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 and Fall 2018 cohort starts.

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
  • Terms 1-4: 2 times per term
  • Terms 5-10: tbd by dissertation chair and doctoral student 

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: 6-8 students.
    • For dissertation seminars 1 and 2: 3-4 students with 1 professor
    • For dissertation seminars 3 and 4: 1-to-1 with assigned chair of dissertation commitee
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Integrated 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 for Whole System Reform
  • 3
This course will equip students with knowledge and skills to understand and practice their role as leaders in a climate of change. An emphasis will be placed on applying leadership and organizational theory to build and sustain cultures of learning. 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 assess their leadership traits and styles, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas in need of improvement. Research skills will be strengthened through the evaluation and annotation of primary sources on such topics as whole system reform, coherence building, systems thinking, leadership, organizational planning and learning.
  • EDD 702: Building Capacity for Learning and Continuous Improvement 
  • 3

This course immerses students in an in-depth exploration of three leadership modes— instructional, adaptive, and transformational—to create capacity for learning and continuous improvement. Through the examination of these modes, students will further their understanding, skills and competencies to ensure quality learning systems, cultivate a high-performing faculty, foster continuous improvement, inspire a shared vision, model cultural responsiveness, and sustain inclusive learning communities. Research skills will be strengthened through the evaluation and annotation of primary sources on such topics as capacity building, leadership, and learning organizations, among other topics. Students will also create a personal philosophy and leadership development plan to demonstrate their own commitment to continuous learning and improvement.

  • 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 leadership, 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 educational 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 will equip students with the knowledge and skills to effectively analyze and evaluate education finance to lead educational organizations in a climate of change. The course provides an overview of fiscal leadership by surveying the dynamic landscape of education finance from federal, state, and local levels, with emphasis given to funding educational institutions equitably and adequately. The course also covers some aspects of business administration such as revenue sources, local control, budgeting, accounting, and auditing to provide students a foundation in education finance. Specific emphasis will be given to financing California school districts and institutions of higher education.
  • 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 in order to influence decisions made at each site and/or district level.
  • 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 set 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 curriculum and instruction, 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: Dissertation Seminar 1
  • .25
Dissertation Seminar 1 serves as an orientation to the initial stages of the dissertation seminar process. This seminar will focus on identification of a potential research topic, conducting a broad scan of the literature, reviewing, summarizing, and classifying annotated sources, 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.
  • EDD 771a: Dissertation Seminar 1
  • .25
EDD 771a is a continuation of EDD 771.
  • EDD 772: Dissertation Seminar 2
  • .25
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 772a: Dissertation Seminar 2
  • .25
EDD 772a is a continuation of EDD 772.
  • EDD 773: Dissertation Seminar 3
  • .25
Dissertation Seminar 3 serves as a time for students to focus on scholarly writing skills and specifically on the development of a problem statement and a preliminary chapter two of the dissertation proposal. Important in this seminar will be the student’s identification of a theoretical 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. Students will receive faculty feedback on drafts of their written work. The final outcomes include the identification of a research problem completion of a preliminary chapter two literature review.
  • EDD 773a Dissertation Seminar 3
  • .25
EDD 773a is a continuation of EDD 773.
  • EDD 773b Dissertation Seminar 3
  • .25
EDD 773b is a continuation of EDD 773a.
  • EDD 774 Dissertation Seminar 4
  • .25
In Dissertation Seminar 4 students will focus on the development of the preliminary methodology chapter for the preliminary dissertation proposal and on the development and alignment of research questions to research methods described in the chapter. Students will be guided on the collection and analysis of data, both quantitatively and qualitatively, to lead them to the answering of their research questions, based on skills that have been developed through the Research Benchmarks: Quantitative Research Plan and Qualitative Research Plan. Students will also receive feedback from the instructor on drafts of chapter one (problem statement, purpose of the study, & research questions) and chapter three of the preliminary dissertation proposal.
  • EDD 774a Dissertation Seminar 4
  • .25
EDD 774a is a continuation of EDD 774.
  • EDD 774b Dissertation Seminar 4
  • .25
Dissertation Seminar 774b serves as a time for writing, review, revision, and approval of the preliminary dissertation proposal. Students will also be provided with direction in developing a detailed timeline leading them to successful completion of the next stages of the dissertation process.
  • EDD 775 Dissertation Seminar 5
  • .25
Dissertation Seminar 5 parallels EDD 791 (a-c) to provide doctoral candidates further direction and strategies in implementing the comprehensive dissertation proposal, addressing challenges that arise in the collection and analysis of data, organizing and writing chapter 4 and chapter 5 of the final dissertation document, and preparing for the dissertation oral defense as outlined in the doctoral student handbook. Candidates will also attend and participate in a professional conference to gain a complete understanding of the research process and to promote networking among professionals.
  • EDD 775a Dissertation Seminar 5
  • .25
EDD 775a is a continuation of EDD 775.
  • EDD 775b Dissertation Seminar 5
  • .25
EDD 775b is a continuation of EDD 775a.
  • EDD 775c Dissertation Seminar 5
  • .25
EDD 775c is a continuation of EDD 775b.
  • EDD 781 Dissertation
  • 1-3
During the dissertation proposal and research phases, the doctoral candidate engages in a number of activities and tasks to fulfill the requirements of the dissertation track.

A doctoral student may need additional time to complete the preliminary dissertation proposal, under the guidance of the student’s Seminar 4 professor. Once approved by the seminar professor and Doctoral Office, the doctoral candidate is assigned to a dissertation chair and committee.

Under the direction of the dissertation chair and working with committee members, the doctoral candidate develops final versions of the dissertation proposal including the problem statement, literature review, and research design. The candidate will also receive training and gain certification on the institutional review board (IRB) approval process at Concordia and submit proposals to the IRB. During this time the candidate also prepares for the oral defense of the dissertation proposal and work with the dissertation chair to schedule the oral defense of the proposal.

Dissertation research involves implementation of the dissertation research design, collection and analysis of data, and reporting and discussion of research findings. Each doctoral candidate will execute the research design, follow the dissertation proposal timeline, collect and analyze data related to dissertation research questions, work with the dissertation chair to discuss the execution of the dissertation research plan and progress made on data collection and analysis, organize and write drafts of chapters 4 and 5 of the dissertation, and prepare for the dissertation oral defense as outlined in the doctoral student handbook. Dissertation research culminates in the successful completion of the dissertation and dissertation oral defense.
  • EDD 781a Dissertation
  • 1-3
EDD 781a is a continuation of EDD 781.
  • EDD 791: Dissertation
  • 1-3
EDD 791 is a continuation of EDD 781a.
  • EDD 791a: Dissertation
  • 1-3
EDD 791a is a continuation of EDD 791.
  • EDD 791b: Dissertation
  • 1-3
EDD 791b is a continuation of EDD 791a.
  • EDD 791c: Dissertation
  • 1-3
EDD 791c is a continuation of EDD 791b.
  • EDD 792: Dissertation
  • 1
EDD 792 Dissertation is a course extension requirement for candidates who have not completed the dissertation and the dissertation oral defense. Tuition fees are waived for this extension.
  • EDD 792a: Dissertation
  • 1
EDD 792a is a continuation of EDD 792. Tuition fees are waived for this extension.
  • EDD 792b: Dissertation
  • 1
EDD 792b is a continuation of EDD 792a. Tuition fees are waived for this extension.
  • EDD 792c: Dissertation
  • 1
EDD 792c is a continuation of EDD 792b. Tuition fees are waived for this extension.
  • EDD 793: Dissertation
  • 1
EDD 793 Dissertation is a course extension continuous enrollment requirement for candidates who have not completed the dissertation and the dissertation oral defense, by the end of EDD 792c. Tuition fees are not waived for this extension.
  • EDD 793a: Dissertation
  • 1
EDD 793a is a continuation of EDD 793. Candidates, who have not completed the dissertation and the dissertation oral defense in EDD 793a, enroll in EDD 793b and then EDD 793c, etc. as warranted. Tuition fees are not waived for these extensions.

Educational trips.

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 cost per credit unit ($940 per credit unit, with 46 required credit units) is a locked rate for the duration of a cohort. These estimated costs do not include application and graduation fees, 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 such as academic regalia.

Ed.D.: Educational Leadership

Summer '18

Fall '18 / Spring '19

Application Fee (Non-Refundable) $50 $50
International Application Processing Fee $150 $150
Graduation Fee    graduation fee
Ed.D. in Educational Leadership $940/unit $940/unit
Student Service Fee $200/Semester $200/Semester
Washington, DC Trip (required)   $2,500 (estimated)
People's Republic of China Trip (optional)   $3,000 (estimated)

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 seven to ten 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:

Amanda Lopez
(949) 214-3025

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.