Educational Leadership

Ph.D. Program in Educational Studies: Educational Leadership Specialization

Educational Leadership in a democratic society involves creative intelligence, an understanding of other fields and disciplines that influence education, systems thinking, strategic planning, cultural responsiveness, trust building, and skillful facilitation of collaborative efforts. These characteristics are reflected in the mission of the Educational Leadership Ph.D. specialization:

Inspiring imagination, combining theory and practice and nurturing practitioner-scholars to reflect, construct new knowledge, be courageous, redefine leadership, and redesign schools

The Educational Leadership specialization is designed to develop school leaders with the knowledge, skills and commitments to initiate, facilitate, support and sustain the school wide or district wide improvement of teaching, learning, leading, and the conditions in which they occur. The Educational Leadership specialization concentrates on building the capacity of individuals, regardless of their positions or roles, and invites both traditional educational leaders (e.g. superintendents, assistant superintendents, directors, principals) as well as others who may not serve in a strictly administrative role (e.g. instructional coaches, team leaders, department heads or any teacher formally or informally spearheading change) to apply. The Educational Leadership specialization is a cohort program. The combination of different roles, range of experiences and diverse perspectives represented by cohort members enriches the program and all those who are a part of it.

The Educational Leadership specialization accommodates the lives of working professionals. Students meet as a cohort in three nine-day summer residencies and attend weekend face-to-face classes over the three year duration of the program. Early in the program students are assigned advisors. Students meet with their advisors on a regular basis during all semesters. Additional support and feedback for assignments and other course requirements as well as student networking are provided through online technology. The program faculty work closely together and are committed to promoting a scholarly community that informs and sustains the academic work of cohort members as well as the professional responsibilities participants have in their own schools and school districts. The program culminates in the writing and subsequent defense of the dissertation. Courses and course assignments designed to achieve the program outcomes have been guided by the following essential questions:

  • What are the scholarly activities and leadership practices necessary to achieve the program outcomes?
  • What is the purpose of schools in a democratic society?
  • What are the contextual factors and disciplines that influence teaching learning, leading and the conditions in which they occur?
  • What are the design features of schools in which all students learn at high levels?
  • What are the conceptual frameworks and processes used to lead school wide or district wide change?


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