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Curriculum | Doctor of Educational Leadership

The Ed.D. program was designed with student success in mind. The program is practitioner-based and designed to focus on meeting the needs of professional adults who work in a variety of social sectors. The program's required 48 credits are focused on foundations, research and scholarly writing. The 12 credits of elective specialization will be chosen from a variety of coursework, including master's level and graduate certificates.

Phase 1: Foundations – years 1 and 2

Phase 1 focuses on building learners' skills in understanding major research ideas, issues, trends in leadership, equity, learning science, education, technology and other social trends. Students will work early to consider ideas for their problem of practice topics.

Phase 2: Dissertation in Practice (DIP) Focus – years 3 and 4

Students continue with scholarly learning communities (SLC) with seminars focused on students' dissertation/problem of practice. Students complete elective and research courses.

Concentration options

Students will choose a 12-credit elective concentration to meet their professional and personal goals. The concentrations are created from certificates or individual courses across programs and schools.

  • Certificate in Culturally Responsive Practice
  • Certificate in Computer Science Education
  • Certificate in Educational Technology
  • Certificate in Literacy Instruction
  • Certificate in Special Education
  • Certificate in Chemistry
  • Certificate in Project Management
  • Certificate in Applied Data Analytics
  • Certificate in Health Informatics
  • Courses offered by MBA in Leadership and Change
  • Courses offered by the Master of Education and graduate certificates

Course descriptions

All courses are three credits. Here are samples of course titles and descriptions:

Foundations for Equitable Leadership: Examines the roles of leadership, positionality and stakeholders. Provides an opportunity for students to explore the constructs, implications and responsibilities of the professional doctorate. Students will be introduced to "problems of practice" and will explore social justice and equity in their setting for research considerations.

Equity and Social Justice in Action: Examines the role educational leaders play in shaping policy and practice to support equity and social justice in their spheres of influence. Students evaluate systemic problems within particular communities related to inequity and propose solutions for social organizations. Provides students with an ability to partner with communities to support the advancement of equity initiatives and examine and evaluate their impact on individuals and organizations.

Educational Philosophy, Learning Theory and Contemporary Learning Science: Explores the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of education while focusing on current educational research and brain science related to teaching and learning. Throughout the course, students will examine systems (as outcomes of particular philosophies and learning theories) that have caused inequities in educational contexts.

Leadership for Social Change: Considers leadership change theories, logical models for change and theories of action. Leverages systems theories as a context for leadership that seeks social change. Examines a leader's role in supporting inclusive innovation through a human-centered approach.

Individualized Internship Experience: Provides an opportunity for students to design and participate in an individualized experiential learning opportunity aligned with the student's professional and research goals. Students will work with a faculty advisor to identify a setting and mentor, as well as create goals and an action plan. Provides students with an opportunity to research and design solutions aligned with their problem of practices.

Systems Thinking and Innovation for Social Sector Organizations: Examines systems thinking as an approach to understanding the complex issues and variables that impact social sector organizations. Provides students with an opportunity to examine and apply tested approaches such as "Design Thinking" to support inclusive, innovative solutions in organizational settings. Students will consider the application of these approaches in order to understand and apply continuous cycles of improvement for improved practice.

Technology for Impact: Trends, Policies and Practice: Examines the digital landscape and trends and their impact on organizations and communities. Provides opportunities for effective digital policies and practices to support effective communication, marketing and learning integration. Examines critical issues that impact strategies for supporting effective change and innovation through research and tested approaches such as the "Diffusions of Innovations Theory."

Research – 15 credits

Research Course A: This introductory research course examines the process of inquiry in practice. Students pose relevant questions about complex problems of practice in collaboration with stakeholders designing innovative solutions. Using a lens of social justice and equity, students will explore and examine research methodology including quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods and critical theory.

Research Course B: Building on Research A, students apply research methodology and theory to practice and analysis. Students will focus on pragmatic facets of data collection within selected research paradigms and begin aligning methodology with a particular problem of practice.

Research Course C: Prepares students to employ strategies from previous research courses in a specific context. This includes Institutional Review Board application(s), pilot-testing instruments, developing strategic institutional and community partnerships and making final adjustments to problems of practice language.

Research Course D: Prepares students to collect and analyze data. Students will examine coding and analysis techniques to organize and synthesize information and best-practices for communicating findings with stakeholders. Students will author critical elements and generate solutions for their problems of practice.

Research Course E: In this final research course, students will participate in ongoing consultation with their capstone advisor and complete a review of the data as well as author a discussion and conclusion related to their problem of practice and the related research findings.

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