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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Educational Leadership

Next term of admission is Fall 2017

Fall 2017 applications accepted until April 1, 2017

To be eligible for Unversity Scholarships,
apply by January 15, 2017

About the Program

The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership is designed for those individuals who intend to build an academic career focused on conducting research and analysis in the multidisciplinary field of educational leadership and policy studies, or to build an administrative career focused on innovative and inquiry-based leadership. 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 highly-regarded faculty with expertise in multiple arenas including: school accountability, curriculum and pedagogy, education law, turnaround school leadership, organization theory, politics of education, and equitable education reform. Once admitted into the program, students will be engaged in coursework organized around curriculum, leadership, and policy studies. 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.

Initial adivsing, from inquiry through admission through the first two years of coursework is provided by Dr. William Black, Area Program Coordinator,  By the completion the second year of study students should select a major professor who assists the student planning the remaining course of study. By the end of the third year students should convene an advisory committee consisting of the major professor and at least three other members. The committee guides the student through the dissertation process.

This program is not an initial certification or licensure program. Students seeking educational leadership certification need to refer to the M.Ed. or consult with program coordinator to a complete a modified program in Educational Leadership in addition to the Ph.D. plan requirements.

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. The program is designed 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 around research methodologies and a specialized cognate area of study.


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 (offered every semester)

  • EDG 7931 Leadership Theory
  • EDA 7069 Ethics in Educational Leadership
  • EDA 7287 Educational Politics and Policy: Theory & Issues

II.  Educational Leadership Knowledge Requirements (18)

Specialization core courses provide students with a knowledge of the leadership, policy and curriculum processes within 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
  • EDG 7692 Issues in Curriculum
  • EDA 7667 Analysis of Curriculum OR EDA 6195 Policy Development*

*substitute for EDA 7247 - Advanced School Finance

III. 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 leadership and policy studies and a set of specific skills relevant for their dissertation research.

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 

Current Rotation of Courses

Fall Semesters Spring Semesters Summer Semesters

EDA 7931 Leadership Theory

EDA 7069 Ethics in Educational Leadership EDG 7067 Philosphies of Inquiry
EDG 7193 Organizational Leadership & Systems Theory EDA 7281 Policy Analysis and Implementation EDF 6407 Statistical Analysis Education I
EDG 7692 Issues in Curriculum EDA 7667 Analysis of Curriculum EDA 7410 Qualitative Research in Education I
EDA 7233 Legal Dimensions of School Administration EDA 6195 Policy Development (offered every other year) EDF 7408 Statistical Analysis Education II
EDA 7205 Educational Politics & Policy: Theory & issues EDA 7280 Curriculum Theory EDF 7478 Qualitative Research in Education II

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 a particular area of interest or discipline either within the College of Education or outside the College of Education.

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

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 an 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 one time 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 deeply engaging an area of inquiry, applying excellence in research methods, and developing exceptional writing skills.  The program faculty will consider each applicant holistically 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.

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. 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

  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 from an academic reference)

  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.

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 


Contact Information:

For questions regarding the application process contact:

Lisa Adkins

Phone: (813) 974-3463

Fax: (813) 974-5423 

For program content information contact:

Dr. Bill 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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