Ed.D. in Leadership

Headshot of James Perkins, Federal Public Service Employee“From the first class, I realized that this program would work for people of any career. Professionally, that lesson not only has given me confidence to approach my superiors and confidently challenge policy, but also has created opportunities for me in my workplace.” - James Perkins, Ed.D. ‘20

The Ed.D. in leadership is a 48-hour, 36-month program that centers on action-oriented andragogy and curriculum, includes the application of theory and research, and focuses on addressing practitioners’ problems of practice, culminating in a collaborative group Capstone study the final year of the program.

The Department of Educational Leadership is a member of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED).

Program Design and Delivery

The Ed.D. is a three-year cohort-based program beginning each summer only. Applications submitted will be considered for the Summer 2023 cohort. 

Coursework includes key topic areas such as Equity & Leadership, Learning Networks, Professional Writing, Organizational Analysis and Change, Data Visualization, Research Methods, Policy & Ethics, and Law. 

Students have the opportunity to choose an online or face-to-face delivery modality during the application process. The Ed.D. program offers engaging and collaborative learning designed to accommodate the lives of our students, who are working professionals leading in a variety of organizations. 

To build relationships and provide support for success in the program, regardless of the delivery modality, students must attend an in-person residency of 2-3 days each summer. Year one residencies are held at the end of June, and year 2 residencies are held at the end of July. See the application checklist and online application for specific dates based on the year you apply.  

During the third year of the program, students work in collaborative groups with a faculty chair and community-based partner to develop a Capstone Dissertation in Practice (including proposal and final defense). There is no traditional individual dissertation option.

Learning Community & Cohorts

In the Ed.D. Program, each entering group of students is called a Learning Community (LC), differentiated by graduation year (e.g., LC 23 is the group that started in the summer of 2020 and will graduate in May of 2023. Within each LC we have multiple cohorts* in the following areas:

  1. Higher Education Leadership
  2. K12 Leadership
  3. General Leadership (military, nonprofit, public or private sector, etc.)

In the supplemental questions area in the online application, students note which cohort and modality (online or in-person) they prefer. ​Online and in-person learning cohorts are determined by accepted student preference after the admissions deadline. Each cohort completes the same Ed.D. courses with slight shifts in focus depending on the composition of students in a particular cohort. We are committed to our program's reflective and responsive engagement with our learners.

Please note: Admission decisions will be completed by early April for the program to start in late May.

*Be advised that a minimum number of students is required to administer a cohort and some cohorts are a mix of sectors.

Curriculum Requirements

The Ed.D. in leadership requires a minimum of 48 total graduate credit hours. Since this program is built on a cohort model, no external transfer credits are accepted. Please review our most current sequence and schedule, linked under Resources below, for more details.

How much time will I have to invest in the program to be successful?

In years 1 & 2 and the summer of year 3 (seven semesters), students enroll in 6 credit hours of coursework each semester. In the fall & spring of year 3, students enroll in 3 credit hours of coursework (some students may enroll in an additional 3 credit independent study for financial aid purposes). For each credit hour, the student should allocate at least three hours of work outside of the classroom (f2f or online) to have adequate time to read, write, and work collaboratively with peers and faculty. Thus, 6 credits requires approximately 18 hours per week of dedicated time outside of class per semester. This may vary by instructor, course, and semester. This is a reading and writing intensive program, with a focus on collaborative learning.

What is the typical schedule for an Ed.D. student?

Online cohorts meet synchronously online for 1-1.5 hours on Wednesdays between 5 and 8 pm and also include asynchronous work. 

Face-to-face cohorts meet on the Monroe Park Campus five full-day Saturdays a semester and weekly on Thursday evenings starting between 4 and 6 pm and lasting 2-2.5 hours. Plan for all F2F sessions to be on campus, though some courses use a more hybrid format by including both F2F classes and online meetings/work. 

A sample of Ed.D. Capstone projects available in the VCU Scholars Compass is found under Resources below.


Ready To Get Started?

Jenna Lenhardt, Ph.D.

All prospective student inquiries please contact Dr. Lenhardt.

Current students contact Dr. Bukoski with Higher Education/K-12 General Leadership questions.