Union University
Union University School of Education

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership


Specialization: Higher Education

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in Higher Education is an area of specialization, along with P-12 School Administration, to be offered by Union University’s School of Education. The doctorate in Higher Education, offered only on the Jackson campus, is designed to prepare college and university professionals to serve as administrators and teachers, with special attention to the needs of smaller independent institutions of higher education. It prepares graduates to assume leadership positions in the fields of education, especially higher education, as well as government, business, and research. The degree program is delivered in a combination of on-campus classes using the flipped-classroom model, blended online/on-campus classes, as well as fully online classes. The primary purpose of the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with a specialization in Higher Education is to provide experienced educators a broad and systematic understanding of educational theory, inquiry, and practice, and an ability to create and apply current research to educational problems.

Program Outcomes

The six outcomes of the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with a specialization in Higher Education are to:

  1. Focus on issues, practice and research in the field of higher education
  2. Foster scholarly inquiry in areas of professional and intellectual interest
  3. Provide highly individualized experiences that meet individual career goals
  4. Foster analysis and problem solving skills and expertise
  5. Prepare leaders who effectively deal with the challenges facing higher education; including best practices in teaching and learning
  6. Encourage ethical service in a framework of Christian values

The outcomes and statement of purpose emphasize commitment to service in education within a framework of Christian ideals, the essence of the institution's mission and purpose. The program outcomes become much more specific when delineated as objectives in individual course syllabi.

Melinda Clarke teaches a class
Ed.D. Course of Study/Higher Education Emphasis

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) curriculum has three components: Leadership Issues, Leadership Practice, and Leadership Research. The courses in the Higher Education Program emphasis for each component are categorized below:

Leadership Issues

  • History and Philosophy of Higher Education
  • Higher Education Policy and Assessment
  • Leadership, Organizations and Change
  • Strategic Planning and Marketing for Higher Education
  • Faith and Ethics in Educational Leadership

Leadership Practice

  • Engaged Learning
  • The American College Student
  • Service-Learning
  • Curriculum Design and Evaluation in Higher Education
  • Proseminar Series
  • Leadership Internship

Leadership Research

  • Research Issues in Educational Leadership
  • Intermediate Statistics
  • Research Methods and Design
  • Advanced Statistics and Design
  • Research in Higher Education
  • Dissertation Research
  • Dissertation

Doctoral Processes

Listed below are the steps or processes that the doctoral student completes

  1. In consultation with the program director and faculty, doctoral students are assigned a dissertation committee chair by a graduate director during the spring semester before their comprehensive exams in the fall. Selection of the committee chair is a critical step in the completion of the doctoral degree. Factors considered in selection are (1) expertise in area of proposed research, (2) availability, and (3) compatibility. A student works with his/her chair and program director to recommend two other graduate faculty who will serve on the committee. They will be assigned as early as the Fall and no later than the Spring semester of the first year of the Research-Dissertation component. In addition, the various faculty who teach one or more of the research courses (EDR 700, 710, 720, 725) serve as research design and statistics resource faculty for all the dissertation committees.

  2. Written Comprehensive Examinations--upon completion of all courses prior to the Dissertation (48 credit hours). Students receive clearance to take the Comprehensive Examinations when the following requirements are met: a GPA of 3.2 in the first 48 credit hours of Ed.D. coursework as specified in the student’s Program of Study; an approved doctoral committee. The written exam takes place over the course of three exam days. The exam reflects the course emphasis categories including:
    1. Leadership issues
    2. Leadership practice
    3. Leadership Research
    The exam consists of questions that are designed to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to analyze and synthesize pertinent knowledge in educational leadership while addressing significant problems and issues in their field. The exam is administered under supervision without the aid of texts or related materials. An oral Critique/Clarification with the student’s doctoral committee follows. Successful completion of the comprehensive examination advances the student to Doctoral Candidacy, a requirement for registration for Dissertation credit hours, provided an approved research proposal has been filed.
The Dissertation - handbook & forms

The Doctoral dissertation is the culminating experience and exit requirement in the Doctor of Education degree program. It is a scholarly inquiry into an area of professional and intellectual interest. It is a highly individualized experience for the graduate student; thus, the topic of the research may vary depending on the professional goals and area of specialization of the student and expertise of the faculty. Working with a dissertation chair early in the program and with faculty throughout the coursework, the student develops a research problem and proposal. Using the expertise and knowledge developed in the research core courses (EDR 700, 710, 720, 725), and under the direction of a faculty dissertation chair and committee, the student conducts the research and produces a quality report of the findings. The student must achieve dissertation proposal approval by the doctoral dissertation committee as a prerequisite for registration for dissertation hours. It is expected that the dissertation will follow standard accepted research methodologies and format. Requiring a broad-based understanding of theory and research, the Ed.D. dissertation should integrate knowledge and provide solutions to problems in the educational community, focusing on a specific setting. Results should include specific solutions or changes in educational practice. As a final demonstration of scholarly competence, the student conducts an oral presentation and defense of the research.

Admission Requirements

Doctoral programs require considerable faculty time and resources, necessitating the admission of a limited number of students each year. Applicants for the doctorate must meet graduate admission requirements (see graduate catalogue) as well as Ed.D. criteria:

  • Baccalaureate and Master’s degrees from regionally accredited institutions
  • Documentation of at least 5 years of relevant professional experience.
  • Grade Point Average—3.2 or higher on graduate credit hours.
  • Interview—submission to an interview by graduate faculty pertinent to the student’s potential for doctoral study
  • Graduate Record Examination—submission of scores from the GRE taken within the past 5 years.
Application Procedure

Classes for new cohorts begin each June. Students may be admitted throughout the year in an ongoing process.
The items below must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies in Education in Jackson. After they have been received, the applicant may be contacted to schedule a formal interview with graduate faculty in education. When a decision is reached, students will be notified of their status by letter.

  1. A completed doctoral application
  2. A $50 application fee
  3. Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions where the student has taken work
  4. A personal statement which: (a) reflects the individuals’ professional experience; (b) discusses future professional plans and goals; and (c) includes a rationale for pursuing the doctoral degree. This statement is not to exceed 750 words.
  5. Official score report from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)—taken within past 5 years
  6. Three current letters of recommendation—rating forms from three present or former employers who can attest to the candidate’s leadership potential.
Program of Study

At the time of admission, a student may transfer up to 9 comparable graduate semester credit hours (recent “A” or “B” work from a regionally accredited institution) into the doctoral program with the approval of the Director of the Higher Education Program. Transferred credits become a part of an official Program of Study that is furnished to the student. It is the student’s responsibility to follow the Program of Study carefully in scheduling classes.

Degree Completion

A 3.2 program minimum GPA and a minimum of 60 semester credit hours are required for graduation. All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within 6 years from the first semester of enrollment. Students needing more than 6 years to complete the degree must file a time extension petition with the Dean of the College of Education and Human Studies.

Description of Program

The Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education is a 60-semester-credit hours post-Masters program offered by Union University, the College of Education and Human Studies, and the School of Education.

Course of Studies (60 Credit Hours Total)

  1. Required Courses (45 credit hours)
    1. Engaged Learning (3 credit hours)
    2. Leadership, Organizations, and Change (3 credit hours)
    3. History and Philosophy of Higher Education (3 credit hours)
    4. Higher Education Policy and Assessment (3 credit hours)
    5. Strategic Planning and Marketing for Higher Education (3 credit hours)
    6. Faith and Ethics in Educational Leadership (3 credit hours)
    7. The American College Student (3 credit hours)
    8. Service-Learning in Higher Education (3 credit hours)
    9. Research Issues in Educational Leadership (3 credit hours)
    10. Intermediate Statistics (3 credit hours)
    11. Research Methods and Design (3 credit hours)
    12. Advanced Statistics and Design (3 credit hours)
    13. Curriculum Design and Evaluation in Higher Education (3 credit hours)
    14. Research in Higher Education (3 credit hours)
    15. Dissertation Research (3 credit hours)
  2. Electives (3 credit hours)
    In order to meet individual student needs, 3 credit hours may be taken from the following:
    1. Proseminar in Higher Education
    2. Special Topics in Higher Education
      1. Comparative Higher Education
      2. Legal Issues in Higher Education
    3. Internship
  3. Dissertation (12 credit hours)
Projected Course Schedule

Campus-based classes are offered using the "flipped classroom" model (FC). The FC model is a hybrid delivery system where students view video lectures by the professor and complete readings at home prior to attending classes on campus (about two and a half days on site). This pre-class preparation reduces overall class time, frees up and focuses discussion and interaction in the course. Research is showing that the FC model can produce greater learning and deeper understanding.

June: (6 credit hours)

  • Faith and Ethics in Educational Leadership, 3 hours, FC
  • Leadership, Organizations and Change, 3 hours, FC

September through December: (9 credit hours)

  • Research Issues in Educational Leadership, 3 hours, Blended (campus & online)
  • The American College Student, 3 hours, Online
  • Strategic Planning and Marketing for Higher Education, 3 hours, Online

February through May: (6 credit hours)

  • Intermediate Statistics, 3 hours, Blended (campus & online)
  • Higher Education Research, 3 hours, Online

June: (6 credit hours)

  • Engaged Learning, 3 hours, FC
  • History and Philosophy of Higher Education, 3 hours, FC

July: (3 credit hours)

  • Curriculum Design and Evaluation in Higher Education, 3 hours, Online

September through December: (6 credit hours)

  • Research Methods and Design, 3 hours, Blended (campus & online)
  • Higher Education Policy and Assessment, Online

February through May: (6 credit hours)

  • Advanced Statistics and Design, 3 hours, Blended (campus & online)
  • Dissertation Research, 3 hours, Online

June: (3 credit hours)

  • Proseminar: Special Topics or Internship (Elective), 3 hours

July: (3 credit hours)

  • Service-Learning in Higher Education, 3 hours, Online

September through December: Comprehensive Exams, Proposal Approval

January through November: Dissertation (12 credit hours), Doctoral Defense