Ed.D. in Educational Leadership

Part of the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division

This interdisciplinary program prepares students to become instructional leaders in public and non-public schools, state agencies, and new entrepreneurial ventures. Students gain a deep understanding of the context of American education from anthropological, historical, and sociological perspectives, and of the central elements of instructional, organizational, public, and evidenced-based leadership.

Effective November 16, 2018 – The Educational Leadership, Ed.D., will not be reviewing applications for enrollment in Fall 2019. The program will adjourn admissions for one year and will consider re-opening applications for Fall 2020. Prospective students interested in educational leadership doctoral programs should consider applying to one of the following programs, Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, Ed.D., or the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership.


Fast Facts


  • Prerequisites: Master’s degree and experience in educational practice
  • Entry terms: Fall only
  • Course Requirements: 12 (Organized around three strands)
  • Typical Course Load: Fall: 3; Spring: 3
  • Important Milestones: Qualifying Examination; Preliminary Examination
  • Culminating Experience: Dissertation


View Admissions Requirements



The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program prepares students to become instructional leaders in public and non-public schools, state agencies, and new entrepreneurial ventures. Students gain a deep understanding of the context of American education from anthropological, historical, and sociological perspectives, and of the central elements of instructional, organizational, public, and evidenced-based leadership. Students develop a variety of qualitative and quantitative analytical skills that are required to identify, understand, and assess evidence on educational problems.


Through their coursework, students come to understand the dynamics of change, to appreciate the importance of resistance, and to value the human side of all educational enterprises. They draw from all this knowledge to wrestle with the complexities involved in promoting the ongoing transformation of public and non-public educational organizations. Students seeking principal certification have the option of enrolling in the School Leadership Program for Principal Certification, a five-course program, as part of their doctoral work.

Ed.D. applicants are expected to have several years of experience in educational practice. Incoming students are also expected to hold a master’s degree in a relevant field prior to enrolling.

Students organize their coursework and experiences around three areas or strands – Content and Conceptualization, Inquiry and Investigation, and Professional Experiences – and, within this, take a minimum of 12 courses. These include a set of core courses, research methods courses, specialization courses, and electives. All Ed.D. students take part in courses and seminars specifically designed for Ed.D. students across GSE.

The Ed.D. program has a strong commitment to educational practice and to preparing scholar-practitioners. Students develop a program of study in consultation with an advisor. The program is designed to draw together course work, research apprenticeship, and other professional academic activities to build a complete professional program that is tailored to individual students' interests and needs.

Penn GSE also offers the Midcareer Doctoral Program in Education Leadership for students who are interested in an executive style program.

Program of Study

Core Courses

Course descriptions for TLL are available here

Registration: Full-time students enroll in 3 course units (CUs) each semester for the first two years. Full-time Ed.D. students are expected to be in residence and participate in practicum activities, courses, and other academic experiences throughout the first two years. Part-time students must complete a residency requirement that involves taking at least four courses in two consecutive semesters.


Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC): The RAC is part of the Professional Experiences strand and is designed to assist doctoral students in developing, conducting, and presenting on their own original research. The course focuses on students' research interests and requires participation in the scheduling of activities, presentations, and directing part of the RAC agenda as it pertains to the collective needs of the group. Students from the different stages of the doctoral program will serve as mentors to one another, with faculty oversight. Students participate in the RAC beginning in the spring of their first year and continue participation until completion of their dissertation.

Prerequisites/Requirements for Admission: Master’s degree and experience in educational practice

Course Requirements

Content and Conceptualization strand (minimum):

  • 3 core courses in Content/Conceptualization:
    • EDUC 726 (Foundations of Teaching and Learning); EDUC 727 (Education, Culture, and Society); and one course in Educational Leadership
  • A minimum of three electives in Content/Conceptualization

Inquiry and Investigation strand (minimum):

  • 3 core courses in Inquiry/Investigation:
    • EDUC 667 (Introductory Statistics for Educational Research); EDUC 682 (Qualitative Modes of Inquiry); EDUC 669 (Practitioner Inquiry)

Professional Experiences strand (minimum):

  • EDUC 621 (Doctoral Proseminar)
  • Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC) - On-going professional experience from second semester of first year until graduation


Annual Self-Evaluation: Each year, doctoral students complete a Professional Self-evaluation that is used as part of the ongoing evaluation and planning process. Students are introduced to the evaluation form in the proseminar and will work on it in the spring RAC. The deadline for the Professional Self-evaluation deadline falls in mid-autumn or mid-spring. Students submit their Professional Self-evaluation to the Division Manager and to their advisor.

Qualifying Examination: The Qualifying Examination is taken by all doctoral students, most often at the end of the first year. Passing this exam is an important step in being admitted to program candidacy. In order to take the qualifying exam, students need to have completed EDUC 621 (Doctoral Proseminar); EDUC 726 (formerly EDUC 664) (Doctoral Foundations of Teaching and Learning); EDUC 727 (formerly EDUC 646) (Education, Culture, and Society); 1 RAC; and 1 research methods course.

Program Candidacy: Students are assessed for program candidacy after successfully completing EDUC 621, EDUC 726 (formerly EDUC 664), EDUC 727 (formerly EDUC 646), 1 RAC, and 1 research methods course, and passing the Qualifying Examination. Students must be in good academic standing to receive program candidacy.

Preliminary Examination: The Preliminary Examination is taken after students have completed all courses and before beginning work on their dissertation. Passing the Preliminary Exam allows students to be admitted to doctoral candidacy. Students may submit a Preliminary Exam from the start of the fall semester through April 1. Students may obtain a description of the Preliminary Exam from the Division Coordinator.

Dissertation: To complete the Ed.D., students must design and undertake an original research study under the direction of a student-selected dissertation committee. Students should see GSE and Penn-wide policies, listed on the website, and speak with their advisor about the requirements of the dissertation.



Ryan Baker, Ph.D.

Carnegie Mellon University

Earl Ball, Ed.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Ed Brockenbrough, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Priscilla Dawson, Ed.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Michael Johanek, Ed.D.

Columbia University

Sharon Ravitch, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Janine Remillard, Ph.D.

Michigan State University

Rand Quinn, Ph.D.

Stanford University

Harris Sokoloff, Ph.D.

Syracuse University

Jonathan Supovitz, Ed.D.

Harvard University

Susan Yoon, Ph.D.

University of Toronto

Meet Our Students

Current doctoral students in the Educational Leadership Ed.D. program are engaged in diverse research topics including teacher education, school design, community relations, risk prevention and more. 


Read more about the work of our current students


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division

University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Veronica E. Aplenc, Ph.D.
Program Manager/Adjunct Assistant Professor
(215) 746-2566


Sharon Lipscomb

Educational Leadership and TLTE Program Assistant

(215) 898-9372