Program goal

The purpose of the Ed.D. in Leadership program is to engage leaders in a variety of learning organizations with practitioner-oriented  knowledge and skills, authentic leadership and research experiences, and opportunities for reflection that will enable them to succeed in a variety of organizational leadership positions. Three analytic lenses (equity, accountability and learning theory) guide course work and enable students from diverse backgrounds to consider learning through common perspectives.

Students will examine cases centered on enduring questions in learning and leadership. Questions will be explored through contrasting evidence from a variety of perspectives and contexts.

Program features

The Ed.D. in Leadership is a 48-credit hour, 36-month program. Based upon principles of adult learning, the program has the following features:

  1. Competitive admissions
  2. Midcareer entry
  3. Practitioner-oriented
  4. Learning-community based
  5. Problem-oriented andragogy and curriculum
  6. Three learning communities: higher education administration, special education administration and general leadership (appropriate for administrators of schools, nonprofits and other learning enterprises)
  7. Higher education administration and special education administration course work is all online, with periodic residencies (e.g. one weekend per semester and summer full-day institutes)
  8. General leadership learning community is mostly face-to-face, but takes advantage of varied meeting formats (e.g. online, face-to-face, hybrid, weekday evenings, weekends, monthly and summer full-day institutes)
  9. Program culminates in a three-semester applied group dissertation (the capstone)

Student learning outcomes

  1. Confident and clear communication and presentation skills through formal benchmark presentations
  2. Understanding and application of effective leadership, team-building and learning behaviors through team projects
  3. Appropriate data-gathering, management and analysis techniques through program evaluation and capstone projects
  4. Making of decisions and recommendations based upon data analysis and scholarly research through formal benchmark presentations and capstone projects
  5. Scholarly writing skills through technical report writing
  6. Academic achievement necessary to be considered for doctoral candidate status, as required by the university by meeting candidacy requirements

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online at

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
Ed.D. Summer Feb 1 MAT

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following requirements represent the minimum acceptable standards for admission:

  1. Master’s degree in an appropriate discipline
  2. Three letters of recommendation addressing the student’s potential for graduate study in education
  3. Student’s written statement concerning career interests and philosophy of leading for equity, accountability and learning environments
  4. Transcripts of all previous college work
  5. Professional vita or resume that addresses colleges or universities attended, educational degrees held, including major/minor, work history in chronological order, beginning with current position, leadership experiences, professional involvement, and awards and honors
  6. Evidence of at least three years of successful leadership experience including evidence of leadership accomplishment for each of three areas:
    1. leadership for learning
    2. leadership for equity
    3. leadership for accountability
      (Applicants submit artifacts of evidence in the three areas through a website they develop.)
  7. At least a 50th percentile score on the Miller Analogies Test

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students are required to complete course work in core and elective courses.

  1. Credit hour requirements: Students are required to complete a minimum of 48 credit hours.
  2. Grade requirements: Receipt of a grade of C or below in three courses constitutes automatic dismissal from the program: Courses with a grade below C cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements.
  3. Capstone requirements: Students must complete and defend a team-based capstone research project.

Curriculum requirements

Course Title Hours
EDLP 700Effective Learning Networks3
EDLP 702Understanding Self as Leader: Theory and Data Analysis2
EDLP 703Understanding Self as Leader: Practical Applications1
EDLP 704Frameworks for Decision-making: Legal Perspectives3
EDLP 705Frameworks for Decision-making: Ethical Perspectives3
EDLP 708Leadership Presence3
EDLP 709Equity and Leadership3
EDLP 711Evidence-informed Perspectives on Practice I3
EDLP 712Planning for Sustainable Change I3
EDLP 713Evidence-informed Perspectives on Practice II3
EDLP 714Planning for Sustainable Change II3
EDLP 715Principles for Professional Writing I3
EDLP 716Principles for Professional Writing II3
EDLP 717Communicating Research Findings3
EDLP 790Capstone Development3
EDLP 798Capstone Plan Implementation3
EDLP 799Capstone Completion3
Total Hours48

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 48

Additional contact
Whitney S. Newcomb, Ph.D
Professor and interim chair, Department of Educational Leadership
Phone: (804) 828-8736

Program website: