
  4. Gain more teaching and/or leadership experience
  5. Complete a doctorate in education or a related field (e.g., EdD or PhD)

Students who want to work as postsecondary teachers will need to start by earning a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university. At this point, it is also a good idea for them to decide on the particular field they want to teach in, and potentially gain some professional experience related to that subject. Students should then pursue a master’s degree in education or their area of focus, possibly while continuing to teach or work in their field in some capacity. During graduate school, many also take on a teaching assistantship. Graduate teaching assistants, commonly known as TAs, help with undergraduate courses and, in some cases, teach entire lectures by themselves. This experience will help prepare students for a doctoral program, where they can continue working as a TA, research assistant, or possibly even an adjunct professor while completing their doctorate.

As mentioned above, most four-year colleges and universities require professors to hold a doctoral degree. Earning an EdD would meet these qualifications, enabling students to pursue professor roles at nearly any institution. Some become part-time or adjunct professors, while others might take on full-time positions with the goal of eventually attaining tenure. Earning tenure at an institution basically means that professor is guaranteed a permanent position there and, according to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), “can be terminated only for cause of under extraordinary circumstances such as financial exigency and program discontinuation.” It can take individuals up to seven years of working in tenure-track positions to finally reach tenure, which is bestowed upon them based on their research, teaching, and service to the institution. Most start out as an assistant professor, before being granted tenure and the title of associate professor, and eventually moving up the ranks to become a full-fledged professor.

When it comes to becoming a professor, however, there are several key differences between earning an EdD and a PhD. The EdD is primarily a practitioner’s degree, meaning the majority of students pursue this degree to take on leadership roles or advanced positions in educational settings, not academia. Those who end up teaching at the collegiate level usually do so after accumulating several years of professional experience in the field, then transitioning to share that knowledge with future educational leaders. For example, a superintendent of a public school system might pursue a teaching position after leaving their current role to teach courses in superintendence. A PhD, on the other hand, is more research focused, designed for students who want to work in academia as opposed to educational leadership. Students who earn a PhD typically do so to go directly into teaching or research roles after graduation.

Professor Career and Salary Projections

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( predicts a strong job outlook for postsecondary teachers over the coming decade, due to increasing enrollment in higher education nationwide. Based on data, employment of both part-time and full-time professors is estimated to grow 9 percent in the U.S. between 2019 and 2029. This is much faster than the average projected for all occupations surveyed by, which is around five percent growth over that time period.

In terms of salary, the latest data from shows that postsecondary teachers earned a median annual wage of $79,540 in 2019 (May 2019 survey data accessed in January 2021). However, there is an incredibly wide range of earning potential in the field. According to the, the lowest 10 percent of postsecondary teachers earned less than $40,480 that year, while the top 10 percent earned more than $174,960. One’s actual salary will depend largely on what and where they teach (including the location and type of institution), as well as how long they have been teaching. Looking at the different ranks of tenure-track positions, data from indicates that that average base pay for assistant and associate professors nationwide is $75,00 and $81,534, respectively. Meanwhile, full professors in the U.S. currently make an average of $96,852 a year.

FAQ: How much can you make with a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree?

Answer: There are many different careers one can pursue with a Doctor of Education (EdD), each with its own average salary or earning potential. Many graduates work in educational leadership, taking high-level positions in school administration or instructional development, while others might find jobs outside academia, in corporate training, human resources, organizational leadership, or more. According to, the average salary of an EdD holder is approximately $78,500 nationwide. However, students’ actual salary after earning their degree will depend largely on the career path they choose, where they decide to work, and their previous professional experience.

The article below examines a number of common careers for EdD graduates along with their current salary estimates according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (,, or Keep in mind, these sites only offer salary data based on job titles, not the degree level of those in these positions. Therefore, the following information is intended for example purposes only, to help students research possible career paths and estimate potential earnings post-graduation. While many jobs featured below may not explicitly require a doctorate, earning an EdD can prepare professionals for top-level positions in these fields and help them qualify for salaries on the higher end of the pay scale. Ultimately, the actual wages one makes will vary by location, employer, job duties, experience, and title.

Careers in Educational Leadership

As mentioned above, many students pursue an EdD to move into or advance a career in education administration. This field encompasses a wide range of positions involved in managing schools or school districts, with opportunities at every educational level, from PreK to postsecondary. Two examples of potential career paths for EdD graduates include primary or secondary school principal or school district superintendent.

According to the latest data from, Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals earned a median annual wage of $96,400 (May 2019 survey data access in January 2021). As the head of an entire school district, Superintendents can expect to make more, with Payscale showing these professionals earning an average salary of $118,975 nationwide. Students should note that both of these positions typically require additional licensing or certification, which varies by state. While some EdD programs may help prepare students for licensure, in most cases, those interested in either career path will need to acquire these credentials separately from earning their degree.

Educational Leadership Salaries
OccupationSalaries (National Average)
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals$96,400 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Superintendent$118,975 (Payscale)
Postsecondary Education Administrators (All)$95,410 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Colleges, Universities, and Professional School Administrators$115,890 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Junior College Administrators$97,970 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Technical and Trade School Administrators$89,210 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

There are also a variety of administrative roles at the college level available to professionals with an EdD. In general, reports that Postsecondary Education Administrators earned a median annual wage of $95,410 (May 2019). However, there is a wide range of earning potential, depending on one’s particular position and the type of institution they work for. According to, the lowest 10 percent of earners in this field had a median salary of $55,320 or less, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $194,090 a year. Educational administrators working in Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools tend to fall on the higher end of this pay scale, with a median annual wage of $115,890, as opposed to those working at Junior Colleges, who earned $97,970. Meanwhile, data shows that administrators at Technical and Trade Schools took home a median salary of around $89,210 in 2019.

Finally, looking at individual careers in this category further illustrates the scope of possible salaries available in college administration. For example, Academic Deans, who oversee an individual school or collection of departments within a college or university, currently earn an average salary of $92,201, according to Payscale. College or University Presidents, on the other hand, tend to earn significantly more, as they essentially serve as CEOs of their entire institutions. Payscale lists the average salary for these top-level administrators at $151,294 nationwide. At the same time, a role such as Vocational Program Director, which involves supervising job-specific training programs at technical schools or other locations, currently comes with an average base pay of $76,817 a year, based on Glassdoor data.

Other Careers in Education

Outside of administration, there are many other roles in education for graduates of EdD programs, depending on their area of interest or degree focus. Some work behind the scenes, helping to develop and assess curricula and teaching standards for schools or entire districts. These Instructional Coordinators earned a median salary of $66,290 in 2019, as reported by EdD students who choose to specialize in education technology or e-learning might put their expertise to work overseeing tech initiatives or online programs at the K-12 or collegiate level. Glassdoor data shows that Education Technology Specialists currently earn an average annual salary of $70,969, with Payscale citing a nationwide average of around $60,000.

Of course, earning a doctorate also qualifies EdD graduates to teach, with many going on to become professors at public or private colleges or universities. According to, Postsecondary Teachers in the U.S. earned a median annual wage of $79,540 in 2019. However, professor salaries can vary quite significantly based on where they work, what they teach, and how long they have been teaching. data shows that, in 2019, the lowest 10 percent in this occupation earned less than $40,480, while the top 10 percent earned more than $174,960.

Graduates who want to work in education, but not necessarily be tied to a single institution or district, may want to consider a consulting role. Educational Consultants help schools, companies, and individuals with all sorts of different projects, from professional or curriculum development to building relations in the community. Payscale reports the national average salary for these professionals is currently $62,547 a year. Another option for students is working in local, state, or national government to influence and help formulate the laws that govern education systems and instructional practices. Based on Payscale data, Education Policy Analysts earn an average yearly wage of $59,481 nationwide.

Non-Academic Career Paths

Earning a Doctor of Education can also help prepare students for a variety of careers outside academia. Some end up working for businesses, corporations, nonprofits, the government, military, or other organizations in the public or private sector, either in managerial positions or as educational experts, supporting workforce training initiatives. The latest data from shows that Training and Development Specialists earned a national median wage of $61,210 in 2019. Depending on their background and degree focus, those with an EdD, however, typically qualify to lead employee training programs and development efforts at most organizations. According to, Training and Development Managers tend to earn significantly more, with a median annual salary of $113,350.

Some EdD programs even offer specialization options intended to prepare students for specific roles in business or organizational management. Students can earn their degree in a field like human resource development, then go on to become Human Resources Managers, overseeing all staff-related business functions for their employers. These senior HR professionals earned a median wage of $116,720 in 2019, as reported by There are also EdD programs with more broad concentrations in areas such as organizational leadership or entrepreneurship. With a doctorate in one of these fields, graduates could pursue high ranking executive positions in nearly any industry, or perhaps even start a company of their own. data indicates that Top Executives saw an overall median pay of $104,690 in 2019, with Chief Executives (CEOs) taking home a median salary of $193,850.


FAQ: What can I do with a Doctor of Education (EdD)?

Answer: Earning a Doctor of Education degree can prepare students for a wide range of careers both in and outside of academia. Many EdD graduates go on to top-level positions in PreK-12 or higher education, working in school or district administration, curriculum development, educational policy, research, teaching, or more. However, there are also options for those interested in leadership or training roles in business or corporate settings, the government, military, nonprofits, or nearly any sector, depending on one’s particular qualifications and degree specialization.

For the most part, EdD programs prepare students for careers in educational leadership, focusing on advanced theories and practical skills related to effective management, problem solving, and producing positive change in learning environments. Those who pursue this degree typically work in academia already, either as an educator or administrator, and are looking to advance in their current positions or move into higher level roles. However, an EdD can also be put to use in other industries, including those outside of academia. There are programs that focus on broader fields such as human resource development or organizational leadership, preparing students for careers not explicitly tied to education. To learn more about some potential career paths for EdD graduates, continue reading below.

Potential Career Paths in Education for EdD Graduates

There are a variety of career paths available in academia for those with a Doctor of Education degree. As discussed above, many EdD graduates take on administrative roles, overseeing institutions, programs, departments, or entire districts at the grade school or college level. Others work behind the scenes, using their expertise to develop and assess curricula or instructional methods, train other teachers, advocate for education reform, or further research in the field.

Below is a list of some common career paths one might pursue with an EdD. While many of these positions do not explicitly require an EdD, earning a doctorate can better prepare professionals for top-level positions, as well as help them stand out in the competitive job market.

  • Primary or Secondary School Principal
  • School District Superintendent
  • College President
  • Academic Dean
  • Provost
  • Admissions Director
  • Program Administrator
  • Chief Academic Officer
  • Chief Learning Officer
  • Professor/Instructor
  • Instructional Coordinator
  • Teaching Coach
  • Curriculum Specialist
  • Director of Assessment
  • Educational Advisor
  • Education Lobbyist
  • Public Policy Leader
  • Education Researcher
  • Director of an Educational Organization or Company
  • Charter School Executive Director
  • Education Consultant

Note: Some of the administrative roles listed above, such as principal or superintendent, may require additional training and/or state-specific licensure that is separate from earning an EdD.

Students can also choose to specialize in a certain aspect of education, pursuing their EdD in a specific area of interest or instructional setting. Programs are available in a wide range of specializations, including early childhood education, education policy, curriculum and instruction, education technology, special education, community college leadership, adult education, student affairs administration, and more. Below are a few examples of careers related to these degree concentrations.

  • Education Technology Specialist
  • Director of Special Education
  • Adult Education Director
  • Vocational School Director
  • Community College Administrator
  • Director of Education Accessibility
  • Preschool or Childcare Director
  • Dean of Online Programs
  • Director of Student Affairs
  • Education Policy Specialist
  • Literacy Program Director
  • Health Education Coordinator
  • Director of Career Advising

There are many EdD specializations available for students interested in pursuing leadership opportunities in education. To learn more about the different concentrations, check out our Online EdD Program Specializations page.

Potential Non-Academic Career Paths for EdD Graduates

Along with the education focused specializations discussed above, there are EdD programs that prepare students for leadership roles outside academia. Students can choose to concentrate more broadly on organizational leadership, human resources, or entrepreneurship, and even take coursework in niche areas such as nursing or healthcare administration. Graduates of these programs can be found working in the public or private sector for businesses, corporations, nonprofits, the government, military, or other organizations, either in management positions or as educational experts, leading or developing employee training programs.

The following are examples of careers outside academia students might pursue with an EdD, depending on their particular degree focus. Keep in mind, some positions may require additional licensure, training, or certification.

  • Training and Development Manager
  • Human Resources Manager/Director
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Executive of Non-Profit or For-Profit Company
  • Government Administrator
  • Non-Profit Director
  • Program Improvement Specialist
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Social or Community Service Manager
  • Survey Researcher
  • Leader in Armed Forces
  • Healthcare Administrator
  • Professional Development Specialist