Educational Leadership - Ed.D.

The Educational Leadership Ed.D. program has established itself as a prominent preparation program for educational leaders. With its focus on preparing graduates who can think, learn and perform as educational leaders, the program exemplifies the university's mission of blending academic and work-based learning for career advancement. The doctoral program's particular focus is on the creation and use of knowledge to impact education practice.

The program emphasizes the preparation of educators who aspire to advance to leadership positions in their respective fields. To do so, these educators must keep abreast of developments and current practices in their fields, keep current in their knowledge, embrace contemporary practices, and develop and maintain the skills to recognize, evaluate and lead change. 

Program outcomes are designed so that graduates develop skills and dispositions in leadership, collaboration, communication, research, critical thinking, problem solving and technology.

Upon completion of the program, graduates are expected to:

  • Define problems, not just recognize symptoms, to ask the right questions, to think beyond the obvious, to develop and test several alternatives, and choose the option that maximizes the results.
  • Utilize existing research, data and appropriate research methodology to develop and test alternative solutions, and to choose the best course of action.
  • Communicate appropriately to individuals and groups of various sizes orally and in writing in order to teach students, to persuade others, to mediate disputes and to build convincing cases.
  • Structure educational environments in which leadership roles and responsibilities are shared; in which the mission, goals and work are determined collaboratively; in which evidence overrides opinion, tradition and bias; in which decisions are made in a timely manner and communicated efficiently; and in which others are motivated to do more than they thought they could.
  • Think beyond common constraints, to take calculated risks and to advocate stretched goals in order to bring fresh perspectives to educational issues and problems and to open the way for new and potential promising solutions.
  • Articulate a vision for technology utilization in order to model and promote effective uses; to support teaching and learning; to improve management functions; to provide forward-thinking leadership and management to continuously improve organizations; and to facilitate better understanding of social, ethical and legal issues and responsibilities related to a digital age culture.
  • Recognize and take into account the ethical and legal dimension of potential actions, to practice and promote social awareness and ethical behavior, and to encourage others to do the same.
  • Exercise leadership to address the pressing issues of social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion in order to close achievement gaps for underrepresented populations.

Cohort Structure

The cohort structure is essential to the philosophy of the program. Students enter and progress through courses as a group, fostering a team approach to studying and solving educational problems, and interpreting and disseminating the results of such study. An important outcome of the program is to establish, over time, a true network of working scholars who can examine, critique, support and complement one another's educational practice.


Faculty use a variety of instructional methods with an emphasis on experiential, collaborative, project-based and interactive techniques. Instructional technology is used to design an innovative learning experience and serve as a model for what tomorrow's educational leaders will use in their schools and agencies. Following a published weekend schedule, synchronous class meetings are augmented by asynchronous learning opportunities designed to address the needs of adult learners and busy professionals.

Principal Residency Network (PRN)

Upon successful admission to the PRN and the JWU doctoral program, aspiring principals are able to earn credit toward the doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at JWU through successful completion of the PRN program.

Program Requirements

To satisfy program requirements, each student must successfully

  1. complete 60 credit hours (48 hours of coursework and 12 hours of dissertation work, which forms the basis for the dissertation);
  2. maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25;
  3. maintain continuous enrollment, even during dissertation work;
  4. successfully complete the comprehensive assessment;
  5. submit a dissertation proposal within 18 months of completion of coursework; and
  6. complete all program requirements within six academic years from the initial date of matriculation.
    (Note: For a valid reason, the Educational Leadership program director may extend deadlines.)

All communication to students from the university will be conducted through the university email system, and students are required to use and check this account on a regular basis.

A student becomes an official candidate for the degree upon successfully completing all courses and passing the Comprehensive Assessment.

Comprehensive Assessment

The comprehensive assessment is scheduled after coursework is completed. The purpose of this authentic assessment is to determine whether a student has mastered the knowledge and developed the skills required in the Educational Leadership Program competencies, and is thus ready to undertake dissertation work. The assessment is a required exercise designed to support students in preparation for their dissertation work. A passing score is required to move into the proposal/dissertation phase of the program.

Doctoral Dissertation I and II

Upon the completion of coursework, students are required to register for EDUC9005 Doctoral Dissertation I in the fall and EDUC9010 Doctoral Dissertation II in the spring to support the dissertation development.  With the guidance of faculty, students will submit a dissertation proposal.  Detailed procedures and expectations for the entire research/defense phase of the program appear in the Educational Leadership Program Guide and Dissertation Handbook. This research must focus on a practical and significant problem or issue that can be resolved effectively. The proposal undergoes a rigorous review by the major advisor/committee, external reviewer, and, if needed, the Institutional Research Board (IRB) before moving into the data collection phase of the dissertation work.

Students are required to submit a dissertation that demonstrates they have acquired the technical and professional competencies associated with educational leadership and the ability to conduct research. The dissertation identifies an issue of concern, reports on the existing body of knowledge, and presents significant research that adds to the field.

To expedite the process of completing the dissertation, students receive close, ongoing faculty supervision. The Educational Leadership Program Guide and Dissertation Handbook describes the process in detail.

Students who do not complete the dissertation in the year following the Comprehensive Assessment and completion of EDUC9005 Doctoral Dissertation I and EDUC9010 Doctoral Dissertation II will be automatically scheduled for EDUC9011 Doctoral Dissertation Advisement. This continuation requires a Dissertation Advisement Fee every eight weeks (during the fall, spring and summer semesters) until successful defense of the dissertation or end of time allotted for degree completion.

Students scheduling the dissertation defense while enrolled in EDUC9011 Doctoral Dissertation Advisement will continue to be enrolled and charged appropriate tuition until the grade change process is submitted and complete. 

Doctoral Program Courses

Instruction is scheduled in a sequence of courses addressing significant areas of educational leadership. Most students will complete their coursework in years one and two and their dissertation in year three.

Elementary-Secondary Education 

Core Courses
EDUC7004Research I6
EDUC7011Strategy & Change in Elementary and Secondary Education6
EDUC7032Organizational Theory, Behavior, and Development in Elementary and Secondary Education6
EDUC7035Teaching and Learning in Elementary and Secondary Education6
EDUC8004Research II6
EDUC8017Strategic Fiscal Leadership in Elementary and Secondary Education6
EDUC8095Leadership in Elementary and Secondary Education6
EDUC8120Family and Community Engagement in Elementary and Secondary Education3
EDUC8240Law and Policy in Elementary and Secondary Education3
EDUC9005Doctoral Dissertation I6
EDUC9010Doctoral Dissertation II6
Total Credits60.0

Higher Education

Core Courses
EDUC7004Research I6
EDUC7021Nature of Higher Education6
EDUC7030The Transformative Learning Environment in Higher Education6
EDUC7031Organizational Theory and Behavior in Higher Education6
EDUC8004Research II6
EDUC8016Resource Planning and Management in Higher Education6
EDUC8090Leadership in Higher Education6
EDUC8150The Contemporary College Student3
EDUC8270Law and Policy in Higher Education3
EDUC9005Doctoral Dissertation I6
EDUC9010Doctoral Dissertation II6
Total Credits60.0

All program requirements must be completed within six years. Students who do not complete the dissertation in the prescribed time will be automatically scheduled for EDUC9011 Dissertation Advisement. This continuation requires a Dissertation Advisement Fee (charged every eight weeks during each fall, spring and summer semester) until successful defense of the dissertation or end of time allotted.