Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD-EdL)

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Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Advance your ability to inspire and influence change with the 100% online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD-EdL) degree program at National University. Through this comprehensive degree, you’ll obtain the skills it takes to identify problems, create solutions, and enhance learning environments.

NU’s Doctor of Education (EdD) degree in Educational Leadership (EdL) is a practitioner-researcher degree designed to prepare educational leaders who desire to improve educational practice across private and public sectors of PK-12, higher education, military, and corporate learning organizations. 

Lead the Way for Change and Transformation

You will acquire skills to ethically address the complex problems within educational practice using data-driven decision-making and other conceptual frames linking systematic inquiry with innovative solutions. The degree culminates in the completion of empirical research with direct implications for educational practice.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

Course Details

  • Credit Hours: 54
  • Courses: 18
  • Estimated Time to Complete: 35 months

The Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD-EdL) program can be completed in 54 credits. Each foundational course runs 8 weeks, and dissertation courses run 12 weeks. 

This foundational course will introduce you to the concepts and practices of advanced graduate study. You will examine concepts and expectations of advanced graduate study and academic integrity as well as investigate best practices of scholarship and research. You will explore university resources and supports associated with student success, including technologies for learning and research. You will also evaluate the program process and requirements for success. Finally, you will advocate for self-care and reflection during your studies.

Academic writing is at the heart of scholarly writing. How you explore and navigate your topic of interest is both a personal and professional matter. In this course, you will integrate effective research and writing skills, and evaluate standards of academic writing, honesty, and integrity. Literature and writing are closely related, so this course also offers you a first chance to examine the elements of conceptual and theoretical frameworks and critique the role of supporting literature and inquiry with conceptual and theoretical frameworks. Finally, you will synthesize the frameworks commonly used in educational research.

In this course, you will explore theories, philosophies, and professional standards related to educational leadership. You will also examine diversity, equity, and inclusion in the context of school leadership. Based on best practices, you will develop a personal leadership approach and promote ethical behavior and decision-making to become an effective leader within your educational setting.

In this course, students will explore real world experiences, and common challenges encountered by school leaders. During this course, students study the organizational behavior in schools, which emphasizes the practical relevance of educational leadership in this new era of accountability and high-stakes testing. Topics include: development theories and collaborative planning models for enhanced professional practice which includes; distributed leadership, professional learning communities, parental involvement, and sustainable leadership to impact student growth.

In this course, you will explore evidence-based decision-making in leadership to facilitate school and district performance. Utilizing authentic situations, you will analyze techniques to identify valid evidence to make informed decisions, processes in effectively collaborating with major stakeholders, and the effectiveness of the evidence-based decision making process.

In this course, you will explore the understanding of and relationships among educational policy, leadership, and research. Course emphasis will involve definitions and examples of effective educational policy, leadership theory, and research as well as how these areas can be effectively employed together. You will analyze various seminal educational policies, effective leadership qualities and practices, and research approaches to facilitate school performance.

Today’s educators must appraise, assess, and argue the best means to reach diverse and exceptional students. Additionally, individuals differ in gender, sexual orientation, age, cultural background, experiences, and abilities. In this course, you will explore different means to address the nature of cultural diversity, its sources, and its importance to educators. You will consider how districts can plan and prepare to meet the needs of diverse students, taking into consideration epistemological and axiological perspectives unique to many cultures.

You will develop effective search and scholarly writing strategies to create a scholarly review of literature. The course emphasizes how to: (a) use effective literature search strategies; (b) develop a scholarly synthesis of research literature; (c) organize research literature around identified research themes, including a study problem, purpose, and theoretical perspectives for an empirical research study; and (d) focus on developing a scholarly exposition that reflects divergent viewpoints and contrasting perspectives. The overarching goal of this course is for you to understand strategies to survey scholarly empirical and theoretical literature to avoid bias, focus on educational practice-based research problems, and address the required components of a scholarly literature review.

In this introductory research course, you will explore the underpinnings of the research process, examine research paradigms, and investigate theoretical and practical foundations of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies used within educational research. You will identify criteria for the development of a quality research study that is ethical, accurate, comprehensive, cohesive, and aligned. Specific course topics will involve the ethics of conducting research; data collection and analysis techniques; and issues of feasibility, trustworthiness, validity, reliability, generalizability or transferability, and rigor. This course is intended to familiarize you with concepts and skills associated with conducting theoretical and applied research.

This course offers foundational knowledge to become a critical consumer of statistical- based research literature as well as develop the necessary skillset for non-inferential quantitative analyses. The emphasis will be on understanding multivariate data, non-inferential and inferential statistical concepts, the conventions of quantitative data analysis, interpretation and critical inferences from statistical results. Statistical computations will be completed using statistical software applications for quantitative data analysis. The course culminates in a synthesis project to demonstrate statistical skills and aligned with APA guidelines for presentation of statistical results.

This course focuses on qualitative research methodology and designs and the methods used to collect and analyze data in educational research. You will examine the principles of qualitative research and explore commonly used designs (also referred to as qualitative traditions or genres) with a focus on application and feasibility. Qualitative data collection and analysis methods will be examined for their suitability with regard to the research design selected. Alignment between qualitative designs and research methods, issues of trustworthiness pertaining to qualitative research, and the role and responsibilities of the qualitative researcher will also be explored.

This course explores the quantitative research methodology and associated designs and methods. You will examine paradigmatic perspectives along with the tenets and conventions of quantitative research. This examination of designs and methods will include topics such as feasibility, validity, reliability, variable operationalization, inferential designs, and analytic software applications used within the quantitative research paradigm. You will also explore the components of aligned and coherent quantitative research designs that support meaningful research within the field of education.

This course builds on a foundational understanding of qualitative designs and measurements to focus on analyses of the data. The course takes you deeper into the skills and techniques necessary to ensure the appropriate analyses of qualitative data, including integrating relevant frameworks, verifying trustworthiness of the findings, and selecting suitable methods to present the analyses and findings.

You will learn advanced statistical principles and how to apply them to quantitative research. You will be provided an overview of advanced statistical concepts used in empirical research, including inferential analyses. Advanced computations will be performed using SPSS. The focus involves helping you build independent scholarly skills with an emphasis on understanding multivariate data; the use, comprehension, and evaluation of sophisticated statistical concepts; and presentation of statistical results.

In this course, students will explore a leadership role involving the integration of technology within instructional practices by teachers. As the use of technology by students continues to advance and has often become a preferred method for their interaction and learning, educational leaders need to ensure teachers are effectively integrating technological advances as facilitators for student achievement. Topics will involve understanding technology integration trends, supporting teachers to effectively integrate technology within their instructional practices, developing technology integration evaluation criteria, and supporting parents with technology integration for student learning at home.

The doctoral comprehensive assessment is your opportunity to demonstrate your preparation for entering the dissertation phase as a doctoral candidate. You will synthesize discipline-specific content with research designs and methods as you create a prospectus for a problem of applied practice within an educational context. This prospectus will likely become the foundation of your dissertation. Note that you will take this course only after all foundation, specialization, and research courses have been completed

In this 12-week course, you will complete all relevant subsections of Section 1: Foundation. You will use your school-specific template and guidance from your chair to determine which subsections apply to your individual work. Section 1 must be completed and approved by your committee in order to pass the course and move forward. If you do not receive committee approval of Section 1, you will be able to take up to three supplemental 8-week courses to finalize and gain approval of Section 1.

In this 12-week course, you will compose all relevant subsections of Section 2: Methodology and Design and complete your proposal. Both of these components must be approved by your committee in order to pass the course and move forward. You will use your school-specific template and guidance from your chair to determine which subsections apply to your individual work. If you do not receive approval of Section 2 and the complete proposal, you will be able to take up to three 8-week supplementary courses to finalize and gain approval of Section 2 and your completed proposal.

In this course, you will prepare, submit, and obtain a determination from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) application before collecting data and, if applicable, executing your project modeling. You will also submit documentation that you have closed data collection. If you are still collecting data or modeling your project at the end of this 12-week course, you will be able to take up to three supplemental 8-week courses to complete the required components.

In this 12-week course, you will complete all relevant subsections of Section 3: Findings, Implications, and Recommendations, finalize your manuscript, and disseminate your findings. You will use your school-specific template and guidance from your chair to determine which subsections apply to your individual work. The final manuscript, which includes Section 3 and the dissemination of findings, must be approved by your committee in order to pass the course and be eligible to graduate. If you do not receive committee approval of all components, you will be able to take up to three supplemental 8-week courses to finalize these requirements and be eligible to graduate.

Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership (EdL) requires 54 credit hours for degree completion. Coursework includes foundations, educational leadership, research methods, the pre-candidacy prospectus, and the dissertation. Additional credit hours may be allowed as needed to complete dissertation research in alignment with the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and Academic Maximum Time Frame policies. Students who do not complete their program within these requirements may be dismissed.

The EdD-EdL degree program has the following graduation requirements:

  • A minimum of 42 credit hours of graduate instruction must be completed through NU
  • Official transcripts on file for all transfer credits accepted by the University
  • Grade Point Average of 3.0 (letter grade of “B”) or higher
  • University Approval of Dissertation Manuscript and Oral Presentation completed
  • Submission of the approved final dissertation manuscript to the University Registrar, including the original unbound dissertation manuscript and an electronic copy
  • Official documents on file for basis of admission: a conferred master’s degree from an accredited academic institution
  • Official transcripts on file for all transfer credit hours accepted by the University
  • All financial obligations must be met before the student will be issued their diploma and/or degree posted transcript. 

The University may accept up to 12 semester credit hours earned with a grade of “B” or better for graduate coursework completed at an accredited college or university and evaluated to be substantially equivalent in content with the required coursework for the EdD-EdL program.

Note: Students who complete NU’s EdS program may be eligible to apply up to 30 credits from the EdS program to the School of Education’s Doctoral programs. School Dean (or their designee) approval is required to determine the number of applicable credit hours from EdS to the selected doctoral program.

Career Potential*

  • Educational Administrators, PreK-12 and Higher Ed 
  • Distance Learning Coordinators
  • Related education professionals (school social workers, resource officers, guidance counselors)

*Positions may require additional experience, training, and other factors beyond successfully completing this degree program. Depending on where you reside, many positions may also require state licensure, and it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all licensure requirements are met. We encourage you to also review program specific requirements with an NU advisor. Any data provided on this page is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee that completion of any degree program will achieve the underlying occupation or commensurate salary.


Faculty assists each NU Doctoral student to reach this high goal through a systematic process leading to a high-quality completed dissertation. This process requires care in choosing a topic, documenting its importance, planning the methodology, and conducting the research. These activities lead smoothly into the writing and oral presentation of the dissertation.

A doctoral candidate must be continuously enrolled throughout the series of dissertation courses. Dissertation courses are automatically scheduled and accepted without a break in scheduling to ensure that students remain in continuous enrollment throughout the dissertation course sequence. If additional time is required to complete any of the dissertation courses, students must re-enroll and pay the tuition for that course. Continuous enrollment will only be permitted when students demonstrate progress toward completing dissertation requirements. The Dissertation Committee determines progress.

Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of National University’s Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD-EdL) program, you’ll be able to:

  • Illustrate effective educational leadership vision and integrity through strategic planning involving data-driven decision-making and evidence-based practice
  • Determine the aspects of professional capacity and resource needs for a quality professional learning community within a sector-specific learning organization
  • Develop effective leadership traits to improve educational practice across diverse learning organizations within public and private sectors
  • Devise informed evidence-based solutions to address a complex problem from educational practice
  • Conduct empirical research to address a complex problem within educational practice


National University’s dedicated admissions team is here to help you throughout the admissions process. We accept and review applications year-round, and, once you’re admitted, you can begin your studies as soon as the next week.

To apply to the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD-EL), you must have a conferred post-baccalaureate master’s degree and/or doctoral degree from a regionally or nationally accredited academic institution or a qualifying international institution.

Questions? Call our admissions team at 866.776.0331 or request information, and an advisor will be in touch soon. Ready to apply? Start your NU application today.

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Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) is a 100% online pathway helping students “All But Dissertation” finish their doctoral degree.

  • Block transfer of credit from your previous institution
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  • Strategic support and targeted resources to help you finish

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Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and/or training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.