Graduate Catalog 2023-2024

Educational Leadership, Doctor of Education (0010)

Program Coordinator

Gary W. Houchens,, (270) 745-4999

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership provides knowledge and skills for its graduates to become effective change agents within educational and education-related environments. The program is designed to prepare scholarly practitioners whose program content and experiences emphasize application to the real world.

The primary purpose of the program is to develop the ability of education and education-related organizational practitioners to obtain and synthesize knowledge for the solution of institutional problems and practices.  The program provides value-added opportunities for candidates to develop breadth and depth in understanding leadership, policy, and applied research methodologies. In addition, program experiences contribute to the development of future leaders who will creatively generate new knowledge, critically conserve valuable and useful ideas, and responsibly transform those understandings through writing, teaching and application. The dissertation for all areas of emphasis is expected to contribute knowledge and understanding of a critical issue drawn from the candidate's field of practice and be applicable for improving educational organizations.

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership:

  1. encourages participants to become practitioner scholars by promoting skills and knowledge in practice-based settings and to gain scholarship and experience in applied behaviors;
  2. provides opportunities to explore a range of career specialties in various settings so that participants can make sound career choices;
  3. models interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration through the program's management and accountability structures;
  4. provides participants with leadership capacity to bring about changes that enhance organizational success; and
  5. provides interdisciplinary research preparation focused on contextually based problems central to future global competitiveness.

This program is part of the Educational Administration, Leadership and Research department and is an interdisciplinary program involving faculty and courses from other departments throughout the university. More information may be found at

Program Design

The EdD program was designed for working professionals and follows an executive format which allows students to enroll in courses year round. Students who register for six credit hours each semester for three semesters per year should be able to complete all coursework excluding dissertation hours within three calendar years.

Program Admission

Intended candidates for the degree are individuals who have completed at least a master’s degree (or other appropriate graduate degree), have demonstrated leadership capacity within their organizational settings, and/or are committed to enhancing their abilities to learn and to enhance the educational missions of their organizations and communities. Each student's academic background and professional experiences will be assessed at the time of admission.

Program admission is based on a holistic evaluation of the candidate's application file, which must include:

  1. Submission of GRE scores.  Those students who cannot provide scores or have never taken the GRE may be considered for admission through an alternative process. Contact the program director for more information.
  2. Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work;
  3. Documentation of a master's degree (or other graduate degree) from an institution accredited by a nationally recognized accreditation organization;
  4. Completed application;
  5. Current (within 1 year of application deadline) resume or vita;
  6. An in-depth personal statement including qualifications, rationale, and goals related to pursuing the WKU Ed.D. program;
  7. Three current (within 1 year of application deadline) letters of recommendation from persons in a position to evaluate the applicant's potential for success in a doctoral program; and
  8. Submission of a writing sample (requested during the admission review process) if applicants cannot provide GRE scores, took the GRE without the Analytical Writing portion, or if Analytic Writing score falls below preferred minimum.

International students who apply must submit the following additional documents for admission consideration:

  1. Evidence of ability to communicate in English (as evidenced by a minimum of 570 on the paper based TOEFL; a minimum of 88 on the iBT TOEFL; a minimum of 7.0 on the IELTS; or a degree from an institution with English as the language of instruction.)

Program Requirements (60 hours)

The program consists of 60 hours of graduate coursework. The program includes the following core coursework:

Required Courses
EDLD 702Educational Leadership Doctoral Program Orientation 13
EDLD 710Leadership Theories and Ethics3
EDLD 720Individual and Group Issues in Leadership3
or EDFN 726 Change Theory and Practice
EDLD 730Leading the Organization3
EDLD 712Research Methods and Design for Educational Leaders3
EDLD 722Measurement and Survey Methods for Educational Leaders3
EDLD 732Program Evaluation for Educational Leaders 23
or EDFN 603 Qualitative Research in Education
or EDFN 703 Field Methods for Qualitative Research
or EDFN 740 Intermediate Statistics and Design
or EDFN 744 Seminar in Advanced Research Methods
EDLD 798Educational Leadership Doctoral Program Internship3-6
EDLD 799Dissertation Research 39-12
Personalized Learning Electives
With program director or advisor approval, select courses to support intellectual and professional development and career goals21-27
Total Hours60

 Taken during the first semester after admission to the program.


Students choosing to complete a qualitative dissertation must have EDFN 603 or course equivalent on their Program of Study.  Other research course options allow for in-depth statistical preparation aligned with students' dissertation methodology.

Program Completion

To complete the program, students must propose, complete, and successfully defend a dissertation.

Experiential Credit Recommendation

Students admitted to the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program may apply to receive graduate credit for successful completion of the National Board Certified Teacher process. Those approved will receive up to six (6) hours of credit for EDU 695. To be eligible to receive credit, students must document that they:

  • have been admitted to the Ed.D. program; and

  • hold current National Board Certification status.

In both cases, the student must submit an application form to the Ed.D. Director, who will consider whether to approve the application and then determine the number of EDU 695 hours to credit to the student's program. The hours may not be substituted for required courses in the program, and no more than 12 credit hours of EDU 695 may be listed on the student’s program.

For NBCT-related applicants, once a recommendation for the awarding of hours for NBCT completion is approved by the EdD Program Director, the student must arrange for the American Council on Education (ACE) to send an official transcript documenting the student’s NBCT status to the WKU Graduate School so that the credit may be entered on the student’s transcript.  No charge will be assessed by WKU for posting these credits