Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership Program

Capstone Partnerships


Our 3rd year Doctor of Education (EdD) students fulfill their degree requirements by completing work across three semesters to complete team-based capstones. These capstones are “dissertations in practice” that address actionable problems of practice and advance organizational improvement for partner organizations.


Areas of focus

Over the years, EdD capstone work has fulfilled many different needs for K-12, higher education, public, and community organizations. Here are a few recent examples:

  • Increasing Doctoral Student Completion Rates within a College (for a four-year university)
  • Teacher and Leadership Recruitment in a Fiscally Distressed Urban District (for a public school district)
  • The Intersection of Diversity, Inclusion, and Audience Building in Performing Arts (for a community organization)
  • Developing A Sustainable Model for Impactful Academic Advising (for a community college)
  • A Case Study about Increasing Equity in the Capacity Building Grant Funding Process (for a nonprofit organization)


For an additional sense of capstone impact, this VCU article profiles a 2021-2022 partnership.  


Real world problems, real-time organizational improvement

Capstone teams work with partner organizations to analyze an identified problem of practice that impacts the work of the organization (or is focused within a specific office, department or unit of the organization) and may hinder responses to external challenges, create uncertainty, or reduce effectiveness. 


Selected problems of practice are actionable for the work of a doctoral student team and feasible for that team to address over a 13-month timeframe. (See timeline below.)


Capstone impact

For selected problems of practice and partner organizations, capstone teams produce a culminating product and present key information and recommendations specific to the agreed-upon problem of practice; this final product supports improvement to address identified challenges, specific context, and relevant areas of the partner organization. 


For their university degree requirements, the capstone teams also produce a dissertation in practice that student members defend to an academic committee.


Capstone partners

Partner organizations can be located anywhere (or have multiple sites). Capstones may be completed by distance (i.e., online/virtual). If selected, partner organizations:

  • have a point of contact attend four primary meetings over the course of the 13-month capstone timeline, 
  • help facilitate agreed-upon field work/data collection that the team will undertake within the organization, and 
  • approve, with a faculty chair and a doctoral student team of 2-5 members, the work plan of the Capstone team. 


Submit my organization’s problem of practice for consideration

Your organization’s identified problem of practice may be submitted via this google form.  Please be as detailed as possible to help us better gauge how a Capstone team can best serve your needs. 


>> Requests for Assistance/Support must be submitted no later than March 15, 2023 for consideration for the 2023-2024 capstone cycle.  


Please note: Many factors contribute to which projects are selected for partnership with the EdD capstone teams; thus, there is no guarantee of an RFA or organization’s selection for a capstone partnership.For more information: contact Dr. Kim Bridges,

2023/2024 Capstone Timeline


March 15, 2023

Deadline for organizations to propose problems of practice for capstone work that is to be completed in April 2024


April 2023

Notification about selected projects, teams, partners, and chairs emailed to all relevant parties.


June - August 2023

Teams analyze problems of practice, system/context, and relevant documents and literature. 


August - Sept. 2023

Teams present analysis to client/partner and propose a scope of work and parameters/specifics of the work. Following partner/team agreement, teams present their plan of work to their faculty committee for approval.


October 2023 -  February 2024

Teams continue to interact with partner organizations to collect, interpret, and analyze data. Teams and partners convene about the progress of the work and final products. 


Mar-April 2024

Teams craft recommendations, finalize deliverable(s), and formally present results to the partner.

Teams defend scholarly documents to the faculty committee as part of the graduation requirement.