PK-12 Ed.D. Doctoral Cohort

The Ed.D. Program in Educational Leadership (PK-12) has been designed for and is committed to a cohort approach. In this approach, a new group of no more than 25 students will be admitted every other year. This group will proceed through the program together, taking the same required courses and having the same experiences. Program faculty will help each cohort develop into an effective learning community that provides peer support. A cohort approach fosters a spirit of community, keeps doctoral candidates focused on the doctoral program, and leads to a much higher completion rate as compared to other approaches to doctoral studies.

Students as Resources

Doctoral candidates possess extensive knowledge about the educational enterprise. To the extent possible, program instruction will build upon and integrate this knowledge into the inquiry process. The use of case studies, problem-based learning, simulations, and inquiry into existing organizations will be extensive. The dissertation will be connected to the candidate's research interest and will break new ground by providing a bridge between what we know from research and what we need to do in practice.

Summer Study and Pre-Summer Session Orientation

At time of admission, all candidates will commit to summer study. This will consist of four and one-half weeks of full time (8-5) study during the first and second summers and several additional days during the third and fourth summer. The summer study schedule will vary from year-to-year, but classes will normally begin during the last week of June and end no later than July 31. A commitment to participate fully during the summer term is required; no exceptions will be made. In addition, candidates will be required to attend a Friday evening and Saturday orientation session held after the cohort has been selected, normally in the last week of April.

Work Context

The work context of candidates will be valued and integrated into the scheduling of courses, as well as the content of classes and assignments. Candidates will engage in authentic inquiry into the elements of actual learning communities and then design interventions aimed at improving these environments.

Authentic and Performance Assessment

Alternative assessment methods will be employed. Candidates will engage in yearlong projects that will be included in their Leadership Portfolio. This portfolio will constitute a portion of the candidate’s comprehensive examination. During class, and throughout the program, candidates will be expected to actively participate in self-assessment, peer-assessment, and learning assessment tasks.


Candidates in the Central PK-12 Ed.D. program focus on the translation of theory to practice. Therefore, the faculty have designed the dissertation and the processes used to complete and evaluate it to meet the unique needs of students in the program. The Ed.D. dissertation maintains many of the features of the more traditional dissertation, particularly those that demand quality, rigor and originality.


Candidates will be expected to "give back to their community" by designing and implementing a post-dissertation dissemination plan that shares the results with both the community of practice and with the community of scholarship. Graduates have presented at American Educational Research Association and the International Reading Association, among other national conferences, and have also published their findings.

Credit Requirements

The program requires 63 semester hours beyond the master's degree. The educational core (18 semester hours), the inquiry seminars (16 semester hours), and the dissertation and dissemination capstone (14 semester hours) are required of all students. Courses and experiences associated with these components of the program are taught to the cohort, and candidates will not be allowed to substitute other courses or experiences. Students will also pursue a specialty area consisting of 15 semester hours of studies in administrative leadership or curriculum and literacy. Students who have completed coursework for the 092, 093, or 097 certification at Central and other universities may apply for a waiver of the specialty requirement.

Transfer Credits

Graduate transfer credits may be applied to the specialization area if appropriate, approved by the advisor, and consistent with the requirements and policies of the Office of Graduate Studies.