Portland State University

Name of CPED-Influenced Program: Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership
 Key Contact Person:
Dr. Micki M. Caskey

Program Description: 

Our Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership Program is designed for those who want to affect their communities positively.  Our EdD is an activist program that advocates social justice and equity.  We focus on developing leaders who anticipate and respond to the changing concerns and lifelong educational needs of their community members, whether in schools, colleges, businesses, government organizations, or social service agencies.  As such, the program seeks a wide range of candidates who are committed to creating and leading inclusive and diverse learning organizations.

The overall goal of the EdD is to promote educational leadership.  Our doctoral candidates develop capacity to provide leadership that makes a positive difference in the lives of the members of the communities that they serve.  Program faculty prepare educational leaders for practice that is grounded in equity and social justice and informed by scholarship and inquiry.

The Ed.D. admits doctoral students to one of four specializations within the program including:

  • Curriculum and Instruction (ELCI)
  • Administration (ELEA) 
  • Postsecondary Education (ELPE)
  • Special Education (ELSC)

Stage in Redesign Process: Implementation


Signature Pedagogy: 

Communities of Practice: The program engages doctoral students and faculty in communities of practice. We believe that adults are autonomous and self-directed learners who bring wealth of experiences and knowledge to the learning community.  

In facilitating the community of adult learners, our program strives to

  • Be an activist program that advocates equality, equity, social justice, and ecological sustainability.
  • Exemplify collaborative and democratic processes, which characterize our educational institution and society more broadly.
  • Recognize that education occurs in diverse social arenas, so our program should be responsive to traditional and non-traditional contexts.
  • Foster an active partnership between students and faculty through interaction and dialogue.
  • Ensure that the doctoral core and the program as whole is guided by our shared beliefs about effective educational leaders.
Laboratories of Practice: 

Our doctoral are working professsionals who apply theit knowledge and skills gained from the Ed.D. program in their professional settings.  For example, doctoral candidates work at teaching hospital in higher education admininstration, work in the public schools as teachers and adminstators, serve as adjunt faculty in university settings, and contribute to their institutions as staff and adminstrators. 


Capstone (18 credit minimum)

The capstone of the Ed. D. is a five part dissertation that involves research that is grounded in problems of practice. It is well-designed applied research that focuses on authentic and meaningful policies and practices, and as such contributes to the solution of a substantial problem. The Ed. D. dissertation uses knowledge and inquiry to address problems in practice.

Students defend of their dissertation as early as spring of third year or fourth year of their program.

Description of each year of the Program: 

The EdD core is a common curriculum completed by students as a cohort during their first two years in the doctoral program. Class scheduling is designed to accommodate the working professional. The first year core classes engage students in developing personal perspectives on, and skills in, leadership for change. The second year focuses on understanding and developing research skills that inform personal perspectives and influence change.


It is a three to four year program intended to meet the educational needs of mid-career professional educators. It is a post-master’s degree program where students complete a minimum of 72 hours after admission including:

Doctoral Program Leadership Core (28  credits)

Year 1 (16 credits)

  • ED 620 Doctoral Studies Proseminar (fall, winter, spring)
  • ED 630 Principles and Practices of Learning (fall)
  • ED 640 Organizational Leadership Theory and Research in Education (winter)
  • ED 650 Educational Policy and Politics (spring)

Year 2 (12 credits)

  • ED 660 Foundations of Research Paradigms & Methods (fall)
  • ED 661 Qualitative Research in Education (winter)
  • ED 662 Quantitative Research in Education (spring) Specialty Curriculum

Years 3 - 4

Specialty Curriculum  (26+ credits)

  • Specialty Coursework
  • Advanced Professional Seminar

Dissertation (18 Credits minimum)     

Program Milestones: 

Core Comprehensive Examination
Students complete the Core Comprehensive Examination/Paper (core paper) upon the successful completion of the first year of the program and before the end of the first term on  the second year of the program.  Through the Core Comprehensive Examination/Paper students

  • Identify and contextualize a significant problem of practice.
  • Analyze the problem of practice using appropriate theoretical frameworks from the core curriculum.
  • Critique the application of theoretical frameworks to the problem of practice.
  • Draw conclusions and recommend actions with respect to the analysis of the problem of practice.
  • Substantiate recommendations for practice, policy, and future research.

Students pass the core paper before proceeding in the doctoral program, typically at the end of summer term or beginning of fall term.

Admission Requirements: 

The Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at PSU seeks candidates who are committed to

  • Actively participating in discussions, presentations, seminars, and research.
  • Addressing social justice and equity issues in their communities.
  • Analyzing issues from multiple perspectives.
  • Engaging in rigorous coursework.
  • Demonstrating professional and ethical behavior.

The Doctoral Program Council makes admission decisions based on a holistic set of criteria including:

  • Academic ability that demonstrates a high probability of successful completion of the Educational Leadership doctorate.
  • Work, other professional experiences, and/or leadership potential that: (a) relate to the doctoral program; (b) contribute to an enrichment not only of the student's activities and studies within the program, but also enrichment of the program and its students; (c) demonstrates the ability to work and learn in a collaborative environment.
  • Academic experiences appropriate to the specialization, which support a prognosis of satisfactory completion of the doctoral program. This includes possession of a Master's degree from an accredited institution and an earned graduate GPA of at least 3.4 (on a 4.0 scale).
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English. (A minimum TOEFL score of 550 on the paper version is required of international students whose native language is not English. A score of 213 for computer based test.)
  • Submission of complete application materials, forms, fees, and transcripts. 
General Information:
  • Program Delivery: On Campus
  • Average number of students admitted into the EdD program each year: 24 students every other year
  • Types of employment students hold upon entering the program: K12 teachers, principals, and district administrator,Higher education adminstators: community colleges, 4-year institutions, professsional programs (e.g., health care,Adjunct faculty in the disciplines, educational consultants
  • Student:Faculty Ratio (Courses): 24:1
  • Student:Faculty Ratio (Advising): 6:1
  • Number of credits in the program (beyond the Masters): 72 credits
  • Length of Program: Less than 4 years
  • Are most students part time or full time?: full time
  • What competencies and/or attributes best characterize graduates of your program?: Part-time

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
info@cpedinitiative.org   +1 (412) 648-7428