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PhD in Educational Leadership

woman explaining research poster
Keith Zvoch, PhD
Contact: Angela Burham, Student Services Coordinator
(541) 346-1492


Mailing Address: 
Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership
5267 University of Oregon

Program Philosophy

The doctor of philosophy (PhD) program in Educational Leadership develops expertise in educational research and is intended for those who wish to pursue faculty or research careers. A degree in educational leadership (EDLD) through the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership focuses on the process for development, implementation, and generation of outcomes in the organization and management of K–12. Programs are designed to provide educational leaders, policy makers, and researchers the skills needed to design and implement strategies that improve practice and outcomes in educational organizations.

The program focuses on several dimensions of research leadership in Pre-K-16 educational systems: (a) development of policies to guide programs, (b) creation of organizational structures and functions to facilitate change, and (c) measurement and analysis of educational outcomes to enact accountability. The goal is to develop researchers and scholars who can apply theoretical frameworks, methodological approaches and analytical skills to improve educational performance.

EMPL has two strands upon which the PhD degree program is based:

  1. Policy Studies and Leadership
  2. Quantitative Research Methods

Students can also choose to earn a specialization in Quantitative Research Methods in conjunction with their PhD program..

PhD and DEd Comparison Video

Learn more about the difference between our PhD and DEd programs.

Program Plan

The PhD program is organized around a cognitive apprenticeship model anchored to a program of research with a clear line of inquiry. In cognitive apprenticeship, students are expected to work closely with faculty members and other scholars on a variety of class-based and field projects to engage in first-hand research practice, with a focus on the production of original research. Students are expected to incorporate interdisciplinary principles into their thinking and are encouraged to consider evidence-based practice and leadership among their research contexts. The first year and advanced year pro-seminars are designed to create a culture of community for advising/mentoring and for sustaining students’ continuous progress toward degree completion.


The PhD program is designed to include a shared core of courses for all PhD students and additional advanced coursework targeting one of the three available emphasis areas. The three emphasis areas are: Policy and Organizations, Methodological Approaches, and Measurement and Assessment.

Students will also develop a comprehensive portfolio that documents and collects evidence of their mastery of key competencies as they move through the program. Upon successful completion of coursework and the portfolio, the student is advanced to candidacy, forms a dissertation committee, and begins work on an applied research project that will become the dissertation.

Planned Program Forms

The planned program, signed by the advisor and the student, should be submitted to the Student Services Coordinator by the end of the first year.

Planned Program for students admitted Fall 2006 or 2007
Planned Program for students admitted Fall 2008
Planned Program for students admitted Fall 2009
Planned Program for students admitted Fall 2010
Planned Program for students admitted Fall 2012
Planned Program for students admitted Fall 2016

Comprehensive Academic Portfolio

As part of the first several years of study, PhD students compile evidence for an academic portfolio that demonstrates they have successfully mastered the competencies required to advance to the dissertation phase. This portfolio meets the graduate school’s requirements for a comprehensive examination. In general, evidence will include key course assignments specifically designed to document mastery of foundational concepts and other evidence of mastery of skills and knowledge gained in a specialized interest area.

Proposal and Dissertation

Upon successful completion of coursework (reflecting a grade point average of 3.0 or better) and the comprehensive examination portfolio, PhD students submit a proposal that outlines their proposed dissertation research. To advance to the dissertation phase, PhD students must: satisfactorily complete all required coursework in their planned program of study with at least a 3.0 GPA; satisfactorily complete a portfolio of evidence indicating that they have mastered the competencies necessary for the dissertation phase; receive approval from their advisor for their research proposal; complete residency requirements of three contiguous terms of full time enrollment.

The dissertation topic must align with the interests and expertise of the program faculty so that the advisor can successfully guide the student on its design and implementation. Through a sequence of courses in research foundations, students are taught a range of research methods that enable them to complete a high quality dissertation on a problem, utilizing qualitative, quantitative, or single subject methods.

Program Requirements

Total credits required: 135 (at least 84 earned after admission to the program) Transferable credits: Up to 51 from prior related masters degree or from other accredited university. Must be pre-approved. Time limit on program completion is 7 years.

Program Manuals

2009 PhD Program Manual
2010 PhD Program Manual
2011 PhD Program Manual 
2012 PhD Program Manual 
2014 PhD Program Manual
2015 PhD Program Manual
2016 PhD Program Manual

Application and Admission

The application and admission process used within the EMPL program requires the following from students, all of which have further details listed under Application Instructions.

Please note that two sets of application forms need to be submitted: 1) A department form 2) A graduate admission form. Students are admitted to the College of Education with the educational leadership major on a competitive basis. The major has a restricted enrollment; therefore, not all students who meet the minimum requirements are admitted.

DEADLINE: February 1 (for fall term admission)

Program Prerequisites 1) Master's degree 2) Students applying for the Ph.D. program are expected to live in the Eugene/Springfield area AND be funded financially throughout their program (see financial aid resources). 3) Doctoral applicants must submit either recent GRE or MAT test scores. 4) Minimum GPA from most recent degree: 3.00 5) All doctoral students must begin the program fall term.

Degree Options

The ProAL/PhD Joint Program enables students to complete the requirements for continuing administrator licensure as part of their completion of the 135 credits past the bachelors degree required for a doctor of philosophy degree. The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree gives students advanced research- and theory-oriented knowledge and skills in the processes educators use to develop, refine, and implement positive educational outcomes through the effective organization and management of K-12 and higher education.