Education Doctoral Program

Graduate College of Education

Interim Dean: Nancy Robinson

Educational Leadership
BH 521
Phone: (415) 405–4103

Director: Barbara Henderson, Ph.D.
Associate Director: Jamal Cooks, Ph.D.

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is an intensive, multidisciplinary three-year program that culminates in a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) with a specialization in P–12 or community college leadership.  The program focuses on transformative leadership, social justice, and equity.  The program's purpose is to prepare outstanding educational leaders who will create transformative change in our educational institutions, which promote equity and scholastic achievement in the P–12 school districts and community colleges.

The curriculum addresses three major categories: (1) leadership and administration, (2) social justice and equity, and (3) inquiry.  Other notable aspects of the program include:

  • Face-to-face classes and a cohort model provide ongoing support and build professional networking opportunities among peers.
  • Culminating research projects focus on addressing current and urgent issues of practice in diverse educational settings and take action to improve programs and systems for increased equity and to meet social justice goals.
  • Course scheduling accommodates the needs of working professionals.  Courses are offered on weekends during fall, spring, and summer semesters.
  • Courses are taught by multidisciplinary faculty and educational practitioners to ensure students gain an understanding of the complexities of providing effective leadership for educational institutions, given current and historical social, political, and economic contexts.
  • Admission Requirements

The program encourages individuals to apply who have a background, experience, and potential in P–12 or community college educational leadership, who are committed to social justice, and who seek to build their expertise and capacity as agents of change through a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) 

The program requires the following for admission:

  • A baccalaureate degree and master's degree from accredited institutions of higher education with a cumulative grade point average in graduate study of 3.0 or above.
  • Demonstrated competence in writing as determined by the Ed.D. Program and Graduate Studies at SF State. Applicants must score a 4.0 or above on the analytical writing portion of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE); conditional admission may be offered to applicants with lower GRE writing scores.
  • Demonstrated English language proficiency for non-native speakers of English by scoring 590 on the written test, 243 on the computer-based or internet-based test, 96 on the computer-based TOEFL, or 7.0 on the IELTS.
  • Submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores on the three sections of the General Test. GRE scores from the previous five (5) years are valid for this purpose. In some circumstances, scores from other tests (e.g., GMAT) may be accepted in lieu of the GRE.
  • Demonstrated educational leadership potential, including successful experience in school, postsecondary, community, and policy leadership.
  • Demonstrated academic excellence, problem-solving ability, and interest in critically assessing and bringing about improvements in current educational policies and practices.
  • Professional résumé or Curriculum Vitae.
  • Three letters of recommendation attesting to the leadership and scholarship potential of the candidate.
  • A written personal statement reflecting an understanding of the challenges facing the public schools or community colleges/institutions of higher education in California and how the Ed.D. would support the applicant's goals.
  • A statement of support for the candidate’s doctoral studies from their employer or, in cases where this is not provided, an indication of the candidate’s plan for meeting the demands of the program and their professional responsibilities.
  • A personal interview with the admissions committee.

Meeting the minimum requirements qualifies an individual for consideration, but does not guarantee admission to the program. Admission will be granted on a competitive basis. The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership does not include a second-language requirement.

Program Requirements

Criteria for Continuing in the Program

  • Students are expected to maintain satisfactory progress toward approved academic objectives.
  • Students must advance to candidacy and complete all courses and milestones satisfactorily.
  • Students are expected to make progress in accordance with the Ed.D. cohort structure and program of study.
  • Students must maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.
  • Students may not have a grade point average below 3.0 in two successive semesters.
  • Students must pass all program milestones within two attempts.

Unit Requirements

The program expects the following of students in completing unit requirements:

  • The program of study is composed of at least 60 semester units earned in graduate status at the doctoral level.
  • At least 48 semester units must be completed in residence at SF State. The program leadership may authorize the substitution of credit earned by alternate means for no more than 12 units of these 60 required units.
  • A grade point average of 3.0 (grade of B) or better must be maintained in all courses taken to satisfy the requirements for the degree, and courses in which no letter grade is assigned will not be used in computing the grade point average.
  • No more than 12 semester units will be allowed for the culminating experience or dissertation.

Program Milestones

Although students continuously self-reflect and receive feedback from faculty on their learning, there are three milestones that provide formal assessment during the program:

  • The initial milestone occurs after the first year of coursework when the student must pass the qualifying examination to advance to the second year. The qualifying examination consists of a 15 page paper that is read and scored by a faculty panel.
  • The second milestone is the dissertation proposal defense, which should be completed during the second year of coursework. It requires an oral defense of the student's research proposal to their dissertation committee. The culminating study should be related to a significant problem or issue affecting P–12 or community college/postsecondary education.
  • The third and final milestone is the presentation of the student's culminating research project, in which the student presents an oral defense of their work to the dissertation committee, and then completes all required revisions, as stipulated by their committee.

The culminating research project must focus on a significant problem or issue and have the potential to contribute to the improvement of public P–12 or community college/postsecondary education. Work in support of this final research project is embedded throughout the curriculum. All research undertaken for the culminating research project must meet the requirements and gain the approval of the University Institutional Review Board and the Office for the Protection of Human and Animal Subjects. The culminating research project may take a variety of forms and must demonstrate a strong scholarly and professional foundation of knowledge on the part of the student, as well as the ability to apply this knowledge to the rigorous study of P–12 or community college/postsecondary education.

Contact Information

For application details, please visit the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership web site:

Dr. Barbara Henderson, Director; Dr. Jamal Cooks, Associate Director
Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue, BH 521
San Francisco, CA 94132
Phone: (415) 405–4103

Educational Leadership Discipline Courses

EDDL 910Transformational Leadership and Coalition Building3
EDDL 911Organizational Behavior, Change, and Systemic Reform3
EDDL 912Advanced Educational Leadership Seminar3
EDDL 920Literacy and English Language Learners3
EDDL 921Theories of Learning and Student Development in Math and Science3
EDDL 930Qualitative Analysis of Race, Class, and Gender in Society and Education3
EDDL 931Quantitative Analysis of Structural Inequality in Education3
EDDL 932Transformational Strategies to Address Inequality in Education and Society3
EDDL 940Policy, Law and the Political Economy of Education3
EDDL 941Accountability and Performance of Educational Organizations3
EDDL 942Integrated Planning and Budget3
EDDL 944Human Resource Management in Education3
EDDL 945Communication Techniques & Strategies in Educational Leadership3
EDDL 952Field-Based Residency in Educational Leadership3
EDDL 961American Education Leadership3
EDDL 962Analyzing Critical Issues in Education3
EDDL 963Seminar: Linking Theory with Practice3
EDDL 964Research Seminar: Analyzing Critical Issues in Teaching and Learning3
EDDL 965Dissertation Research Design3
EDDL 966Dissertation Data Collection3
EDDL 998Dissertation3
EDDL 999Independent Study3

Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) — Minimum 60 units

To be eligible for the Ed.D. degree, the students must progress through and complete a specified pattern of study that includes 60 units of doctoral level coursework (outlined below).

In addition, students must pass the three program milestones:

  1. Qualifying exam (written at the end of the second semester);
  2. Defense of their dissertation or culminating research project proposal before the Dissertation Committee;
  3. Defense of their dissertation or culminating research project before the Dissertation Committee.

Sixty units of doctoral level coursework are comprised of 20 courses offered through the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program under three main themes: Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry. The courses are listed below:

EDDL 910Transformational Leadership and Coalition Building (Themes: Leadership and Equity)3
EDDL 911Organizational Behavior, Change, and Systemic Reform (Themes: Leadership and Equity)3
EDDL 912Advanced Educational Leadership Seminar (Themes: Leadership and Equity)3
EDDL 920Literacy and English Language Learners (Themes: Leadership and Equity)3
EDDL 921Theories of Learning and Student Development in Math and Science (Themes: Leadership and Equity)3
EDDL 930Qualitative Analysis of Race, Class, and Gender in Society and Education (Theme: Inquiry)3
EDDL 931Quantitative Analysis of Structural Inequality in Education (Theme: Inquiry)3
EDDL 932Transformational Strategies to Address Inequality in Education and Society (Themes: Leadership and Equity)3
EDDL 940Policy, Law and the Political Economy of Education (Themes: Leadership and Equity)3
EDDL 941Accountability and Performance of Educational Organizations (Themes: Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry)3
EDDL 942Integrated Planning and Budget (Themes: Leadership and Equity)3
EDDL 945Communication Techniques & Strategies in Educational Leadership (Themes: Leadership and Equity)3
EDDL 961American Education Leadership (Themes: Equity and Inquiry)3
EDDL 962Analyzing Critical Issues in Education (Themes: Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry)3
EDDL 963Seminar: Linking Theory with Practice (Theme: Inquiry)3
EDDL 964Research Seminar: Analyzing Critical Issues in Teaching and Learning (Theme: Inquiry)3
EDDL 965Dissertation Research Design (Theme: Inquiry)3
EDDL 966Dissertation Data Collection (Theme: Inquiry)3
EDDL 997Dissertation Seminar: Early Stage Writing and Data Analysis (Theme: Inquiry) (repeatable for up to 9 credits)3
EDDL 998Dissertation (Theme: Inquiry)3