Oct 02, 2023  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Educational Leadership, Ph.D.

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Degree Information

Priority Admission Application Deadlines: http://www.grad.usf.edu/majors

Minimum Total Hours 57 post-masters
Level: Doctoral
CIP Code: 13.0401
Dept. Code: LEA
Major/College Codes: EAS PhD
Approved 1981

Contact Information

College: Education
Department: Educational and Psychological Studies

Contact Information: http://www.grad.usf.edu/majors

The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership degree program is designed for those individuals who intend to build an academic career focused on conducting research and analysis in the multidisciplinary field of educational leadership and policy studies, or who wish to build an administrative career focused on innovative and inquiry-based leadership. Accordingly, this program will prepare individuals for careers in K-12 education systems, research universities and teaching colleges, as well as private, non-profit, state, federal, or international educational agencies.

Individual students will work alongside distinguished faculty with expertise in multiple fields including: ethical leadership, curriculum and pedagogy, politics of education, education law, organizational theory, equitable education reform, school accountability and choice policies, and anti-oppressive education. The program is designed to provide students exposure to research and academic discourses in organizational leadership, curriculum leadership, and policy leadership in education. In addition, students will gain knowledge around research methodologies and a specialized cognate area of study.

Students in this degree program will design an individualized program of study that reflects their specific research interests. This will prepare students to conduct and apply high quality research to practice, write and present scholarly papers at professional conferences, and submit research articles for publication in education journals.

Initial advising, from inquiry about the program through the first year of coursework, is provided by the Doctoral Program Coordinator. By the completion of the second year of study, students will select a major professor who will assist them with planning their remaing course of study. By the end of the third year, students will assemble an advisory committee consisting of the major professor and at least three other members. This committee guides the student through the dissertation process, including the qualifying examination, dissertation proposal, and dissertation defense.

NOTE: The Ph.D. degree program is not an initial certification or licensure program. Students seeking Florida Level 1 Educational Leadership Certification need to refer to the M.Ed. degree program  or consult with the Ph.D. Program Coordinator to complete a modified program with additional coursework from the Education Leadership Praxis and Field Experiences Requirements (15 credits) in the M.Ed. Program in Educational Leadership, in addition to the Ph.D. requirements.

For further information, please see http://www.usf.edu/education/areas-of-study/educational-leadership-policy/

Accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Educational Leadership occurs one time each year in the fall semester. Admission is based on a comprehensive evaluation of each applicant’s demonstrated academic potential to successfully complete all of the degree requirements. Success in the Ph.D. degree program requires students to deeply engage in an area of inquiry, apply excellence in research methods, and develop exceptional writing skills. The program faculty will consider each applicant entirely within the context defined by her or his personal and professional qualifications. Applicants meeting the set of initial criteria will be asked to participate in an interview conducted by faculty and complete a timed writing sample that will be scheduled to occur before or after the interview.

Applicants should have:

  • An earned master’s from an accredited institution of higher education
  • An earned grade point average of 3.50 in the master’s degree and an earned undergraduate grade point average of 3.00) in the last half of the bachelor’s degree
  • An official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) received within the last five years. A combined score greater than 300 with no Quantitative or Verbal sub-test score below 150 is preferred (48th percentile Verbal; 38th percentile Quantitative).

Applicants should submit:

  • A letter of intent outlining experiences and goals (3 page maximum);
  • A current resume;
  • Three letters of professional reference, each enclosed in a sealed envelope and signed across the flap by the recommender or emailed by recommender to Lisa Adkins (lisaadkins@usf.edu). Please ask references to include your name and “letter of reference” in subject line when emailing the letter.

International Students
In addition to the University requirements, applicants to the College of Education must provide the following:

  • A social security number in degree programs requiring practica or internships;
  • Other information as required by the major of interest, (e.g., Graduate Record Exam scores).

Curriculum Requirements

Total Minimum Hours: 57 hours

Core Knowledge– 12 hours
Major Knowledge – 15 hours
Minor Knowledge – 9 hours
Research Methods – 15 hours
Dissertation - 6 hours minimum

Core Knowledge Requirements (12 Credit Hours)

Major Knowledge Requirements (15 Credit Hours)

Note: Students cannot use more than 2 Special Topics Seminars to fulfill Major Knowledge Requirements.

Minor Knowledge Requirements (9 Credit Hours)

Note: In consultation with the program coordinator or major professor, students will select a minimum of three (3) 7000-level or 6000-level courses to be taken outside of the Educational Leadership Program area. Students are expected to support the development of their research interest through the courses taken to fulfill the Minor Knowledge Requirements.

  • Elective 1 Credit(s): 3
  • Elective 2 Credit(s): 3
  • Elective 3 Credit(s): 3

Research Methods Requirements (15 Credit Hours)

Dissertation (6 Credit Hours)

Required Examinations

A qualifying examination is required prior to admission to candidacy. Upon approval of major professor, the qualifying examination can be scheduled after a candidate has completed a minimum of 48 credit hours of all required coursework.


There is no on-campus residency requirement for the Ph.D.

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