Are you ready to take your leadership to the next level?

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Education Policy and Leadership Studies from Iowa's top-ranked College of Education will take your leadership to the next level. Join a supportive cohort in a rigorous and convenient program steeped in the latest research and delivered by renowned faculty.

The Ed.D. is designed for educators seeking a terminal doctoral degree to practice upper-level leadership in PK-20 educational settings. Based on the scholar-practitioner model, the Ed.D. differs from the Ph.D. in that it allows for a more practical-based approach, grounded in problem-based learning pedagogy, to use and perform applied research in educational settings.

Questions? Contact

This new degree uses a blended learning delivery (online and in-person) to introduce you to a broad community of learners and applies problem-based learning to identify and address complex issues in educational settings. This strategy promotes active and effective learning in your work settings and will create a learning environment that fosters collaboration and critical analysis. In short, you will be prepared to be part of a work force of educational leaders who can lead your institutions with wisdom, innovation, and integrity.

For nearly 100 years, the College of Education has been preparing educational administrators, specifically school principals, curricular leaders, and superintendents. As part of the EPLS department, the Ed.D degree is taught by faculty from our nationally-ranked graduate programs including Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA), Educational Leadership (EdL), and Schools, Culture, and Society (SCS). You will take your core and applied research courses with your cohort of learners from both subtracks (PK-12 and Higher Education). While completing your concentration course work, you will join graduate students from the Ed Leadership or HESA programs.

Classes will be delivered in one of three ways to address the needs of students:

  • Blended classes with face-to-face enrollment, as well as distance real-time enrollment. Classes will be held primarily in Iowa City.
  • Intensive two-day courses will be held in Iowa City or Des Moines.
  • Intensive one-week courses will be scheduled in Iowa City, with face-to-face enrollment, coupled with 2-3 brief online meetings prior to the one-week meeting. In this format, students are typically allowed 3-4 weeks to complete assignments.
  • Classes will be offered year-round, including January, May, and August short terms.
  • EPLS:6307 will require in-person attendance in Iowa City on August 1, 2020 and August 15, 2020.

Application Deadlines

  • February 1 (Fall semester)

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from a Regionally Accredited American College or University, or an equivalent degree from another country as determined by the Office of Admissions.
  • A master’s degree in higher education, student affairs, student development, K-12 leadership, or other related field - with a graduate GPA of 3.0
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General test – verbal and quantitative. NOTE: The GRE requirement has been suspended for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. Please note that the GRE is not required for graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships, or research assistantships within the College of Education, nor is it required for Graduate College fellowships. The GRE is a requirement for Special Graduate Assistantships (SGAs) offered through the Iowa Measurement and Research Foundation.
  • Three years of full-time experience in either K-12 or higher education
  • English Proficiency Requirements (international students)

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 Documents

  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions
  • NOTE: The GRE requirement has been suspended for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. 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
  • A statement of purpose (Filedownload instructions).
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Letters of recommendation including one from an administrator and one from a faculty member. 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,

Questions about EdD program requirements can be directed to:

Megan McVancel
N475 Lindquist Center
Iowa City, Iowa 52242

We look forward to receiving your application!


This Ed.D. program requires 75 credit hours beyond the Baccalaureate degree, the majority of which must be completed at the University of Iowa. Up to 36 semester hours may be transferred in from a previous graduate degree from an accredited University. We expect students in the Ed.D. program to be working in their field full-time, so the rate of progress may vary individually.

Core (8 s.h.)

  • EPLS:6307 Professional Seminar for Ed.D. Students (1 s.h.)
    Note: Will require in-person attendance in Iowa City on August 1, 2020 and August 15, 2020.
  • EPLS:6321 Social Advocacy Summit (1 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6217 Theory & Practice of Leadership (3 s.h.)
  • Diversity and Equity Requirement (3 s.h.)
    May be fulfilled by one of the following courses:
    • EPLS:6275 Diversity & Equity in Higher Education
    • EPLS:7432 Multicultural Initiatives
    • EPLS:5240 Facilitating Controversial Dialogue/Facilitator Preparation

Applied Research (16 s.h.)

  • PSQF:6241 Quant Policy Analysis for Practitioners (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6266 Program Evaluation (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6352 Action Research in Educational Settings (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:7483 Doctoral Capstone Proposal Course (3 s.h.) **
  • EPLS:7485 Capstone Research Project - equivalent of dissertation (4 s.h.)

** The Doctoral Capstone Proposal Course is designed to address an applied problem in the student’s workplace. Once the proposal is approved by an examination committee of three faculty (chaired by the student’s advisor), the student may advance to the Capstone Research Project under the direction of the faculty advisor.

Graduate Electives (36 s.h.)

  • Up to 36 s.h. in the related field may be transferred in

Concentration (15 s.h.)

Coursework on either higher education or K12 will be taken with the Ph.D. students in the relative subprogram, as detailed below.

K-12 Leadership

  • EPLS:6270 Policy and Politics of Leadership (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6323 Finance for School Leadership Consortium Training (2 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6325 Organizational and Educational Leadership (2 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6317 Operational Leadership & Management (1 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6329 Legislative Summit (1 s.h.)
  • Additional courses toward the superintendency endorsement or electives (6 s.h.)

Note: If you want to receive superintendent licensure, you must complete all of the required courses to meet the licensure requirements.

Higher Education

  • EPLS:6225 Higher Education Policy (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6216 Finance in Higher Education (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6336 Impact of College on Students (3 s.h.)
  • EPLS:6218 The Law & Higher Education (3 s.h.)
    Fall 2020 in-person sessions: 9/19, 10/17, 11/7 (12/5 snow day/back-up)
  • EPLS:5252 Administration of Higher Education & Student Affairs (3 s.h.)


How does the Ed.D. differ from the Ph.D. at Iowa?

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree is designed for working educational professionals seeking a terminal doctoral degree to practice upper-level leadership in K-20 educational settings. Based on the scholar-practitioner model, this program blends advanced preparation in the pragmatic knowledge and skills needed to improve educational practices and policies. The Ed.D. is distinctive from the Ph.D. in that it allows for a more applied research approach to the terminal degree that is grounded in problem-based learning pedagogy. The Ph.D., with its focus on the generation of scholarship and new knowledge, prepares researchers and graduate educators for teaching and research positions. In contrast, the Ed.D. will focus on administrative leadership in educational institutions and related organizations, in both PK-12 and higher education settings. The Ed.D. will help the UI College of Education meet the demand of preparing advanced-level practitioners for the knowledge economy, particularly in educational settings.

How would you describe the educational outcomes of the program?

The following outcomes reflect our academic objectives. As a result of completing the Ed.D. graduates will be able to:

  • Apply the knowledge, skills, and inquiry strategies to solve significant problems related to educational policies and practices.
  • Evaluate and use data to make judgments to improve practice and policy.
  • Understand and apply evidence of effective organizational and systemic change for equity, inclusion, and justice.
  • Frame situations from multiple perspectives.
  • Identify and meet contemporary challenges facing schools and higher education.
  • Embrace differences of persons and perspectives.
  • Develop a critical and professional perspective that is ethical and promotes change for equity and inclusion.
  • Link theory with systematic inquiry and assessment to improve educational policy and practice.
  • Execute a scholarly project that addresses real and complex problems in practice. 

Why Iowa for an Ed.D.? What sets it apart from other programs?

  • Three-year cohort model using online, hybrid, condensed, and weekend courses will provide convenience and stretch our impact.
  • Learn with and from your cohort as you take core and applied research courses together. You will collaborate around problems of practice and gain insight and perspective from classmates with other practitioner foci (K12, Higher Education, functional areas, etc.).
  • Share concentration courses with students in the Ph.D. programs to strengthen both cohorts as dialogue across research and practice occurs in the classroom.
  • Learn from world-class graduate faculty.
  • Designed for practicing school, district, and higher education professionals, coursework will prepare students to be effective consumers of research with skills in program evaluation and outcomes assessment.
  • The first cohort will begin August 2020.