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The NCPEA Handbook of Doctoral Programs in Educational Leadership: Issues and Challenges, Chapter 1, authored by Frederick L. Dembowski.

There are many choices that need to be made in the development and/or redesign of doctoral program. Among these choices are the usual questions including the following:

  • How many credit hours post Master’s should it be? (usually 60)
  • How long can a student take to complete? (usually 6 or 7 years, with a possible leave of absence and an extension of time for unusual circumstances such as the doctoral program disruption caused by Hurricane Katrina)
  • Will students have a choice of courses to take? (Are the courses proscribed or can a student develop a program plan of courses selected from a menu of possible choices?)
  • Is there are comprehensive examination? If so, what is the nature and content of it? Is it written, oral, or both?
  • Does the dissertation have to use traditional research (i.e. quantitative or qualitative research methodologies) or can they do a non-traditional dissertation such as a cost/benefit analysis, a program evaluation study, or a program design?

This is, of course, not a comprehensive listing of the choices to be made in the design of a doctoral program. The common (mis)perception is that doctoral programs in educational leadership nationally have essentially the same components. However, there exists great variation in the design and delivery of these components.

This chapter reports the results of a survey of doctoral programs in educational leadership that was conducted in fall 2006 for inclusion in this volume. The universities that offered doctoral degree programs in educational leadership were identified in the 24th Edition of the Educational Administration Directory 2005-2006, compiled by Creighton, Coleman, and Dou for NCPEA. In that directory, there were 128 universities that offered an EdD degree program in educational leadership/administration, 48 universities that offered a PhD degree program, and 60 universities that offered both the EdD and PhD degree programs. A survey instrument was sent to a sample of 50%, or 88, of these 176 universities. The sample universities were randomly selected, but had a geographically representative distribution. The survey instrument was sent via email to the chair of the selected educational leadership departments. A response was received from 23 or approximately 25% of the sample universities. The survey instrument consisted of questions concerned with 21 aspects regarding their doctoral program. The results of the analysis of the survey are reported below.


The first series of questions focused on the use of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) as an admission requirement. The first question asked if they (the doctoral program) used the GRE. Of the 23 respondent universities, less than half required the GRE. Eleven require the Verbal portion of the GRE, while only 9 require the quantitative portion of the GRE. The average GRE verbal score was 511, with one university requiring a minimum required score of 400 and with a required score of 650. The average GRE quantitative score was 507. The total minimum required GRE, including both the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE, had an average of 973, with the majority of the degree programs requiring a minimum of 1000. It must be noted that both the content and the scoring of the GRE will be changed as of September, 2007.

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Source:  OpenStax, The handbook of doctoral programs: issues and challenges. OpenStax CNX. Dec 10, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10427/1.3
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