Jul 19, 2024  
2022/2023 University Catalog 
2022/2023 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Educational Leadership, PreK-12 School Leadership Concentration, Ed.D.

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(Major Code: 08272) (SIMS Code: 331931)



Admission to the Degree Curriculum

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in educational leadership prepares leaders capable of initiating change and creating diverse educational institutions for the region’s P-14 student population. It is designed as a professional degree for PreK-12 school and community college/postsecondary leaders who will develop advanced leadership and research skills related to their own institutional settings. The program is committed to developing reflective leaders and change agents for complex educational organizations in diverse multicultural settings. Emphasizing theory, research, and practice, the program provides an opportunity for candidates to work in learning communities with faculty and practitioners to develop a deeper understanding of themselves as educational leaders and to develop the knowledge and skills needed to improve student learning. The program is offered through the Department of Educational Leadership and the Department of Administration, Rehabilitation and Postsecondary Education. There are two concentrations: PreK-12 school leadership and community college/postsecondary leadership.

A cohort of students will be admitted by May for classes starting in the fall semester.

In addition to meeting the general admission requirements, students must be recommended for admission by the program’s graduate admissions committee on the basis of standards of excellence as evidenced in the following materials:

  1. An earned baccalaureate degree and master’s degree or equivalent from accredited institutions of higher education with a cumulative GPA in upper division and/or graduate study of 3.0 or above;
  2. Sufficient preparation and experience pertinent to educational leadership to benefit from the program;
  3. Demonstrated leadership potential and skills including successful experience in schools, postsecondary education, community colleges, related fields and/or policy leadership;
  4. Demonstrated academic excellence, problem-solving ability, and an interest in critically assessing and bringing about improvements within current educational policies and practices;
  5. Three confidential letters of support attesting to the leadership ability and scholarship of the candidate;
  6. Written statement of purpose reflecting understanding of the challenges facing the public schools or community colleges/ institutions of higher education in California;
  7. Curriculum vitae or resume;
  8. Examples of professional and/or academic writings;
  9. Statement of support for the candidate’s doctoral studies from her/his employer or, in the cases where this is not provided, an indication of the candidate’s plan for meeting the demands of the program and his/her professional responsibilities;
  10. Personal interview with the Admissions and Standards Committee including a written response to a prompt provided by the committee.

Meeting the minimum requirements qualifies an individual for consideration, but does not guarantee admission to the program. Admission will be granted on a competitive basis.

Advancement to Candidacy

The written qualifying examination will occur at the end of the fourth semester in the program. The examination will cover the three areas of the program: (a) leadership core courses, (b) research methodology courses, and (c) concentration courses completed up to that time. The structure of the examination will be developed by the executive committee and administered by the program directors. In order to be eligible to participate in the portfolio defense (qualifying examination), a student must have completed all prior program coursework with a grade of B or better.

Once the doctoral student successfully completes the qualifying examination and has successfully completed all required courses at that stage in the program, the doctoral student will be advanced to candidacy.


(6-12 Units)

Designed to be Completed in Three Calendar Years

The program is designed to be completed in three calendar years including summer sessions. Classes are held during the late weekday afternoons/evenings, on weekends, and during the summer to accommodate the schedules of working adults. Some classes include a blend of in-class and distance learning technologies.


All doctoral students will complete a rigorous research-based dissertation integrating theory and research in the study of educational practice. The dissertation will include the results of the doctoral student’s independent research and will typically focus on an examination of (a) an educational issue, (b) a practice or program, (c) an educational policy, reform, or improvement, or (d) implementation studies within an educational organizational. Most dissertations will be studies undertaken in the local context, having the potential to contribute to solutions of educational problems. Dissertations will use a range of qualitative and quantitative research and evaluation methods. The dissertation will present the results of the doctoral student’s independent investigation in a manner that contributes both to professional knowledge in education and to the improvement of educational practice.

The primary goal of the dissertation is to generate knowledge that contributes to the understanding of educational practices, policies, reforms or improvements. Doctoral students who have not completed their dissertation after 12 semester units, must maintain continuous enrollment in the university by registering for at least one unit per semester.

Final Examination (Oral)

The dissertation committee, consisting of two university faculty and at least one community member, will conduct a final oral examination during which the doctoral student defends the dissertation. The dissertation defense will address the theoretical and conceptual background, relevant literature, data collection techniques, data analysis strategies, and results and implications concerning the question(s) studied.

Additional Requirements

Doctoral students who have not earned the professional administrative credential will be able to do so while enrolled in the Ed.D. program. PreK-12 doctoral students must complete additional practicum activities to demonstrate their competence in each of the principles of administrative practice specified by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Students within the PreK-12 concentration are expected to complete an internship as part of their concentration. The internship (3 units) will typically occur at the end of the doctoral student’s coursework and will be congruent with the doctoral student’s professional goals.

Performance Expectations

Doctoral students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to be in good standing. Doctoral students who have a grade point average below 3.0 in two successive terms will be disqualified from the program. They must meet all the requirements of graduate doctoral students outlined in the Graduate Bulletin. In addition, doctoral students who are enrolled in the professional administrative credential must meet the standards set forth in the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing approved program documents submitted by SDSU.

Doctoral students who fail to make satisfactory academic progress may be officially disqualified from the university in writing after consultation with the executive committee. A doctoral student may be disqualified because of unsatisfactory academic progress only after a careful review and written recommendation by the Ed.D. program faculty. To ensure that a decision to disqualify a doctoral student from the program is just, basic due process requirements will be met, including an opportunity for appeal by the doctoral student following the guidelines in the Graduate Bulletin. A doctoral student who has been disqualified is considered to have been terminated from the university and will not be allowed to continue in the program, enroll in courses, or register again without readmission.


The following faculty are available for teaching and serving on doctoral committees:

Administration, Rehabilitation and Postsecondary Education: Bresciani Ludvik, Degeneffe, Hampton, Harris, Sax
Educational Leadership: Fisher, Frey, Johnson, Marshall, Park, Pumpian, Wright

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