Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Ph.D.

All students must meet the Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree


The Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies is a multidisciplinary program that seeks to examine complex educational and social problems through the integration of multiple theoretical, methodological, and disciplinary lenses. The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies is intended as a full-time program to prepare candidates to attain a high level of scholarly competence and to develop the capacity to contribute knowledge to their field. The program will develop scholars who can analyze and inform the development of educational systems and public policies that will positively impact the lives of children and youth and address broad societal issues such as child poverty. The degree will serve students who wish to pursue research/teaching careers in universities and/or research and policy positions in government agencies, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and other public and private sector organizations.

The goals of the program include, but are not limited to:

  • Preparing professional researchers, scholars, and faculty competent in conducting and sharing research.
  • Focusing on research training that uses advanced quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method approaches to add to theoretical knowledge.
  • Emphasizing publication of research findings to enhance knowledge in education and social services.
  • Developing areas of interdisciplinary specialization.

Candidates will be mentored in conducting independent research, presenting papers at professional conferences, and submitting their work for publication.

Specific Requirements

Requirements for Admission to Graduate Studies for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

  • Master’s degree in a related field such as educational leadership, educational studies, higher education, public administration, counseling, social work, or curriculum and instruction characterized by a distinguished academic record;
  • Demonstrated commitment in statement of purpose and references to social change and justice
  • Evidence of experience in inquiry at a level that will predict successful research and college teaching;
  • GRE general test scores taken within the last 5 years;
  • Research interests compatible with those of College of Education and Social Services faculty;
  • Strong inquiry and writing skills as illustrated in a submitted scholarly writing sample;
  • In-depth understandings of systems change, leadership, and policy in order to conduct high quality research; 
  • Articulated connection or fit with research agenda of existing program faculty; and
  • Submission of an application by the program deadline.

Minimum Degree Requirements

A minimum of 75 credits of doctoral studies following formal admission to the program comprised of:

Core Requirements (18 credits):
EDLP 7010ProSeminar: Doctoral Intro3
EDLP 7020Epistemologies in Education3
EDLP 7030Adv Sem Organizational Ldrshp3
EDFS 7040Soc Process & Institutionl Chg3
EDLP 7050Sem on Educational Policy3
EDLP 7090Dissertation Writing Seminar3
Required Research Courses (6 credits):
EDRM 6110Qualitative Research I3
EDRM 6210Quantitative Research I3
Elective Research Courses (12 credits) Student will select 4 or more EDRM 6000-level courses in consultation with dissertation advisor9
Concentration 18
Graduate course options (guided by student interest and committee approval)
Comprehensive Exam:
An empirical draft article on a topic agreed upon by the student, their Dissertation Advisor, and 2 additional dissertation committee members
Dissertation Proposal: Required for Advancement to Candidacy
Dissertation Research Credits21
Doctoral Dissertation Research
Total Credits75

All course credits beyond the Core Requirements are distributed in educational leadership, research, critical perspectives, organizational change, and selected specialty content areas.

A maximum of 6 credit hours may be accepted in transfer from an accredited graduate program. Credits to transfer may be completed prior to admission to the EDLP Ph.D. program provided that the credit is approved by the student's graduate program advisor and that the credit conforms to all other Graduate College requirements. Candidates for the Ph.D. must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 69 hours in residence. This requirement is completed by courses taken through UVM and taken after the student has been admitted to the Graduate College.

Dissertation Requirements

Dissertation expectations include either a traditional 5-chapter or 3-article format with a focus on original research, illustrating mastery of competing theories with the goal of informing knowledge (per Graduate College guidelines). The journal article format requires that the candidate will complete 3 related journal article(s) under the shared proposal topic with the goal of manuscript submission for publication in refereed journals.

Comprehensive Examination

In order to assess students' scholarship and critical thinking, a comprehensive examination is required by the end of a student's course of study (typically the third year).  The examination consists of a critical, empirical article on a topic to be agreed upon by the student, their mentor, and one additional faculty reader, with these individuals approving an abstract of the paper in advance. The article must demonstrate comprehensive empirical and theoretical mastery of the agreed-upon topic, including relevant knowledge on which the specific research area is based.

Once the student's dissertation advisor and 2 additional committee members deem the article original and ready for review, the student will schedule a research colloquium on the topic of the paper for the CESS community.  The student's faculty committee will serve as the examiners for the comprehensive examination.  They will, by consensus, assign a grade of fail, conditional pass, or pass for the comprehensive examination.  The article may later be incorporated into the student's doctoral dissertation if deemed appropriate by the student's dissertation committee.

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Successful completion of all core courses with 3.00 GPA and a comprehensive examination, as well as defense of a dissertation proposal, allows the student to advance to doctoral candidacy.

For further requirements concerning program advising and Ph.D. requirements, refer to the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies doctoral programs website.