Doctoral Degree: Educational Policy and Leadership Specialization in Educational Leadership

Ed LeadershipThe Specialization in Educational Leadership  is intended for individuals with interests and/or experiences in PK-12 education (for example, teachers, counselors, school or district leaders, education agency personnel).  Recognizing the centrality of policy in education practice, the program provides the opportunity for current and aspiring leaders, policy analysts, academics, and researchers to (1) critically examine and synthesize theories, research, practices, and policies, and (2) conduct rigorous research that contributes to improving education.  Because courses are taken with peers from the fields of higher and international education, Educational Leadership students expand their perspectives beyond U.S. PK-12 education to gain insight regarding leadership, organizational change and school reform, policies and politics, curriculum development and instructional improvement, and evaluation in both domestic and international contexts. The doctoral specialization is closely linked with the Center for Educational Policy, which manages externally-funded grants and contracts.

Admission Criteria

The doctoral specialization in Educational Leadership leading to an Ph.D. is designed for professionals with experience related to PK-12 education, including policy or other education work (PK-12 experience is desirable, although not necessary). Applicants are required to hold an earned Master’s degree from an accredited institution. The ability to write clearly and coherently must be demonstrated in the applicant’s personal statement, which should include information about his/her areas of interest within Educational Leadership.

Program of Study

The Program of Study for theEducational Leadership Specialization in the Educational Policy and Leadership Doctoral Concentration comprises 42 credits plus a dissertation credits as follows:

Six (6) Educational Policy and Leadership Concentration Core and research courses totaling 18 credits consisting of:

  • One (1) required Educational Policy and Leadership Core course (taken in the first doctoral degree semester)
  • One (1) course in the Varieties of Social Thought Core Area
  • One (1) course in Leadership and Management Core Area
  • Three (3) research methods courses

Three (3) Educational Leadership Specialization Core Courses totaling 9 credits

Five (5) Educational Leadership Elective courses totaling 15 credits

With the required eighteen (18) dissertation credits, the total number of required credits is 60.

During the first year of study, the doctoral student works with her or his faculty guidance committee to formulate an individualized study plan. These plans typically include coursework in three areas: the theoretical (the Leadership and Management Core Area), social theories (Varieties of Social Thought Core Area), the practical (research courses), and specific courses related to the student’s interests (Educational Leadership Core Courses). Because education is a professional field derived from various academic disciplines, students are highly encouraged to take at least one course outside of the College of Education.

Typically, four to seven semesters are devoted to coursework on campus. Most courses are held in the late afternoon, but applicants should be prepared to arrange their work schedules for at least one semester in order to take morning or early afternoon courses offered in other UMass Amherst Colleges, Schools and programs. Coursework is followed by the comprehensive examination, after which the student is considered a doctoral candidate and writes a dissertation proposal. The candidate then conducts research, sometimes in the context of employment, to write the dissertation. An on-campus oral defense of the dissertation is required.

Educational Leadership Specialization Contacts in the Education Policy and Leadership Concentration

Rebecca H. Woodland, Chair, Department of  Educational Policy, Research and Administration
Sharon F. Rallis, Distinguished Professor and Educational Leadership Specialization Coordinaton
Jeffery W. Eiseman, Associate Professor
Kathryn A. McDermott, Professor