Print this page


Educational Leadership, Ph.D.

Minimum Totals for Graduation: 66 hours

The Ph.D. degree in Educational Leadership is designed to provide in-depth knowledge and skills to educational leaders who seek to develop and refine their knowledge and skills to help transform through practice. The centerpiece of the Ph.D. curriculum is a personal transformation to a critical understanding of knowledge and the way it is conveyed. The purpose of the program is to develop a critical understanding of knowledge claims, culture and policy; to be able to engage effectively with multiple perspectives; and to work toward social change and social justice. It is intended for individuals focused on careers in higher education and K-12 administration, including faculty roles, post-secondary schools, and administration of institutions, policy, research centers, community educational institutions and agencies. Students entering the Ph.D. program, who have an earned Specialist in Education degree in Educational Leadership from an approved institution, may receive up to a maximum of 27 credits toward the degree. Remaining Ph.D. requirements must be completed at Central Michigan University.

Admission Requirements; Retention & Termination Standards

Admission Requirement Snapshot

Master's GPA: 3.5

Entrance Exam: GRE

Priority Application Deadline: Jan. 15

(for international students, fellowships, and assistantships)

Regular Application Deadline: April 1 (Fall only)

See Admission Requirement Details Below


In order to be considered for admission to the program, an applicant must have completed a master's degree with a minimum graduate grade point average of 3.5 and the Graduate Record Exam.

Review of complete application begins April 1 and continues until the cohort is filled. A completed application packet will include the following materials:

To the Office of Research and Graduate Studies:

  1. Graduate Application
  2. Application Fee
  3. Official transcript(s) pertaining to all previous undergraduate and graduate coursework

To the Department of Educational Leadership:

  1. Three Recommendations: Use the doctoral Letter of Recommendation Form (found on the department website) and submit recommendations from three individuals familiar with your academic and scholarly work.
  2. Personal Statement: A two- or three-page typewritten statement describing your educational and professional goals as they relate to pursuing the Ph.D. at Central Michigan University.
  3. Two-page reflection on current issues in your area of research.
  4. GRE Score: An official score report from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) earned within the last five years.
  5. TOEFL Score: If your native language is not English, submit an official score report from the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TOEFL is required of all non-native speakers unless they have completed two years of university-level coursework in an English-language institution. TOEFL Exempt countries list:
  6. Current Resume or Curriculum Vita
  7. Signed Declaration of Commitment (found on EDL website)

After reviewing the credentials of the applicants, the Doctoral Program Committee will select candidates to be interviewed. The Doctoral Program Committee will make all decisions regarding admissions, selecting the cohort from those interviewed. The total application package will be evaluated holistically.

Program Requirements

Progress through the program is based upon obtaining satisfactory grades (a 3.25 GPA average overall), passing the Preliminary Progress Assessment (PPA), written and oral comprehensive exams, dissertation concept paper and completing a doctoral dissertation.

Preliminary Progress Assessment

(taken after the completion of first 15 credits)

Ph.D. students are required to complete Preliminary Progress Assessment (PPA) upon completion of their first year in the doctoral program (e.g., upon completion of 15 credits following their matriculation into the doctoral program). The PPA will be scheduled annually in August as students begin their second year of doctoral work. Students will be asked to submit a 10-15 page sample of their written work (e.g., revised class paper, research proposal, conference paper, manuscript for publication), which will be reviewed by at least three faculty members in the department.

Comprehensive Exam

Within one year of completing all coursework (except electives EDL 898, EDL 900, and EDL 901), a Ph.D. student must successfully pass a comprehensive exam. The student’s dissertation committee evaluates the comprehensive exam. The comprehensive examination for the Ph.D. entails developing a research prospectus that includes the following components: an explanation of the research problem, a series of research questions and/or hypotheses, a review of the literature and related theory, and a description of the method. Within a year of passing the comprehensive exam, a Ph.D. student must present a dissertation proposal to their committee.

Program Requirements

Academic Core I (15 hours)

The academic core component includes all of the critical areas of study for future educational leaders: foundations, organizational and leadership analyses, and the issues, which change and dominate over time. The courses are designed to provide students with the underpinnings to understand and to act effectively upon the challenges confronting the educational organization.

EDL 815Ethical Leadership


EDL 820Critical Perspectives of Development Theory


EDL 830Educational Foundations of Philosophy


EDL 860Organizational Theory in Educational Institutions


EDL 890Doctoral Proseminar: Writing and Inquiry


Academic Core II (3 hours)

Select one of the following:

EDL 752Social Justice in Global Studies Education


EDL 816Social Justice in Education


Research Requirements (15 hours)

The research component encompasses both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The competencies to be developed are essential to interpreting and evaluating research studies to be encountered in all course work as well as to completing the dissertation requirement.

EDL 700Educational Research Design


EDL 800Qualitative Research in Educational Leadership


EDL 801Quantitative Analysis in Educational Leadership


EDL 900Advanced Qualitative Analysis in Educational Leadership


EDL 901Advanced Quantitative Analysis in Educational Leadership


Concentrations (18 hours)

There are two concentration areas in the program and students may select a concentration based upon their needs assessment. The specific courses will be determined in consultation between the student and the academic advisor.

Select one of the following:

Concentration 1: K-12 Leadership (18 hours)

EDL 766Advanced Educational Law


EDL 767Public School Finance


EDL 775Educational Policy Analysis


Plus nine hours of electives to be chosen in consultation with program advisor.

Concentration 2: Higher Education Leadership (18 hours)

EDL 768Advanced Higher Education Law


EDL 864Economics and Finance of Higher Education


EDL 876Higher Education Policy


Plus nine hours of electives to be chosen in consultation with program advisor.

Dissertation (15 hours)

Candidates will undertake original research relevant to the program focus. Completion of the dissertation will require a minimum of 15 credits of EDL 898 Dissertation. The course description includes: design and complete the dissertation including data collection, analysis, written report, and oral defense.

EDL 898Dissertation


Total: 66 semester hours