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Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

  • Credits:
  • Degree:
    Doctor of Education

Program Description


The Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership equips practitioner-scholars to become more effective educational leaders through improved analytical and research skills. The objective of the program is to develop a new generation of social justice leaders in education who work collaboratively to find research-based solutions to the complex challenges facing K-12 school systems.

What Is Educational Leadership?

Educational leadership involves working with teachers, parents, students, and public policy makers to improve the quality of education and the education system. Educational leaders are often employed as school principals, deans, department chairs, or other administrative leadership roles.  

Cambridge College Educational Leadership Program Highlights

The doctorate in educational leadership at Cambridge College offers a flexible, affordable graduate program option to take your career to the next level. Benefits of our program include:

  • Flexible options. Pursue your PhD in educational leadership on a schedule that works for you. Cambridge College offers convenient evening, weekend, and online classes designed for working professionals.
  • Hands-on learning. Engage in research and other hands-on learning experiences to prepare for real-world careers.
  • Exceptional value. Save on tuition at one of the most affordable four-year private nonprofit colleges in the United States.
  • Experienced faculty. Work closely with accessible, dedicated faculty who bring extensive research and professional experience in educational leadership to the coursework.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, elementary, middle school, and high school principals working in Boston, Massachusetts, earn an average of $114,310 per year. Boston is one of the metropolitan areas with the highest level of employment for this occupation.

Educational Leadership Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Educational Leadership doctorate program will be community-oriented and culturally competent leaders who epitomize the ideal of the practitioner-scholar.

Educational Leadership Careers

Many of our PhD in educational leadership graduates go on to positions such as:

  • Principal
  • Superintendent
  • Academic Dean
  • Department Chair
  • Provost
  • President

Example Educational Leadership Courses

The Educational Leadership program features courses such as:

  • Educational Leadership and Social Justice
  • Transformative Educational Leadership
  • Quantitative Research Methods and Design

Download the PhD in Educational Leadership program sheet.

Educational Leadership Scholarships and Financial Aid

You may qualify for grants, scholarships, loans, and other types of financial assistance to help pay for your educational leadership doctorate. Learn more about applying for financial aid at Cambridge College.

Many companies also offer tuition assistance programs that can help to pay for education. Find information about getting your company to help.

Related Programs at Cambridge College

If you’re still exploring degree options, you might be interested in learning more about these programs at Cambridge College:



Summer 1

4-week cohort residency

Educational Leadership and Social Justice
EDL 830 3 credit(s)
Schools have long been regarded as a key instrument in the struggle for social justice in American life. Horace Mann described public schools as the great “balance wheel in the social machinery,” and public schools were founded on the belief that equal educational opportunity could preserve social harmony and bring to fruition democratic goals. This course asks how well the schools and the societal values that schools mirror have accomplished this task, while exploring ways that leaders can more effectively develop strategies to challenge the roots of oppression and injustice. We will discuss what the expression, “all children can learn,” means in theory and practice, and we will analyze organizational, social, and economic policies to determine how they support or undermine this commonly held belief. We will discuss how school leaders can collaborate with parents, community agencies and other institutions to work for social justice, and we will examine ways leaders can. Finally, we’ll consider the challenges faced by school leaders as they apply policies and resources so that all children have equal opportunities, expectations, and encouragement to learn.
Contexts for Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methodologies
EDL 850 3 credit(s)
Educational leaders must be able to make sound decisions based on meaningful data and proven research. In this course students learn the quantitative and qualitative research skills needed in today’s climate of school accountability. Students will review the core strategies of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies and consider how these strategies may be used to inform school/district decision making. Students will study the meaning of data-driven decision making. Students will be introduced to the concept of research as a powerful force for achieving social justice.
Introduction to Doctoral Studies
EDL 900 1 credit(s)
This course serves as an introduction to doctoral studies. It provides an opportunity for students to explore both the big picture of what it means to be a doctoral student and the specifics of the doctoral process at Cambridge College. This course is meant to complement doctoral coursework in general and the doctoral seminar in particular. Readings, seminars, and online coursework will provide the student with the opportunity to develop a solid grounding for future research, reflection, and action in their doctoral studies.
Doctoral Research Seminar I: Strategies and Tactics
EDL 910 3 credit(s)
The goal of this course is to introduce the new doctoral cohort to the realities that are part of the transformative doctoral experience. Although previous degrees were “earned,” one “takes” a doctoral degree, reflecting the transformation from student to practitioner-researcher though a three-year experience that culminates in the completion of a research project that makes an original contribution to educational praxis. In support of this journey, this course introduces the student to a variety of topics, including but not limited to understanding scientific and social scientific research paradigms; tools of inquiry and search strategies; research problems that matter; sorting through the social scientific body of literature relevant to researchable educational problems. The course will be grounded by an interactive pedagogic discussion approach based on advance reading of assigned text by the students, focused summation of main points by study groups and professors, and continuing dialogue grounded by questions brought by class members and professors.
Year 1 - Fall

One doctoral elective possible (see list below).

Doctoral Research Seminar II: Research in the Public Interest
EDL 920 1 credit(s)
(formerly Dissertation Seminar II). This course helps students understand and appreciate the difference between social advocacy and social research in the public interest. The first step that we will be to examine the history of educational research and how educational leadership research came to the place we are today among other academic niches. Education and the study of education have historically occupied a contentious and shifting ground between social science and the humanities, and the early 20th century history of educational research as a sub-discipline indicates that it was prone to emulate the sciences in the early days in order to carve out an area of academic respectability in academe. This course is designed to allow doctoral students to continue exploration of potential topics leading to a researchable question that may become the basis for the dissertation. It also introduces discussion of the “Why bother?” questions that relate to purpose and significance of research: 1) are you considering a topic that has value as measured by its potential contribution to the public interest, 2) does your research interest have social justice implications?
Transformative Educational Leadership
EDL 810 3 credit(s)
This course surveys a range of leadership theories that have influenced and continue to influence American society in various ways. The course provides opportunities to understand and apply leadership principles to influence educational decisions that advance social justice. This course challenges leaders to serve as catalysts for the establishment of learning communities designed to promote a sense of mutual care, social responsibility, and moral courage. Students will study change and how to anticipate, understand, plan and implement change to achieve goals. This course will build leadership capacity and enable the creative leader to use his or her talents to help empower others to identify and use their talents. Students will read both primary source materials and critically analyze leadership theories.
Qualitative Research Methods and Design
EDL 860 3 credit(s)
Prerequisite: EDL 850. This course introduces first year doctoral students to the foundations and methodologies of qualitative research. Course topics include philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research; planning for a qualitative research project; negotiating entry to the field; ethics of conducting research, data collection and analysis techniques (i.e. interviewing, observations, content analysis, focus groups); and writing/presenting qualitative research. The course includes field based exercises and assignments involving participant observation and interviewing. It also includes the analysis and presentation of qualitative research data.
Year 1 - Spring
Doctoral Research Seminar III: Reflective Inquiry as Stance
EDL 930 1 credit(s)
Self-reflection and reflection on experienced phenomena as the starting point of practitioner research are the foci of this seminar. Based in epistemology and ontology, this course assists the student in discovering how he or she perceives and understands experience, and then frames it for use in practice, praxis, and research. With this self-knowledge the student develops a position—a stance—from which he or she will initiate dissertation research. Prerequisite: 920.
Quantitative Research Methods and Design
EDL 870 3 credit(s)
Prerequisite: EDL 850. This course is designed to introduce first year doctoral students to the quantitative research skills required of effective executive educational leaders. Students study the descriptive and inferential statistical methods often used in research in education. Areas of study will include sampling, probability, variables, reliability and validity, confidence intervals, hypotheses testing, correlation and regression. Students will be introduced to data analysis techniques using a computer and statistical software package (e.g., SPSS). The goals of the course are to: provide students with the analytical tools necessary to become effective, critical consumers of educational research; and to enable students to oversee and supervise staff in the preparation, development, and dissemination of evaluative research.
Systems Approaches to Educational Leadership
EDL 892 3 credit(s)
This course will combine elements of organization, leadership, decision making and change theory. A focus will be on the identification of the major teaching and learning systems of schools and school districts and the related complex network of subsystems. An educational leader must be able to identify major and support systems all of which exist in social, economic, legal, cultural and political contexts. Positive transformation of education is a function of leadership style, communications, group dynamics, motivation, power and the change process. The school leader’s knowledge of the school system and the outside environment as a whole will inform decision making that is sensitive to all levels of the educational organization.
Summer 2

5-week cohort residency. Take EDL 880 or EDL 890.

Prospectus Development for Doctoral Candidacy
EDL 940 3 credit(s)
In this course, students will pull together theory and methodology from their first year of study and will develop a prospectus for their doctoral dissertation. The prospectus will be comprised of an articulated and organized plan for the dissertation that includes the introduction with research problem, preliminary research question(s), significance for educational leadership, and social justice implications of the proposed research. The prospectus will also include a review of the most important scholarly research and a preliminary discussion of methodology, with a rationale for the methodology selected. The prospectus will become the basis for the dissertation proposal and for the selection of the doctoral chair and committee.
Social and Cultural Foundations of Educational Leadership
EDL 840 3 credit(s)
This course will support students’ understanding of and engagement in the process of becoming informed educational leaders and effective scholar-practitioners. Through sustained investigation and dialogue grounded in the philosophical, social science, and historical literature on American schooling, the class will examine the changing purposes of schooling and the evolving roles of educational leaders. Readings of classic and contemporary texts will align with substantive in-class discussions and written analysis to prepare educational leaders to view schools within the larger context of American ideological commitments and political realities. Additionally, this course serves to support students’ dissertation scholarship through a close examination of ideas and events that are foundational to the forming of theoretical and conceptual frameworks for a variety of research areas.
Advanced Qualitative Research
EDL 880 3 credit(s)
This course is designed for second year doctoral students who have identified qualitative research as the appropriate methodology for their dissertations. This seminar-style course will delve in greater depth into specific qualitative traditions selected by each student for his or her dissertation. Students will read primary source methodology literature, while exploring the foundations of the selected methodology and the scholarly debates surrounding the evolution of underlying philosophies and techniques. Students will also explore in-depth qualitative techniques and examine how specific qualitative traditions influence the nature of the research problem, the articulation of research questions, and the application of common qualitative research techniques. Data analysis will be explored in depth, and students will be expected to demonstrate competence in advanced analysis techniques and writing. The course includes field based exercises and assignments, culminating in the development of a methodology section for their dissertation proposal. Prerequisite: EDL 860.
Advanced Quantitative Research
EDL 890 3 credit(s)
Prerequisite: EDL870. This course is designed to provide students who are pursuing research and/or doing their dissertation based on quantitative research techniques. Students who are interested in pursuing mixed methods research with a fair amount of quantitative analysis are also encouraged to take this course. The course begins with a review of descriptive and inferential statistics, ANOVA and MANOVA, linear regression and other techniques presented in EDL870, the prerequisite for this course. The focus is to provide doctoral students with an advanced knowledge base of these statistical techniques to allow for a better understanding of which technique to select; and their own research and/or when reviewing the research of other researchers.
Year 2 - Fall

Two doctoral electives possible (see list below).

Ethical Leadership in Education Systems
EDL 895 3 credit(s)
Educational leaders are faced with ethical dilemmas and difficult decisions on a daily basis as they work to balance the educational needs of students with the interests, influences and demands of multiple stakeholders within schools and communities at large. The need for ethical leadership in educational organizations and communities has never been greater. Through scholarly reading, case studies, discussion and other formats, this course provides doctoral students with the opportunity to discover how educational praxis and social justice can provide a powerful moral compass for educational leaders facing complex demands in school organizations, as well as at the local, state and national level.
Dissertation Proposal Seminar I - Fall (Asynchronous and in-Person)
EDL 950 2 credit(s)
This course is for the student who requires additional time to complete the dissertation after EDL940.
Year 2 - Spring

EDL 960 Dissertation Proposal Seminar II

Two doctoral electives possible (see list below).

Collective Bargaining & Conflict Resolution
EDL 820 3 credit(s)
School leaders report that much of their interaction takes the form of problem solving, conflict resolution and negotiating. This course presents the principles necessary for effective behaviors in these areas in both formal and informal situations. In addition, the role of the administrator in collective bargaining and in the interpretation and maintenance of contract and personnel policies is addressed. Topics addressed include: school/community culture, conflict resolution, collective bargaining and contract maintenance (grievance, mediation and arbitration), as well as principles of power, justice and fairness. The course will examine how collective bargaining may be used as a tool for advocating socially-just policies and practices and balancing conflicting interests in pursuit of fairness and equity.
Year 3 - Fall and Spring

EDL 970 Dissertation Research and Writing, EDL 980 Completion and Defense, and one doctoral elective possible (see list below).

Doctoral Electives

Selected courses offered as needed for cohort interests.

Advanced Technologies in Education
ECL 803 3 credit(s)
This course focuses on the impact of a worldwide information intensive society on education policy and planning. Students study practical and theoretical issues pertaining to educational technologies. The course surveys practical applications for managing organizational information systems and databases. From a theoretical perspective, it focuses on using new technologies to serve various pedagogical philosophies and the impact of new technologies on instructional design, teaching and school reform. Practicum hours of directed field-based training required.
Educational Evaluation and Assessment Systems
EDL 805 3 credit(s)
“In the current age of accountability, educational leaders are required to be more skilled in assessment and evaluation than their predecessors were” (Williamson & Redish, 2009, p. 77). Educational leaders in today’s educational world, irrespective of level are expected to develop assessment and accountability systems to monitor student progress and monitor the impact of educational programs through the evaluation processes embedded within the accountability system (cf. ELCC Standard 2). The same applies for management and operational systems (ELCC Standards 3 and 4). To paraphrase comments regarding knowledge management in the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Education Criteria (2009-2010), in simplest terms, how knowledge is generated, used, accessed, and managed acts as core competencies for the institution’s “brain center,” particularly in terms of aligning programs and offerings with strategic objectives (cf. p. 41). This course provides students with a detailed background on assessment evaluation processes and techniques in order to be able to implement, maintain, generate, and analyze data to create meaningful information that assists in institutional decision making and provide assurance that performance expectations are met.
Instructional and Curricular Leadership
EDL 815 3 credit(s)
In today’s world, Instructional and curricular leadership is the responsibility of all, administrators and teachers. Teachers, other educational professionals, and administrators need a strong understanding of and set of skills encompassing many of the activities previously thought to be only the responsibility of administration such as program and teacher evaluation, the formulation of learner outcomes and the evaluation of how these outcomes are met, research informed instruction, community partnering and relationships, and advocating for teacher learning. This course focuses on providing students with a background in teaching as well as administration those competencies that allows them to be effective leaders within the classroom, the school, the district, and the community.
Leading Learning Organizations and Adult Learners
EDL 825 3 credit(s)
Ever since Senge’s (1990) seminal work came out on learning organizations, one of the key aspects of leadership preparation is learning the intricacies of what the term actually means. In an educational setting, the concept of learning organization can mean slightly different things to different people based on the focus of attention. This course explores the characteristics of learning organizations emphasizing the role teachers and other professionals play within the educational system. Working with adult learners requires different approaches and thinking regarding how they learn and perform their duties; therefore, prominence is given to how to create a culture of learning that leads to excellence. Creating and maintaining a learning culture takes great effort and a special commitment on the part of all within the educational system, which is why specific techniques and theories are presented in detail.
History: Education Policy and Reform
EDL 891 3 credit(s)
This course provides historical perspectives on the social forces and ideological commitments that shape contemporary educational issues and problems. In so doing, the course offers students as future leaders a deeper sense of context and process when faced with the prospect of educational policy change. While providing a basis for understanding the historical development of education policy and reform efforts in terms of political, social, economic, and ideological change, the course provides an introduction, too, to historical research practices and historiographical issues that pertain to American education. Numerous opportunities are provided for deeper insights into the issues of educational exclusion/inclusion of various groups (cultural, racial, religious, ethnic, gender, national, disabled), as well as the social justice implications that accrue from a thorough examination of our educational past.
Policy, Power and Politics Seminar
EDL 894 3 credit(s)
This course provides an advanced discussion of discipline based frameworks to analyze policy formation, steering, and impacts. The course emphasizes purposes, processes, contents and outcomes of policy and power relationships through the context of political interactions in the education sector. The perspectives are selected based on currency (timeliness), pervasiveness of then issues impacting education, how the interpretation of policy impacts the status quo as well as frames alternatives for change, and provides insights as to how educational leaders will need to respond in order to influence policy and act as an advocate for students and staff. Therefore, the course considers the power and limits of policy and ways people in different positions inside and outside the educational systems/institutions might influence policy.
School Finance and Fiscal Management
EDL 893 3 credit(s)
This course is designed to provide a comprehensive review of economic and financial management issues in p-12 educational systems. The course will review traditional sources of funding for schools (local, state and federal) and nontraditional sources such as foundations and school/community partnerships. The major emphasis will be on budget administration and facility management, applying these issues to different educational environments and concerns impacting educational systems in this current social and political environment.
Special Topics
EDL 896 4 credit(s)
This course is for students who wish to pursue special research projects in collaboration with a faculty member. It may only be taken with the approval of the Program Director. Project requirements are based upon agreement between the student and faculty member with whom the student will be working.

Core Faculty

Senior Instructor


  • Admission Test:

    No standardized graduate school tests required for admission into non-licensure programs

  • Admissions Office:
  • Application Form:
  • Application Fee:
    $50 ($100 for international students)

Program Requirements


Health Requirements for Massachusetts Students 

The Massachusetts Health Department and Cambridge College require the following of students in Massachusetts:

Immunizations – All students in Massachusetts are required to get certain immunizations before you can register for your first term. See form

Health Insurance – In Massachusetts, undergraduate students taking nine or more credits/term and graduate students taking six or more credits/term must enroll in the College’s health insurance plan. Students who have insurance with comparable coverage may request a waiver. See information and enroll or waive.


School Requirements

International Students 

International students need to provide supplemental documentation:

  • Official demonstration of English language proficiency
  • Supplemental documentation for issuance of I-20
  • International transcripts, evaluated by an accepted evaluation service

Transfer Credit 

Please complete the transfer credit request form if you wish to have prior course work evaluated for transfer. Learn more about transferring credits.




  • Credits:
  • Cost per credit hour:
  • Application Fee:
    $50 ($100 for international students)
  • Health Insurance Fee:
    $3,940 - Required for Massachusetts students only. See waiver details on Tuition & Fees page.)
  • Internship/Practicum Fee:

Note: Rates are as of July, 2022, and are subject to change without notice. Rates apply to all students, unless otherwise noted.

Financial Aid

Cambridge College offers financial aid to students in our degree programs who are enrolled at least half time. Undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits each term. Graduate and doctoral students must be enrolled in at least 4 credits each term. Learn more

Grants, Scholarships and Loans

Cambridge College welcomes the opportunity to support your efforts to pay for college.  Federal, state and local resources in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study, including Cambridge College Scholarships, are available to help defray the cost of tuition. Learn more

Getting Your Company to Help

Many companies have tuition assistance programs, designed to help their employees with their professional development. Learn more

Take the Next Step Toward Your Educational Leadership Degree