What Is an Educational Leadership Doctorate?

Nursing has been in a state of crisis for the last several years. While current labor shortages are often attributed to the ravaging effects of the pandemic, the truth isn’t quite so simple.

An Educational Leadership Doctorate (EdD) is focused on helping teachers, community educators, and administrators in attaining knowledge regarding advanced teaching and learning research. Educational leaders are crucial for teaching students at all stages in life and enabling them to interpret, maintain and understand information.

In the past, schools focused on repetition and memorization, but that is not the case today. Modern education calls for teaching students socio-emotional skills, decision-making, and creative strategies. This helps nurture unique learners.

If you wish to drive change as a department head, tech expert, remote learning specialist, school superintendent, political leader, teacher, or curriculum director, you are in the right spot! This guide shall look at EdD in great depth so you can decide whether earning a doctorate in education leadership is the right choice for you.

What Is an Educational Leadership Doctorate?

Individuals that pursue an EdD can have similar goals, but they will have different backgrounds. Some may be teachers in a P-12 school setting, while others may pursue the degree to work with the public on community/technology initiatives. Candidates often come from the following backgrounds:

  • Higher education leaders or administration
  • Entrepreneurs from the startup community
  • Governmental agencies
  • Educational non-profit organizations 
  • K-12 leadership posts

EdD Curriculum

The EdD syllabus uses the latest research methods to produce a course catering to all teaching methods. Core subjects include:

  • Educational policies, including their role in politics
  • Leadership skills required by school administrators
  • Teaching and learning topics
  • Organizational change in public or private schools

Students that graduate from Ph.D. and EdD programs can take their research findings to their classroom or company. Capstone projects and personalized dissertations allow experts to work with new teaching strategies at a community, school, or national level. The program takes two to five years to complete, and a practicum is required towards the end of the program. Ph.D. students focus more on leadership theory, school system structure, and other research topics. Educational doctorates focus on evidence and are known for research-based practice.

What is EBP?

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a method to question existing learning/teaching status. Without this, instructional strategies would have been passed down through generations. They would not have been updated or tested to make them adapt to modern education.

Evidence-based practice helps educational leaders build new curricula, organize subjects better and change classroom atmosphere based on research. All studies are performed in proper control settings on experimental groups before being implemented in a classroom. Individuals that opt for a Ph.D. or EdD will explore evidence-based practice in detail during the internship phase.

Ph.D. Vs. EdD

  • A Ph.D. is focused on organizational change and research; graduates are often full-time researchers.
  • An EdD is perfect for teachers, administrators, or practitioners in a leading role or classroom.
  • Individuals that wish to work on a personal or national level should opt for the Ph.D. They can also work on research projects in higher education institutions.
  • An EdD graduate also participates in research but can apply their findings to a classroom/school immediately. Most candidates also often complete their education online while they continue with teaching.
  • A Ph.D. program requires a traditional dissertation, whereas EdD candidates are required to finish internships/field placements. This allows them to report research findings in a final capstone project.

EdD Admission Requirements

EdD candidates come from diverse backgrounds. Due to this, some institutes have specific admission requirements. However, most programs demand the following:

  • Program application
  • Minimum GPA and transcript 
  • Application fees
  • Essay question
  • State administrator licenses
  • TOEFL/GMAT/GRE scores
  • Scholarship/financial aid application 
  • Master’s degree in a similar field
  • Letter of recommendation (three in most cases)
  • Resume with detailed work experience 

Getting admission to a reputable program can get tough as some institutes take only a certain amount of students every alternate year. The interview process and writing sample screening may also be quite strict, even if you pass the first stage. Candidates are often selected based on licensure, expertise, past work experience, and specialization goals.

EdD Program Specialization

An EdD holds different meanings at various educational levels, careers, and life stages. Most programs, therefore, encourage students to specialize. Some are automatically specialized to turn candidates into superintendents. Other programs mention whether the syllabus covers post-secondary education or P-12 education. Students may also be given a choice to pick a relevant specialization like the ones below:

  • Education technology
  • Higher education curriculum
  • Higher education law
  • P-12 education administration
  • Social inequality and policy
  • International education
  • Student affairs

EdD Dissertation Topics

  • Charter, private, and public school-specific curriculum topics
  • Community involvement in educational administration
  • Teacher evaluation methods
  • Effects of poor leadership by education administrators
  • Imbalances across school districts
  • The role of the department of education
  • Social-emotional learning in the classroom
  • Teaching and learning tactics
  • Social and cultural impacts on education


An Educational Leadership Doctorate is the perfect choice if you wish to teach or land a higher administrative role in an educational institution. The best part is that you can also complete your doctorate online as you work alongside. This way you can attain higher education without financial burden.

Sophia Carlisle
Sophia Carlisle is a professional writer.
More by 
apply today

Tired of writing scholarship essays?

We don't blame you! Take a break from writing and apply for our Recycled Essay Scholarship today.

Learn More

Useful insight and advice in your inbox.

Sign up for the latest updates on applying for college financial aid -- delivered right to your inbox.
* We don't share your data. See our Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Stay up to date with the latest from Grantford.