Advice for Doctoral Applicants
A doctorate in education (EdD) is the culminating degree for educators interested in becoming practitioner-scholars committed to integrating theory and practice to improve and transform our educational system. The doctoral process is an intensive and extended undertaking. It is, as such, a major life decision with many personal and professional factors to consider. The following suggestions and points may help you to think through and make a decision about whether a doctoral degree is right for you and the best way to go about the application process for a doctoral degree. Feel free to contact one of our Admissions Counselors (Robin Laskey, Ada Robinson, or Jessyca Feliciano) to talk through this process in more detail or if you have additional questions.
Seek out and take on leadership experience in your school/school system.
Consult with individuals who have gone through the doctoral process (e.g., friends, colleagues, mentors, supervisors) about their experiences, both positive and negative.
Do some research on whether a doctorate would really help you advance your career and/or intellectual pursuits. Perhaps a graduate degree in another field or a different licensure may be more appropriate for your goals.
Engage in professional development to enhance your skills—strong technical and academic writing and research skills are critical for doctoral-level work.
Reflect on and clarify for yourself why you want a doctorate: what is your educational passion and how will a doctorate help you to achieve it?
What is my goal? There is a difference between an EdD and a PhD. An EdD is focused on developing practitioner-scholars; a PhD is more focused on developing educational researchers.
What is my timeframe? Traditional programs take anywhere from three to ten years of full- or part-time study; our program—as some other concentrated formats—offers a much more efficient, though intense, timeframe.
What kind of learner am I? Traditional programs assume learning occurs on an individual level; a student, for example, may spend most of his/her time alone in a library and see their advisor once a month over many years. Our program concentrates on a cohort model for learning, where students collaborate in the learning process, in-seat work is integrated with online instruction, and continuous one-on-one advising occurs across all courses and research.
What kind of education do I want? Traditional programs emphasize a broad range of courses that may cover many contemporary educational issues but oftentimes have little to do with your specific dissertation interest. Moreover, many doctoral programs presume that doctoral students follow in the research path of their dissertation advisor. Our program links all coursework to your dissertation focus and begins with the assumption that your dissertation is about the specific passion in education that you bring into the program.
The Statement of Purpose
- Consider that your audience is a committee of doctoral faculty.
- Be thoughtful; take the time to write clearly and concisely.
- Be accurate (for instance, use EdD, not PhD, when applying to an EdD program; they are not interchangeable).
- Demonstrate that you have done your research; the committee can usually tell when you know nothing about the program.
- Explain irregularities in your transcripts or resume.
- Apply the same writing and grammatical standards that you would use for an academic paper.
- Do not exceed four double-spaced pages (2 single-spaced).
- Proofread it for spelling and typos.
- Ask someone you trust to proofread it for content and flow.
The Qualifying Assessment
The Qualifying Assessment offers the applicant an opportunity to demonstrate applied knowledge of the field, facility with basic quantitative analysis and presentation of findings, as well as the abilities of writing, critical thinking, and leadership capacity under time constraints (within 72 hours of receipt of the email).
- Clear your schedule so that you have no distractions during the weekend of the QA. Inform family and friends that you will be unavailable during that time, and arrange for a quiet space with a computer and internet connection. The questions may not take 72 straight hours, but they will take a good portion of each day during that period.
- Do not wait until the last minute to start the QA. The 72-hour deadline is hard and fast; missing it might mean delaying your application to a future term and will certainly mean re-taking the QA with new questions.
- Even if you can't begin answering questions immediately, open and read the QA as soon as it is emailed to you (at noon on the date you scheduled it) and make sure you understand all of the instructions and questions before the department office closes for the weekend.
- The committee will not tolerate plagiarism. Do not cut and paste from the internet or from papers you have previously written. The QA is meant to be answered by you during the 72 hour period. You may use references, but cite them using APA style.
- Do not work on the QA with another applicant. It is obvious to the committee when applicants submit similar answers.
- Explain your answers on the data portion. Do not simply write your final answer, but explain how you reached the conclusion.
- This is one of the most important elements of the application; spend time on it.
- Pay attention to what is asked for in the application booklet, both in content and in format.
- Only submit your best work. Do not submit fluff or filler.
- Only submit items that can stand alone, meaning they provide all the context needed to understand them.
The Letters of Recommendation
- Pay attention to what is asked for in each letter, and who should be writing them (e.g. work supervisor versus professor).
- Build relationships with your graduate professors and job supervisors who could be potential letter-writers.
- Do not ask professors who don’t know you for letters; even if they agree, the letter will be too generic to be useful to the committee.
- Line up your recommenders well in advance of the deadline (up to 6 months). Make appointments to speak with them about your goals for doctoral study.
- Ask your recommenders whether they feel comfortable writing a strong positive recommendation.
- Provide the recommender with contextual information so that they can more easily personalize your letter – fill out and send the recommendation form in the application along with your resume, personal statement, and description of the program to which you are applying.
- Send a “gentle reminder” email one month prior to the deadline. Follow up a week before the deadline to make sure it has been received by the program office.