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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Educational Leadership

About the Program | Academic Themes | Course Sequence

Admissions | Program Requirements | Forms


Next term of admission is Fall 2016

Accepting Applications until April 1, 2016
(Note: There is no summer admissions)


About the Program

The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership is designed for those individuals who intend to build an administrative career focused on innovative and inquiry-based leadership; or, an academic career focused on conducting research in the multidisciplinary field of education. Accordingly, this program will prepare individuals for careers in K-12 education systems; research universities and teaching colleges; as well as private, non-profit, state, federal, or international educational agencies.

Individual students will work alongside a collection of highly-regarded educational leadership faculty with expertise in multiple arenas including: school accountability, curriculum and pedagogy, education law, educational leadership, organization theory, politics of education, economics of education, and education reform. Once admitted into the program, students will be engaged in coursework organized around curriculum, leadership, and policy studies; and, will be matched with a temporary faculty advisor whose research interests are congruent with the student’s. Ultimately, students will design an individualized program of study that reflects specific research interests that prepare them to conduct – and apply – high quality research to practice; write and present scholarly papers at professional conferences; and, submit research articles for publication in education journals.

This program is not an initial certification or licensure program. Students seeking educational leadership certification need to refer to the M.Ed.or Modifiedprogram in educational leadership.

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Academic Themes and Curriculum Specifications

The Ph.D. in educational leadership consists of a minimum of 63 hours for coursework beyond credits received at the Masters degree. An intent of the program is to provide students exposure to research and academic discourses in organizational leadership, curriculum studies & leadership, and educational policy and leadership. In addition, students will gain knowledge on research methodologies.

Foundational Core (Minimum 12 credits)

Foundational core courses provide students with a knowledge of the basic foundations of educational leadership, policy studies, and inquiry in the United States. The core consists of:

  • EEX 7743 Philosophies of Inquiry

  • EDA 7197 Critical Readings/Discourses in Educational Leadership
  • EDA 7069 Ethics in Educational Leadership
  • EDA 7287 Educational Politics and Policy: Theory & Issues

II. Research Methods Core (Minimum 15 credits)

Students are required to develop familiarity with epistemological and analytical underpinnings of qualitative and quantitative research approaches and applications. As a result, students will take a minimum of fifteen (15) credits of research courses to acquire both a broad understanding of inquiry required for educational administration studies and a set of specific skills relevant for academic and policy research. Specifically, students should take a minimum of two (2) doctoral-level courses in quantitative methods, two (2) doctoral-level courses in qualitative methods, and one (1) additional research methods courses.

With advisor approval, educational leadership students are allowed to take research methods courses outside of the department that are appropriate to their academic interests from throughout University departments.

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III.  Educational Leadership Knowledge Requirements (18)

Specialization core courses provide students with a knowledge of the public policy and curriculum processes within the field of educational leadership and policy studies. The courses consist of:

  • EDA 7193 Organizational Leadership & Systems Theory
  • EDA 7233 Legal Dimensions of School Administration
  • EDA 7281 Policy Analysis and Implementation
  • EDA 7280 Curriculum Theory
  • EDA 7692 Issues in Curriculum
  • EDA 7667 Curriculum Analysis OR EDA 7247 Advanced School Finance

IV.  Doctoral Cognate (12)

The doctoral cognate allows students to acquire mastery knowledge from additional disciplines that supplement their doctoral studies. The ELPS cognate should consist of a coherent combination of twelve (12) credits from a field or fields outside the ELPS.  Specifically, with advisor approval, student should take four courses outside of ELPS within the College of Education and outside the College of Education.

Required Research Courses (15 hours minimum)

  • EDF 6407 Statistical Analysis Education I or approved equivalent
  • EDF 7408 Statistical Analysis Education II or approved equivalent
  • EDA 7410 Qualitative Research in Education I or approved equivalent
  • EDF 7478 Qualitative Research in Education II or approved equivalent
  • Plus one more statistical or qualitative research course selected under advisement 

    Note: There is no residency requirement for the Ph.D.

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    V.  Qualifying Examination

    Each student completes a qualifying exam prior to admission to candidacy in the doctoral degree.

    VI. Dissertation Hours (Minimum 6 credits)

    A dissertation is an extended and detailed piece of original research containing a rigorous examination of existing research literature and research methodologies. It is a structured piece of writing that develops a clear, concise, and logical argument that somehow improves or extends existing research. Prior to the oral defense, the completed dissertation is read and evaluated by the dissertation advisor and members of the student’s committee.

    Total Program Hours 63 credit hours minimum


    Admission to the Ph.D. program occurs two times per year for the fall semester. Admission is based on a holistic evaluation of each applicant's demonstrated academic potential to complete all of the degree requirements successfully. Success in the Ph.D.  program requires a commitment to utilizing rigorous inquiry, applying excellence in research methods, and developing exceptional writing skills.  The program faculty will consider each applicant within the context defined by her or his personal and professional qualifications. Applicants meeting a set of initial criteria will be asked to submit a writing sample and complete an oral interview.

    Preferred applicants should have:

    • An earned master's degree from an accredited institution of higher education

    • An earned grade point average a grade point average of 3.5 in the master's degree and an earned undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 in the last half of the baccalaureate

    • An official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score taken within the last five years with a combined score greater than 1000 and with no Quantitative or Verbal sub-test score below 500 for persons taking the exam prior to September 2011. For applicants sitting the GRE after that time, a combined score greater than 300 with no Quantitative or Verbal sub-test score below 150 is preferred.

    How to Apply:

    1. Apply online through graduate admissions:

    2. Submit one original, sealed copy of bachelor’s and master’s transcripts to the Office of Graduate Admissions.  Previous USF graduates do not need to submit transcripts of USF coursework.

    3. Submit GRE scores to the Office of Graduate Admissions

    Submit the following items to contact below by the deadline: Email is preferred:

    1. A statement of purpose (why you are interested in pursuing the Ph.D. program)

    2. Three letters of recommendation from persons knowledgeable about the applicant's academic and professional competence (at least one letter should be academically related)

    3. A current vita/resume

       If selected to proceed in admission process, applicants will:

    1. Conduct a personal interview with two members of the Educational Leadership faculty

    2. Submit a writing sample that is administered during the interview


    Please email, fax or mail the materials listed above to:

    Dr. William Black or Lisa Adkins

    Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

    USF, 4202 E. Fowler Ave. EDU 105, Tampa, FL 33620


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    Courses taken at other Universities

    The USF Graduate Student Catalog states that “Students may, with the approval of their graduate degree program, transfer credits from any regionally accredited institution into their graduate degree program, as long as the majority of the credits are earned at the institution granting the degree.” And, the language continues:

     “Students taking courses at USF System Institutions other than their home USF institution should seek the approval of their graduate program director prior to taking the courses to ensure that the courses are eligible for transfer.”

    For Further information please review the USF Graduate Student Catalog 


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    Initial adivsing, from inquiry through admission, is provided by Dr. William Black, Ph.D. Program Coordinator.  By the completion the second year of study students should selected a major professor who asssist the student with completion of the official panl of study. By the end of the third year students shoud convene an advisory committee cinsisting of the major professor and at least three other members. The committee guides he studentthroughthe dissertation process.

    For additional information, contact Dr. William Black, Ph.D. Program Coordinator

    Dr. William Black

    Phone: (813) 974-6097

    Fax: (813) 974-5423 

    Mailing Address:

    Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

    University of South Florida, College of Education

    4202 E. Fowler Ave., EDU105

    Tampa, FL 33620

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