Our doctoral program prepares educational leaders to meet the demands of district and organizational leadership.  

Senior and mid-career educational leaders from the United States and beyond look to our doctoral program in Educational and Organizational Leadership to deepen their understanding of educational organizations, instruction, and learning as they intersect with the rapidly changing demands of education leadership. We develop leaders to be stronger in their current organizations and prepared for future challenges. In collaboration with outstanding faculty and a robust alumni network, our program develops productive, generative means for leaders to amplify their impact on the wider educational landscape.

Designed for working professionals, including those at senior levels of districts and organizations, we meet on campus one weekend a month and one week every summer as well as online via collaborative, interactive platforms. A typical student brings 15 to 20 years of experience to the seminar table, drawing on his or her own experiences from across urban, rural, suburban, private, and public sectors. 

What Sets Us Apart

1+1 Face-to-face learning in cohort-based classes that meet 1 weekend a month and 1 week a summer
  Lifetime access to program supports, including writing and research coaches and professional mentors
 Ongoing and integrated network opportunities to lead in the wider field

About the Program

As part of an inquiry-based, cohort model, members of our professional learning community take 27 curricular units covering four key areas of educational leadership—instructional, organizational, public, and evidence-based leadership. Students begin planning for their dissertation from the first day of the program, and work closely with program faculty to develop a research project designed to identify, analyze, report on, and make recommendations about an actual problem of leadership practice—often their own practice and situated within their own educational organization.

Application deadline
Closed for Fall 2024. The application for Fall 2025 will be available September 1, 2024.
Entry term(s)
Typical course load

Courses occur in modules delivered in an executive-style format

  • Summer: 3 course units
  • Fall: 3 course units
  • Spring: 3 course units
Duration of program
3 years

Culminating experienceDissertation

  • Executive-Style
Programs for Working Professionals

Our program emphasizes collaboration and reflective practice. We model this in our learning community by forming cohorts of students, including small teams within those cohorts, and by placing a high value on problem solving through the creation and implementation of new educational approaches. 

Your studies and work should converge in various ways. We take seriously the intellectual challenges at the core of your work as leaders, and strive to integrate these complex problems into class work. Naming, reframing, and resolving these issues leverages the demands of your day job in building an enhanced inquiry stance in your practice.

We also recognize and tap the considerable experience in each cohort, a rich resource for each student outside of classes as well. Program participants meet during meals, before and after classes at the hotel, and during the Saturday Commons and Saturday Soirees for continued conversations.


Taking an inquiry-based perspective, our curriculum addresses the ongoing transformation of public and private educational organizations by focusing on leadership in four core areas: 

Instructional Leadership

Students explore such fundamental questions as: What does instructional leadership look like at the primary and secondary levels? Which practices do successful leaders use to improve teaching and learning in a variety of contexts? How should educational leaders, teachers, and facilitators be observed and evaluated? How should educational organizations and their staff be held accountable for their contributions to learning? And most importantly, how can everyone involved in schools promote student engagement and learning?

Organizational Leadership

Our program prepares students to create organizations that foster the continuous improvement of teaching and learning. We focus on developing the emotional intelligence of leaders so that they are equipped to manage small groups and teams and have a robust understanding of intergroup and systems dynamics. Students in the program learn about efficiently employing and creating resources to promote learning environments and manage change. 

Public Leadership

Educational leaders must perform as advocates, brokers, and catalysts in their communities in order to support educational success. They need to frame current educational challenges within wider philosophical, historical and sociological contexts, and then find ways to build stronger and more inclusive “publics” for their institutions. They need to model the public problem solving required to diagnose and engage the educational ecology affecting the educational development of those they serve.

Evidence-based Leadership 

School leaders are constantly faced with complex decisions that are best made by accumulating, synthesizing, and analyzing data from multiple sources and in a variety of forms. Those who are prepared to recognize and utilize the wealth of information around them will invariably produce more reasoned and better-informed decisions. This area prepares education leaders to identify and employ data sources and analytic methods to inform decision-making.

For information on courses and requirements, visit the Educational & Organizational Leadership Ed.D. program in the University Catalog.


The program is designed for working professionals, including those at senior levels of districts and organizations, as an intensive, cohort-based program that brings together a professional learning community. Spanning over 36 months, the program meets on campus for one long weekend each month and one week each summer, as well as holding online interactions via collaborative, interactive platforms. With the dissertation process and significant support embedded in the schedule, our students are able to complete their coursework and dissertation within 3 years. 

Recognizing the time demands of our students as active leaders, we provide the support that frees you to focus on your coursework. A full-time program coordinator is partnered with each cohort, from recruitment through graduation, acting as a one-stop contact for all administrative guidance in the program. We provide meals and arrange hotel accommodations while also taking care of course registration, technology access, books, materials, and assistance with administrative processes.

Typical Weekend Schedule

2:45pm Announcements
3-6pm Class 
6-7pm Dinner
7-9pm Class 

8am Breakfast
9am-12pm Class
12-2pm Saturday Commons
2-5pm Class
5-6pm Dinner
6pm- Saturday Soiree/Independent/Group work

8am Breakfast
8:30-11:30am Class
11:30am-12pm Lunch
12-3pm Class
3pm- Independent/Group work

Program Calendar, Academic Year 2023-2024, 2024-2025

(Please note these dates are subject to change. A finalized schedule will be given during orientation.) 


July 15-22, 2023
August-no meeting
September 29, 30 and October 1, 2023
October 27-29, 2023
November 17-19, 2023
December 15-17, 2023
January 19-21, 2024
February 16-18, 2024
March 15-17, 2024
April 5-7, 2024
May 3-5, 2024
June 7-9, 2024
July 13-20, 2024


July 13-20, 2024
August-no meeting
September 27-29 2024
October 25-27, 2024
November 15-17, 2024
December 13-15, 2024
January 17-19, 2025
February 21-23, 2025
March 21-23, 2025
April 11-13 2025
May 2-4, 2025
June 6-8, 2025
July 19-26, 2025

Funding Opportunities

Penn GSE Empowerment Through Education Scholarship Program

This scholarship supports Penn GSE’s commitment to expanding access and ensuring that the Penn GSE community is inclusive in serving all people. The scholarship will provide financial aid for students in the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership.

When completing the GSE Application, students applying to the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership will be asked if they would like to be considered for this scholarship and, if so, required to complete additional questions.  Students will be notified of the award receipt at the time of admission notification.  Note that consideration for this scholarship is independent of other merit-based awards and can be combined with other awards up to the cost of tuition.

A Program Like No Other

Alumni and faculty explain why the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership is unique.

Our Faculty

Penn GSE Faculty H. Gerald Campano
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Gina A. Cappelletti
Assistant Principal of Instruction, Mastery Charter Schools
Ed.D. University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty John D’Auria
Adjunct Professor
Ed.D., University of Massachusetts, Boston
Penn GSE Faculty Vivian L. Gadsden
William T. Carter Professor of Child Development and Education
Ed.D., University of Michigan
Penn GSE Faculty L. Michael Golden
Executive Director, Catalyst @ Penn GSE
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Abigail Gray
Chief Innovation & Implementation Officer, TRAILS
 Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Zachary Herrmann
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Ed.L.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Michael C. Johanek
Senior Fellow
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Penn GSE Faculty Amanda Jones-Layman
Assistant Professor, Neumann University
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Will J. Jordan
Research Officer, Wallace Foundation
Ph.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Penn GSE Faculty Andrea M. Kane
Professor of Practice, Education Leadership
Ph.D., Northcentral University
Penn GSE Faculty Jayne C. Lammers
Director of Learning Design, Edmentum
Ph.D., Arizona State University
Penn GSE Faculty Stephanie Levin
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Alexis P. Little
Educational Policy Expert, Research for Action
Ph.D. The Ohio State University
Penn GSE Faculty Annie McKee
Adjunct Professor & Senior Fellow
Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University
Penn GSE Faculty Leslie K. Nabors Olah
Adjunct Associate Professor
Ed.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty T. Philip Nichols
Assistant Professor of Education, Baylor University
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Janet S. Pullen
Head of School, Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School
 Ed.D. University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Christopher Pupik Dean
Senior Fellow
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Rand Quinn
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University
Penn GSE Faculty Sharon M. Ravitch
Professor of Practice
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Janine Remillard
Ph.D., Michigan State University
Penn GSE Faculty Kathy Rho
Adjunct Assistant Professor and Associate Director, Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Matthew Riggan
Co-Founder and Executive Director, The Workshop School
 Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Robert Rivera-Amezola
Digital Literacy Teacher, School District of Philadelphia
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Gregory Shea
Adjunct Professor of Management, The Wharton School, Aresty Institute of Executive Education
Ph.D., Yale University
Penn GSE Faculty Howard C. Stevenson
Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education
Ph.D., Fuller Graduate School of Psychology
Penn GSE Faculty Jonathan A. Supovitz
Ed.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Marilyn M. Tinari
Founder, Collaborative for Change
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Jennifer Valerio
Associate Director, Urban Teaching Residency Program
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Michael Vazquez
Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Carl-Anthony Watson
Ed.D. University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Ericka S. Weathers
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University
Penn GSE Faculty Elliot Weinbaum
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Jessica Whitelaw
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Zora M. Wolfe
Assistant Professor, Widener University
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Sarah Woulfin
Associate Professor, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Penn GSE Faculty Jonathan Zimmerman
Judy and Howard Berkowitz Professor in Education
Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

Program Leadership & Staff

Michael Johanek
Senior Fellow and Director
(215) 573-0589

Kathy Rho
Associate Director
(215) 746-3884

Joseph Jackson
Program Coordinator
(215) 573-0588

Carmen Delgado
Alumni Coordinator

John D’Auria
Professional Mentor, Career Development and Team Effectiveness

Jennifer Kobrin
Writing/Research Coach

Autumn Griffin
Writing/Research Coach

Marvin Barnes
Quantitative Methods Coach

Julie King and Antonio Vance
Network Lead, Penn Educational Leadership Simulations Project

Cara Henderson
Network Lead, Independent Sector Inquiry Project

Laura Peynado Castro
Network Lead, Red Interamericana de Liderazgo Educacional

Dennis Perry
Network Lead, Mid-Career

Affiliated Faculty

Will Jordan
Associate Professor, Temple University
Ph.D., Columbia University

Michele Mitchell
Executive Director, Student Advancement, Newport News Public Schools
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Nicholas Morgan
Executive Director, Strategic Data Project, Harvard University
M.B.A., Dartmouth College

Marilyn Tinari
Founding Team Leader – The Girls Academy
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania

Tony Alleyne

I love our cohort model and the peers that grew to be near and dear friends. I appreciated the flexibility of our program to be able to work full-time, while simultaneously completing my degree, developing my nonprofit, and raising a young family.”

Tony Alleyne

Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership Ed.D., 2016

Our Graduates

We are deeply committed to helping our alumni promote their ideas in the world, connecting them with others who can solve practical problems, and supporting them in advancing their careers.

Alumni Careers

  • Chief Academic Officer, Literacy Design Collaborative
  • Principal, Radnor Township School District
  • Director of Technology, Lackland Independent School District
  • Pennsylvania State Secretary of Education
  • Principal, Bellwood-Antis School District
  • Teacher Leader, Greater Latrobe School District
  • Head of School, French American International School

Alumni Member Portal

A Networked Doctoral Program

As a graduate of the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, you join a robust alumni network in continuous dialogue with current students, program faculty, and colleagues across the world.

Lifetime supports for alumni are integrated with aspects of the doctoral program, creating multiple opportunities for members of this networked doctoral program to share resources and build meaningful connections with other leaders in and across their current contexts. These supports include:

  • On-demand:
    • Writing coach
    • Qualitative research coach
    • Quantitative research coach
    • Senior mentor, Career development and team effectiveness
  • Open invitation to all monthly program weekends, including all Saturday Commons sessions  and Saturday Soirees (in-person/online)
  • Open invitation to all regional Mid-Career network receptions and gatherings at professional conferences throughout the year
  • Invitation to all program anniversary reunions
  • Subscription to Mid-Career Network News
  • Access to Mid-Career community online platform
  • Opportunity to participate in current student research and mentoring
  • Complementary access to in-person/online network professional development activities
  • Policy & practice collaboration with Penn GSE’s Educational Policy Division

Admissions & Financial Aid

Please visit our Admissions and Financial Aid pages for specific information on the application requirements, as well as information on tuition, fees, financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships.

Contact Information

Contact us if you have any questions about the program.

Office of Admissions and
Financial Aid

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-6415

Program Contact

(215) 746-6573

Please view information from our Admissions and Financial Aid Office for specific information on the cost of this program.

Most students in this program fund their degree through a combination of personal resources, employer benefits, and student loans.

Students talking at a table

Facing a problem in your school? Ask yourself these questions

Leadership is largely a skill based on decision making. This is especially true in schools, where leaders have to balance the needs of diverse groups while making hundreds of decisions each week. Like all skills, leadership can be improved with practice and self-examination. Mike Johanek, Director of Penn GSE’s Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, suggests that leaders start by reflecting on how they assess problems.

Read the Playbook