Educational Leadership Ph.D.

Recognizing the centrality of policy in education practice, the educational leadership Ph.D. program gives current and aspiring leaders, policy analysts, and scholars the opportunity to critically examine and synthesize research, theories, practices, and policies, and conduct rigorous research that contributes to improving education.

Our doctoral students take courses with students in higher education and international education, helping them expand their perspectives beyond education in the U.S. In doing so, they gain insight regarding leadership, organizational change and school reform, policies and politics, curriculum development, instructional improvement, and evaluation in both domestic and international contexts. Students also have the opportunity to work with the Center for Educational Policy, which manages externally funded grants and contracts.

Students enter the program with a master’s degree as well as experience related to preK-12 education. They work closely with their advisor to plan a course of study that meets their learning needs, fits within the parameters of their existing personal and professional lives, and prepares them to complete rigorous dissertation research and successfully compete in the job market.

Course of Study

Course Description Credits
  Required Courses: 8 courses 24
EDUC 739 Introduction to Inquiry 3
EDUC 633 Education and Public Policy 3
EDUC 638 Collaboration for Student Achievement 3
EDUC 646 Leadership for Curriculum and Instruction 3
EDUC 726 Introduction to School Leadership 3
EDUC 742 Leadership Skills that Matter 3
EDUC 824 Strategies for Institutional Change 3
  Ed Leadership content course (approved by guidance committee) 3
  Research Courses: 4 courses (at least 2 quantitative and 1 qualitative) 12
EDUC 555 Introduction to Statistics I 3
EDUC 652 Mixed Methods Research 3
EDUC 656 Introduction to Statistics II 3
EDUC 661 Education Research Methods I 3
EDUC 671 Survey Research Methods 3
EDUC 790 Social Network Analysis 3
EDUC 619 Qualitative Research Methods 3
EDUC 718 Action Research 3
EDUC 797A Qualitative Data Analysis 3
EDUC 815 Researching Language, Literacy, and Culture/ Ethnography (two semesters)  3
  Specialization Courses/ Electives: 4 courses 12
EDUC 899 Dissertation credits 12
  Total 60


EDUC 739 Introduction to Inquiry

This seminar forms the base of the research offerings for students in the Ed.D. in Policy & Leadership Studies.  In the course, we will explicate knowledge production through systematic inquiry in education, including processes, questions, and strategies used to conduct meaningful research in educational systems including U.S. K-12 public schools, U.S. higher education, and international education.  We explore the intersection of theory and practice with emphasis on the epistemological assumptions and design of thoughtful, ethical inquiry about education.  We also emphasize sound academic writing principles and provide structured guidance in developing those skills.

EDUC 633 Education and Public Policy

Introduction to the roles of federal, state, and local government in US K-12 education policy, the diverse ways of studying education policy, and to specific current policy issues including educational accountability, school finance, the controversy over school-district regionalization in Massachusetts, challenges facing urban schools, and how research affects education policy debates.

EDUC 638 Collaboration for Student Achievement

"Collaboration" is a widely championed educational imperative, yet the concept is largely misunderstood.  Course participants will learn to capitalize on the power of inter-organizational and interpersonal collaboration so as to increase student achievement, empowerment and performance.

EDUC 646 Leadership for Curriculum and Instruction

This course will immerse upcoming educational leaders in the philosophy, principles and practical applications of learning theory, differentiated instruction, and performance assessment.

EDUC 726 Introduction to School Leadership

An introduction to basic concepts, skills, strategies, and research related to leading and managing schools.  Topics include organizational culture, and models of decision making, leadership, learning, and instruction.

EDUC 742 Leadership Skills that Matter

Analyze, evaluate, and increase your cognitive, interpersonal, and self-management effectiveness using concepts and tasks related to visioning, planning, resolving conflicts, teamwork, promoting human development, and overcoming organization resistance to change.

EDUC 824 Strategies for Institutional Change

This course begins with a brief survey of basic theories of organizational behavior and change.  Examines such strategies as action research, strategic planning, and negotiation - emphasizing the role of different kinds of leadership in the process of change.

EDUC 555 Introduction to Statistics I

The purpose of this course is to give students in the social sciences and, in particular, education, skills in statistical reasoning so that they will be critical readers of research literature in their fields and in a position to design research studies and analyze data on their own.

EDUC 619 Qualitative Research Methods in Education

Introduction to the assumptions, language, logic, and methods of qualitative inquiry in educational settings.  Students are required to conduct a small-scale qualitative research project.


The Department is not accepting applications for admission into the doctoral program in Educational Leadership for Fall 2022. Information about admission into the program for Fall 2023 will be posted in spring 2022.


If you are interested in applying to the Educational Leadership doctoral program, you may submit your materials to the Graduate School

Application Timeline

To be considered for fall admission, please submit all materials by January 2. 


The doctoral specialization in Educational Leadership is designed for professionals with a master's degree and previous experience related to PreK-12 education, including policy or other education work. Previous experience in PreK-12 educational settings is desirable, although not necessary. 

Required Materials

  • Online application
  • Two letters of reference
  • Personal statement
  • Transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • GRE is not required

We look for students who can demonstrate the ability to write clearly and coherently through their personal statements and articulate their area of interest within educational leadership. 


For additional questions or information, contact