Program goal

The urban services leadership concentration is designed to prepare future researchers, faculty and practitioners for leadership roles in academic, government (local, state, national and international) and community based for-profit and non-profit organizations. Doctoral students will utilize a multidisciplinary approach to develop a broad understanding of the critical issues and challenges in adult learning and subsequently apply that understanding to the planning, implementation and evaluation of adult learning and educational programs and initiatives. 

Applicants are expected to have experience working with adult learners in organizational, community, government, higher education, health care or nonprofit settings, or within the community in roles as faculty, faculty developers, trainers, human resource development and organizational development professionals, adult literacy educators, or other roles in which they are actively involved in the teaching and training of adult learners.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Apply skills in external setting (externship component): Students will demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a professional placement in a school, agency or corporate setting. The faculty adviser and the externship site supervisor work together to evaluate the student.
  2. Develop research knowledge and skills (research component): Students will acquire the prerequisite skills essential to designing, conducting and interpreting qualitative and quantitative design research. Students will demonstrate this knowledge and skill set on a qualifying examination, which is independently evaluated by at least two faculty members. To address inter-rater reliability, if the two faculty members disagree on the student’s level of knowledge, a third faculty member is called in to evaluate the student’s responses on the qualifying examination. 
  3. Develop in-depth knowledge in one area of study (concentration component): Students will demonstrate in-depth knowledge and skills in an area of study that is congruent with their current or projected career goals. Content will differ according to chosen concentration.
  4. Complete an original research study (dissertation component): Student will design, implement, analyze and defend an original research study. Once a student passes the prospectus hearing, he or she will collect and analyze the data and finish writing the last two chapters of their dissertation. Students have a committee of a minimum of four faculty members. Typically, this consists of a chair, a methodologist, a subject-matter expert and an expert outside of the School of Education. Each committee member independently reviews the student’s work. Once the dissertation defense has occurred, the committee discusses their thoughts on the quality of the student work. Once members agree, the student is granted a Ph.D.

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.