Virginia Commonwealth University

Name of CPED-Influenced Program: EdD in Leadership
Program Description: 

The EdD in Leadership was begun in 2008. Our first class of 20 graduated in May 2011. There are currently 79 students in our EdD program, and 40 of them are scheduled to graduate in Spring, 2014

The EdD in Educational Leadership is a 48-hour, three-year program aimed at developing practicing scholars having the leadership skills that facilitate and maintain learning organizations, by which we mean organizations that continually reflect an develop. This program, based upon principles of adult learning, has the following features:

  • Practitioner orientation
  • Competitive admissions
  • Mid-career entry
  • Prescribed curriculum, with extensive use of case-study approach
  • Learning-community base
  • Problem-oriented pedagogy and curriculum
  • VCU full-time faculty and area practitioner collaboration
  • Applied research as a culminating project
  • Varied formats: Weekends, monthly weekday blocks of time, summer full day institutes, face-to-face, and online
  • No residency requirements
Signature Pedagogy: 

Problems of practice. Each semester, a problem of practice is part of the curriculum, allowing students the opportunity for authentic work.

Laboratories of Practice: 

The laboratory of practice is the school district as well as the classroom. Problems of practice originate in the school district.


The capstone project is undertaken in the Summer, fall and spring of the final year in the program. Problems of practice articulated by field organizations are the topics for study. Students work in groups on these problems of practice in a collaborative endeavor that requires them to understand the problem as posed, analyze the issue from a number of perspectives, and respond with policy and practice. The model used is a consultancy project where:

  • Clients prepare a request for assistance (RFA) description of a project. This request includes: (1) A context statements (2) the problem to be addressed; (3) the expectation of the client; (4) the data sources that will be made available and/or the agreements for data to be collected; (5) the expectations regarding communication and reports; and (6) the expectations for the final report.
  • Students “bid” on the project on which they wish to work. Once a student team has selected a project, the team presents a scope of work memo to the client and the Leadership faculty that defines the scope of the project, including key questions; specifies the analytical focus and data collection strategies; develops a timeline and task completion schedule; and assigns team members.
  • The final project is a written and verbal report of the analysis undertaken, including a description of the literature which informed the topic, a description of the data used, and the policy and practice recommendations.
  • The final project is reported to both faculty reviewers and client reviewers.
Description of each year of the Program: 

Learning communities will meet in a variety of settings during the three year program, including on the VCU campus as well as in regional school and professional settings. Both face-to-face and online formats are incorporated. Learning experiences happen in a range of time blocks: Summer intensive institutes; weekend sessions; afternoon weekday blocks; online learning.

The following table displays the three-year sequence for students beginning the program in summer:

Summer Fall Spring
Year 1    

3 hours 
EDLP 700: Effective Learning Networks



  • Metacognitive processes
  • Leadership

6 hours
EDLP 715: Principles of Professional Writing I
EDLP 702 Understanding Self as Leader: Theory and Data Analysis
EDLP 703 Understanding Self as Leader: Practical Applications


  • Leadership
  • Team-building
  • Research literacy
  • Writing in different genres

6 hours 
EDLP 704 Frameworks for Decision-making: Legal Perspectives
EDLP 705 Frameworks for Decision-making: Ethical Perspectives


  • Theory and policy related to decision-making

Formative Assessment I

Year 2    

6 hours
ELDP 708 – Leadership Presence
EDLP 709– Equity and Leadership


  • Application of learning
  • Communications
  • Organizational context


6 hours 
EDLP 711: Evidence-informed Perspectives on Practice I
EDLP 716: Principles of Professional Writing II


  • Orientation to research, program evaluation
  • Selection of and immersion in local laboratory of practice
  • Strategic writing for a variety of audiences and puposes

6 hours 
EDLP 713: Evidence-informed Perspectives on Practice II
EDLP 717: Communicating Research Findings

Continued study from Fall semester


  • Preparation for Capstone work
  • Data management, analysis, visual representation and communication 

Formative Assessment II

Year 3    

6 hours 
EDLP 790: Capstone Development
EDLP 712: Planning for Sustainable Change I


  • Background
  • Writing Response to RFA
  • Research design
  • Meetings with clients
  • Change theory



6 hours 
EDLP 798: Capstone Plan Implementation
EDLP 714: Planning for Sustainable Change II


  • Finalizing design
  • Data collection
  • Data analysis
  • Formatting report
  • Impact of findings on change strategies

3 hours 
EDLP 799 Capstone Completion

Capstone completion

  • Data analysis
  • Portraying data results
  • Conclusions, recommendations for implementation
  • Presentation and defense
Program Milestones: 

As reflective practitioners, students assess their progress in the program based on their experiences and feedback received. Students set leadership goals for themselves considering this information. Students also have the opportunity to gain additional insight into their leadership ability and style through several activities in the program. For example, at the end of the first year, students complete a self-evaluation/peer-evaluation instrument such as the Leadership Circle Profile 360-degree survey. The results of this instrument provide students with the opportunity to set additional leadership goals. Faculty members mentor students as they set goals and strive to achieve them. 

Faculty members assess student progress and provide formative and summative feedback throughout the program. In addition to evaluating assignments related to specific curricular activities, at the end of each term faculty members assess each student’s progress using a rubric. Faculty determination of unsatisfactory progress may result in the student’s dismissal from the program.

Formative Assessment I

At the end of the first year of study, students use technology to develop evidence of how they have incorporated what they have learned into their daily work. These “digital stories” address a specific theme. Students present their product to faculty teams and address questions posed by faculty. Faculty and students review student work and provide feedback. Faculty determination of unsatisfactory completion of Formative Assessment I may result in the student’s dismissal from the program.

Formative Assessment II

Before enrolling in Capstone Project classes, student teams complete an evaluation of a program currently in use in their workplaces. Teams confer with workplace supervisors to develop goals and objectives; review literature related to the program; design a method of study; collect and analyze data; develop conclusions and recommendations. The final products include a formal report, an executive summary, and a presentation. Faculty, supervisors and students review student work and provide feedback. Faculty determination of unsatisfactory completion of Formative Assessment II may result in the student’s inability to continue in or dismissal from the program.


Under University policy, graduate students must be awarded candidacy status to be eligible to receive a graduate degree. Students who have successfully completed Formative Assessment II and who have completed IRB training must apply for candidacy by completing the form and submitting it to their advisors for processing.

Admission Requirements: 

Applicants must meet Graduate School criteria to be considered for admission into the Ed.D. program. In addition, applicants must have at least three (3) years of leadership experience.

Applicants must have a MAT score at the 50th percentile or better. The application packet must include the following:

Professional resume that addresses:

  1. Colleges or universities attended
  2. Educational degrees held, including major/minor (Master’s Degree is required)
  3. Work history in chronological order, beginning with your current position
  4. Leadership experiences (Ed.D. applicants must have at least 3 years of leadership experience)
  5. Professional involvement
  6. Awards and honors

Portfolio of Leadership:

  1. Leadership Accomplishments: Evidence of leadership accomplishment should be submitted for each of three areas:
  1. Leadership for learning;
  2. Leadership for equity; and
  3. Leadership for accountability.
  1. Goals: Description of career goals.


Evidence of leadership and a description of the context of the evidence provided. This evidence might be a combination of artifacts, testimonials, reports, newspaper documentation, or other evidence that provides a description of the applicant’s ability to lead for learning, equity, and accountability. Evidence can be in hard copy format or on a website specifically created for this purpose. (We are seeking candidates who have successfully addressed the issues of: student and/or organizational learning; equitable treatment and outcomes; accountability to students, families, and the public interest.)


Three references, two of which must come from a current supervisor and one from someone who can attest to the applicant’s academic abilities. References must complete the department forms provided to assess leadership abilities in learning, equity, and accountability.

Applicant packets are reviewed by faculty teams. Admission recommendations are made based upon the strength of the applicant’s packet of information.

General Information:
  • Average number of students admitted into the EdD program each year: approximately 20 per learning community
  • Types of employment students hold upon entering the program: School administrators; higher education administrators/coordinators/directors; 
  • Student : Faculty Ratio (Courses): approximately 10:1
  • Student : Faculty Ratio (Advising): varies
  • Typical masters degrees held by students upon entering the program: M.Ed in Education
  • Number of credits in the program (beyond the Masters): 48
  • Professional qualifications required of prospective students: Three years in a leadership position
  • Length of Program: Less than 4 years
  • Percentage of students that graduate on time: 100%
  • Are most students part time or full time?: part time
  • Admissions Cycle: Each summer
  • Average number of students enrolled in each cohort: approximately 20
  • Total number of faculty: 10 department faculty; various number of adjuncts
  • Graduation Rate: 100%
  • Attrition Rate: 1%
  • Current PK-20 Practitioner: adjuncts: 5
  • Former PK-20 Practitioner, Current University Faculty: 5
  • Current University Faculty: 10
  • Former University Faculty, Current PK-20 Practitioner: 0
  • University faculty from discipline outside of education: 0