Call Me Doctor—Why I Decided to Get My EdD, and How It Changed My Career

It takes commitment and focus, but I promise it’s worth it.

woman in graduation attire - doctorate in education

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Learn more about the Capella University Progress Reward—a $10,000 scholarship for eligible students and programs—to help fund your doctoral journey. Plus get a Doctoral Education Guide at no cost.

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Some people may think my story is nontraditional. And maybe it is. But I’m living proof that you don’t need to already be an administrator to get your doctorate in education. In fact, you don’t even need to leave your current teaching job after graduation to advance your career and make a difference at a higher level.

My story might be nontraditional because I still have a full-time position as a public school teacher—and my doctorate. And because I got my EdD in reading and literacy, I have opportunities for extra income and professional growth. Since graduating, I’ve become an adjunct instructor at two universities as well as a national LETRS (Language Essentials of Teachers of Reading and Spelling) trainer.

Every day, I’m fulfilled by my passion for and commitment to improving national reading levels. As an EdD graduate, I am privileged to be part of the solution. Here’s how I did it.

Why should I get my EdD?

The whole-language approach was the most popular method of teaching literacy when I began my career. As time went on, I observed many students struggling with the foundations of literacy. I decided to turn to professional development to sharpen my skills. I took a course to become a LETRS trainer, and it completely transformed the way I understood literacy. My teaching improved, and eventually, I began training other teachers in my school district through LETRS, which focuses on five key pillars of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. 

I soon felt I had a responsibility to do something more. Certainly, I could have kept applying what I had learned to my little corner of the school district, but I felt compelled to bring this to more teachers in the broader professional community. I had the knowledge to help make positive changes in literacy education, but I needed a credential to share my expertise at an institutional level.

How can I afford an EdD program?

I had already earned my master’s degree early in my career, so I knew a doctorate in education was the next step. After making my decision to go back to school, it only took me a week or two to decide to attend Capella University. One of my colleagues was working on her dissertation for Capella’s EdD program in reading and literacy at the time I was making my decision. I asked her questions and did my own research to learn that Capella was the best option for my money. 

Some teachers rely on their districts to pay for advanced degrees. However, my school district had already helped pay for my master’s. I was on my own for this step. Capella was at the lower end of what I was looking to pay for a doctoral program, and it included everything I needed.

How long does it take to earn an EdD?

After enrolling, I found myself working through the courses and then my Capstone at a faster rate than I had imagined. Earning a doctorate in education while working full time as a teacher takes strategy and focus, but if you are self-disciplined and laser focused, you can make it work. 

What are the requirements for graduation? 

The flexibility to fulfill my degree through a hands-on Capstone project was one of the reasons I chose Capella over others. My Capstone project was based on the Response to Intervention initiative in my district. I was already responsible for conducting these groups, so I was able to incorporate this work into my Capstone. The best part? It went hand in hand with work I was already doing in my job.

What support did I receive from my university?

Capella’s faculty was incredibly supportive in helping me stay on track. I had the support of a fabulous mentor who returned my work quickly with really helpful feedback. Reading intervention is a subject I knew very well. While working on my Capstone, I was actually applying it in my daily work. 

Are you interested in learning more about getting your EdD?

Make a difference in the field of education. Capella University has flexible EdD programs with specializations in areas like reading and literacy, curriculum and instruction, and more. Click the orange button below to learn more about the Capella Progress Reward. It’s a $10,000 scholarship for eligible students to help fund their doctoral journey. Plus get a Doctoral Education Guide at no cost.

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Call Me Doctor—Why I Decided to Get My EdD, and How It Changed My Career

Posted by Julie Ann Klingerman, EdD

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