Oct 18, 2021  
2021-22 Graduate Bulletin 
2021-22 Graduate Bulletin

Educational Leadership, Higher Education Leadership Concentration, EdD

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The Doctor of Education in educational leadership is a 100% online, terminal degree offered in a cohort setting by the Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership in the James I. Perkins College of Education. The purpose of this online degree is to provide advanced preparation in educational leadership and a specific focus on the leader as a scholar-practitioner. It is specifically designed to prepare students with advanced knowledge and skills in leadership with topics such as leadership theory and practice; educational research; ethics and philosophy; organizational, system and human dynamics leading change in education; and synthesis applied to public school leadership cultural and societal patterns impacting education. The Doctor of Education in educational leadership has a required concentration that includes 18 hours of coursework in either K-12 leadership or higher education leadership. 


K-12 Leadership Concentration: The K-12 leadership concentration will provide graduates the knowledge and skills to provide leadership and service in K-12 environments. Upon successful completion of the degree, the graduate will be prepared to lead K-12 organizations by engaging in disciplined inquiry and reflective practice, applying theory to educational practice, understanding and practicing ethical and moral responsibilities of leadership, and applying research for school improvement and innovation. 

Higher Education Leadership Concentration:  The higher education leadership concentration will provide graduates the knowledge and skills to leader and serve at institutions of higher education. Upon successful completion of the degree, the graduate will be prepared for leadership or service in areas such as student affairs, enrollment management, development or athletic administration. The graduate will have a broad understanding of the roles, functions and responsibilities of administrators/leaders in university settings, which will enable the leader to use data, policy and research to lead transformative change and innovation within the organization.


Admission to the Doctor of Education in educational leadership program is determined by the educational leadership faculty members within the Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Admission requirements are as follows:

  • Graduate school application
  • Official transcripts, associated fees and completed application
  • 3.5 (4.0 scale) GPA for all completed graduate coursework
  • If not met, the GRE may possibly be used.
  • Completion of a master’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Application to doctoral program (program application
  • Leadership experience
  • Résumé (include reference list of three individuals)
  • Leadership profile (with video)
  • Interview/presentation with faculty

Doctoral Dissertation Research Committee

Upon appointment of the dissertation committee chair, each student will meet with her/his respective chair and begin selection of the dissertation research committee members. The committee will consist of a maximum of five members with no fewer than two doctoral program faculty selected who are representative of the student’s fields of study and research. One member of the committee must be from outside the department and qualify for graduate faculty status. Throughout the student’s program, the committee as a whole and the individual committee members are responsible for advising the student and initiating all academic actions concerning the student. The dissertation research committee will function as a formal research team, guiding the design, development and implementation of the student’s dissertation research study. The committee as a whole and individually will facilitate the student in each step of the dissertation research process. The dissertation committee chair, who will hold primary supervisory responsibility for the student’s research and dissertation, and the final dissertation defense, will work in concert with all members of the committee to affect successful completion of all elements of the student’s program, research and dissertation. The student, with approval of the dissertation committee chair, will be responsible for completing all forms related to the doctoral program and required by the department, college and university. The student, under the supervision of the dissertation committee chair, will meet all requirements for proposing her/his research to the Institutional Review Board for review and approval prior to implementation of the research.

Degree and Grade Requirements

Complete information concerning the requirements for the Doctor of Education in educational leadership may be secured from the handbook of the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program. A summary of the basic requirements follows:

Cohort Membership

The degree program is offered as a cohort design, which precludes self-selection into any required course related to the program of study. All students granted admission to the degree program will be members of a cohort and must complete all coursework as a member of the cohort for which they were admitted in the related academic year of admission. In the event of withdrawal from the cohort program by the student, and upon election by the student to seek reentry to the program, a student will provide a written request for continuance in the degree program that will be reviewed and considered by the doctoral program's faculty members.


Beyond the master’s degree, a student must complete a total of at least 60 semester hours of graduate coursework. This will include work in areas such as leadership, research, philosophy and ethics, policy and politics, change theory, cultural and societal issues, field-oriented internship, and dissertation research.

Additionally, the student must present a dissertation that demonstrates an approved research study in educational leadership or a related area of educational study. The scope and breadth of the program originates from an emphasis on the leader as a scholar-practitioner. A student must complete a minimum of 9 credit hours in dissertation writing. Once enrolled in dissertation hours, the student must continuously enroll in dissertation hours until graduation. 

Grade Requirements

Throughout the program, the student must maintain a 3.0 GPA. If a student receives a C in any class, he or she will be placed on academic probation. Then, the student will be required to repeat the course in which the C was earned during the next semester the course is offered and make a minimum of a B. Should the student earn another C in the program, the student will be dismissed from the program. If a student makes a grade below a C, the student will immediately be dismissed from the program. This includes an “F” in dissertation writing.  

The program will defer to university Policy 5.5, Course Grades, regarding a grade of a WH. There must be unavoidable circumstances for a student to receive a WH, and the student must submit the request in writing using the appropriate paperwork. 

English Proficiency

A candidate for the Doctor of Education with emphasis in educational leadership must demonstrate an acceptable level of verbal and written proficiency with the English language to the satisfaction of the dissertation research committee and doctoral program faculty. Included in this requirement is the criteria that each candidate must satisfy the requirements of scholarly writing as determined by the assessment of the student’s written assignments. In the case of a student (either international or from within the United States) failing to meet the requirements for spoken and written English and scholarly writing, the Doctoral Faculty Council will determine a course of action that may include a separate course in English as a second language, writing and/or successful completion of the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, prior to advancing to candidacy for the Doctor of Education.

Comprehensive Examinations

Prior to advancement to candidacy, the student must demonstrate competence in successful completion of both written and oral comprehensive examinations. Faculty members within the doctoral program consider comprehensive exams as a critical point of consideration for admission to candidacy. The student will take comprehensive exams during the spring semester of the third year. The student must be enrolled at the university the semester completing comprehensive exams. The program coordinator will provide information the semester prior to comprehensive exams. 


Field studies and internships are integral components of the program. Each student will be required to successfully complete an internship experience. The internship experience will be a field-oriented experience related to policy studies, practical inquiry and authentic activities related to educational leadership within the concentration, K-12 or higher education. The student and her/his doctoral advisor and/or professor will work together in the design of each internship experience. The internship experience will be linked to the doctoral studies curriculum and the student’s professional goals. At such time when it is appropriate, the doctoral advisor and doctoral student will contact the field-based entity who will host the interning doctoral student and establish necessary linkages to support the internship. At no time will the student make arrangement for an internship experience prior to the doctoral advisor’s approval.

The doctoral program coordinator and program faculty members will review procedures and requirements for the internship experiences, and the doctoral advisor/professor will have primary responsibility for final approval of the internship experience. The internship proposal will be submitted to the doctoral program coordinator for review. Students must complete the internship in a field-oriented setting prior to admission to candidacy.

Time Limits

There is a time limit for obtaining a doctoral degree of ten years. If a student has not graduated in that time, a petition for extension of the time limit with justification must be sent and approved by the academic dean of that college as well as the dean of the graduate school.

Interim Examinations

Faculty members of the educational leadership doctoral program retain the discretionary right to administer interim, cumulative or other types of examination at any time during the degree program.

Admission to Candidacy

After the student has successfully completed all required coursework filed with the dean of the College of Education and written and oral comprehensive examinations the program coordinator will notify the student of her/his admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Education in educational leadership. Grades of WH or below program expectation present specific consequences for doctoral program students. The grade below program expectation and that of WH could delay or deny the student acceptance to candidacy since completion of all coursework is a requirement for such advancement. The student must have been admitted to candidacy at least one semester before her/his degree is conferred.

Dissertation and Final Defense

Required of every candidate for the Doctor of Education in educational leadership, the dissertation is a significant contribution of research which reflects the beliefs undergirding the degree program of the leader as a scholar-practitioner, responsible and disciplined inquiry in the candidate’s major area of study, and an authentic contribution to scholarship. The minimum number of dissertation hours is 9. The format of the dissertation must be acceptable to the program faculty and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. A dissertation guide will be provided and additional information is on the ORGS website.

While enrolled in a dissertation course, the student will propose and defend the dissertation. The proposal and defense must occur in two different semesters. Also, the student must have been admitted to candidacy at least one semester before the degree is conferred.

By the date set each semester by Graduate Studies and the College of Education as the deadline for defense, the candidate for the Doctor of Education with emphasis in educational leadership must successfully pass the final dissertation defense conducted by the student’s Dissertation Defense Committee. The proposal and defense must not be scheduled until after each committee member has had sufficient time, no less than 10 working days, to examine the dissertation. The final dissertation defense will be limited to the research area of study for which the student has completed her/his research and to the dissertation document submitted for defense. After the final dissertation defense, the Dissertation Defense Committee will complete the Report of the Dissertation Defense.

If the candidate has passed the final dissertation defense, an electronic copy of the dissertation will be presented with the Report of the Final Dissertation Defense to the dean of Research and Graduate Studies. The Report of the Final Dissertation Defense, when signed by the Dissertation Defense Committee, is the committee’s guarantee that the candidate has completed the work assigned by the committee; passed all examinations, defenses, reviews and assessments required by the department, including comprehensive exams; completed a dissertation that is a significant contribution of research that reflects the undergirding foundation of the leader as scholar-practitioner; and submitted for publication in dissertation abstracts an abstract approved by the committee.

It is the student’s responsibility to submit all forms and paperwork associated with the dissertation. This includes paperwork to the library, graduate school and academic dean’s office.

Transfer of Credit on Doctor of Education with Emphasis in Educational Leadership

The degree program requires that each student enter the program with a completed master’s and that each student must complete 60 hours of advanced graduate coursework. Transfer from another university of 12 hours for doctoral elective credit as approved by the doctoral coordinator is available to the student. In order to transfer coursework, the grade transferred must be a A or a B. In all matters pertaining to the degree program, the program faculty will review individual student cases in accordance with the program and Graduate Studies policy and procedures.

Application for the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Application for the Doctor of Education in educational leadership must be filed in the graduation office by the deadline indicated in the current Graduate Bulletin. A student must be formally registered at SFA for the semester or summer session at the end of which the degree is to be conferred. All requirements must be met in order to graduate. 


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