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The Unexpected Ways You Can Apply a Doctor of Education

Industry Advice Education

One of the best ways to advance your career is to demonstrate your advanced leadership capabilities and develop new knowledge in your field. Earning a Doctor of Education can help.

Northeastern’s Doctor of Education (EdD) program, in particular, is grounded in the scholar-practitioner model, which provides a practical, hands-on approach that translates to students’ everyday professional work environments.

One of the best ways to develop high-level leadership skills is through lifelong learning, hands-on training, and real-world practice. A benefit of enrolling in an EdD is that the degree is applicable no matter what field you’re in; that’s often what’s “unexpected.”

Download Our Free Guide to Earning Your EdD

What you should know before applying, from how to choose your dissertation topic to ways you can leverage your doctorate.


Northeastern’s doctoral program is designed to help working professionals:

  • Enhance their professional leadership and management skills
  • Develop research and analytical skills
  • Create new systems and approaches to strategic thinking
  • Explore new social entrepreneurship opportunities
  • Aid in the creation of new change agents
  • Create sustainable and meaningful change in their careers and communities

These skills can be used in a wide range of settings, and that unique ability to translate this knowledge to a variety of different roles and industries—far beyond education—is why individuals should consider earning their EdD.

What Type of Positions Do EdD Students Pursue?

Our EdD students cultivate their leadership skills in the program by integrating practice and insights from experienced faculty and high-achieving peers. Our current students 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.

Examples of Our Current Students’ Fields and Titles

Northeastern’s EdD program offers three concentrations:

  • Curriculum, Teaching, Leadership, and Learning
  • Higher Education Administration
  • Organizational Leadership Studies

When trying to decide how to choose an EdD concentration, it’s crucial to consider your professional goals, passions and interests, and the context in which you want to learn.

The Curriculum, Teaching, Learning, and Leadership concentration helps educational leaders develop the leadership competencies, dispositions, and values required to pursue aspects of educational reform. Students often explore the relationship between effective educational leadership and the ways that curriculum and teaching can enhance learning opportunities. This particular concentration also focuses on preparing transformational leaders who recognize the importance of providing quality educational experiences for all learners.

Some of the roles of those within this concentration include:

  • Athletic coach
  • School dean
  • Classroom instructor
  • School principal
  • Superintendents

EdD graduates don’t just go into public and private schools, they lead them. Graduates identify and master the theoretical and applied principles required to effect positive social change.

The Higher Education Administration concentration is best-suited for students who enjoy studies of practice and scholarship across a variety of postsecondary educational settings, including community and four-year colleges, for-profit organizations, and research institutions. Some of the roles and titles these students assume are:

  • Director of student services
  • Instructors
  • Student affairs professional
  • Academic Dean
  • Chief academic officer
  • Faculty manager
  • Financial director
  • Fundraising director
  • Instructional delivery faculty
  • Chief financial officer
  • Educational consultants
  • Director of human resources

The students in our Organizational Leadership Studies concentration often pursue current and future career positions focused on understanding larger systems and leadership within more complex systems. This concentration is designed for leaders working in or outside of educational settings, including those in the government, healthcare, military, not-for-profit, for-profit, or management consulting organizations. This concentration aims to develop individuals who can effectively manage and lead change in today’s fast-paced, global environment.

Some of the potential roles and titles these students assume include:

  • Educational consultant
  • Director of human resources
  • Director of project management
  • Senior business executive
  • Chief of staff, detective
  • Military commander
  • Intelligence analyst
  • Major general
  • Head athletic coach
  • Athletic director
  • Commissioner
  • Emergency management executive
  • Director of nursing
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Social services director
  • Social worker
  • Therapist
  • Chaplain
  • Pastor

No matter the concentration, graduates are uniquely prepared for leadership roles in nearly every industry. What’s more, the program provides the opportunity to develop from a truly interdisciplinary approach, with strong foundational curriculum areas, such as culture inclusion, learning pedagogy, change management, intercultural communications, creative thinking, and organizational leadership. Graduates conduct and apply doctoral research and practices to develop real-world answers to the leadership challenges facing 21st-century organizations and beyond.

Download Our Free Guide to Earning Your EdD