Educational Leadership Doctorate



The EdD in Educational Leadership is the College of Education's highest professional degree. The program prepares students for leading and managing change in their communities and professional fields. Each student is admitted to one of four specializations within the program, although coursework may be completed in other specialties based on the student's background and learning needs and with the approval of the advisor and specialty area faculty. The four specializations are:

  • Administration (K-12)
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Postsecondary Education
  • Special Education

What is the difference between the EdD and the PhD?


  • Part-time, 3-4 year degree
  • Typically sought by mid-career professionals who continue to work as they pursue their degree
  • Intentionally designed to meet the needs of working professionals who use research for informed decision-making
  • Prepares stewards of the field/practice-individuals who:
    • are committed to high standards
    • take on the challenges of teaching and leadership
    • use existing knowledge to solve educational problems
    • critically analyze research and policy
    • identify educational problems and blend their practical wisdom with the professional knowledge they learn to address those problems
    • merge practice, theory, and research
    • conduct research that is rigorous, ethical, and transparent and make a positive difference in the lives of individuals, families, schools, and communities
    • work toward social justice and equity
  • Apprentice for leadership and change while working in a variety of educational or professional settings
  • Provides a rigorous, respectable, high level academic experience


  • Full time, 5-7 year degree
  • Typically sought by those wishing to secure tenure track positions
  • Research intensive
  • Prepares stewards of the disciplines-those trusted to ensure the vigor, quality and integrity of a field. Individuals who:
    • generate new knowledge and defend knowledge claims against challenges and criticism
    • critically conserve the most important ideas and findings that are a legacy of past and current work
    • develop theory for practice
    • transform ideas through writing and teaching
    • prepare future generations in the discipline
    • apply their knowledge, skills, findings, and insights in the service of problem solving or greater understanding in field-based settings
  • Apprentice for scholarly life
  • Provides a rigorous, respectable, high level academic experience

Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate logo


The professional doctorate of education at Portland State University prepares educators to apply an equity lens to analyze complex problems of practice within their professional context and lead an improvement process.  By engaging in improvement processes, educational leaders will generate knowledge and extend the impact of their work through dissemination to the broader professional community.   

Guiding Principles:

  • Educational leadership is rooted Equity and Social Justice and must be understood through a critical lens (e.g., critical race theory; critical disabilities study.
  • The EdD is experienced through analysis of a complex Problem of Practice embedded in field-based work that is generalizable beyond the local context of the practicing professional.
  • Effecting educational change requires learning and practice in processes of improvement.
  • Educational change requires leaders who can critically analyze and use data to guide decision making.
  • Educational change should be rooted in evidence- and research-based practice and requires leaders who can critically analyze information, research, and theory.
  • Effective educational change requires purposeful communication, understanding, and collaboration that actively engages a broad and diverse range of stakeholders.
  • Complex problems of practice are best understood from multiple perspective and by analyzing the variety of systems in which they occur. Solutions require systemic and structural considerations to impact change at a meaningful scale.

The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate

The College of Education is a member of the CPED consortium.

Purpose of the Professional Doctorate

“The professional doctorate in education prepares educators for the application of appropriate and specific practices, the generation of new knowledge, and for the stewardship of the profession.”

Scholarly Practitioner

Professional doctorates prepare Scholarly Practitioners. “Scholarly Practitioners blend practical wisdom with professional skills and knowledge to name, frame, and solve problems of practice. They use practical research and applied theories as tools for change because they understand the importance of equity and social justice. They disseminate their work in multiple ways, and they have an obligation to resolve problems of practice by collaborating with key stakeholders, including the university, the educational institution, the community, and individuals.”

Program Principles (CPED Working Principles)

  1. Is framed around questions of equity, ethics, and social justice to bring about solutions to complex problems of practice.
  2. Prepares leaders who can construct and apply knowledge to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals, families, organizations, and communities.
  3. Provides opportunities for candidates to develop and demonstrate collaboration and communication skills to work with diverse communities and to build partnerships.
  4. Provides field-based opportunities to analyze problems of practice and use multiple frames to develop meaningful solutions.
  5. Is grounded in and develops a professional knowledge base that integrates both practical and research knowledge, that links theory with systemic and systematic inquiry.
  6. Emphasizes the generation, transformation, and use of professional knowledge and practice.

Estimated cost and financial aid

COE Estimated Program Cost

The EdD program does not offer direct funding for students. Students can pursue funding through traditional Financial Aid, through Scholarships, or through Graduate Assistant work.

Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid and scholarships as soon as possible, even if they have not yet been admitted to the EdD program. Please refer to the financial aid and scholarship links for those specific deadlines.

Program specializations

All students take a set of core classes together over two years. During that time, all students work together in smaller groups within an area of specialization.

We have an integrated doctoral program defined by specializations: Administration; Curriculum and Instruction; Postsecondary Education; and Special Education. (Note: Not all specializations are offered during each admission cycle. Please see the Admission page for more information about which specializations will be admitted during the next cycle.)

  • The Administration specialization is designed primarily for individuals who wish to increase their skills in the leadership and management of educational organizations and the study of educational policy in a K-12 setting.
  • The Curriculum and Instruction specialization focuses on strengthening the leadership of those who seek to impact curriculum, teaching, and learning across an array of educational settings.
  • The Postsecondary specialization emphasizes the development of postsecondary educational leaders equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to leverage and sustain inclusive and transformative learning environments and organizations.
  • The Special Education specialization emphasizes program leadership in school, community, and other agencies serving special needs of youth and adults.

Faculty advisors in each specialization will work with each student to determine the organizational setting in which the student wishes to conduct their dissertation research.