Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Educational leadership doctoral program provides working professionals with complete understanding of what it considers to be a leader in their field. Through offering graduate program’s in-person and online course, people will gather their understanding of research and leadership, and strengthen their technological and communication skills in present or aspiring leadership positions. An online educational leadership doctoral degree program prepares students for professions in educational management roles such as dean or superintendent.

Doctor of Education Leadership

Educational leadership doctoral program is a full-time program consists of three-year. It built on a cohort learning model. Cohorts consist of only 25 students from various professional backgrounds (including district/charter management leaders, entrepreneurs, nonprofit directors, principals, teachers, and policy researchers) who progress through the program together.

In Educational leadership program you will understand that the entire goal of transforming preK–12 education would not be accomplished by any one individual, but by a diverse movement of leaders in government, nonprofits, school systems, and educational for-profit proceeds. All students receive a full tuition fee package plus stipends, work opportunities, and a paid third-year residency at a partner organization.

The education leadership doctoral program prepares graduate’s students to do work for the public good, in the United States education public sector and in high-impact positions for high-influence organizations. Especially, the program is designed to accelerate the progress graduates make toward earning influential roles and/or crossing boundaries in the following spaces in the public education sector:

Prenatal-12 district, CMO and/or state education leadership roles Chief Academic Officer and/or Deputy Superintendent/Commissioner, Superintendent of Schools, Commissioner.

Education nonprofit roles:

Executive Director or President of backbone or collective impact organizations which support Pre-K-12 schools. Educational leadership doctoral students will lead education nonprofits that explicitly focus on improving results and opportunities for children, families, and communities.

State or federal education policy roles:

Education policy advisors to Governors or state or local officials, executive Director of Policy for public education advocacy and/or education think tanks. Students will initiate and assist best practice research that leads to education policy recommendations that are rooted in evidence and data and push excellence and justice.

Social entrepreneurship roles:

leaders of education corporation which address complicate problems of practice facing American public education through innovative solutions for the education sector. Work in social entrepreneurship should also focus on scaling new and novel ideas which have a research base.

Foundations and philanthropy roles:

senior leaders within education-focused foundations which hold up investments in education that focus on data, excellence, equity, and sustainability.

Graduates of the three-year, multidisciplinary Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) Program are distinctively prepared for system-level leadership positions in school systems, national nonprofits and philanthropies, mission-driven for-profits, and state and federal departments of education.

doctor of education leadership

What can I do with a doctorate in educational leadership?

Graduates can go on to their task in competitive roles in positions including:

  1. Chief academic officer
  2. Chief learning officer
  3. Education administrator
  4. Community college instructor
  5. Director of student services
  6. Student affairs professional
  7. Fundraising director
  8. Education consultant
  9. School principal
  10. School dean
  11. Superintendent
  12. Social services director
  13. Community service manager
  14. Curriculum writer
  15. Research writer
  16. Community education leader

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program Specializations

There is an integrated educational doctorate program which is defined by specializations: Administration (K-12); Curriculum and Instruction (PreK-12); Postsecondary Education; and Special Education.

  • The Administration (K-12) specialization is designed firstly for individuals who want to increase their abilities in the leadership and management of educational organizations and the study of educational policy in a K-12 setting.
  • The Curriculum and Instruction (PreK-12) specialization focuses on strengthening the leadership of those who look for to impact curriculum, teaching, and learning across an arrangement of educational settings.
  • The Postsecondary specialization emphasizes the development of postsecondary educational leaders provided with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to grip and assist inclusive and transformative learning environments and organizations.
  • The Specific Education specialization focuses program leadership in school, community, and other agencies serving special needs of youth and adults.


  • ED 620 Doctoral Studies Proseminar
  • ED 630 Principles and Practices of Learning
  • ED 640 Organizational Leadership Theory and Research in Education
  • ED 650 Educational Policy and Politics
  • ED 660 Foundations of Research Paradigms & Methods
  • ED 661 Qualitative Research in Education
  • ED 662 Quantitative Research in Education

Students complete a minimum of 26 hours of coursework in their specialization, complete a thorough examination, composition, and must fulfill the residency requirement after admission to the doctoral program.

educational leadership doctoral program specialization

Degree requirements for Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Students must complete 54 credit hours for an educational leadership doctoral program and 60 credit hours for the Ph.D. degree. The coursework for the Ed.D. includes:

  • Educational leadership core courses
  • Educational research and statistics courses
  • Educational leadership advanced courses
  • Dissertation

Ph.D. requirements place a greater significance on educational policy and research and require to take two additional courses to complete a distinctive dissertation product. Consult with the doctoral program coordinator or EDLE faculty advisor to discuss Ph.D. requirements and options.

Transferring courses

A maximum of 19 credit hours beyond the master’s degree may be transferred from other institutions that offer an doctorate degree in educational leadership. Transfer credits must be approved by major professor or advisory committee and the dean of the graduate school.

Superintendent certification

Students must fulfill the admission requirements for the graduate school. For the Superintendent Certification Program, an application and nomination from your school district superintendent must be submitted. The nomination form is accessible by contacting the program office.

This certification program consists of twelve credit hours of coursework as well as a 3hour internship. 12 semester hours of certification coursework may be applied toward the doctoral program. The internship may not be applied to a doctorate degree. Certification requirements related to the state of Texas are not a part of the educational leadership doctorate or Ph.D. degrees and need to be completed separately for those seeking to be certified. For further information, see additional certifications for Texas Educators.

Both programs have a residency requirement. For the Ed.D., students must take six credit hours for three consecutive semesters. For the Ph.D., they must take nine credit hours for two consecutive semesters or six credit hours for three consecutive semesters.

superintendent certification

Top Schools with Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Programs

Following are the top schools for educational leadership doctoral program

New York University

  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities
  • Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration
  • Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation (online)
  • Ph.D. in Music Education: For College and University Faculty

Faculty work across disciplines to promote the exchange of new ideas. This philosophy carries over to its Ed.D. programs. The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership offers a core curriculum spanning educational reform to policy analysis. Study environments focus on research and practice alongside professors, classmates, and school leaders; it aims to prepare students for policy positions as well as senior educational leadership.

Candidates already working in higher education or corporate education are eligible to pursue an Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration. The program combines theory, research, and problem-solving through the exploration of organizational theory, adult and workplace learning, and finance and governance.

Both degrees require a closing project and summer project workshops. These three-year programs are designed for working professionals who can study part time. The online Leadership and Innovation Ed.D., also for professionals, is a year shorter and incorporates two residencies. For those who love the creative side of learning, the 45-credit Ed.D. in Music Education and 42-credit Ed.D. in Educational Theatre are two research-intensive programs worth exploring.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction – Licensure
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership

Nestled in the now-famous Research Triangle in North Carolina, UNC Chapel Hill prides itself on groundbreaking research and study opportunities. Its School of Education offers two Ed.D. specializations. The Educational Leadership Ed.D. is geared toward preparing professionals for administrative roles at the K-12 district level.

The department recommends that all Ed.D. students who aren’t licensed school administrators become licensed during their time at UNC. The Curriculum and Instruction pathway prepares professionals to become changemakers in the educational system by exposing them to “reformed schooling practices”.

Michigan State University

  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership – K12 Administration

The Department of Educational Administration has designed its Ed.D., the three-year Doctor of Educational Leadership, to develop diverse leaders for Michigan schools and community organizations. Its practice-based program seeks to play an active role in the future of Michigan schools by encouraging faculty and students to work together to address critical challenges facing the state’s education community.

University of Kansas

  • Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy – Administration
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy – Higher Education

University of Kansas, home to over 30,000 students, is a comprehensive research and teaching university. The School of Education has three options for an Ed.D. in two different departments: the Department of Curriculum and Teaching and the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

Pursue an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction if classes such as Curriculum Planning for Educational Settings, Instructional Strategies & Models, and Contemporary Research of Teaching Effectiveness sound interesting. Learning to solve problems in the education field will set up students to work in a variety of settings, from schools to educational companies.

The Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration is geared toward individuals looking to work in colleges or non-profits as well as toward current university staff members who want to advance their careers. Meanwhile, the Ed.D. in Educational Administration is more appropriate for those looking to become executive district leaders in the K-12 school district, such as superintendents. This program also fulfills the requirements for district-level administrative licensure.
university of kansas

Ohio State University – Main Campus

  • Ed.D. in Educational Studies, Educational Administration
  • Ed.D. in Educational Studies, Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • Ed.D. in Kinesiology, Physical Education

The Department of Educational Studies at Ohio State University has multiple top-10 ranked graduate programs and offers two Ed.D. tracks. As the name implies, the Ed.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs prepares students for leadership roles in those very things.

Professionals should gain the skills needed to reform organizations, improve learning, and evaluate others’ teaching. Likely career paths include Vice President for Student Affairs or Dean of Students, though graduates can also lead non-profits. Choose from unique course offerings like Impact of College on Students or Admission and Retention of College Students.

University of Virginia

  • Ed.D. in Administration and Supervision
  • Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction – Reading Education
  • Ed.D. in Higher Education

It is no wonder U.S. News and World Report ranks Curry School of Education as one of the 20 best graduate education schools in the country. With small cohorts and classes primarily held only two full days a month, the Ed.D. in Administration and Supervision is an ideal setup for the working professional looking to finish a degree within four years. Classes include Designing Learning Environments and Optimizing Human Capital in an Organization.

The three-year Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, which is available online, is personalized according to candidates’ knowledge and interests. Covering K-16 education, this program also appeals to those interested in non-profit and philanthropy work. The focused Reading Education track speaks to students interested in tertiary positions in literacy or K-12 intervention.

Arizona State University

  • Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation

With both on-campus and online formats, Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College gives students the flexibility needed to complete their Doctorate of Education. Both formats offer similar structure and coursework. They are also cohort-based, with students choosing one of three focus areas: PK-12 Change Leadership; Higher Education Change Leadership; or Systems, Professional and Reimagined Change Leadership.

arizona state university

University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh Campus

  • Ed.D. in Education Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Health and Physical Activity
  • Ed.D. in Higher Education Management
  • Ed.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture
  • Ed.D. in Out-of-School Learning
  • Ed.D. in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education
  • Ed.D. in Special Education (additional concentrations available)
  • Ed.D. in STEM

The Ed.D. program at Pitt boasts eight concentrations: Education Leadership; Health and Physical Activity; Higher Education Management; Language, Literacy, and Culture; Out-of-School Learning; STEM; Social and Comparative Analysis in Education; and Special Education. Special education is a school speciality, with enrollees able to specialize in areas like blindness, behavioral disorders, and early intervention.

The Ed.D. is a three-year curriculum, with successful applicants joining a cohort in their concentration. After a one-day orientation, it really kicks off with a one-week intensive on campus. The remainder of courses are mostly online, with students asked to come to Pitt about once a month for required seminars.

Only 12 of 60 credits are dedicated to the concentration; the curriculum is instead centered around eight core courses that give the program an interdisciplinary feel. The last year is devoted entirely to a guided practicum. The school doesn’t require GRE scores for admission.

University of Pennsylvania

  • Ed.D. in Chief Learning Officer
  • Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
  • Ed.D. in Educational Linguistics
  • Ed.D. in Higher Education
  • Ed.D. in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education
  • Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education Management
  • Mid-Career Ed.D. in Educational

With so many options to choose from, everyone can find what they need at Penn’s Graduate School of Education. An Ed.D. in Educational Leadership takes students on a journey of American education, demonstrating how to seek transformation in the education system. An Ed.D. in Educational Linguistics suits early to mid-career language educators interested in courses such as Citizen Sociolinguistics.

Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Ed.D. in Adult Learning and Leadership
  • Ed.D. in College Teaching of English
  • Ed.D. in Curriculum and Teaching – Curriculum Studies
  • Ed.D. in Early Childhood Education
  • Ed.D. in International Educational Development
  • Ph.D. in Education Policy
  • Ed.D. in Literacy Education
  • Ed.D. in Nursing Education (online)
  • Ed.D. in Urban Education

When all the concentrations are taken into account, Columbia runs 70+ doctor of education programs, easily surpassing the other schools on our list. If you can dream it, you can probably find it here, with everything from an Ed.D. in Anthropology and Education to an Ed.D. in Applied Exercise Physiology.

Important information
Doctoral degree programs in educational leadership are available from some of the premiere schools in the country. Educational leadership programs are available at top universities that have been ranked by U.S. News and World Report. These programs typically award a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Programs often have concentrations in kindergarten through 12th grade or higher education. Class topics can include school law, policy, finance, budgeting, community relations, and curriculum development.

educational leadership doctoral program

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are the frequently asked questions related to educational leadership doctoral program.

1. What is the difference between an ED D and a PhD in education?

A Doctor of Education (EdD) is a professional degree designed for practitioners pursuing educational leadership roles. A PhD in education, on the other hand, is designed to prepare graduates for research and teaching roles.

2. Which is better PhD or EdD?

A PhD in Education is decidedly more research-heavy. A majority of your study will include, but is not limited to investigating theory and research methodologies. By contrast, EdD programs include the application of your research. Much of your time will be spent using your knowledge to solve professional challenges.

3. Can you teach college with an EdD?

Yes, Earning a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree qualifies graduates to teach at the postsecondary level, at both two- and four-year colleges and universities. Note: Many institutions also hire adjunct professors, instructors, and lecturers to teach both on-campus and online courses.

4. Is someone with an ED D called Doctor?

An EdD, or Doctor of Education, is a professional doctorate best suited for experienced educators and mid- to senior-level working professionals who want to lead and implement change within their organization.

5. Is a doctorate in education worth the time and cost?

It depends what you want to do with it. If you intend to teach public school (k-12), it’s practically worthless. Many public school jurisdictions don’t recognize a Phd on their salary grids. So, spending the time and money to earn a Phd won’t translate into higher pay. A masters is often recognized on the grid though.

At the college or vocational level, a masters degree is usually the highest level of education required to teach in a subject area. That said, I have 2 bachelors degrees and have been teaching at the college level for 5 years.

6. Will an EdD in Educational leadership in Higher education help get teaching job in universityor help to become department head in a university?

The degree can be utilized for both teaching and as an entry level for the middle or advanced career in higher ed. administration. While a doctorate degree in education (Ed.D.), is conventionally geared toward obtaining jobs in administration (some even compare Ed.D. degrees in education field to be what MBA degrees are in business), individuals can obtain teaching positions in education programs. For example, they can teach at a university that has education department and offers degrees in education. It depends on the individual’s experience.

7. What is the best way to get leadership experience in higher education administration?

The best way from my knowledge is to “work your way up” the organization. I have seen individuals start by serving on several university committees. Also, you may have to apply for lower-level administrative positions (Asst. VPs, Asst. Residence Life Coordinators, etc.). On the academic side, start by becoming a chair of the department or area in which you serve. This steps could lead to Vice Presidencies, Deans, or other top tier positions.


The Educational Leadership Doctoral Program requires completion of a minimum of 60 semester hours with a maximum of 9 hours from regionally accredited graduate programs applied in transfer by petition and upon approval of the Ed.D. Program Director. The degree program begins a new cohort each June on the Jackson campus and is delivered in a combination of campus, blended online/campus, and fully online courses
to ensure service to a national community. Its goals include the university’s guiding principles of academic excellence, Christian values, development of the whole person, and
future-driven scholastic agendas.

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