Educational Leadership

Doctor of Education

Three Pathways of Advanced Scholarship for Engaged Educators

Teacher Leadership

The only program of its kind in the area, the EDL in Teacher Leadership supports and recognizes the role of the advanced practitioner in the classroom. Intentionally designed for aspiring program chairs or instructional leaders, this track aims to guide teachers in becoming artful change agents in their schools, spreading good teaching throughout their schools.

Building Leadership

The EDL Building Leadership track provides a forum for aspiring principals and assistant principals to successfully enrich faculty-administration collaboration within their institutions, as well as work with leaders at the district level to innovate solutions to challenges facing modern American schools.

District Leadership

The EDL in District Leadership track is for visionary leaders whose goal is to inspire and engage across the broad spectrum of K-12 educational environments. Candidates will learn to perform, interpret and communicate evidence-based research to successfully lead and manage on the district level. 


Please refer to “The Graduate Admissions Process” section for general graduate admission information. For admission to the Doctor of Education program, applicants must satisfactorily complete credential screening and a committee interview, including a written component. All applicants must also submit the following:

  1. Completed graduate (Ed.D.) application accompanied by a non-refundable application fee. Incomplete files will not be reviewed.
  2. Official transcripts from regionally accredited colleges or universities verifying completion of a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Send official transcript(s) directly to the Wilmington University Office of Graduate Admissions from the identified college or university. A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher for the most recent two years of post-secondary education is required.* With official transcripts, submit a copy of your Immunization Records.
  3. Letters of recommendation: one (1) from an immediate supervisor and one (1) from professional colleagues or academic professors written within the last calendar year.
  4. Résumé
  5. Written statement of professional and academic interest/intent that is completely original and in your own words and that:
  • is clear and concise (not less than 2 pages but no more than 4, 1.5” spacing) and avoids educational jargon;
  • includes an explanation of why you are interested in earning a doctoral degree at Wilmington University;
  • describes your views on innovation and what part innovation plays in leadership; and
  • uses your degree program’s standards to assess your strengths and areas for growth, aspirations for the future and how your program will help you meet those goals (link is provided in admissions documents) OR;
  • for district leaders 
  • for building leaders 
  • for teacher leaders
  • describes your applied research and/or scholarly interests.

All of the above documents should be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

*NOTE: If the transcript shows a GPA that is less than 3.0 for the two most recent years of post-secondary education, applicants may still be considered for admission on the basis of other factors as determined by the Program Chair and/or Director of Advanced Programs.


The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership facilitates the professional development of teachers, specialists, administrators, and other educational leaders committed to the concept that those responsible for the nation’s educational agenda must be courageous and innovative problem-solvers. The program prepares scholar-practitioners who can translate research into effective systems of instruction, supervision, and leadership, from the classroom to the boardroom. It features a core of studies plus an extensive, field-based, supervised Laboratory of Practice, within which the Dissertation in Practice is developed. The degree program is suitable for leaders in all education settings (private, parochial, independent, charter, or public).  

The program format allows for completion of all degree requirements in three years, even though students attend classes only once a week. Courses are taught in a “hybrid” format that includes both face to face and on-line instruction. Courses are taught by full-time faculty and by expert practitioners.

Program Competencies

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is designed to produce educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by:

  1. Creating and leading a classroom, school or school system culture where innovation is encouraged and embraced, and where innovative ideas and strategies designed to enhance teaching and learning can be proposed, tested and implemented.
  2. Facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a classroom, school or school system vision of learning supported by all stakeholders.
  3. Promoting inclusive, non-discriminatory and positive classroom, school/school system environments; providing an effective instructional program; applying research-based best practices; and designing comprehensive professional growth plans for staff.
  4. Managing the organization, operations, and resources in a way that promotes safe, efficient, and effective teaching/learning environments.
  5. Collaborating with families and other community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, advocating for policies and procedures that promote the well-being of students and families, and mobilizing community resources.
  6. Acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner.
  7. Understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal and cultural context.
  8. Using authoritative information and valid/reliable data to guide decision making.

Program Design

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is designed to create innovative scholar-practitioners who will choose to focus their studies on teacher leadership, building leadership, district leadership, or a combination of building and district leadership.

As scholar-practitioners, graduates will spend significant hours in the laboratory of practice, the clinical setting appropriate to their areas of focus. As a starting point in their studies, students will work with faculty, field advisors, and local school leaders to identify an important problem of practice in their classroom, school, or district. While students will have other clinical experiences across the standards, it is the problem of practice that is the centerpiece of the laboratory of practice. It is also the place at which the dissertation in practice originates and comes to completion as a public presentation, at which candidate and instructor innovations will be recognized and celebrated.

Coursework throughout will be in a hybrid format, dividing student time between online and face-to-face instruction. The face-to-face time in the classroom will feature case studies, problems, and simulations that stem from the theory and research presented in the online phase. All classes will be semester-length and candidates will take two courses each semester (Fall, Spring, Summer).

The program will begin with a one-day summer retreat, and each year will end with a one-day leadership seminar, at which candidate and instructor innovations will be recognized and celebrated.


Program Requirements

Students are expected to successfully complete the five following program phases:

Phase I:

Admission (completing the application procedures)

Phase II:

Course Completion (completing 36 credit hours)

Phase III:

Field Component Completion (4 credit hours and 240 clinical hours in a classroom, building, or district setting dependent on track selection). Candidates pursuing certification from states other than Delaware may need to complete additional field work hours as required by their states for building and district leadership programs.

Phase IV:

Degree Candidacy (completing degree candidacy review which includes completion of Phases II and III, all field component requirements and candidacy meeting with faculty advisors)

Phase V:

Capstone Project Completion (completing the Capstone Project and the public presentation - 9 credit hours)

Phase VI:  Completion of a nationally normed School or District Leaders Licensure Assessment 

Course Requirements

EDD 6102 E-Folio

EDL 7108 Action Research I

EDL 7590 School Leadership: Theory and Practice


EDL 8115 Laboratory of Practice: Teacher-Leaders


EDL 8125 Laboratory of Practice: Principals


EDL 8137 Laboratory of Practice: Superintendents/District Leaders


EDL 7110 Innovation in Practice

EDL 7111 Leadership for Innovation

EDL 7109 Action Research II

EDL 7113 Leadership and Governance

EDL 7114 Labor Negotiations and Law

EDL 7201 Managing Finance

EDL 7709 Leading and Managing Human Resources

EDL 7703 Curriculum Theory and Practice

EDL 7116 Security and Safety

EDL 7117 Leadership for a Responsive School Environment

EDL 7704 Education for Equity and Social Justice

EDL 9100 Dissertation in Practice I

EDL 9200 Dissertation in Practice II

EDL 9300 Dissertation in Practice III

EDL 9400 Dissertation in Practice Presentation

Four (4) credits of Laboratory of Practice at 60 hours per credit (240 hours) are required for each concentration: Teacher and Building Leadership and district leadership.  Candidates who wish to have both building and district licensure must participate in two laboratories of practice, building and district, each at 240 hours, which would be a total of 480 internship hours.

Total credit hours required: 49-53.

Dissertation in Practice

The Dissertation in Practice begins with the student’s first coursework and the laboratory of practice. Whether teacher, principal, or superintendent candidate, the student must identify a problem of practice in the workplace, the classroom, school building, or district. The problem should be significant enough to require study and resolution, but not so large that it cannot be dealt with in the three years of the program. In cooperation with faculty, local leadership, and a field advisor, the student will address this problem in the dissertation in practice. Once the problem is understood, the student researches and implements a plan to resolve the problem for the local leadership. Typically, at the end of the third year, the student will make a public presentation of the problem, its resolution, and the results. The format of the capstone project report and presentation will be determined by the nature of the project, with approval by the committee chair. 

Qualifications for Degree

To qualify for the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree, a student must complete the prescribed 49-53-credit hour program with a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average. Candidates are required to complete 240 teacher, building, or district leader internship hours over a one-year period.  A dual building and district internship requires 240 hours for each pathway over a two-year period.  A portfolio of activities that aligns with the program standards is required. Note that the Teacher Leadership Track does not lead to additional certification at this time. 

Principal and district candidates will have to take and pass the School Leaders Licensure Assessment ETS 6990 (required score: 151) or School Superintendent Assessment ETS 6991(required score: 162).

A culminating capstone project (the Dissertation in Practice) is required. Course work and the capstone project should be completed in three years.

The entire program must be completed within 5 years. If the program is not completed within a five-year period, a petition for reinstatement is necessary. Students will need to formally reapply to the program if they have been inactive (registered for no courses) for one year or more. Students readmitted after an absence of one year or more may need to re-take Action Research I or II or other coursework as determined by the program chair.

At the discretion of the Program Chair, applicants who are ABD from another institution may be eligible to transfer more than 12 credits. In order to be eligible for transfer, grades must be B or higher and must be no older than 7 years. 

This information applies to students who enter this degree program during the 2024-2025 Academic Year. If you entered this degree program before the Fall 2023 semester, please refer to the academic catalog for the year you began your degree program.