California State University - Sacramento

Name of CPED-Influenced Program: Doctorate in Educational Leadership
Program Description: 

The program aims to meet the needs of working professionals who are engaged in the profession of education. Accordingly, the program incorporates a variety of innovative measures to facilitate student access and success, such as encouraging students to use their job-related problems as topics for research assignments. During the three-year program, students take courses year-round.

During the first two years, students typically take classes on Friday evenings and all day Saturday, every other week. During the third year, students meet less frequently as a cohort and mainly work independently on their doctoral dissertation under the guidance of a faculty committee. Students also do extensive reading and research outside of class meeting times.

The majority of the program classes are held on the campus of California State University, Sacramento. However, sessions are also held with partner institutions in public schools and community colleges to host classes as appropriate.
Program Link:
Stage in Redesign Process: Experienced with Graduates

Signature Pedagogy: 

The Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program is organized as a cohort-based program. Groups of students admitted each year take courses together. This creates several distinct advantages of group membership during graduate study that are intentionally fostered in the program:

  • Cohorts offer support to candidates and provide opportunities for members to learn from one another.
  • Cohorts establish professional ties that often last beyond the doctoral program itself; such networks are valuable in terms of continued professional support and growth.
  • Fostering and monitoring candidates’ progress is enhanced in cohorts. The group carries with it the expectation that all but the occasional candidate will complete the program successfully, including such standard benchmarks as the qualifying examination, advancement to candidacy, and completion of the dissertation.

Scheduling an outstanding program of doctoral study can be accomplished more readily for cohorts that have courses in common. Enrollments are predictable, and a course of study can be planned in advance in relation to the availability of highly-qualified faculty.

Laboratories of Practice: 

Select courses are taught by the region’s preeminent educational leaders. This allows students to hear not only from faculty who are immersed in educational research but also from practitioners who are managing our complex educational systems.


Qualifying exam: at the end of their second year, students sit for the qualifying exam. In-class, students are presented with a case study that they must respond to. They have a choice of either a P-12 case study or a community college case study. The case study is evaluated by faculty based on the program’s seven learning outcomes.

Description of each year of the Program: 

All courses are required.

Year 1:  3 courses in each the fall and spring semesters plus 2 courses in the summer.  All courses are 3 units.

Year 2:  3 courses in the fall (each 3 units), 4 courses in the spring (3 courses are 2 units, 1 course is 3 units), and one course in the summer (summer course is 6 units and is focused on the dissertation proposal).  At the end of the spring semester, students take a qualifying exam.  Successful completion of coursework, along with passing the qualifying exam, advances students to candidacy.

Year 3:  1 course each in the fall and spring (6 units each), focused on the dissertation process.  Students are expected to successfully defend and complete their dissertation in the spring of their third year. 

Program Milestones: 

Course completion:  students complete their non-dissertation courses at the end of their second year (the remaining courses focus on the completion of the dissertation)

Qualifying exam:  at the end of their second year, students sit for the qualifying exam.  In-class, students are presented with a case study to which they must respond.  They have a choice of either a P-12 or a community college case study.  The case study is evaluated by faculty based on the program’s seven learning outcomes.

Admission Requirements: 

The program requires the following of applicants for admission to the doctoral program:

  • an earned baccalaureate degree and master’s degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution of higher education with a grade point average in upper division and graduate study of 3.0 or above;
  • sufficient preparation and experience pertinent to educational leadership to benefit from the program;
  • submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores from the three sections of the General Test taken within five years of applying to the Ed.D. program;
  • demonstrated educational leadership potential and skills, including successful experience in school, postsecondary, community, and / or policy leadership;
  • demonstrated academic excellence, problem-solving ability, and an interest in critically assessing and bringing about improvements within current educational policies and practices;
  • three letters of recommendation attesting to the leadership ability and scholarship of the candidate;
  • a written statement of purpose reflecting an understanding of the challenges facing the public schools or community colleges/ institutions of higher education in California;
  • a personal interview; and
  • a statement of support for the candidate’s doctoral studies from his/her employer or, in 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.
General Information:
  • Program Delivery: Hybrid
  • Average number of students admitted into the EdD program each year:   20
  • Student:Faculty Ratio (Courses):   6:1
  • Student:Faculty Ratio (Advising):   3:1
  • Length of Program: Less than 4 years
  • Percentage of students that graduate on time:   95
  • Are most students part time or full time?:   full time
  • Average number of students enrolled in each cohort:   20
  • Graduation Rate:  100
  • Attrition Rate: 0

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