The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership prepares candidates for a wide range of leadership positions in education and public sector settings.

The 90- semester hour Ph.D. in Educational Leadership is designed to provide students with strong backgrounds in three domains: leadership, policy, and research. The program prepares scholarly professionals who discover, integrate, and apply knowledge as transformational leaders. This program does not result in any kind of licensure or endorsement.

Application Deadlines

  • January 2 (Fall semester)
  • December 2 (Spring semester)

Admission Requirements

These are general criteria; the admissions committee considers each applicant's entire portfolio. Applicants will not be considered until they have submitted a complete application packet.

Application Process

  1. Create an application account to begin the application process.
  2. Submit the online application to the Graduate College and pay the $60 application fee by credit card ($100 for international applicants).
  3. Once you have submitted your application, you will receive email instructions on how to establish your HawkID and password which you will use to access MyUI, our online service center for students and applicants.
  4. You will use your Admissions Profile on MyUI to upload required supplemental materials.

Required Supplemental Materials

  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions
  • Official GRE scores from Educational Testing Service (the University’s institutional code is 6681)
  • Official TOEFL scores may be required for some non-native speakers of English
  • Three to five pages (double-spaced) statement of purpose, addressing your educational philosophy, past leadership experience, and career aspirations with respect to K-12 leadership. Statements should include a portion detailing your potential research/dissertation interests and rationale, and should be connected to scholarship in the field.
  • *Three letters from individuals who can speak to your promise as a leader or as a researcher/scholar

* You will be asked to give the contact information of your recommenders, including their email, on your Admissions Profile. The recommender will then get an email with instructions on how to upload the recommendation letter and/or form.


Application questions can be directed to: Sue Cline in the Office of Student Services   319/335-5260,

We look forward to receiving your application!

Additional Application Information

For PhD students applying for an assistantship, please note that most TA and GA positions are contracted for an academic year, with most funding decisions made in the spring semester.  If you wish to be considered for an assistantship, your materials must be received by January 2 for Fall Semester.

If you have missed a deadline, you may sign up for up to 6 semester hours of classes as a non-degree student.

Applicants for admission must satisfy the requirements of the Educational Leadership program and the Graduate College, which includes a registration requirement that students complete at least 39 s.h. after admission to the program. Candidates will be selected on the basis of grade-point average, promise for scholarly and professional growth, GRE scores, and recommendations. Transcripts, three letters of recommendation, official GRE general test scores, and a statement of career goals are required for regular admission. Application to all graduate programs (degree or non-degree) in the College of Education requires official GRE general test scores. Complete application materials are reviewed as received for rolling admission.

Student Handbook

Educational Leadership Ph.D. Program


Minimum total semester hours required: 90 s.h.

Course Delivery

Educational leadership faculty teach courses for the superintendent endorsement programs in a blended format on Saturdays and via distance delivery. Interested students may count coursework in the program toward the PhD. Completion of the PhD requires attendance on campus for two semesters of residency (9 semester hours each), 18 semester hours of research courses, and other requirements as determined by academic advisors.

Course Requirements

Common Courses (12 s.h.)

  • EPLS:6217 Theory and Practice of Leadership (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6224 Organizational Theory & Administrative Behavior (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6226 Educational Management (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6311 Seminar: Research Topic in Education/Leadership (3 s.h.)

Cognates (9 s.h.)

Students who specialize in leadership must complete a 9 s.h. cognate outside of the Educational Policy and Leadership Studies department.

Electives (29 s.h.)

Each student will complete electives in a related field approved by their academic advisor. Students are encouraged to present their M.A. degree as the related field, where appropriate.

Specific Area of Concentration - Educational Leadership (12 s.h.)

Courses applicable to building a strong background in leadership include coursework in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies (educational leadership, higher education, social foundations of education), public administration, business, and behavioral and social sciences, among others.

Courses may be chosen from the following:

  • EPLS:6218 The Law and Higher Education or EPLS6:6299 Legal Aspect of School Administration (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6225 Introduction to Public Policymaking (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6228 Policy Design and Implementation (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6265 Standards-based Education and Accountability (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6270 Politics and Policy of Leadership (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6311 Seminar: Research in Education (3 s.h.)


Each student will complete no fewer than 18 semester hours of graduate courses in research design, quantitative, and qualitative required methods appropriate for doctoral-level research in Educational Leadership. Students will consult with their advisors to select appropriate courses approved by the College of Education. College of Education Research Requirements.

Note: Educational Leadership Ph.D. students may substitute EPLS:6206 Research Process and Design for EALL:5150 Introduction to Educational Research. Contact your advisor for more information.

Comprehensive Exams

The comprehensive exam is viewed as a culminating experience for doctoral students. Ph.D. students must satisfactorily complete a take-home comprehensive examinations consisting of three areas. The first is in the major area of study; the second is in the other concentration area; and the third is in the students’ chosen outside area of study and is prepared by faculty members outside the Educational Policy and Leadership Studies department. The written exams are followed by an oral examination.


An original research project is to be developed in an area of Educational Leadership.

  • EPLS:7493 Ph.D. Thesis (10 s.h)
Employment Opportunities
  • School leaders
  • Professors
  • Policymakers
Application Deadlines
  • January 2 (Fall semester)
  • December 2 (Spring semester)
Application Questions