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Educational Leadership, Ph.D.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership at Saint Louis University's School of Education is designed to prepare students to be scholars, professors and/or organizational leaders. Students enter the program with a master's in education, leadership or a related field. The curriculum is based on a selection of core courses in educational leadership and courses that complement students’ professional goals.

Curriculum Overview

The degree requires the completion of 30-36 credits of coursework, 12 credits of dissertation research, a comprehensive examination, an oral examination/proposal defense and a public defense of the dissertation.

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

The program includes site-based activities aligned with coursework as well as the three-credit hour internship if superintendent certification is desired. 


Possible career paths for graduates with advanced degrees in educational leadership include faculty positions in colleges and universities, positions in research institutes and organizations, educational leader (superintendent/principal) or teacher leader.

Additionally, some doctoral students design a special individualized program to prepare for a leadership role in a nonprofit, medical, Catholic or business organization.

Admission Requirements

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  • Master's degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Transcript(s)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE or other applicable graduate entry exam scores
  • Résumé
  • Professional goal statement

Requirements for International Students

Along with the general admission requirements above, the following must be provided by prospective international students:

  • Demonstration of English Language Proficiency.
  • Proof of financial support that must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the time at Saint Louis University.
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of study at the University.
  • Academic records, in English translation, for postsecondary studies outside the United States. These must include the courses taken and/or lectures attended, practical laboratory work, the maximum and minimum grades attainable, the grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations, and any honors or degrees received. WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Please note that application deadlines for this program differ for international students.

Review Process

A committee reviews each application holistically.

Application Deadlines

Domestic students should apply for the fall semester by June 15, for the spring semester by Nov. 1, and for the summer semester by April 1. International students should apply by May 1 for the fall semester, Oct. 1 for the spring semester, and Feb. 1 for the summer semester.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

For priority consideration for graduate assistantship, apply by Feb. 1. 

For more information, visit the student financial services office online at

  1. Graduates will apply evidence-based literature to leadership practices.
  2. Graduates will articulate the use of evidence-based leadership practices within organizations, aspects of running an organization, and leadership theories to analyze issues related to executive-level leadership.
  3. Graduates will apply leadership concepts in their doctoral research and in the production of their dissertation.
  4. Graduates will present and discuss the philosophy and ethical foundations of their research study in their oral exams and public defense.

Educational leadership Ph.D. students complete 42-48 credits, including research courses, leadership courses, and individually selected courses. Students may select courses from the following or may choose courses for their program plan that fit their program goal. 

If a student seeks a superintendent certificate upon graduation, specific coursework is required. Students design a program plan with their advisor.

Select 18 credits of the following:18
EDL 5200
School-Community Relations
EDL 5914
Internship: Superintendent Internship
EDL 6110
School District Administration
EDL 6190
School, Community, and Politics
EDL 6200
Ethics of Ed Leadership
EDL 6300
Advanced School Law
EDL 6390
Gateway Leadership Institute
EDL 6400
Sem: Human Resources Admin
EDL 6450
Managing the District Level Curriculum
EDL 6470
School Facilities
EDL 6690
School Business Administration
EDL 6730
District Level Professional Development and Teacher Evaluation
EDL 6950
Special Study for Written Comprehensive Exams
Research Courses
Introductory Research Courses3-9
Advanced Research Courses 6
EDR 6970Research Topics in Education3
Dissertation Research
EDR 6990Dissertation Research12
Total Credits42-48

Introductory Research Courses

Students must complete master’s level graduate research coursework as prerequisites for advanced research courses. Students are required to successfully complete the following three research courses. Up to six credits may be waived based on students’ prior coursework.  

EDR 5000General Research Methods for Education3
EDR 5100Intro to Inferential Stats: Ed3
EDR 5400Qualitative Research in Education3

Advanced Research Courses

Students choose six credits of research electives from either the qualitative or quantitative focus (see lists below).

Qualitative Research Focus (choose two courses from the following:)
EDR 5500
Evaluation of Education Programs
EDR 6000
Professional Writing
EDR 6400
Advanced Qual Research for Ed
EDR 6600
Designing Mixed Methods Research
EDR 6930
Special Topics
Quantitative Research Focus (choose two courses from the following:)
EDR 6060
Research Design and Analysis
EDR 6100
Intermediate Applied Statistics for Education
EDR 6150
Single Subject Experimental Research Design
EDR 6500
Multilevel Regression Models
EDR 6600
Designing Mixed Methods Research

Non-Course Requirements

  • Students must pass a comprehensive written examination,
  • Students must pass an oral examination/proposal defense, and
  • Students must pass a public presentation and defense of their dissertation.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester. Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
EDL 6110 School District Administration 1 3
EDR 5400 Qualitative Research in Education 2 3
EDR 5000 General Research Methods for Education (if not already completed as a prerequisite) 3
EDL 6400 Sem: Human Resources Admin 1 3
EDR 6060 Research Design and Analysis 2 3
EDL 5914 Internship: Superintendent Internship (optional course if seeking superintendent certification) 0
EDR 5100 Intro to Inferential Stats: Ed (if not already completed as a prerequisite) 3
Year Two
EDL 6450 Managing the District Level Curriculum 1 3
EDL 6300 Advanced School Law 2-3
EDL 5914 Internship: Superintendent Internship 0
EDL 6730 District Level Professional Development and Teacher Evaluation 1 3
EDL 6690 School Business Administration 1 2
EDL 5914 Internship: Superintendent Internship 2
Year Three
EDR 6400
or EDR 6100
Advanced Qual Research for Ed 2
or Intermediate Applied Statistics for Education
EDR 6970 Research Topics in Education 2 3
EDL 6950 Special Study for Written Comprehensive Exams 0
EDR 6990 Dissertation Research 3 3
Year Four
EDR 6990 Dissertation Research 3 4
EDR 6990 Dissertation Research 3 5
 Total Credits42-49

Optional course but necessary for Missouri certification.


Three of the 12 credits of required research courses.


Students may take as many of the 12 credits of dissertation research as desired per semester. Please register in your advisor’s section number.  

Apply for Admission

For additional admission questions, please contact:
Saint Louis University School of Education