Doctor of Education (EdD)

About the program

The Doctor of Education (EdD) program is a 90-quarter credit, post-master’s interdepartmental degree offered by the School of Education. This program follows a low-residency model, with courses being offered online during the regular academic year and an on-campus component in the summer.

The program serves school practitioners who are primarily interested in preparing for a variety of leadership positions in educational systems, including superintendent, district office, school counseling, and other areas. 

The program also serves students interested in other related careers in education, including nonprofit and higher-education administration, and other education-related professions. It can be tailored to meet varied professional needs and interests. This degree is for active professionals interested in leadership positions in all fields and levels of education.

Course of study

Using the educational benefits of collaborative and cooperative learning combined with continued professional association, this program uses a cohort approach for core doctoral classes. Once admitted to the program, you proceed though these cohort courses as part of a group, following a defined schedule and sequence.

Because this is an interdepartmental degree, you will select courses and learning experiences — with the assistance of the director of doctoral programs — from a variety of areas and opportunities in the School of Education, or from other schools within Seattle Pacific University (subject to approval by the School of Education Doctoral Committee).

Areas of specialization

The specialization/elective component provides students with the opportunity to develop an area of expertise appropriate to professional and academic goals. You may choose from the following areas:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Digital Educational Leadership
  • Executive Leadership
  • Literacy
  • School Counseling

As an alternative, you may elect to “self-design” a specialization by partnering with your advisor to select elective coursework that aligns with your goals.

Earning Washington state certification as a superintendent, principal, program administrator, or school counselor is possible as an area of specialization while working on the EdD degree. It is also possible to pursue a MEd in Digital Education Leadership or a Digital Educator Certificate while concurrently working on the EdD degree.

Prerequisite coursework

Depending on your educational background, the following prerequisites may be required for the doctoral degree:

  • EDU 7300 Introduction to Educational Research and Statistics
  • EDU 6975 Interpreting and Applying Educational Research I
  • EDU 6976 Interpreting and Applying Educational Research II
  • EDU 6655 Human Development and Principles of Learning
  • EDU 6524 Curriculum Design
  • EDU 6526 Survey of Instructional Strategies
  • EDU 6613 Standards-Based Assessment

Leadership colloquium and comprehensive exams

After approximately one year of coursework, or 24 credits, you may register for EDU 7990 Leadership Colloquium. This requires you to write a scholarly paper and present the paper in a formal setting to the educational community.

Graduate faculty of the School of Education conduct an evaluation of the scholarship and Colloquium. The Leadership Colloquium must be taken before the comprehensive exams.

Upon completion of all courses, you must pass two written comprehensive examinations. These examinations will cover the foundations and research components of the core course requirements. Successful completion of the comprehensive examination advances you to doctoral candidacy.


Under the direction of a faculty dissertation advisor and committee, you will complete a dissertation project during the final phase of the degree program. The dissertation is designed to integrate theories and tools learned throughout the program, and should demonstrate your mastery of concepts and methods. As a final demonstration of scholarly competence, you will prepare a written dissertation report and conduct an oral presentation/defense.

The dissertation requirement may be fulfilled by a study of an educational problem such as curriculum evaluation, development and evaluation of administrative models, field testing of a diagnostic tool or curricular material, or development and evaluation of educator training models. It may also take the traditional form of a research study. You are encouraged to take additional research courses linked to specific dissertation methods and design.

You will choose problems of practice originating from external practitioners and policymakers, generated through the suggestion and review of faculty members. External practitioners may include school districts, educational service districts (ESDs), universities, state agencies, and research groups.

Admission requirements

Applicants must submit the following items to the Graduate Admissions:

  • Online application and $50 application processing fee.
  • Official transcripts documenting excellent undergraduate and graduate GPAs from an accredited institution where an academic degree was conferred. Include post-master’s degree graduate coursework.
  • Personal statement (no more than 500 words) expressing your professional plans, goals, and focus of study, as well as a rationale for pursuing an EdD.
  • Four recent letters of recommendation, including two academic and two professional recommendations.
  • Résumé documenting a minimum of three years of successful experience at the P–12 level or other similar educational setting.

Following the submission of all of these items, your file will be reviewed by the core graduate faculty. You will be contacted regarding the status of your application, and to schedule an interview, within approximately two weeks.

All correspondence regarding the interview process will be carried out by email using the address you provide in the application. Please set your email filters accordingly.

Enrollment policy

  • Students must be continuously enrolled in required SPU courses to earn this doctoral degree, or until officially withdrawing from the program. Exceptions to continuous enrollment must be approved by the program director.
  • Students may be granted a leave of absence for up to four quarters by the program director. Once the leave of absence has expired, the student will either enroll in graduate coursework or be dropped from the program.
  • University academic policy requires continuous enrollment to remain admitted in a graduate program. After four quarters of non-enrollment, students will be placed in “inactive status” and will need to reapply for admission.
  • If a student decides to no longer pursue a doctoral degree, the student may officially withdraw from the program and SPU by notifying the program director and the associate director of graduate programs.

Grade point average

A minimum 3.2 overall GPA is required for graduation.

Degree completion

Students must complete all requirements for the doctoral degree within five years from the quarter the first post-admission course was taken. Students needing more than five years to complete the degree must file a time-extension petition with the director of doctoral programs.


Admissions materials should be directed to Graduate Admissions. If you have questions about graduate education or certification programs: