Feb 29, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Educational Leadership, Ed.D.

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Includes Preparation for Superintendent Certification

The Ed.D. in educational leadership (pre-K to grade 12) is designed to prepare mid-career professionals for a variety of leadership roles in school districts, independent schools, charter management organizations, public agencies and nonprofit organizations. Students engage with program faculty members and their cohort in all course content, which includes the individual development and execution of a problem-based dissertation. Program activities benefit the students in their roles as system-level leaders or policy professionals, as well as the organizations they serve. The program is designed to allow individuals to continue working as they complete this three-year doctoral program.

Program Structure. The Ed.D. curriculum is delivered in a three-year executive-style format in which students meet in 10 weekend sessions each year and in summer intensive sessions. The schedule is designed for midcareer professionals to further their education while continuing to work full-time. Students remain together in a cohort as they progress through the program. Some online assignments are given between weekend sessions. Five cross-cutting themes infuse courses and other learning opportunities:

  • Academic leadership.
  • Strategic and organizational leadership.
  • Policy and political leadership.
  • Evidence-based leadership.
  • Personal and ethical leadership.

In an applied dissertation that serves as a capstone experience, students demonstrate leadership competencies by engaging in a multifaceted inquiry project based on a problem of practice.

Requirements for the Major

Completion of 60 hours including 12 hours of core classes and 48 hours of content courses as prescribed by the program faculty. Content courses are listed below but may change as appropriate.

Admission Requirements

  • Complete and submit the online application: Complete and submit the online application: https://gradadmission.smu.edu/apply/.
  • Possess a master’s or post-baccalaureate degree before you begin the program.
  • Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts with a GPA of 3.000 or higher preferred for all degrees.
    1. Electronic transcripts should be sent directly by the institution to: gradappmaterials@smu.edu
    2. Paper transcripts should be sent directly by the institution to: 

      Graduate Application Processing
      PO Box 518
      Dallas, TX 75275-0518

  • Applicants with a degree from countries where the predominant language is not English are required to supply scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) administered by the Educational Testing Service. The minimum scores for admission speaking 24, listening/reading 22, and writing 21.
  • Three Essays. Your response for each part should be no longer than two pages in length (double-spaced, 12-point font, one-inch margins).
  • Three letters of recommendation. Letters should be from individuals who can speak to the candidate’s academic and professional skills and potential. One letter should be from a direct supervisor in the candidate’s organization; the supervisor will also be asked to indicate agreement for the student to miss work in order to attend classes (for time on Fridays and summer terms). 
  • A resume/curriculum vita.

Promising applicants may be invited to engage in an interview and additional selection processes.

If applying for the Superintendent certificate, please provide the following as well:

  • A letter of agreement from the superintendent or other system-level administrator indicating that the school district will provide internship activities and a district mentor for the candidate
  • A copy of a Principal certificate or the equivalent issued by the TEA, another state or country.


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