Program Overview

Students in the doctoral program must successfully complete three program milestones
to be awarded the educational doctorate.

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Year 1 in Brief

In year 1 you will be introduced to the big issues in education and educational leadership, sociocultural theories in education, and research methods. Students attend classes every other weekend for a full day Saturday and half day Sunday. At the end of the second semester, students submit the first program milestone - the Qualifying Exam (QE) a written assignment in which students demonstrate their ability to identify and describe a problem of practice, critically evaluate empirical and theoretical literature, and situate themselves as researchers.

Students have two opportunities to pass the QE and must do so in order to advance into the second year of the program. 

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Year 2 in Brief

Students begin the second year in the summer, attending four full-day weekend sessions on alternate weekends.  Summer courses may be hybrid--containing face-to-face and virtual components. During year 2, students study education policy, budgeting and administration, program evaluation, theories of learning and instructional leadership, and advanced leadership strategies. Students continue to read the literature and to narrow and frame their interests regarding the dissertation study and in the summer and fall--work with the faculty and staff to begin the search for their dissertation chair. The student and chair work together to continue to refine the topic and develop a research proposal. Students work closely with dissertation chair to select the remaining two members of their dissertation committee. By the end of the second year (April - August), students should have passed the second program milestone - the Dissertation Proposal Defense. Once the student has successfully defended the dissertation proposal before their committee and the study has been approved by the Graduate Studies Division and Institutional Review Board, students advance as doctoral candidates and may begin their research.

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Year 3 in Brief

Year 3 of the program is designed to provide continued support and guidance in the conduct of dissertation research and the writing of the dissertation. Students attend class one half day on alternate weekends, meeting with faculty and their cohort to work through issues of data collection, analysis, and writing. Working closely with their chair, students complete their dissertation work which culminates in the third program milestone - the Dissertation Defense. This meeting with the student's dissertation committee is an opportunity to present and defend the research and findings. Once the committee is satisfied with the quality of the dissertation, students will have satisfied the requirements for graduation with the Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership. The student cohort participates in the program's Recognition Ceremony in May and may also participate in the university commencement.

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