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8 Careers You Can Pursue with a Doctorate in Education

Industry Advice Education

By earning a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree, you’re preparing yourself for a career with lasting impact—on students, on the future of a college or university, on your community, or on the trajectory of a nonprofit trying to improve other communities locally and abroad.

You’re also positioning yourself for advancement. Professionals who earn an EdD are qualified for roles leading and operating schools at the elementary, high school, or college level. They learn to lead in a way that can be transferred to the front of a classroom or at the ground level of an organization.

An EdD signals to employers that you’re a thought leader; that you’re someone who’s demonstrated the capacity to identify a problem, examine issues from multiple perspectives, and offer relevant insights for practical solutions. With your doctorate in hand, you’re prepared to take on a leadership role across a variety of industries.

Here’s a look at the types of positions EdD graduates pursue and eight of the top careers available in the field. 


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What Type of Positions Do EdD Students Pursue?

Northeastern’s EdD students cultivate their leadership skills in the program by integrating practice and insights from experienced faculty and high-achieving peers. They come from diverse fields, including business, criminal justice, healthcare, military, human services, and the nonprofit sector. Their job titles and careers are just as diverse, with students working as policymakers, systems analysts, and administrative leaders within higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies.

Top Careers for Doctor of Education Graduates

1) College President 

Average Annual Salary: $272,203

Presidents are the top leaders of a college or university. They establish and execute on their school’s strategic vision, spearhead fundraising, attend student events, and deliver speeches to a variety of constituents, such as donors, lawmakers, government, and faculty, to raise the profile of the institution both locally and abroad. They also collaborate with senior administrators, faculty, and staff to devise new ways to support students and improve their learning environment while maintaining high academic standards. Depending on the type of public or private institution they lead, college presidents can earn impressive seven-figure salaries

2) Chief Learning Officer

Average Annual Salary: $152,225

In education, top executive roles include positions like “chief learning officer”—a senior-level professional who develops and drives strategies that help his or her college or university meet critical business goals. Chief learning officers (CLOs) focus on creating strategies for training, learning, and development, and typically oversee an institute’s latest technologies, such as its online learning platform.

3) Provost

Average Annual Salary: $148,783

A provost—or vice president, depending on the college or university—is a senior-level academic administrator who tends to be second in command after the president. Provosts work closely with deans and department heads, and help determine their institution’s academic goals and priorities, as well as how to allocate the resources necessary to support those initiatives. They often oversee daily operations and work to hire and retain a diverse faculty. 

4) School Superintendent

Average Annual Salary: $116,931

Superintendents are the top executives of a school district. They’re responsible for establishing and overseeing their district’s budget, staffing, infrastructure, and spending. Superintendents collaborate closely with a school board to develop and implement new policies and programs in line with the district’s short- and long-term goals, as well as allocate the financial and human resources necessary to achieve the district’s overarching vision.

5) Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal

Average Annual Salary: $95,310

Principals oversee the daily operations of an elementary, middle, or high school. They hire teachers and staff, manage the budget, and enforce disciplinary rules when necessary. Principals also develop and assess educational programming aimed at achieving student learning outcomes, all while striving to create and maintain a positive learning environment. More than 11,000 principal positions are expected to emerge by 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A principal’s salary might differ depending on whether he or she works at an elementary, middle, or high school. The mean wages for principals at each level, according to PayScale are:

6) Academic Dean

Average Annual Salary: $90,339 

Deans work at the senior administrative level of a college or university. The role varies depending on the institution, but deans often manage faculty and staff, set academic goals, implement strategic planning, oversee their department’s budget, help fundraise, support research initiatives, and foster student development. Some departments you might find them in are:

  • Admissions: Those working in admissions develop and lead recruitment initiatives for a college or university. They evaluate applications, decide the number of students who should be admitted to the school, who those students should be, and communicate with prospects and their families.
  • Research: A dean of research often oversees faculty and collaborates with them to create a strategy for developing short- and long-term research initiatives. They also work to secure research funding, oversee the research budget, and establish key industry partnerships.
  • Student Affairs: The student affairs office typically oversees a variety of different departments, such as residence life, athletics, student support services, and diversity and inclusion. A dean of student affairs typically establishes and evaluates nonacademic programs that foster and enrich the student experience, as well as handle disciplinary issues and communicate with students’ parents or legal guardians.
  • Advancement: The advancement office—also known as “development” or “alumni relations” depending on the school—is responsible for securing funding for the college or university from potential donors, including alumni, government policymakers, corporations, and foundations. They nurture and maintain those relationships, ensuring all gifts received are being used as intended.

7) Professor

Average Annual Salary: $78,470

Postsecondary teachers, or professors, work at the college or university level, developing course curricula, instructing students in a specific area of study, and assessing their progress. When they’re not teaching, professors are often conducting research, writing scholarly papers, or attending conferences.

Professors’ salaries vary based on where they are on the tenure track and their area of expertise. The median salary for a professor based on rank, according to PayScale, is:

Salaries range further depending on the professor’s focus. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10 highest-paying subjects—and what those subjects offer in terms of average annual wage—are:

  • Law: $111,140
  • Engineering: $101,720
  • Economics: $101,720
  • Health Specialties: $97,370
  • Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Science: $90,860
  • Physics: $90,800
  • Architecture: $86,980
  • Forestry and Conservation Science: $86,900
  • Agricultural Sciences: $84,640
  • Business: $83,960

8) Executive Director of Education

Average Annual Salary: $73,640

Executive directors are often the senior leaders of a nonprofit organization or business. They work closely with a board of directors but are the ones who make the daily operational decisions. Executive directors hire and manage staff, handle external relations, engage volunteers, oversee the budget—including all fundraising initiatives—and develop policies, programs, and strategies that guide the organization’s mission and purpose. 

What Can You Do with a Doctorate in Education from Northeastern?

When you earn your EdD from Northeastern, you’re not only advancing your own work, you’re joining a top-tier university and pursuing a rigorous education with an entrepreneurial orientation toward making our world a better place. You’re joining a vast network of students and alumni in the EdD, which spans more than 2,000 professionals across many domains of education. You’re gaining access to engaging faculty who understand the importance of professional experiences in a growing leadership capacity, and who are prepared to offer you personal attention to support your professional development.

With your EdD, you can make a difference in the lives of children, communities, and organizations, as you transform your problem of practice into a plan for change and action.


Download Our Free Guide to Earning Your EdD

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in September of 2017. It has since been updated for accuracy and relevance.