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.

Entry term(s)
Summer
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

Format(s)
  • Executive-Style
Programs for Working Professionals
Overview

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.

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Curriculum

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.

Schedule


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

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

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

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

Program Calendar, Academic Year 2019-20, 2020-21

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

2019-2020 

July 14-21, 2019 
September 20 - 22, 2019 
October 25-27, 2019 
November 15-17, 2019 
December 13-15, 2019 
January 10-12, 2020 
February 7-9, 2020 
March 20-22, 2020 
April 17-19, 2020 
May 1-3, 2020 
June 12-14, 2020 

2020-2021* 

July 19-26, 2020 
September 18-20, 2020 
October 16-18, 2020 
November 20-22, 2020 
December 11-13, 2020 
January 22-24, 2021 
February 19-21, 2021 
March 19-21, 2021 
April 17-19, 2021 
May 14-16 or 21-23, 2021
June 11-13, 2021 
July 18-25, 2021 

* Tentative dates 


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 Joe Cox
Upper School Head, La Jolla Country Day School
Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Penn GSE Faculty Kathy Rho
Associate Director, Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, Penn GSE
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Jessie Harper
Assistant Dean, Faculty Affairs and Diversity
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 James Short
Program Director, Leadership and Teaching to Advance Learning, Carnegie Corporation of New York
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Penn GSE Faculty Janine Remillard
Professor
Ph.D., Michigan State University
Penn GSE Faculty L. Michael Golden
Executive Director, Catalyst @ Penn GSE
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Jonathan A. Supovitz
Professor
Ed.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Christopher S. Soto
Social-Emotional and Mental Health Coordinator, Durham Public Schools
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Fran Johnston
Founder and CEO, Teleos Leadership Institute
Ph.D., Temple University
Penn GSE Faculty Jonathan Zimmerman
Professor of History of Education
Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
Penn GSE Faculty Annie McKee
Senior Fellow
Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University
Penn GSE Faculty Sharon M. Ravitch
Professor of Practice
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Rand Quinn
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University
Penn GSE Faculty Matthew Riggan
Co-Founder and Executive Director, The Workshop School
 Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Jessica Whitelaw
Lecturer, Penn GSE
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Michael C. Johanek
Senior Fellow
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Penn GSE Faculty Erika Kitzmiller
Lecturer, Teachers College, Columbia University
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Christopher Pupik Dean
Senior Fellow
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Howard C. Stevenson
Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education
Ph.D., Fuller Graduate School of Psychology
Penn GSE Faculty Vivian L. Gadsden
William T. Carter Professor of Child Development and Education
Ed.D., University of Michigan
Penn GSE Faculty Peter J. Kuriloff
Professor
Ed.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty H. Gerald Campano
Professor
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Zachary Herrmann
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Ed.L.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Mike Useem
William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management, The Wharton School
Ph.D., Harvard University
Penn GSE Faculty Zora M. Wolfe
Assistant Professor, Widener University
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Diane Waff
Professor of Practice
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 Stephanie Levin
Research Manager, Learning Policy Institute
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Sigal Ben-Porath
Professor
Ph.D., Tel Aviv University
Penn GSE Faculty Leslie K. Nabors Olah
Adjunct Associate Professor
Ed.D. Harvard University

Program Leadership & Staff

Michael Johanek
Senior Fellow and Director
johanek@gse.upenn.edu
(215) 573-0589

Kathy Rho
Associate Director
krho@gse.upenn.edu
(215) 746-3884

Rona Rosenberg
Assistant Dean, Executive Programs
ronar@gse.upenn.edu
(215) 573-2872

Martha Ford Williams
Program Coordinator
marthaw@gse.upenn.edu
(215) 746-6573

Joseph Jackson
Program Coordinator
jacksonj@gse.upenn.edu
(215) 573-0588

Carmen Delgado
Alumni Coordinator
cdelgado@gse.upenn.edu

Peter Kuriloff
Senior Mentor, Career Development and Team Effectiveness
kuriloff@upenn.edu

Michael Mannix
Writing/Research Coach

James Arrington
Writing/Research Coach

 

Marvin Barnes
Quantitative Methods Coach

Heather Curl
Mid-Career Network News Editor
hcurl@alumni.upenn.edu

Eric Bernstein
Associate Director, Penn Educational Leadership Simulations Program

Sonya Harrison
Network Lead, Penn Educational Leadership Simulations Project

Ivan Montes
Network Lead, Red Interamericana de Liderazgo Educacional

Michael Gomez

“My three years were extremely academically challenging, but they pushed my thinking and gave me the confidence to say, ‘I can start a school.’”

Michael Gomez

Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership Ed.D., 2012

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
  • 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
admissions@gse.upenn.edu
finaid@gse.upenn.edu

Program Contact

Martha Williams
Program Coordinator
(215) 746-6573
mcprog@gse.upenn.edu

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