EdD in Educational Leadership

Azusa Pacific’s Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership is a practitioner-based program emphasizing applied research that results in direct, positive change in K-12 settings.

For more information: (626) 815-5374

Azusa Pacific University’s EdD in Educational Leadership is a practitioner-based program that places emphasis on applied research that results in direct, positive change in K-12 settings. The program prepares scholar-practitioners who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to make a transformative impact on schools and districts and the lives of students in them.

Mission Statement

The EdD in Educational Leadership program at APU, a Christ-centered university, enables culturally aware K-12 leaders to implement research-based practices as change agents.

Program Requirements

Students must complete 51 units of coursework, and successfully complete the written dissertation, oral defense, and required corrections as well as a public dissertation presentation.

Coursework Requirements

Required Courses
EDL 702Proseminar in Educational Leadership1
Leadership Content
EDL 710Developing the Leader Within2
EDL 712Leading Change in Education: Theory to Practice3
EDL 713Diversity and Equity in Education3
EDL 716Educational Policy: Analysis, Praxis, and Reform3
EDL 718Group Dynamics and Conflict2
EDL 719Special Topics in Educational Leadership3
EDL 722Strategic Planning for Educational Systems3
EDL 723Legal Issues and Crisis Management in Schools3
EDL 724Ethical Leadership in Education3
Research Methodology and Design
EDL 761Introduction to Educational Research2
EDL 762Quantitative Inquiry in Education3
EDL 767Qualitative Inquiry in Education2
EDL 768Methods of Data Collection and Analysis2
EDL 769Program Evaluation in Education: Assessment for Decision Making3
Dissertation Milestones
EDL 760Dissertation Milestone: Proposal A - Nature of Inquiry and Chapter 12
EDL 770Dissertation Milestone: Proposal B1
EDL 771Dissertation Milestone: Proposal C2
EDL 772Dissertation Milestone: Finalizing the Proposal2
EDL 773Dissertation Milestone: Data Collection1
EDL 774Dissertation Milestone: Data Analysis1
EDL 776Dissertation Milestone: Results, Discussion, and Conclusion2
EDL 777Dissertation2
Total Units51

Grading and Grade-Point Average (GPA)

Throughout higher education, and particularly at the doctoral level, commitment to learning should outweigh the pursuit of grades. Nonetheless, grading and grade point average continue to play a crucial role in students’ studies. For doctoral students, the grade of B- is considered minimally acceptable. Courses graded lower than B- are not applied toward doctoral degree requirements and must be repeated.

A doctoral student must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in 700-level courses and receive no grade lower than B- in 700-level courses. Courses graded lower than B- are not applied toward doctoral degree requirements and must be repeated. A cumulative GPA lower than 3.0 or the receipt of a grade lower than B- in 700-level courses will result in the student being placed on probation. A doctoral student who is on probation for more than a total of two terms throughout his or her doctoral study may be dismissed from the program. Probation and dismissal actions are posted on a student’s transcript.

A doctoral student whose grade point average falls in the range of 3.0-3.2 is required to meet with his/her advisor to identify academic skills that may need strengthening and to take appropriate action.

Other Degree Requirements

Advancement to Candidacy

Following approval of the dissertation proposal by the dissertation committee, doctoral students are advanced to candidacy status.


Doctoral students are required to complete a dissertation, the standards and procedures for which are defined by program faculty in keeping with the APU Style and Format Handbook for Dissertation and Thesis Publications. To be approved for a dissertation defense date, students must complete all requisite coursework, including EDL 776, and have the approval of their dissertation committee. Continuous enrollment in EDL 777 is required until the dissertation is successfully defended and submitted to an APU external reader. 

After candidates successfully defend their dissertation in a meeting with their faculty committee, they must complete required corrections and submit the approved changes to an APU external reader. The final step of the dissertation requirement is to participate in a scheduled public presentation of the research to the department. 

Doctoral students who have completed all program requirements; successfully defended, published, and presented their dissertation; and fulfilled all obligations of the university will have their doctoral degree posted and will be entitled to use the term “doctor.”

Continuous Progress

In order to receive credit for EDL 772, EDL 773, EDL 774, EDL 776, and EDL 777, doctoral candidates must maintain active student status and make continuous progress toward completion of the dissertation. Continuous progress of doctoral candidates is assessed each term on all of the following expectations:

  • maintaining regular contact with the dissertation chair;
  • conducting research and/or submitting high-quality drafts in a timely manner, consistent with the timeline established with the dissertation committee.

Candidates who require additional time to complete the dissertation after other coursework is complete must maintain continuous enrollment in EDL 777. Those who receive NC for EDL 777 will need to submit a report on their progress in candidacy and will enter into a probationary period for one term. Candidates who fail to maintain progress after a probationary period may be recommended for termination from the program.

Leaves of Absence

Students in good standing and making satisfactory progress toward their degrees who must interrupt their studies for a compelling reason (e.g., illness, study away, family conditions, or crises) may petition for a leave of absence for a stated period of time not to exceed two years. Requests for a leave must be in writing and state the reasons for the leave and the term in which the student will reenroll. Leaves of absence must be approved by the chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and the dean of the School of Education in advance of the term for which the leave is requested.

Students who fail to return to enrolled status at the end of an approved period of leave, or after three consecutive terms of nonenrollment (e.g., fall, spring, and summer semesters), will be considered no longer in pursuit of an advanced degree and must reapply for admission. If readmitted at a later date, students must meet any new program requirements.

Degree Completion Time

Doctoral students are permitted six years from the date of initial enrollment to complete all requirements for the EdD degree. Extensions beyond the six-year limit may be granted at the discretion of the department chair and the dean of the School of Education. Students needing an extension due to unusual circumstances must make their request in writing, stating the reason(s) for the extension, a timetable for completion of requirements, and the expected date of degree completion.


University graduate admission and program-specific requirements must be met before an application is complete (see Admission to the University). Program-specific application requirements are available online.

International students should contact Graduate and Professional Admissions for application procedures.

Application Deadlines

Completed applications with all supporting documentation must be received by one of the following deadlines:

  • Priority deadline: May 1 (apply by this date to receive full consideration for scholarships)
  • Regular deadline: June 1 


Upon invitation, doctoral applicants interview with at least two members of the doctoral faculty. The purpose of the interview is to meet the applicant, discuss education and career goals, evaluate the match of the program to the applicant, and determine the applicant’s potential for success in the program.

Admission Decisions

Program applicants must meet department and university criteria for admission. The department reserves the right to offer conditional admission to students who do not meet all the admission criteria. In such cases, the requirements necessary for full admission and the time limit for completing them will be stated in writing. Failure to meet these requirements may result in dismissal from the program.

Computer Requirement

Students must own or have ready access to a computer during their tenure in the program. The SPSS statistical software package is required of students in their research courses throughout the program. The Campus Store makes arrangements to enable students to purchase computers and software at economical rates on convenient terms. Often, the required purchase of the laptop and software can be budgeted into student loans. For more information, contact the Graduate and Professional Student Financial Services office at (626) 815-2020.

Study Load

The three-year, dissertation-embedded EdD program is a full-time commitment requiring continuous full-time enrollment. To maintain the appropriate course sequence, doctoral students must enroll in all courses designated for each academic term. Requests to enroll for fewer units than designated are approved only in specific circumstances. Any leave of absence will be in a one-year increment and will require stopping out until the following year, when the next course sequence is offered.

Residence Requirement

Doctoral students must meet a residency requirement by completing a minimum of 41 units toward the doctoral degree at APU.

Transfer Units

Doctoral students may transfer up to 10 units of coursework with a grade of B or higher from another regionally accredited doctoral program. Official transcripts and syllabi must be submitted to the program director, who will determine the courses that successfully transfer.


The program requires a full-time, year-round commitment (fall, spring, and summer). Face-to-face classes are held six Saturdays per 16-week term in both fall and spring, and four Saturdays during the 8-week summer term, with additional instruction provided online. Check with the program office to determine meeting dates and times.


During the first semester of the doctoral program, students enroll in a 1-unit proseminar course that serves as an orientation and initial advising into the program. The proseminar has three primary goals: 1) to orient students to the intellectual life of doctoral study; 2) to provide opportunities for students to become familiar with steps and procedures required for successful completion of the doctoral program, including a plan and timeline for accomplishing major academic and professional milestones; and 3) to introduce students to the technology, tools, and academic resources needed for doctoral study, including use of the Azusa Pacific University library catalog and databases. All proseminar activities are designed to help students develop connections with each other and with the faculty to create a community of learners and scholars.

Upon successful completion of the first semester, and once a student begins dissertation work, the dissertation chair serves as the primary academic advisor for the remainder of the student’s time in the program.

Financial Aid

Federal Stafford loans and personal bank loans are available to all eligible graduate students through the student financial services office in the Student Services Center. Students are advised to contact that office early in the admissions process. The School of Education offers multiple scholarships, including the following opportunities exclusively for doctoral students:

Lillian B. Wehmeyer Scholarship Endowment

This scholarship is in memory of the late Lillian B. Wehmeyer, PhD, former faculty in the School of Education doctoral program, who lived with a passion for assisting doctoral students in successful research. The Lillian B. Wehmeyer Scholarship assists doctoral program students in the School of Education who demonstrate satisfactory academic progress, commitment to service, and financial need. 

EdD Program Scholarship

Azusa Pacific University offers competitive scholarship support to newly admitted doctoral students who demonstrate outstanding leadership qualities or leadership potential in K-12 education and who are committed to serving under-resourced schools and districts. Priority is given to current practitioners who are leading their schools and districts toward improved performance. Admitted applicants are considered for these awards based on an overall assessment of their admission application. No separate application required. This scholarship is renewable and may be received for a total of three years. Continuous enrollment, good academic standing (minimum 3.5 GPA), and employment in K-12 education are required for annual award renewal.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this program shall be able to:
  1. Values-Driven Leader: Exemplify professional ethics and personal integrity, articulate core values for self and organization, and lead with Christian values and principles that honor the worth of all individuals.
  2. Change Agent: Set clear goals and direction, analyze current practices, and make sound decisions about what to change, and appropriately monitor change efforts.
  3. Effective Communication: Write accurately and coherently, following APA format, and present data in user-friendly format to various constituent groups.
  4. Problem Identification: Formulate a research question and identify significant questions and impact.
  5. Data Collection and Analysis: Conduct literature searches, evaluate research literature, and synthesize existing information; design research, select appropriate research tools, collect and analyze data, and communicate findings.
  6. Apply Research to Practice: Critically evaluate research and use research evidence to inform practice.