Arizona State University
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CPED-Influenced Program: EdD in Leadership and Innovation

Key Contact Person: 
Craig Mertler, Primary Investigator

Program Description: 

The EdD in Leadership and Innovation is a 3-year program open to students who have a master's degree in education or a closely related field. It is a cohort program designed to equip PreK-20 educators to be scholarly and influential practitioners with the dispositions and skills to implement innovations, lead change and examine the impact of these on the workplace. Courses and signature pedagogies are designed to meet the needs of working professionals by integrating classes and using face-to-face and online learning, embedding leader scholar communities (LSCs), requiring ongoing performance in Doctoral Research Forums, and culminating in an Action Research Dissertation.

Stage in Redesign Process:  Experienced with Graduates
Signature Pedagogy: 

Communities of Practice: The program emphasizes the ethos of a Community of Practice. All candidates contribute to the success of others in the program, drawing on mutual strengths, assisting in areas of need, and preparing for professional practice that depends on collaboration to reach its goals.

Action Research: Candidates learn to conduct research by carrying out increasingly more sophisticated studies in their workplaces. They address authentic problems and needs through innovation and action that is informed by scholarship. The research is embedded in coursework, supported through the community of practice, and culminates in the action research dissertation. An emphasis is on increasing independence and confidence in the conduct of research in action.

Laboratories of Practice: 

Students' laboratories of practice are their workplaces. The focus of this program is to produce leaders who will improve practice at their workplace through innovation. Students conduct cycles of action research in their workplaces as part of their coursework, beginning in the first semester.


12 credits (2*6)—Action Research Dissertation

The action research doctoral dissertation is the capstone experience of ASU's EdD in Leadership and Innovation. Like this doctoral program itself, the action research dissertation is innovative and different from traditional PhD and EdD dissertations. In this program, the dissertation study is the last of a series of action research studies conducted by the candidate. The action research doctoral dissertation is distinctive because of its interrelated purposes:

  • The purpose of a doctoral candidate’s action is to make a positive difference in a local education setting in which the candidate currently is serving.
  • The purpose of a candidate’s action research is to investigate the action systematically and methodically through a form of disciplined inquiry.
  • The purpose of a candidate’s action research dissertation is to report the results of the investigation of the action to an external audience.

In general, the purpose of the action research dissertation is to report the consequences of a particular educational intervention. The purpose is not to fill gaps in the knowledge base of a scholarly discipline or to generate generalizable knowledge.

Description of each year of the Program: 

The EdD in Leadership and Innovation requires 90 credit hours (including a Masters degree and 60 credit hours post-Masters), an Action Research Dissertation, and an Oral Comprehensive Exam.

See attached for sequence of courses.

  • Professional core (12)
  • Research core (9)
  • Electives (18)
  • Participation in leader scholar communities (6)
  • Directed Field Studies (3)
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Dissertation (12)
Sample Syllabi for Courses:




Program Milestones

Doctoral Research Forum: At the end of each semester candidates from the three cohorts come together with PhD students from the university's other two doctoral programs to participate in the biannual Doctoral Research Forum during which they engage in poster sessions, roundtable discussions, and symposia presentations. 

These are opportunities for significant intellectual exchanges between and among all college doctoral students, all college faculty, members of students dissertation committees, alumni, and community leaders and members.

Proposal Defense and Oral Comprehensive Examination: In the fourth semester of the program EdD candidates are examined on their written dissertation proposal (including its content, rationale, implementation plan, and research plan), and their knowledge and understanding of the Professional Core, Research Core, and Advanced Professional Studies, especially as this knowledge applies to their proposed dissertation study.

The Doctoral Dissertation is an applied inquiry project that addresses a major issue the candidates face in their educational setting. The dissertation exemplifies Research in Action with the candidate being both the actor (leader of action) and the researcher.

The completed Dissertation includes: a targeted review and synthesis of relevant literature; an initiative, selected on the basis of published research that is meant to address the identified problem; a research design that includes the collection of data, scheme of analysis, and framework for assessing the effects of the proposed action project; an analysis of data collected; a presentation of results and conclusions; and a discussion of the implications of findings for policy, practice, and research, as well as a discussion of the leadership lessons learned.

The public defense of the dissertation consists of an oral presentation followed by questions from the candidate’s doctoral dissertation committee.

Program Handbook:  2014_edd_handbook.docx
Admission Requirements:
  • All requirements as per ASU Graduate Education.
  • A master's degree in education or a related field from a regionally accredited institution.
  • A personal statement
  • Three letters from professional references.
  • A current resume.
  • A sample of professional writing.
  • No GRE or other test is required.
  • An EdD admissions committee rates applicants according to applicants' professional attributes, goals, accomplishments, and academic writing.

General Information:

  • Program Delivery: On Campus
  • Average number of students admitted into the EdD program each year: 20-25
  • Types of employoment students hold upon entering the program: teachers, principals, superintendents, higher education administrators, organizational leaders, community-based educators
  • Student : Faculty Ratio (Courses):  2 Faculty: 20-25 Students
  • Student : Faculty Ratio (Advising):  1 Faculty: 5-7 Students
  • Typical bachelors degrees held by students upon entering the program:  education
  • Typical masters degrees held by students upon entering the program: education
  • Number of credits in the program (beyond the Masters):  60 credit hours post-Masters
  • Professional qualifications required of prospective students: A sphere of influence and educational problem they want to solve
  • Length of Program: Less than 4 years
  • Percentage of students that graduate on time: 85%
  • Are most students part time or full time?: part time
  • Admissions Cycle: Every year; admissions decisions are made by March and students begin coursework in the summer following
  • What competencies and/or attributes best characterize graduates of your program?: Leadership, Change Agents, Innovators
  • Financial aid available to students: Block grant to top 3 admits typically covers tuition
  • Average number of students enrolled in each cohort: 20-25
  • Total number of faculty: 16-20
  • Graduation Rate: 90%
  • Attrition Rate: 10%
    Types of Dissertation in Practice: Quantitative: 30%-50%  Qualitative: 50-70%  Mixed Methods: 80-100%
  • How do students use their DiP following graduation?: We are in the process of investigating this.
  • What is the impact or potential impact on the field?  We are in the process of investigating this.
  • Is there a set of core courses? What do they consist of?: Yes. Research methods and a professional core (e.g., leadership, organizational change, theory-based change)
  • What is the research sequence?  Mixed methods - beginning, intermediate, advanced (for practitioners)
  • What other content courses are included in the program?: 5 electives



Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED)
Headquartered @ The University of Pittsburgh School of Education
5522 Posvar Hall - 230 S. Bouquet Street - Pittsburgh, PA 15260   +1 (412) 648-7428