Educational Leadership

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The world needs transformative leaders in education—individuals whose passion for educational quality and equity is matched by a knowledge of learning and development; a firm grasp of public policy issues; and, the organizational leadership skills to translate visionary ideas into real-world success.

As a graduate of our program, you will be uniquely prepared for systems-level leadership in schools and universities, nonprofits and philanthropies, mission-driven for-profits and state and national educational organizations.

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A Quarter-Century Legacy of Success

In educational leadership, experience matters. Sharing those experiences can generate insights that are hard to come by in other ways. Our Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program at Duquesne University has produced exceptional educational leaders for schools, universities and communities for over a quarter-century. Our graduates serve the needs of children and youth in PreK-12 classrooms, organizational boardrooms and university administration buildings across the country and around the world.

Join an exceptional community of ethical leaders equipped with the courage and intellectual discernment to lead systems-level improvements for social justice as university administrators, principals, superintendents, assistant superintendents, curriculum directors, counselors, leaders of non-profits and directors of message driven for profits.

"Throughout my time in the Ed.D. program, I've been struck by the intentionality of faculty and their willingness to work with each cohort member. The design of the program is one that, in my experience, values experiential education along with textual analysis. The learning and incredible relationships that have been fostered among our cohort have been nothing short of remarkable."

CASEY WEISS | Assistant principal at Hillel Academy | Ed.D. in Educational Leadership student

Enjoy Immediate Benefits

Our cohort members are regularly promoted within their current organization or secure a leadership position in another educational organization while still candidates in our three-year doctoral program. Up your profile and increase your impact, as you apply what you learn to the challenges and opportunities of real-world practice in real time with confidence.

Profit from a Schedule that Honors the Life Demands of Working Professionals

Our three-year program is built on a cohort-learning model of collaborative professionals (school leaders, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, principals, teachers, and university administrators) who progress through our program together.

The 36-month, 54-credit program is delivered on campus during eight full-day Saturday sessions in the Fall (six credits), eight full-day Saturday sessions in the Spring (six credits) and eight full weekday seminars each July.

Strategically Designed Curriculum

Our curriculum balances multidisciplinary coursework with real-world issues to promote learning inside of educational leadership practice. All courses are taught by the full-time faculty in the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership in Duquesne's School of Education.

Our renowned scholars are recognized for their expertise and research in the areas like evidence-based improvement, policy analysis, program evaluation, culturally relevant pedagogy, classroom assessment, organizational improvement and innovation, immigration, social justice and effective educational leadership for schools, universities, and communities.

Our dynamic curriculum is responsive and relevant to the challenges real leaders face and will empower you to better serve children and youth in public and private schools, colleges and universities, educational organizations and communities.

Program Information

Our Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program will prepare you for systems-level leadership in schools and universities, nonprofits and philanthropies, mission-driven for-profits and state and national educational organizations.



Academic Department

Educational Foundations and Leadership



Required Credit Hours


Featured content

Professor McCown and female student at table learning

Learning is the Measure of Teaching

For Dr. McCown, harnessing educational curiosity and passion is the key to building leadership capacity. Read how Ed.D. Educational Leadership professor Dr. McCown teaches his students to become courageous leaders who create meaningful improvements in schools, communities and universities.

Application Process

Admission Information

A maximum of 12 students will be admitted into the July 2024 Ed.D in Educational Leadership cohort based on their academic qualifications, appropriate experience, and application packet quality. Admission decisions are made without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, gender, or sexual orientation.

Five years of educational experience or experience in a related field is preferred. The admission committee will not consider incomplete applications.

Admission Criteria

  • Master's degree in education or related field*
    • *A 3.0 in graduate work
  • Five years of experience in PK-12 Schools or related educational field preferred

International Applicants

International Students seeking fully online programs are not eligible for U.S. Student Visas. Visit International Admissions for additional information and requirements.

Accepting Applications

The January 31 priority application deadline has passed, but applications are still being accepted for Summer 2024.

Note: Those who submit by the January 31, 2024 deadline will be considered for graduate assistantships and other supportive funding before late applicants.

Admission Process and Deadlines

  • Completed application packet due no later than Wednesday, January 31, 2024
  • Zoom interviews occur the first two weeks of February 2024
  • Group interview will take place Saturday, March 2, 2024
  • Successful applicants notified mid-March
  • Late applications considered on a rolling basis if spots remain open in the cohort
  • Classes begin on July 9, 2024

Required Documents

Application Information

Download the Following Application Resource:


Send official application materials to:


  • Duquesne University School of Education
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    214A Canevin Hall
    600 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15282


Making an impact through education

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Our Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program is about making a difference for real people, real kids, real youths, real adults..."

Dr. Rick McCown Professor of Educational Leadership

Ed.D. Curriculum and Course Descriptions

Offered on Saturdays during the fall and spring semesters, as well as eight full-day summer seminars in July, our Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program is designed for the busy schedules of working professionals.

This professional seminar will operationalize the framing concepts of the program as expectations for
the students. Students will use the lens of social justice to: a) examine themselves as leaders and their positions relative to others in society; b) investigate problems as dynamic issues located in ecosystems rather than in one organizational home; and, c) set actionable goals for self-mastery and self-improvement.

The course promotes the guiding principle that effective educational leaders think strategically and communicate effectively to catalyze and lead educational improvement that is community-engaged, evidence-based and socially just.

3 credits

This course will inform the theoretical and empirical frames that connect educational leadership and conditions of social justice.

Students will develop understandings of critical social theory, institutional networks of power, the cultural dimensions of power and the dynamics of power that operate between dominant and subordinate communities to impact the quality of education and educational opportunity for all learners. Skills of educational leadership advocacy will be developed through laboratories of practice projects to frame educational leadership as aspiring for social justice.

3 credits

This course examines the forces that shape educational policy with an emphasis on governance structures, stakeholders, public engagement, current policy issues and political contexts at the global, national, and local level paying particular attention to the contexts of policy including the evolving conceptualization of global and local systems of governance and the uses, limitations, and ethics of policy and policy analysis.

Students will develop the skills and abilities required to understand, analyze, and design sound and responsive policy.

3 credits
The course will develop knowledge and skills necessary for the critical consumption of (1) empirical research from the scholarly and professional literatures in educational leadership and (2) data generated through and informative of the professional practice in education.

The course emphasizes developing skills to critique and critically review published research and to interrogate data generated though standardized testing, action research, evaluative studies, and policy analyses at the classroom, school, district, state, and federal levels in order to evaluate evidence and inform decision-making.

3 credits
This course will examine the theoretical underpinnings of human development, motivation, and learning in PreK-12 education to investigate and understand the design of optimal learning environments that interact with the learners’ cultural background, prior knowledge, interests and identity to provide culturally relevant pedagogy.

Students will develop the knowledge and skills to look for and use compelling evidence of student learning and achievement to support collaborative and intentional inquiry focused on improving learning opportunities for all learners—children and the adults who educate them—both in schools and also out of school settings and after school programs.

3 credits
Within a frame of improving educational practice, the course focuses on understanding the educational systems where improvement is sought and how accounts of improvement efforts within those systems are documented.

Tools for engaging stakeholders and accounting for the outcomes and impacts of improvement efforts will be studied–including their ethical implications and moral imperatives–and applied in practice contexts. The tools will include the development and use of logic models as well as tools of improvement inquiry that engage stakeholders in understanding and addressing problems of practice.

3 credits
Through theory and practice students consider, examine, and problematize the ethical dimensions of leadership in relation to community systems, organizations, and institutions. Students will deconstruct concepts of community-engaged leadership including race, class, gender, justice, and power.

Students will gain the knowledge and skills to work toward positive improvement outcomes for students, parents, educators, the local community and society as a whole; strengthen sustainable, mutually beneficial, long-term community partnerships and initiatives that facilitate positive social change; increase opportunities for engagement though collaborative learning and inquiry, and increase their visibility, awareness and recognition of community-engaged leadership. 

3 credits
The course provides an overview of the design, development, and implementation of evaluations of educational programs. The theories and practices of educational evaluation will be studied with a focus on improving PK-12 schooling, including the performance of students, teachers, administrators, schools, and community efforts to improve educational outcomes.

Evaluative purposes, evaluation plans, evaluation designs and instruments will be examined as well as data collection, analysis, and reporting. 

3 credits
This course provides a firm grounding in ethical discernment and an in-depth examination of federal and state school law. Students will develop skills needed to examine the complexities and contradictions that occur in schools and communities and address legal issues that impact the operation of public schools.

A personal code of ethics will be developed and applied to practical situations of educational leadership, research, and policy to enhance socially responsible leadership in schools, educational organizations, and communities. 

3 credits
This course provides a solid foundation and practical explanations of the many forms of educational assessment concepts and procedures that affect a school or district’s student learning and achievement outcomes in order to lead assessment for learning, establish sound procedures for the assessment of learning, meet accountability requirements, communicate with various stakeholders and understand how assessment relates to effective teaching and professional learning.

Students will use key principles of sound educational assessment to inform and plan educational improvement efforts.

3 credits
Leading practice improvement in educational settings requires that data be collected, analyzed, and rendered into evidence that is accepted across the boundaries of schools, the academy, and the community. Data analysis techniques–both quantitative and qualitative–will be the substantive focus of the course.

Analysis techniques will be examined not only for methodological soundness, but also to determine how the resulting evidence can be constructed and communicated to multiple stakeholders focused on improving practice in specific educational contexts. 

3 credits
The course provides a background and analysis of the interpretive act embedded in all educational improvement inquiry.

Designed to provide an in-depth study of qualitative inquiry, the course focuses on the major qualitative approaches to understanding problems of practice, educational improvement, and informed educational leadership practice with a special focus on issues of educational equity and social justice for children and youth. 

3 credits
The course frames and engages the students in the comprehensive examinations that are required for the doctoral program in educational leadership to qualify the student to proceed to the dissertation in practice as a doctoral candidate.

The faculty of the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership in the Duquesne University School of Education has adopted doctoral portfolios with an oral demonstration and assessment of competencies to ensure that doctoral students possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies. 

3 credits
The course engages students in developing working frameworks for taking the approved proposal through the phases required for a completed dissertation in practice: data collection, data analysis, defense drafts, defense presentation, final revisions, and submission requirements for electronic theses and dissertations.

The seminar provides opportunities for students in groups with faculty to develop work plans and timelines for submissions to their dissertation in practice committee and for other capstone products and deliverables. 

3 credits
This course explores the interpersonal and social dynamics of educational leadership to expand understanding of the power and place of social dynamics involved in most change/improvement experiences.

Doctoral candidates will assess and diagnose negative social dynamics to design proactive leverage and utilize positive social dynamics as powerful drivers for change. Aspects of group process design (social technologies), group intelligence, peer-to-peer learning and social marketing will be addressed in the context of the doctoral candidate’s dissertation in practice. 

3 credits
The first course of a two-course sequence that supports the writing of the dissertation in practice. The course provides opportunities for students writing their dissertations in practice to consult with faculty and other students to develop and clarify the arguments within each section of their dissertation in practice as they develop the accounts of their research.

The course includes opportunities for students to “workshop” the drafts they are preparing for their dissertation in practice committee. 

3 credits
This course is designed to promote the integration of the interwoven threads of the curriculum—socially just leadership, community engagement, and research/improvement inquiry—and the student’s experiences in the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership Program.

Each candidate produces a capstone report that describes, analyzes, and reflects upon the candidate’s leadership of and contributions to the strategic project that formed the basis for the dissertation in practice and led to evidence-based decisions to provide concise insight into the candidate’s work along with next steps, resources, and questions to consider for practitioners who might lead similar initiatives. 

3 credits
The second course of a two-course sequence that supports the writing of the dissertation in practice. The course provides opportunities for students writing their dissertations in practice to consult with faculty and other students to develop and clarify the arguments within each section of their dissertation in practice as they move toward defensible drafts.

The course includes opportunities for students to “workshop” the drafts that they will eventually defend before their committee. 

3 credits

Ed.D. Educational Leadership Faculty

Tara Abbott

Tara Abbott

Program Director | Clinical Assistant Professor

Gretchen Givens Generett

Gretchen Givens Generett

Dean | Professor | Noble J. Dick Endowed Chair in Community Outreach

Gibbs Kanyongo

Gibbs Kanyongo

Professor | Department Chair

Rick McCown

Rick McCown

Professor | Pierre Schouver Endowed Chair - School of Education

Amy Olson

Amy Olson

Associate Professor | Director of Graduate Studies

 Fran Serenka

Fran Serenka

Associate Professor

Featured content

CPED Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate Consortium Member 2007 logo

CPED Consortium Member

Our Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in Duquesne's School of Education is recognized as a Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) Consortium Member, one of 22 member universities committed to the preparation of educational leaders to ensure well-equipped scholarly practitioners who provide stewardship of the profession and meet the educational challenges of the 21st century.

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