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Ed. D. Professional Leadership - Special Populations

To apply for this program, please visit Graduate Admissions.

Is this program for me?

The Executive Ed. D. in Professional Leadership–Special Populations prepares graduates for Professional and Instructional Leadership positions in a variety of settings and provides them with the tools to meet the needs of ALL students.

Graduates are ready to assume positions as coaches, consultants, directors, and instructional leaders who grapple with the challenges faced by many students in the nation’s schools. For example, students in schools often experience challenges related to language, learning, social interactions, and poverty. They are often classified as students with disabilities (Special Education), students with Gifts and Talents, English Language learners, Title 1, students who identify as underrepresented minorities, or students who require greater levels of support (504). Leaders in applied educational settings assist with the identification and implementation of evidence-based interventions and assessments to help close achievement gaps, keep students in school, and successfully launch them into college and careers paths.

The program provides intensive research and applied skills development for students who contend with any of these real-world concerns. Students bring the most pressing concerns experienced by the educational community to each course. They learn as a team to network and support fellow members. Each member works on a grand challenge that faces him or her in their own professional context.

The program offers students the intellectual space to read the research that relates to their challenge, source the interventions that have been tried in a school or district, design solutions that will result in evidence based outcomes, and generate a plan of action for moving forward. A practical internship (Laboratory of Practice) gives students an avenue to apply the specifics of these problems to their other courses and their research. The program emphasizes problem solving, student collaboration, and planning for a future as an instructional coach/leader.

Sample Degree Plans

Since degree plans change periodically, students will follow the degree plan that is in place at the time they complete an official and approved degree plan. The following is the most current sample degree plan:

What will I learn?

The Professional Leadership-Special Populations provides the opportunity to learn how to generate applied and evidence-based solutions to challenges. The doctoral program places a strong emphasis on relevance to the real world challenges in education, rigorous preparation in applied research, and building student network relationships that encourage teamwork and collaboration. Program faculty members believe that ALL students can learn – irrespective of their language, learning challenges, social interactions or background. Interventions and assessments that are used for students who require some of the greatest levels of support work with ALL students. Throughout the program, opportunities are provided to learn ‘what works’ from research articles, practical case studies, experiences, and observations. Creative and critical thinking skills are encouraged when dealing with challenges. The program also helps to develop professional leadership, ethical, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills through:

  • Coursework
  • Laboratory of Practice
  • Doctoral Thesis

The program offers a number of distinctive benefits, including:

  • A program structure that enables fully employed professionals to earn a doctorate in 2.5 years, while continuing to manage their career if they are registered full-time (9 hours most semesters) to include Summer Semesters.
  • Personalized academic and career advisement.
  • A cohort structured program where students help students to network and develop a learning community.

Professional leadership special populations doctoral student Heather Harydzak talks about her experiences in the program.

To apply for this program, please visit Graduate Admissions.

Special Populations and Educational Disparities