Reimagining the EdD Program for the East Carolina University Doctor of Education Program

Reimagining the EdD Program for the

East Carolina University Doctor of Education Program 

In 2011, East Carolina University evaluated their EdD program and identified opportunities for growth and further development. Over the course of the next ten years, program leadership would use the CPED Framework for discussions about the redesign of the EdD. Faculty met regularly during this timeframe to tackle various aspects of the program and created an ongoing dialogue regarding continuous improvement for the program. These regular meetings were essential to the ongoing success of the program. 

In 2017-2018, the faculty developed a scope and sequence for the EdD’s design track/courses that led to the completion of a Dissertation in Practice in three years. This timeframe aligned ECU’s EdD with CPED’s program design-concepts of Scholarly Practitioner, Inquiry as Practice, and the Dissertation in Practice. 

During 2018-2019, faculty in each concentration area focused on designing the scope and sequence of the leadership/practitioner courses and the admission process with the goals of preparing leaders for social justice and equity in education. This effort required that textbooks and course materials be scrutinized and changed to center diverse communities and partnership building. 

The result is a doctoral program that centers innovation as both a process and a product of educational improvement. EdD candidates are supported and encouraged by faculty to identify a real-world focus of practice with an emphasis on issues of equity and social justice within their actionable space. Using a foundation of knowledge acquired from data gathered on the focus of practice and the existent literature, students are expected to work with collaborative inquiry partners to design, implement, and rigorously evaluate innovative educational interventions to affect equitable change through their leadership practiceSpecifically, skills combine research and practical content preparing students to learn how to: 

  • critique and integrate literature reviews;  

  • examine a Focus of Practice (FoP) using extant literature and empirical data found within one’s context of professional practice;  

  • design and implement an intervention/innovation;  

  • conduct, analyze, interpret findings; and  

  • report and disseminate the results. 

The outcome of students’ respective inquiries provides innovative products that make a positive difference in the quality of life of individuals, families, organizations and communitiesGraduates identify themselves as scholarly practitioners who support the continued creation of new areas of practitioner-focused scholarship, as well as promote an increase in the utilization of equitable inquiry methods in professional practice. ECU EdD students feel the CPED-influenced EdD has a positive impact on their leadership abilities and their creativity to perform collaborative and ethical behaviors, their constructive thinking, and their ability to address a focus of practice identified within their sphere of influence. 

The Program

The East Carolina University (ECU) Educational Leadership EdD is designed for leader practitioners to develop the necessary skills and abilities to resolve systemic educational issues and problems. Program studies include leadership theory, human resource development, organizational theory, policy analysis, planning studies, curriculum and instructional leadership, and political systems analysis. The degree prepares administrators for senior level leadership positions in PK-12 or in higher education. Degree requirements include successfully designing, conducting, and defending an improvement science-based dissertation in practice under the direction of an appropriate faculty member and a dissertation committee. The program offers two concentrations: students select either the PK-12 administration concentration or a higher education concentration.

The Students 

The ECU EdD faculty work with community partners to ensure the program recruits and admits candidates from regions where there is a need for licensed administrators, higher education administrators, and candidates that reflect the diversity of the population in the region. While ECU serves students from all of North Carolina’s (NC) counties, its commitment to eastern NC is reflected in its strategic plan, elective classification as a Carnegie Community Engagement University, and other regional partnerships. Eastern NC is a highly diverse region and the EdD program strives to admit students who reflect the experience and identities of the region they serve and lead. ECU also offers a unique opportunity for educational leaders that work in international settings. Students that complete this unique international EdD convene annually in Southeast Asia.

  Dr. Carrie Morris, Graduated May 2023 

"Through my dissertation research, I recognized how educational leaders influence the public schools and how they have the potential to create learning organizations where children and staff develop and thrive."

 Dr. Travis Lewis, EdD Program Director

"Dissertations that students complete in ECU’s EdD focus on problems that address educational issues that address social justice and equity. Seeing students at graduation and watching our students make a difference in their educational system throughout our state is very rewarding."

 Randy St. Clair, Principal of Seaforth High School, Chatham County, NC

"The EdD is catered to the work you do directly to what you do as practitioner. My study led to a better process for access to higher education, especially for Black students."

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