Professionals often reach a point in their careers where it becomes obvious that a terminal degree will be necessary in order for them to achieve their professional and personal goals. Whether those goals include furthering their credibility, augmenting their professional opportunities, expanding their scholarship knowledge, deepening their impact on important issues, or satisfying their intellectual curiosity, each person who embarks on this path of advanced education will find unique motivation in pursuit of these goals.
For Vasiliki Goudanas Mavroudhis, a recent graduate of Northeastern’s Online Doctor of Education (EdD) program, her journey started at a very young age when, as a child, she moved to America from Greece. Her parents taught her the value of hard work, determination, and the pursuit of education—principles that motivated her to always “think big,” aim high, and seize the opportunities that might help her accomplish her goals.
As an adult, Mavroudhis took on roles in public and private sectors within the education field before transitioning into an international education position at Northeastern University. Eventually, however, she realized that in order to cultivate and build upon the analytical and critical thinking skills she had acquired during her time in the field, she needed to pursue her EdD.
Below, Mavroudhis provides some insight into what it was like to pursue Northeastern’s EdD as a professional, and how this unique degree allowed her to reach her full potential as a professional.
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6 Benefits of Enrolling in an Online EdD Program
1. Added Flexibility
Determined to keep her full-time job, Mavroudhis sought an online EdD program that would allow for flexibility and the opportunity to accomplish her goals in a learning environment that didn’t disrupt her work life.
Northeastern’s EdD program was the right fit because it is designed to combine students’ existing experience and knowledge with practice-based research, and integrate that combination into their day-to-day, professional lives.
Some of the overall most flexible aspects of Northeastern’s program include:
- The online format of the program.
- The flexibility of meeting residency requirements at any of the regional campuses.
- The ability to choose when to engage in residency.
- The option for part-time or full-time degree completion.
- The opportunity for students to begin working on their Dissertation in Practice at the onset of their coursework.
- The assignment of a dedicated faculty advisor to each student during their first year, with the goal of helping students with their Dissertation in Practice throughout the course of the program.
- The chance to declare a tailored concentration within the larger EdD scope.
In Mavroudhis’ experience, these layers of flexibility allowed her to thrive within the program. “Northeastern’s online EdD coursework allowed me to complete assignments and readings at my own pace,” she says. “I knew the deadlines in advance and could schedule my time accordingly.”
Being part of a program designed to meet the needs of working professionals made scheduling the personal, professional, and educational aspects of her life less stressful and more productive.
2. Ability to Hold Yourself Accountable
Due to the online nature of the EdD program, while faculty members are always available to answer questions, there is a certain level of ownership students must take over their work, as well. In Mavroudhis’ case, she knew she would have to be self-driven in order to complete her degree, and thus chose to rely on her own determination and commitment to make it through.
One way she approached this was by holding herself accountable for meeting all course requirements, without frequently scheduling meetings with faculty for clarification. From this experience, she recommends that students going into an online EdD program do so prepared to take ownership of these aspects of their education.
One way students can prepare for this level of ownership is through the development of their time and project management skills; honing these abilities early on will ensure they are working toward their goals in a structured and productive manner.
Did You Know: Although much of an online program relies on this self-guided learning, there are often countless opportunities available for students to engage with their classmates, professors, and alumni during their program—both virtually and in person. During the course of each class, students might connect with their classmates online through discussion boards or virtual seminars, while also arranging time to work together out of the classroom through writing circles or study groups. One of the most significant opportunities a student in Northeastern’s EdD program has to work alongside their classmates is during their doctoral residencies, in which the students in this program from all different physical locations come together in one place to share ideas and inspire one another.
It’s also important for students in online EdD programs to ensure they make time for general life events in their schedules, as the inclusion of these instances will help prevent them from feeling overwhelmed or burnt out by classwork.
“I would set aside a designated weekend or chunk of time during the day to focus exclusively on my doctoral program, but I also scheduled time off,” Mavroudhis says. “I noticed that reserving a night or weekend for myself made my work a higher quality. Finding work-life balance is tough, but doable.”
She also emphasizes that, although the online nature of the program allows students to study whichever hours work best within their schedules, the time they set aside needs to be allocated and followed in order to best reach their goals.
3. Connecting to a Global Network
Northeastern’s experiential network allowed Mavroudhis to create a global network of students, alumni, and professors during her time in the EdD program. “By earning an online EdD, you’re able to grow a global network of like-minded individuals who are all seeking to develop their scholarship,” she says, noting that having classmates from all over the world allowed for a far richer and deeper learning experience.
Did You Know: Northeastern’s programs are designed to provide students countless opportunities to learn from their peers. Engaging with classmates from different industries or countries allows them to broaden their understanding of certain topics, learn from others’ unique perspectives, and even develop their own, personal views on complicated topics.
The global network within Northeastern’s online EdD program specifically also helps develop students’ virtual team-building skills through group projects. In these scenarios, patience and flexibility are the keys to success, as often team members are located across different countries or time zones.
Learn More: 7 Networking Tips for Graduate Students
4. Incorporating New Skills Into Daily Work
Northeastern’s EdD program offers students a unique opportunity to incorporate learning into real-world work. Coursework is designed to develop students’ critical thinking skills and encourage students to broaden their world view and adopt new ways of thinking. Ultimately this approach is meant to teach students how to apply this new way of thinking to the real-life scenarios they might encounter in their day-to-day work.
As Mavroudhis sees it, weekly coursework—such as readings, discussions, and exercises— made the largest impact on her enhanced skill sets during her time in the program. One skill set she remembers honing over the course of the program was her use of digital systems. “I had never used certain technology platforms and now, because I was learning online, I had exposure to new systems that I was able to leverage and incorporate into my everyday work,” she says.
Alongside the exploration of these practical skills, Mavroudhis also had the chance to work on her interpersonal abilities, such as her patience.
“[My patience] improved over the course of the program…because I accepted the fact that, sometimes, things are out of your control,” she says. “That attribute was helpful in my daily work, but also in my personal interactions.”
5. Support During the Dissertation Phase
At Northeastern, students get assigned faculty advisors at the beginning of the EdD program to help them with their Dissertation in Practice. Dissertation work begins with students selecting a compelling organizational or educational challenge known as a “problem of practice.” Most often this challenge is found in students’ work contexts, so that students are answering their own need for more information and to effect positive impact while also still serving their organizations in a new capacity towards problem-solving. This topic becomes a considerable point of emphasis between students and their faculty advisor—an element that Mavroudhis recalls appreciating.
“That environment motivated me to build a strong rapport with my faculty advisor early on in the process to ensure I hit certain milestones and stayed on track to complete the dissertation phase and graduate by my preferred time,” she says.
For Mavroudhis, a bi-monthly 30-minute check-in helped maintain organization on her tasks, while simultaneously providing a platform to talk with her advisor about all aspects of her dissertation. This, she stresses, demonstrates the flexibility advisors use when working with their students’ schedules. They are also available ad hoc if any urgent advice or feedback is needed before as a student prepares for their dissertation defense.
6. Residency for Career Success
As part of the online EdD program at Northeastern, students are required to participate in two, weeklong doctoral residencies, which offer workshops and seminars to help students progress in their educational journey.
Residencies are designed to help students network with like-minded individuals also hoping to use their EdD to elicit change in the world. These events align with Northeastern’s experiential learning model, where hands-on learning through collaboration with current industry professionals is considered the key to education.
Learn More: What is a Doctoral Residency?
“For me, the face-to-face component of the online EdD program provided a richer, more meaningful experience,” Mavroudhis says. “You’re able to interact with your peers after building an online rapport with them, and the time you spend getting to know each other over the week’s residency is extremely rewarding. You’re not only able to put a face to a name, but you can [also] engage in deep dialogue, brainstorm about your problem of practice, share your progress in the program and experiences with faculty, [and] hear about other students’ journeys.”
The residency’s workshops and seminars—which complement the coursework—offer an inside peer perspective on important milestones along the doctoral journey, allowing for students to introspect on their own path.
Accelerate Your Career with an Online EdD
Northeastern’s online EdD offers students the opportunity to achieve their goals and advance their career without compromising their current professional and personal commitments.
Learn More: Grad School or Work: How to Balance Both
From its online nature to its both full- and part-time formats, everything about Northeastern’s program is tailored to meet working professionals where they are, while simultaneously setting them up for future success.
One way that the program helps students achieve this success is by offering five, unique degree concentrations. Students in this program can pick from:
- Higher Education Administration
- Innovative Teaching and Learning*
- Integrative Studies*
- Transformative School Leadership*
- Workplace Learning*
(*Available starting Fall 2021)
Though some students enter the program with an idea of which specialization best aligns with their goals, others work with faculty members and advisors to determine which EdD concentration is right for them throughout the course of the program.
Alongside the ability to declare a concentration, Mavroudhis found that the opportunities for experiential learning and networking offered within Northeastern’s EdD program, also allowed her and her classmates to become versatile professionals with the tools needed to take on the challenges of their world.
At the end of the day, Mavroudhis found that choosing to invest in herself and her future through the pursuit of an EdD was a career-defining move.
“Reflecting on the five years it took me to complete the online EdD program, the ability to learn in a different delivery mode allowed me to exercise and strengthen existing skills and attributes, while also gaining a new appreciation for online education; it fit my lifestyle, professionally and personally, and I was able to accomplish my lifelong scholastic goal,” she says.
To learn more about how a Doctor of Education program can shape your career, download our free guide to earning your EdD below.