Online Doctoral Degree in Education

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership program is designed to develop transformative leaders who embody the knowledge, character, and skills to guide dynamic and diverse learning organizations toward continuous improvement and sustained effectiveness. The integrated curriculum focuses on theory and applied research in leadership and guides students through the dissertation process as they complete their coursework. Practical instruction is offered face-to-face as well as online, with flexible, convenient scheduling designed to fit into the busy lives of educators.

Focused 3-year path to graduation.

The structural design of this doctoral program allows for graduation in as few as 33 to 36 months. The typical length of a term for each course is eight weeks. Normally, Saturday on-campus learning sessions include a morning, closing/summary session for one course and an orientation, afternoon session for the next scheduled course. All dates are subject to change without notice. Please contact an admissions counselor to learn more about the Spring 2015 cohort start.

Term Dates
Spring 2015 Jan 5 - Mar 7
Martin Luther King Holiday: Jan 19
Summer 2015 May 4 - June 27
Memorial Day: May 25
Fall 2015 Aug 17 - Oct 10
Labor Day: Sep 7
Spring 2016 Jan 4 - Mar 5
Martin Luther King Holiday: Jan 18

Blended instructional approach.

The online Doctor of Education program is delivered through a “blended” instructional approach. Blended instructional models are growing in popularity because adult students appreciate meaningful face-to-face classroom connection times while being able to complete coursework primarily online. That means less time on campus, more time online, and the flexibility to fit continuing education into your home, family, and work life.

Here is the "blend" of instructional delivery:

  • Face-to-Face Learning at Irvine, CA campus: 1 Saturday per term
  • Real-time Online Learning: Tuesday or Thursday evenings, 3 times per term
  • Asynchronous Online Learning: 3 weeks per term

For dissertation seminars:

  • Real-time Online Learning: Tuesday or Thursday evenings, 2 times per term

For dissertation proposal and research:

  • Online and on-campus, as needed

Cohort membership and size to promote success.

Students in the online doctoral program move through a sequence of courses collectively. The common goal of starting and completing the program together encourages students to work collectively, which promotes the development of personal relationships and the building of a professional network. Cohort membership enables students to support and learn from other students, raising expectations that all but the occasional student will complete the program successfully.

The program limits the number of students within a cohort and strategically allows for arrangement of students in small groups:

  • On-campus, face-to-face learning sessions: 15-18 students
  • Real-time online learning
    • For content and research courses: 7-9 students
    • For dissertation seminars: 3-4 students with 2 professors (co-teaching is utilized) or 2-3 students with 1 professor
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dissertation track.

The dissertation track guides students through the dissertation process from beginning to completion of the program. Initially, students collaborate in small groups with a senior faculty member in search of a researchable problem and to identify a prospective dissertation chair. In subsequent terms, the chair guides his/her dissertation students through the research process—meeting with students individually, in small groups, or with the student’s dissertation committee. A dissertation committee consisting of the chair, a methodologist, and a content expert is formed upon successful completion of the content and research courses.

Constructivist approach to learning.

The Ed.D. curriculum is designed to allow students to experience success in steps and to feel confident in their abilities and skills as they progress through the program. The idea is that once students have achieved success, they exhibit increased confidence to tackle increasingly difficult concepts, methods and skills. With mastery of each successive step, it will become much easier for students to undertake the challenges of conducting and completing dissertation research, which requires mastery of research methods and skills.

  • Educational Leadership Core Courses
  • 46 units
  • EDD 700: Doctoral Studies Orientation
  • .5
The Doctoral Studies Orientation provides new students with an entire overview of the program from course work to dissertation proposal and finally to successful completion of the dissertation. The orientation will cover the scope and sequences of the coursework with an overview of how the research benchmark assignments are integrated to prepare students for successful dissertation proposal and completion. The Doctoral Studies Orientation includes an overview of the library resources available within the library and through outside access. Also highlighted in this orientation will be an overview of the blended learning approach taken in the program and expectations for student performance as outlined in the doctoral student handbook.
  • EDD 701: Leadership in 21st Century Learning Organizations
  • 3
This course will equip students with knowledge and skills to understand and practice their role as leaders. An emphasis will be placed on systems theory applied to education, leadership, learning communities, and effective practices for sustaining strong leadership in continuously improving organizations. Additional emphasis will be given to the role of leadership in setting the moral example, fostering a caring environment, and developing a community of learners respectful of all members and differences. Students will understand the dynamics of organizational management, operations and resources to create and sustain a safe and effective learning organization. Research skills will be strengthened through activities investigating theory in systems thinking, educational psychology, leadership, and organizational planning as they relate to successful leadership and effective schools.
  • EDD 702: Effective Instructional Leadership and Assessment
  • 3
This course will provide students with knowledge and capacity to lead an instructional program that is systemically structured to foster professional growth for teachers and benefit student achievement. Emphasis will be placed on service to diverse student populations, implementation of the Common Core State Standards, research-based pedagogical innovations, and successful use of summative and formative assessment measures. Students will develop sustainable instruction and assessment plans that could be implemented in their own organizational settings that intentionally focus on the alignment of instruction and assessment to student learning outcomes.
  • EDD 703: Technology in a Systems Approach to Leadership
  • 3
This course will provide students opportunities to learn and to utilize technology for pursuit of information, providing transformational instruction, communicating effectively with all stakeholders, and fostering an organizational culture that embraces technology toward ongoing improvement. The course covers a wide spectrum of available technological resources to help leaders better understand student achievement as well as contextual factors (ex. school climate, parent satisfaction, teacher satisfaction) in schools. Specific emphasis will be given to exploration of potential applications of technological resources in a current organizational setting for: becoming an integral component of leadership and school culture, performance monitoring, and enhancing learning options for students and staff members.
  • EDD 704: Strategic Human Resource Management and Development
  • 3
This course will provide students with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage human resources in a sustainable way that supports learning for all students, fosters a professional work environment, upholds contractual agreements, and develops employee capacity fairly and ethically. Specific emphasis will be focused upon promoting a learning organization through effective and collaborative performance reviews, legal compliance, and strategic placement of resources to maximize organizational effectiveness toward student learning.
  • EDD 705: Sustained Fiscal Leadership for Organizational Effectiveness
  • 3
This course provides students with an overview of successful fiscal leadership in schools by surveying the dynamic landscape of school funding from federal, state, and local levels. This course will provide students with abilities to effectively lead safe, efficient, and effective organizations through meaningful and compliant fiscal management of organizational components, operations, and resources. Specific emphasis will be given to the study of the major responsibilities of a fiscal leader and the utilization of resources in effective and transformative ways.
  • EDD 706: Policy, Law and Practice in Dynamic Settings
  • 3
This course will provide students with insight into the development of, response to, and ability to influence the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural contexts impacting educational organizations and practices. Specific emphasis will be given to standards, policies, and entities presently guiding decisions at national, state, district, and school levels. The course provides a rich history of the political aspects inherent to education policy and how these policies transverse from the federal government, to state education agencies, district offices, and are ultimately implemented at the local level.
** Group travel to Washington D.C. to meet with governmental officials will be incorporated into this course.
  • EDD 707: Change Forces in Diverse Educational Settings
  • 3
This course will provide students insight, knowledge, and motivation to lead in response to identified needs for educational change in global community: applying change-agent leadership vision, promoting future success among all groups of students, using influences of diversity to improve teaching and learning, and motivating others to seek innovation. This course prepares students to recognize threats to organizational effectiveness, develop sustainable plans to minimize threats, and focus learning organizations toward the meeting of goals. Specific emphasis is placed on applied theory and research on organizational change and systems thinking in diverse educational settings.
** Specific emphasis will be group travel to an international country (optional). The experience will be designed to generate a comparative analysis of different educational systems, and to identify desirable attributes to incorporate into local organizational settings.
  • EDD 751: Statistical Analysis for Educational Leaders
  • 3
This course will provide students with an overview of statistics as applied to the educational setting and for the purpose of leading schools. The course will review basic statistics and utilize the Statistic Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) as the technological platform for managing and understanding data to drive decision making in schools. Students will participate in hands on learning labs in the application of statistical analysis to real data sets. Students will become skilled in the analysis, interpretation, and consumer use of statistical analysis applied to school settings and situations.
  • EDD 752: Applied Quantitative Methods for Educational Leaders
  • 3
This course provides students with an exposure and skill development in the use of quantitative methods for the study of educational research. Students will learn and understand the theoretical underpinnings of quantitative methods and the application of these methods for effective leadership in dynamic educational settings. The course approaches conducting research and the understanding of research as a key competency for those who will successfully lead school organizations in the 21st century. Special attention is given to the quantitative methods that will help leaders guide teachers and stakeholders to better solutions for solving educational problems in the local context. This course also prepares students to craft and answer important educational questions using quantitative methods and applied statistical analysis.
  • EDD 753: Applied Qualitative Methods for Educational Leaders
  • 3
This course develops students' skill sets in the use of qualitative methods for the study of educational research. Students will learn and understand the theoretical basis of qualitative methods and how these methods are applied toward the successful leadership of schools and educational organizations. The course covers the collection, analysis, and reporting of qualitative data. This course also prepares students to craft and answer important educational questions using qualitative methods.
  • EDD 771 & EDD 771a: Dissertation Seminar 1
  • .5
Dissertation Seminar 1 serves as an orientation to the dissertation process and structure of the dissertation proposal. This seminar will focus on the initial stages of preparing a dissertation prospectus and mastering the academic writing style (American Psychological Association). Students will be provided with an overview of dissertation topics and sample dissertation proposals. The seminar will also reference work done on the Annotated Bibliography Benchmark Assessments one and two as a starting point for consideration of dissertation topics.
  • EDD 772 & EDD 772a: Dissertation Seminar 2
  • .5
Dissertation Seminar 2 will build on the information covered in Dissertation Seminar 1 with the final outcomes of the seminar to be the completion of a prospectus for the dissertation and selection of a dissertation chair and possibly committee members. In this seminar a focus will be given to the discussion, review, and guidance of students toward identifying problem statements and research questions that can guide their completion of the dissertation proposal. Students build upon the Preliminary Literature Review Benchmark Assessment to move students toward a preliminary outline for the dissertation proposal.
  • EDD 773 & EDD 773a: Dissertation Seminar 3
  • .5
Dissertation Seminar 3 serves as a time for students to focus specifically on the development of chapter two of the preliminary dissertation proposal. In this seminar the chair will guide students through the proposal writing process for chapter two of the preliminary proposal. Students will be provided examples of chapters one and two and be required to present their current progress in developing a review of the literature. Important in this seminar will be the student’s identification of a conceptual framework and the kinds of references they will need to continue to gather for the literature review. This seminar builds on the Annotated Bibliography and Preliminary Literature Review Benchmarks toward developing student broader understanding of their research ideas related to the literature base. Students will receive chair and peer feedback on drafts of their working review of the literature.
  • EDD 774 & EDD 774a: Dissertation Seminar 4
  • .5
Dissertation Seminar 4 continues to build on the development of the preliminary review of the literature and focuses on the preliminary introductory chapter for the dissertation proposal. Students will receive chair and peer feedback on drafts of chapter one of the preliminary proposal in this seminar. The research questions for the dissertation proposal will be a focus of this seminar as students will continue to fine tune research questions based on skills that have been developed through the Research Benchmarks. During this seminar, students will also receive training and gain certification on the institutional review board approval process at Concordia.
  • EDD 775 & EDD 775a: Dissertation Seminar 5
  • .5
Dissertation Seminar 5 serves as a time for review of dissertation proposals. This seminar will also focus on the development of the preliminary methodology chapter for the dissertation proposal and provide students with an overview of chapter three and samples. In this seminar students will be guided on the collection of data both quantitatively and qualitatively to lead them to the answering of their dissertation research questions, based on skills that have been developed through the Research Benchmarks: Quantitative Research Plan and Qualitative Research Plan. Students will be provided with direction in developing a detailed timeline leading them to successful completion of the next stages of the dissertation process. Time will also be given to preparing students for the oral defense of the dissertation proposal. Students will receive chair and peer feedback on drafts of chapter three of the preliminary proposal in this seminar.
  • EDD 776 & EDD 776a: Dissertation Seminar 6
  • .5
Dissertation Seminar 6 focuses on the execution of the research plan proposed in the dissertation proposal. In this seminar time will be given to challenges that arise in the collection of data and strategies for addressing these challenges. Students will have the opportunity to give research updates pertaining to their collection of data and execution of the research plan.
  • EDD 777 & EDD 777a: Dissertation Seminar 7
  • .5
In Dissertation Seminar 7 special attention will be given to the successful preparation of chapter 4 and chapter 5 of the final dissertation document. Students will be provided with guidance on the dissertation oral defense as outlined in the doctoral student handbook. Students are also encouraged to attend a professional conference to gain a complete understanding of the research process and to promote networking among professionals.
  • EDD 781: Dissertation Proposal
  • 4
Working with the dissertation committee and under the direction of the chair, the student develops final versions of the dissertation proposal including the problem statement, literature review, and research design. Proposals are submitted to the institutional review board (IRB) at Concordia University. During this time the student also prepares for the oral defense of the dissertation proposal and works with the dissertation chair to schedule the oral defense of the proposal.
  • EDD 791: Dissertation Research 1
  • 4
Dissertation Research 1 is ongoing dissertation research. During this time students will be implementing research designs, collecting data related to dissertation research questions and beginning to write chapters 4 and 5 of the dissertation.
  • EDD 792: Dissertation Research 2
  • 4
Dissertation Research 2 is ongoing dissertation research. During this time students will be implementing research designs, following dissertation proposal timelines, collecting data related to dissertation research questions and preparing to write chapters 4 and 5 of the dissertation. Students will work with their dissertation chair as needed to discuss the execution of the dissertation research plan and progress on data collection.
  • EDD 793: Dissertation Research 3
  • 0
Dissertation Research 3 is a course extension continuous enrollment requirement for students who have not completed the dissertation and the dissertation oral defense.


The program embeds educational trips within the curriculum to enhance student understanding of how policy, law and culture affect learning organizations. During the Washington, DC trip, students meet with government officials to discuss standards, policies, and entities that presently guide decisions at the national-level and how political aspects impact education policy. During the trip to the People’s Republic of China, students interact with Chinese colleagues and students to generate a comparative analysis of different educational systems and to identify desirable attributes to integrate within their local educational system. These trips also offer students and faculty the opportunity to build a sense of community and camaraderie within the cohort.

Dr. Margaret Christmas Thomas
Assistant Professor of Education

Educational leaders.

The faculty in this doctoral program are deeply committed to the transformation of educational and instructional practices to better meet the needs of every learner. Their collective experience and diverse backgrounds have uniquely qualified them to partner with you, the next generation of educational reformers.

Concordia University Irvine is pleased to have faculty like Dr. Margaret Christmas Thomas, who brings her specialized expertise and leadership skills to her role of Assistant Professor of Education. As a nationally certified counselor and licensed mental health counselor, she offers a unique perspective into the different needs of diverse learners.

Tuition and fees.

The estimated total cost of the program ranges from $43,966 - $47,496, depending on if you elect to participate in the optional educational trip to China. The cost per credit unit ($876 per credit unit, with 46 required credit units) is a locked rate for the duration of a cohort. This estimated cost does not include the non-refundable admissions fee, costs for textbooks and materials, costs for a computer and accessories including a webcam, dissertation related costs, and other costs typically associated with a doctoral program.

The estimated cost for the Washington, DC educational trip does not include costs for airfare, check-in baggage, transportation in DC, food and beverage, and other incidentals.

Tuition, Fees, and Costs Amount
Application Fee $50
Student Services Fee $100 per term
Washington, DC Trip (required) $1,900 (estimated)
People's Republic of China Trip (optional) $3,500 (estimated)
Tuition $876 per credit unit

Apply now.

The admission process for acceptance to the Ed.D. program involves four steps.

  1. The prospective candidate submits the following program admission documents to the Director of Graduate Admissions.
    • A Graduate Application for Admission
    • A $50 nonrefundable application fee (not required of students previously admitted to a graduate program at Concordia)
    • Sealed Official Academic Transcripts from each postsecondary institution attended.
    • A master's degree in education or a closely related field from a regionally accredited institution
    • Minimum graduate GPA of 3.5 on a 4-point scale
    • Three letters of recommendation on CUI forms, one completed by the applicant's supervisor and two from persons who can attest to the applicant's potential for doctoral study and leadership.
    • A current professional résumé
    • A Statement of Intent. This should be a double-spaced paper, five to seven pages in length detailing the applicant's: a) educational goals, b) short- and long-term professional goals, c) professional activities, d) research interests to be pursued in the program, e) research experience, f) distance learning experience, and g) reasons for choosing the CUI doctoral program.
    • A five to seven page writing sample that demonstrates the applicant’s ability to write cogently and use research and professional literature effectively in developing ideas and arguments (e.g., a master’s thesis, a scholarly article published in a journal, a comprehensive course paper, or a major district report)
    • A valid California Certificate of Clearance (A copy of a valid California credential may be used in lieu of a certificate).
    • All program admission documents must be submitted before an application file is considered complete.
  2. Each Ed.D. application file is evaluated as a whole by a doctoral faculty committee to determine if the prospective candidate should be contacted for an in-person interview.
  3. During the in-person interview the prospective candidate meets with the Executive Director of the Ed.D. program and possibly one or more program faculty. In the interview, the candidate is asked to discuss how candidate interest in the doctoral program in educational leadership related to the candidate’s career goals, experience with online learning environments, interests in scholarship, prior research activities, and how future educational pursuits align to the overall mission of Concordia University Irvine.
  4. Within two weeks of the interview, the candidate is notified as to whether or not the candidate has been officially accepted to the Ed.D. program.

If you have questions regarding the application process or the Ed.D. program, please contact:

Rina Campbell
Director of Graduate and Adult Admissions
(949) 214-3561

Get Started Today.

Have questions about Concordia University's online doctoral degree in Educational Leadership? Not sure how to get started? Fill out the form below, and one of our admissions counselors will get in touch with you.