Degree Requirements

The EOLL curriculum is structured around developing leaders who are: value centered, committed to service and social justice for the common good; professional, reflective, holistic, interdisciplinary, creative, visionary, and scholarly; effective interpersonally and as a leader in organizations; and both committed to and possessing the conceptual knowledge and skills to lead in diverse communities and in an interdependent world.   
These values serve as the backbone of our program and live out in each course, module, and summer experience that our students engage in. After completing their coursework and their Thematic Dissertation in Leadership Practice dissertation, students will have the organizational, leadership, and research skills necessary to serve in senior positions in school district central offices, independent schools, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, advocacy organizations, and more. 

To complete the Doctorate in Education program, students must earn 66 credits beyond an approved master’s degree, which includes three (3) required summer institutes. 

Doctorate in Education (Ed.D)

Leadership Requirements (36 credits)

After an intensive summer introduction for the new cohort, participants in the doctoral program are involved in seminars that focus on the Leader as Self, Leader in Organizations, and Leader in a Global and Interdependent World. Students also engage in year-long projects. 

  • EDLR 6000: Leadership: Orientation  
  • EDLR 6050: Empower Leaders/ Social Justice 
  • EDLR 6210, 6220, 6230: Leader as Self  
  • EDLR 6310, 6320, 6330: Leader in Organizations  
  • EDLR 6410, 6420, 6430: Leader in Global World  

Research Requirements (30 credits)

The EOLL at SU includes a capstone Thematic Dissertation in Practice research component, requiring each student to conduct inquiry relevant to information needs of a learning organization. Students form thematic dissertation groups led by at least one doctoral faculty mentor and organized around broad, complex, organization-based issues or problems relevant to leadership.  

  • EDLR 6160: Social Inquiry Methods  
  • EDLR 6170: Educational Research Methods I  
  • EDLR 6180: Educational Research Methods II 
  • EDLR 6190: Participatory Approaches to Social Inquiry 
  • EDLR 6510, 6520, 6530: Thematic Dissertation in Leadership Practice 

Throughout the three-year program, students also complete the following program activities and benchmarks, in collaboration with the program directors, doctoral faculty, and their dissertation chair and committee members:


  • Summer Leadership Institutes (annually)
  • Annual Student Reviews (each year of the program) 


  • Comprehensive Exam in Leadership Practice Review and Advancement to Candidacy (Benchmark #1)
  • Thematic Dissertation Proposal Defense (Chapters 1-3) and SU Institutional Review Board (Benchmark #2)
  • Final Thematic Dissertation Defense (Benchmark #3) 

Comprehensive Examination in Leadership Practice

A student must pass formal, comprehensive written examinations before being admitted to candidacy for the degree. These examinations will be administered in accordance with policies in effect in the Education and Organizational Learning and Leadership Program and the College of Education. If a student fails the comprehensive examination for a second time, he/she will be removed from the program.