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Program Outline: Doctor of Education (EdD) and Executive Leadership (Three-Year Option)

SPU's EdD program and Exective Leadership program both begin in autumn, when students are grouped as a cohort and move together throughout the required courses. 

Program Components

Foundation Courses

All doctoral students in the School of Education, regardless of their terminal degree, take the same foundation courses. These core classes are designed to develop leadership by focusing on knowledge applicable to all fields and levels of education. Students then begin their individual course sequences and specializations through the Leadership Colloquium, comprehensive exams, and dissertation.

Inquiry and Dissertation Courses

These courses compose the research component of the degree. Courses focus on research theories and methodology designs that give you the ability to evaluate practical educational issues facing P–12 administrators.

Specialization Component: Executive Leadership

The Executive Leadership program is for individuals who hold teaching certificates and want to pursue district-level administrative assignments in the P–12 school setting, such as superintendent, deputy superintendent, associate and assistant superintendent, director, and other similar roles. An internship is also a significant part of the Superintendent Certificate.

Leadership Colloquium

The EDU 7990 Leadership Colloquium requires you to write a scholarly paper and present that paper in a formal setting to the educational community. Following the presentation, School of Education doctoral-level faculty members conduct an evaluation of your Colloquium paper.

You may register for the Leadership Colloquium after you have completed 24 credits of coursework (approximately one year). You must pass the Colloquium paper requirement before you can take the comprehensive exams.

Comprehensive Exams

Upon completion of core courses, students are required to pass two comprehensive exams. These exams cover the foundations and research components of the curriculum. Successful completion of the examinations will advance you to doctoral candidacy.


The doctoral dissertation is the culminating experience of the EdD and Executive Leadership program. It is a scholarly, highly individualized inquiry into an area of professional and intellectual interest. The dissertation process has three stages:

  • Proposal. In conjunction with a dissertation advisor and other faculty members, you will develop a research question and proposal.
  • Research/Writing. Using the expertise and knowledge developed in the proposal sequence, you will conduct research and report it in a formalized written document.
  • Defense. You will then conduct an oral presentation and defense of the written component of the dissertation.

While it is expected that your dissertation will follow accepted research methodologies and format, the research topic may vary depending on your professional goals and the expertise of your faculty members.

Program Schedule

This option is designed to be completed in three years, including Summer Sessions. Typically a doctorate combined with Executive Leadership would take four to five years to complete. SPU's combined three-year EdD and Executive Leadership program allows you to attain your educational goals more quickly.

Course Requirements

The EdD and Executive Leadership is a rigorous 90-plus-credit post-master's degree program. As an EdD and Executive Leadership student, you will be required to:

  • pass two comprehensive exams, research and foundations;
  • write a professional educational theory paper;
  • demonstrate supervision competency;
  • show instructional competency;
  • complete a dissertation and receive passing marks;
  • pass the oral defense of the dissertation.

Suggested Course Sequence

Your three-year course plan combines requirements for the EdD and Executive Leadership.

Prerequisite Coursework

Depending on your experience and background, you may be required to take the following classes as your elective credits:

  • EDU 6655 Human Development and Principles of Learning (3)
  • EDU 6524 Curriculum Design (3)
  • EDU 6526 Survey of Instructional Strategies (3)
  • EDU 6613 Standards-Based Assessment (3)

Find information about this Program Overview, Program Outline, Suggested Course Sequence, and Admission Information.