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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 2015

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.

Scholarship Opportunity:

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Academic Themes and Curriculum Specifications

The Ph.D. in educational leadership consists of a minimum of 69 hours for coursework beyond credits received at the Masters degree.

Foundational Core (Minimum 18 credits)

Foundational core courses provide students with a knowledge of the basic foundations of education in the United States. The core consists of:

  • Curriculum Theory

  • Readings in Educational Leadership

  • Ethics in Educational Leadership

  • Organizational Leadership and Systems Theory

  • Issues in Curriculum

  • Philosophies of Inquiry

Prior to completion of the foundational core, each student is expected to select a major professor from the educational leadership faculty. This faculty member will agree to support student academic research interests, qualifying exam preparation, and development of a research strategy for completing dissertation research.


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 must 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.  Specialization Core (Minimum 12 credits)

Specialization core courses provide students with a knowledge of the public policy and curriculum processes within the field of education in the United States. The courses consist of:

  • Educational Politics and Policy

  • Advanced School Law

  • Policy Implementation and Evaluation and either

  • Curriculum Analysis or Education Finance and Economics

IV.  Doctoral Cognate (Minimum 12 credits)

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

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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 12 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. Also, as part of each student’s professional development, students are encouraged to pursue academic opportunities to teach courses, take seminars on external funding, and participate on research projects.

Course Sequence






Year 1

Curriculum Theory

Readings in Educational Leadership

Ethics in Educational Leadership

Quantitative Methods 1

Educational Politics and Policy

Qualitative Case Methods in Ed Leadership


Year 2

Philosophies of Inquiry

Quantitative Methods 2

Org Leadership & Systems Theory

Qualitative Methods 2

Adv. School Law

Adv. Methods Course


Year 3

Issues in Curriculum

Policy Implementation & Evaluation

Elective 1

Elective 2

Elective 3

Elective 4


Year 4

Curriculum Analysis


Adv. School Finance





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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Admission to the Ph.D. program occurs one time per year for the summer 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 policy writing skills.  The program faculty will consider each applicant within the context defined by his or her 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. Deadline is April 1, 2015

  2. Apply online through graduate admissions:

  3. 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.

  4. 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

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

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


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Program of Study

Required Courses (42 hours)

           EDA 7980 Dissertation: Doctoral (6 credits)

Foundational Core (18 credits)

EDA 7069 Ethics in Educational Leadership (3)

EDG 7692 Issues in Curriculum and Instruction (3)

EDG 7280 Curriculum Theory (3)

EDA 7193 Org Leadership & Systems Theory (3)

EDG 7197 Readings in Educational Leadership (3)

EEX 7743 Philosophy of Inquiry (3)

Specialization Core (12 credits)

EDA 7233 Legal Dimensions of School Administration (3)

EDA 7287 Education Policy and Politics (3)

EDA 7281 Policy Implementation and Evaluation (3)

EDA 7247 Advanced School Finance (3)

Or EDG 7667 Analysis of Curriculum and Instruction (3)

Doctoral Cognate (12 hours)

With advisor approval, the student must take two courses outside of DELPS and two courses outside of 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 Case Methods in Educational Leadership or

approved equivalent

EDF 7478 Qualitative Research in Education II or approved equivalent

Plus one more statistical or qualitative research course selected under advisement 

Total Program Hours 63 credit hours minimum

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

Qualifying Exam

DELPS Qualifying Exam rubric 2011

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Doctoral Forms


Initial adivsing, from inquiry through admission, is provided by Dr. William Black, Ph.D. Program Coordinator.  By the completion of 18 credits, students will convene an advisory committee consisting of a major professor and at least three other members. This supervisory committee then assists the student with course selection and completion of the official plan of study as well as through the 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:

Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

University of South Florida, College of Education

4202 E. Fowler Ave., EDU105

Tampa, FL 33620

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