I'm a self taught developer who was worked in the IT management field for a while. My academic background is an MBA and I currently teach classes on database development at a community college.

I want to be a Professor one day, and had been considering what to do for my PhD. Ideally, I'd like to teach either in the CS field or the business field as that's where the cross-section of my work is.

I've applied to jobs to teach at local Universities and Colleges in my state recently and I've had the feedback that I need a PhD preferably in field X.

Due to life commitments the only options to me that are realistic would be to do a part-time online doctorate in education (EdD) since they are cheap. I can then go publish research in my field or even get a post-graduate certificate in CS or Business to validate my knowledge.

My question is, is this even worth-while? While it may be a harder path for me to get my foot in the door, do Universities require me to have a PhD in my field or do they just need me to have a Doctorate of some variety and then validate my knowledge in that field (either via publications, post-grad certs, or even teaching classes in that field etc)

I already read through a similar question: Is it possible to become a professor in a field where you don't have a PhD degree? but it was very much focused on overlapping fields (e.g. finance and math)

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    Have a look at job postings in your field. Typically they have wording like "Minimum qualifications: earned PhD in fields X, Y, or a closely related field." You can assume that they mean it. Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 20:37
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    In my very humble opinion, with a doctorate in education your chances of becoming a professor of CS or business are very close to zero, not necessarily because you will lack the formal prerequisites in order to be considered for the job (although that might be true as well for some positions), but simply because the EdD will not teach you the large amount of basic knowledge and skills relevant to doing research in, and eventually becoming a professor of, CS or business. Your premise that you can somehow catch up on your own after getting the degree is, quite simply, a pipe dream.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 22:12
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    @NateEldredge Do not look at the advertisements, look at the recent hires. Usually the person who is actually hired far exceeds the minimum qualifications. Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 1:46
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    The "exception" in a field like CS would be if Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg decided they wanted to go back and teach. Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 4:30
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    @AnonymousPhysicist: I think Nate's point was to highlight that having a PhD in one of a small number of fields is already part of the minimum qualifications. Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 14:28

3 Answers 3


Generally, you're going to need a PhD in a field very close to the one you want to teach in. Many programs make this information available to applicants, and indicate that they are looking for a PhD in field X, Y or Z. This is because these are the subjects where the information and experience that you gain during the course of a PhD are directly relevant to your ability to then teach the subject you are applying for. Simply getting a PhD isn't going to make you much more competitive for a position, unless your PhD shows that you have gained skills directly relevant to the position.

You mentioned the possibility of doing research or getting other certification of your skills, depending on where you want to be a professor, these could be a better option for you. If you can find a university willing to support your research, and get it published, this definitely shows that you have developed relevant skills for teaching in that field. Added to the fact that you have taught at a community college (indicating that you have some ability to perform a CS teaching job), and you have a much more competitive application than you started with.


Let me offer some perspective from a small "u" university, i.e, primarily undergraduate with a small number of graduate programs, none at the doctoral level. We had several faculty migrate from math to CS when we started to offer a CS major. But, we had two people come to CS, one from philosophy and one from french literature, the latter an external hire. Both were making an academic transition to CS, but, to the best of my knowledge, neither attained a graduate degree, e.g., a masters, in CS. That was some years ago now. We have hired recently (last year), and it was expressly stated that applicants must have a Ph.D in either pure or applied mathematics. So, even at this level, the requirements have tightened up quite a bit. There may still be four-year colleges that would accept a candidate such as yourself, but they are probably getting rather scarce.


As someone soon to go into the post-doc phase and getting to know the job market: you need a lot more than a Ph.D. Sure, you don't need a Ph.D. in the subject to get a position there... but you need research. You need mounds of research to get an academic position, even a position at a 4-year college these days. If you don't have research in the field or an adjacent field, I am not sure if you'd even get an interview (in the US). And if you're going to be doing that much research in the field, a Ph.D. should be almost free!

And note what I mentioned too: the job market is a post-doc before professorship. Going straight to a tenure-track position is pretty rare these days. So you will likely need a research position (usually not a teaching postdoc) before the tenure-track position.

Given these as the priorities, I think it's pretty safe to say that a degree in education probably won't help much here. Whether it's right or wrong, people are looking for experts in the subject, not necessarily experts in teaching. And I think you'll find it much harder to publish CS research without background or guidance.

Then again, odd things happen every once in awhile, and you could be the odd one to make it work. I wouldn't count on it.

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