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

START HERE: Application Checklist

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. Students may apply to complete the program online or face-to-face, see Curriculum Requirements for additional details.

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 in the summer only.

Ed.D. courses are offered online or in a face-to-face/hybrid format. Please note that all students must attend the summer required in-person residency in summer 1 (more info below). 

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

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.  

In the first year, to build relationships and provide support for success in the program, regardless of the course modality, students must attend an in-person residency in summer 1. Refer to the application checklist and online application for specific dates based on the year you apply. LC 27 (students starting the program in Summer 2024) has a residency June 7-8, 2024 in Richmond, VA.

In the second year of the program, students complete a Formative Assessment to evaluate their progress relative to program student outcomes. The assessment requires additional time and work outside of classes to complete in summer two and the first month of the fall semester. 

In the third year of the program, students work under the supervision of a faculty chair in collaborative groups and with a community-based partner organization to develop a Capstone Project, or Dissertation-in-Practice, which includes an academic document and attendant presentations (proposal and final defense), as well as deliverables for the partner organization. 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 27 is the group starting in the summer of 2024 and graduating in May of 2027). Within each LC we have multiple cohort concentrations in the following areas:

    1. General Leadership (military, nonprofit, public or private sector, etc.)
    2. Higher Education Leadership
    3. K12 Leadership
    4. Combined (students from all three concentrations, or across the leadership pipeline)

    In the supplemental questions area in the online application, students will rank order their preferences of cohort concentration (1 = most preferred cohort; 4 = least preferred). Cohorts are determined after the admissions deadline, and we reserve the right to change initial cohort assignments to balance the needs of the students and the institution*. We take into account student preference, but a given modality is not guaranteed. Each cohort completes the same Ed.D. courses with 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.

    *Be advised that a minimum number of students is required to administer a cohort.

    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. 

    YEAR 1 Course

    *EDLP 700: Learning Networks
    EDLP 702: Organizational Analysis


    EDLP 715: Professional Writing
    EDLP 711: Data & Leadership 1


    EDLP 704: Legal Perspectives
    EDLP  718: Budgeting & Finance

    YEAR 2



    EDLP 712: Culture Change
    EDLP 717: Data Visualization


    EDLP 714: Systems Change
    EDLP 713: Data & Leadership 2


    EDLP 709: Equity & Leadership
    EDLP 705: Policy & Ethics

    YEAR 3



    EDLP 708: Leadership & Crisis
    EDLP 790: Capstone Development


    EDLP 798: Capstone Implementation


    EDLP 799: Capstone Completion

    * Each course is 3 credit hours with the exception of EDLP 798 and 799, which can be taken for 3 or 6 credit hours.

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

    For each credit hour, the student should allocate three or more 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 EdD student?

    Online cohorts meet synchronously online for 1-1.5 hours on Wednesdays between 5 and 8 pm E.T. Additional time outside of class is dedicated to asynchronous work (e.g., discussion boards), reading, writing, and teaming (i.e., meeting with course project teams).

    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 synchronous meetings/ work. Additional time outside of class is dedicated to some asynchronous work (e.g., discussion boards), reading, writing, and teaming (i.e., meeting with course project teams).

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

    How much does the program cost?

    Use this link to calculate tuition expenses. Select "Doctoral - Off Campus" for the online program and select "Doctoral - Monroe Park Campus" the face-to-face program. Select "Part-Time" and the appropriate residency information. Ed.D. students take two classes per semester for nine semesters.


    Ready To Get Started?

    Jenna Lenhardt, Ph.D.

    All prospective student inquiries please contact Dr. Lenhardt.

    Prospective and current students, please contact Dr. Bukoski with program questions.