Jul 24, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog This is not the most recent catalog version; be sure you are viewing the appropriate catalog year.

Educational Leadership [Ph.D.]

Beginning Fall 2023, this program will only be offered online.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership will prepare you with the knowledge and skills to rise to the top of your field and assume high-level administration positions in schools and universities.


You will study leadership and advanced organizational theory as well as engage in reflective thought and scholarship within the context of a culturally diverse society. In addition, you will be able to demonstrate competence in research design, analysis, and the use of research tools, which will then culminate in your doctoral dissertation.


Individualization in this Ph.D. program is present in selecting a cognate area of study, contributing significantly to the student’s development as a professional educator and administrator. A Ph.D. in Educational Leadership opens doors to positions such as principal, professor, superintendent, curriculum specialist, dean, university registrar, and college provost.

Program Admission

Admit Terms and Deadlines

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis; students may start the program in the Fall. See Application Deadlines.

The review of applications for the Fall Semester will begin on February 1 and will continue until the cohort is full. Once a year, the educational leadership program faculty conduct personal interviews with selected applicants. Individuals will compete against the pool of applicants for admission to the cohort.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

For full admission, applicants must have 1) Earned a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or an equivalent degree from a non-U.S. institution, 2) a minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale, or 3.0 in the last half of the undergraduate program. Conditional admission may be available to applicants who do not meet minimum admission requirements.

Program Requirements

Applicants must also meet the following program requirements:

  • Have completed either a master’s or specialist’s degree from an accredited university. a.) Students with a master’s degree must have completed it with a minimum GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale b.) Students with an accredited specialist’s degree must have a minimum graduate GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Complete the Application for Graduate Admission form
  • Applicants must complete a personal statement responding to the following prompt: ”We seek to build an academic community whose members have diverse cultures, backgrounds, and life experiences. Please tell us about your interest in pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Please describe some of the ways (e.g., administrative work, leadership, research, service, or other significant aspects) you have considered or worked toward greater diversity and inclusion as an educational leader?” Please limit this response to 1000 words. The response will also be reviewed as an indicator of writing aptitude.
  • Provide a résumé reflecting professional experiences, scholarly activity, service, etc. It is desirable that applicants currently hold, or formerly have held, an administrative position; or present evidence of leadership potential.
  • Submit three letters of recommendation addressing the applicant’s professional background. Two of the letters must be from past or present supervisors. Those supervisors must address your work’s quality and future leadership potential. 


Your application will be submitted using GradCAS, a Centralized Application Service (CAS) hosted by Liaison. After reviewing the admission requirements, please review the application instructions  and select the appropriate application.

Domestic Applicants Within the application, applicants will follow the instructions to submit official transcripts from the institution(s) that granted their bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

If the bachelor’s degree-granting transcript does NOT list 30 or more credit hours with an overall GPA of 3.0 or over OR list 60 or more credit hours with an overall GPA between 2.7 and 2.99, the applicant is required to submit transcripts from all previously attended institutions. The University may ask applicants to submit additional transcripts after applying.

International Applicants Before applying, applicants must review the international application/process deadlines at emich.edu/international as they may differ from general program requirements.

For additional information regarding the application process, please see Graduate Admissions or International Admissions.

Admission Process

 The admission process for the doctoral degree includes the following steps:

  • Submit an Application for Graduate Admission, fee, required transcripts, résumé, personal statement, and letters of recommendation using the online application system.
  • Upon receipt of the completed applications by February 1, the materials will be reviewed by the faculty of the educational leadership program. Selected applicants will be invited to a personal interview with the program faculty.
  • Following personal interviews, those candidates who have presented the greatest evidence of potential success in the program will be selected and notified of their admission by the program coordinator. Only 12-15 candidates are selected annually.
  • All decisions by the faculty regarding admissions are final.

Department Information

Leadership & Counseling 304 Porter, 734.487.0255

Kimberly Kappler Hewitt, PhD, Department Head

Advisor Information

David Anderson, EdD, Doctoral Coordinator, 304 Porter, 734.487.0255 

Rema Reynolds, PhD, Doctoral Coordinator304 Porter, 734.487.0255

Program Information

The Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership at EMU prepares caring, courageous, and ethical educational leaders who demonstrate reflective thought and scholarship within the context of a culturally diverse society. The Ph.D. program prepares graduates for high-level administrative positions leading schools, universities, and organizations in the state, region, and beyond. 

Practicing administrators will find the program designed to support the application of educational leadership theory to meet the challenges of practice in a changing environment.  The coursework’s emphasis is on applied research with immediate application and the focus on gaining insight and skills for initiating improvement within educational organizations.

Course Delivery Format

Courses in the doctoral program are delivered online. Course formats include synchronous and asynchronous online delivery, combining online real-time interactions (set class schedule) with the flexibility of content delivered over an online learning platform.

Our courses are scheduled during the evenings and weekends. We invite you to join us and lead the way as we reimagine the future of education together.

Reimagine You. Earning your Ph.D. in Educational Leadership

  • Build community with a cohort of experienced educators and practitioners.
  • Enjoy a curriculum that blends theory and practice.
  • Join a network of students and graduates who serve in leadership positions across the state, region, and the country.
  • Build relationships with intellectually diverse faculty invested in student success.


The doctoral program in Educational Leadership began at EMU in the Fall of 1991 as the university’s first doctoral program. Today, the program continues with a strong tradition of preparing educational leaders.

The EMU College of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and approved by the Michigan Department of Education for the preparation of educational

Credit Interface with Specialist’s Degree

Students may enter the Ph.D. program in educational leadership with a specialist’s degree in educational leadership either from Eastern Michigan University or another accredited institution of higher education. The interface of credit from this degree with the Ph.D. degree differs depending on the field in which the specialist’s degree was earned.

Those students who have completed the EMU Educational Leadership [Sp.A.] , or in another department at EMU, must take a minimum of 37 new credit hours toward completion of the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program. The determination of which hours can be counted will be the responsibility of the student’s doctoral advisor.

Internship Option

The application of conceptual, technical, and human relations skills that is essential to successful educational leadership (i.e., the testing of theory against the prevailing practice) is best observed and explored when there is direct involvement in administration. Students in the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program have the option of an internship of 200-400 clock hours. This internship is to be a clinical experience that occurs in a leadership role related to the student’s career goals. The internship is to be supervised by an experienced educational administrator and the intern program director in the educational leadership program.

The internship requirement must be completed before the completion of the comprehensive qualifying examination.

Comprehensive Qualifying Examination

When students have completed all doctoral course work, they are required to complete the comprehensive qualifying examination. The purpose of this examination is to determine the student’s subject mastery of the concepts, literature base, and research; and knowledge of problems and issues in the major field (educational leadership) and the cognate area of study. The student is expected to provide written evidence of the ability to analyze and synthesize information, integrate learning into a meaningful whole, and draw appropriate conclusions. Consult the EDLD Doctoral Student Handbook for examination process options.

Following the comprehensive qualifying examination, the student’s responses will be reviewed by the student’s doctoral examination committee of the educational leadership program, depending upon the examination option selected. All options include an oral examination during which the student’s written exam is discussed in greater depth by the student with the doctoral committee members. Passing the comprehensive qualifying examination is a requirement before engaging in crafting the dissertation, the doctoral program’s culminating requirement.

Degree Requirements: 62 hours

A doctoral student’s individualized course of study is normally expected to encompass a minimum of 62 hours of coursework beyond the master’s degree. The exact number of hours will be determined by the student’s program advisor, based on a review of previous graduate work/transcripts, the student’s professional and personal aspirations, and the doctor of philosophy degree requirements as set forth by the Graduate School and the Leadership and Counseling Department. Therefore, some plans of study will have only 62 hours while others may include additional hours, courses designed to remove deficiencies, or to enhance opportunities for leadership success, at the discretion of the program advisor.

The doctoral program of study has four components: major (educational leadership), cognate, research support, and dissertation research. The minimum number of credit hours allocated to each component are: Major (educational leadership) 27 hours Cognate 10 hours Research Support 12 hours Dissertation Research 13 hours

Major (Educational Leadership): 27 hours

Cognate: 10 hours

The opportunity for individualization of the Ph.D. program is present in the selection of a cognate area of study which contributes significantly to the student’s development as a professional educator and administrator. The cognate specialization is developed through completion of a sequence of related courses that are designed to add depth to the student’s doctoral program. In order to provide maximum flexibility in meeting individual needs, the 10-hour cognate may be completed in any one or a combination of graduate academic units, departments, schools, or colleges of the University that offer a sufficient number of advanced graduate courses. Previous graduate course work in a cognate that was taken as part of the specialist degree can be used to meet some of the 10 hours in the cognate, as described in the credit interface section above.

Research Support: 12 hours

The research support component of the doctoral program is designed to enable the student to demonstrate competence in research design, analysis and the use of research tools. Additionally, the student will have experience in conducting useful research and be able to use educational research as an informed and productive consumer. Both statistics and applications courses are needed in this area, depending upon the student’s background in this field, and as approved by the student’s doctoral advisor. Previous graduate course work in research and research support that was taken as part of the specialist’s degree can be used to meet some of the twelve credits in this area, as described in the credit interface section above.

Dissertation Research: 13 hours

Each student in the Doctor of Philosophy program will be required to complete a dissertation, a document representing an original research effort. The dissertation will focus on an area of particular interest to the student and the dissertation chair, and the research may be conducted using a variety of research designs (causal-comparative, experimental, etc.) as well as approaches (quantitative or qualitative). The student must register for a minimum of 12 hours of dissertation research, including the dissertation seminar, but may not enroll in dissertation research until he or she has completed the comprehensive qualifying examination and has been admitted to candidacy by the Graduate School. However, this stipulation does not preclude enrollment in the dissertation seminar nor in the student’s working with the dissertation chair in formulating ideas about specific research topics. Furthermore, the approval of the dissertation proposal cannot occur until after the student has passed the comprehensive qualifying examination and is enrolled in the dissertation seminar.

When the dissertation is completed, the student will present the written document to the dissertation committee for approval. In a two-hour oral examination/defense, the student will answer questions related to the dissertation research and will defend it. At the conclusion of the oral examination, the doctoral/dissertation committee will determine 1) if the written document meets doctoral standards of quality and rigor; and 2) if the student has successfully defended the research conducted. This process of review and revision continues until the doctoral committee approves both the written document and student’s oral defense of the research.

Additional Information

Course Substitutions/Program Changes - The advisor must approve changes in the student’s official program and substitution of courses before registration.

Courses Outside the Program - The Program faculty has prepared a suggested list of courses. Other courses may be used for electives in this area if approved by the student’s advisor.

Internships - Information is available from the director of the intern program or at emich.edu/coe/lc. Internship placements should be arranged at least one semester in advance and approved by the internship director.

Contact the department head for more information about the program, admissions, etc.

Critical Graduation Information

Each graduate student is responsible for fulfilling the requirements or their equivalents of the Eastern Michigan University catalog in force at the time of their initial registration or a subsequent catalog, including the one in effect at the time of their graduation.

Students have seven (7) years to complete the requirements for the doctoral degree from the date of first enrollment in the doctoral program at EMU. 

In the event a student does not complete the degree requirements within seven years of the date of their original registration, the student may be required to have their credits re-evaluated by the academic department(s) of their degree in keeping with catalog requirements in force during the year of their graduation.

The following are minimum requirements for all doctoral degrees awarded by Eastern Michigan University. Some programs require more than the minimum in one or more areas below.

  • Minimum Credit Hour Requirements
    • A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree must require a minimum of 90 credit hours post bachelor’s degree.
    • A Ph.D. degree in a program that requires a master’s degree for admission must require a minimum of 60 credit hours post-master’s.
    • A Ph.D. degree in a program that allows a specialist’s degree for admission must require a minimum of 36 credit hours post-specialist’s.
    • Doctoral degrees in clinical or practitioner programs must require a minimum of 84 hours if admitting students post-bachelor’s degree. If admitting students post-master’s degree, a minimum of 41 new hours are required.
  • Doctoral programs must require a minimum of 15 total credit hours of research and research support coursework.
  • No more than six credits of independent study courses, and no more than 12 credit hours of special topics and independent study courses combined, may be applied to a graduate degree.  
  • Residency Requirement - See Academic Policies and Processes—Graduate School for residency requirements. 
  • Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA in all graduate-level courses taken at EMU and in their program of study to remain in good academic standing and be eligible for graduation. Students do not need to be registered for classes during the semester of graduation.
  • The Graduate School does not permit the use of undergraduate courses (499 and below) to meet degree requirements on graduate programs of study.
  • Some doctoral programs require a dissertation. See the Graduate School website for Thesis and Dissertation Manuals, all forms, and information about research and human subject approval. Every completed thesis or dissertation must be submitted to Digital Commons. Any form of graduate student work submitted to Digital Commons must first be approved by a faculty advisor and the Graduate School.