University of Vermont

College of Education and Social Sciences

Doctoral Programs in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for the Ph.D. Program

What is the difference between the PhD and EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies?

The PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies is a research degree aimed at producing researchers who wish to hold faculty positions in higher education institutions or research positions in such organizations as research centers, ‘think tanks’ or in government agencies.  The EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies degree is targeted at outstanding working leaders who wish to use research and scholarly inquiry to further develop their leadership skills in order to create positive change in practice.

How do I know if the PhD degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies is right for me?

The PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies is a degree aimed at individuals with outstanding potential for academic research, writing, and teaching. Students who want to pursue the PhD generally enjoy reading academic scholarship and are interested in pursuing rigorous research questions of scholarly significance and are willing to engage in a wide variety of research methodologies (such as quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research) in order to engage with pressing contemporary research questions.

Can I meet with someone to discus if the program is right for me?

Generally until we have received a full application with references, writing sample, academic transcript(s), and a statement of purpose it would be impossible to determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the program. What you can do as an interested student is review the program website to see if the program goals and content match your own interests.  In addition, we also suggest you review the research interests of faculty who currently advise in the program to see if there might be a match between your own interests and a given faculty member’s research. If you are visiting in the area, you are free to contact faculty members whose research aligns with your own to see if there might be a good match.  Please bare in mind faculty calendars get quite busy and their time may be limited.

What is required for the application?

We require all official transcripts from undergraduate and graduate studies, three letters of reference, official GRE scores, a writing sample, and a statement of purpose. Applications are processed through the Graduate College.  Writing samples may be send directly to the PhD program either via email at or by mail to PhD program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Vermont, 309 Waterman Building, Burlington, VT 05405

When is the application deadline?

Applications are accepted only once per year, and the deadline is January 6th. Applicants will be notified of the decision by April 15th.

Is there a time limit on GRE scores?

Yes, the Graduate College requires that GRE scores have to be taken within that last five years.

Who do I contact if I have questions about the application process?

All questions regarding the status of your application should be directed to the Graduate College Admissions Office, 330 Waterman Building, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont 05405-0160 or telephone (802) 656-2699 or via E-mail at

What should I select for a writing sample?

The writing sample should be a piece of academic writing that highlights your analytic or critical academic writing skills. Generally this writing sample is a research paper you may have written for a class or research project that you worked on as an undergraduate or graduate student.  The sample should be no more than 10-15 pages in length.

What should I include in my statement of purpose?

The statement of purpose provides you with an opportunity to explain your research interests and your professional and personal reasons for wanting to pursue a PhD degree.  You should explain your specific reasons for wanting to pursue a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at UVM and specifically what about our program attracted you. If you have funding to support full-time study, please explain this in your statement of purpose.

What do you look for in letters of reference?

We look for letters from individuals that can speak to your academic potential for undertaking doctoral study.  These letters generally are written by faculty with whom you may have taken a class or with whom you may have worked on thesis or research project (these should not be professional letters of reference).

Do I need a Master’s degree to apply?

We prefer that students have a Master’s degree in a related field, however, it is not a requirement.

Can I transfer graduate credits from another school or graduate program into the PhD program?

Only after a student has been accepted for admission into the PhD will the program consider whether graduate credits from another school or program may be transferred into the program. According to the Graduate College, up to 23 credits of relevant coursework may be transferred into the PhD program with program approval. Courses must be recent and related to the overall goals of the program and the student’s research and professional goals. There is no guaranteed that a request to transfer in courses will be approved by the program faculty.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The expectation is that students attend on a full-time basis completing their core courses, and electives within two and a half to three years. The dissertation process from proposal writing through the dissertation defense differs for each student depending on the research design and time commitments. Most students complete the entire program, including the dissertation, within three to four years.

How many years do I have to complete the program?

The maximum number of years to complete the PhD is nine years (any coursework transferred in can not be older that 9 years at the time of program completion). However, funding may be limited to three to four years.

What are the tuition and fees?

Information on graduate tuition and fees may be found on the Student Financial Services web page.  Clicking on this link will take you to the Student Financial Services web page: Student Financial Services

What types of funding are available to support my studies?

The program has a limited number of graduate assistantships available.  These will be awarded during the admissions process. Generally students work 20 hours a week on a combination of research and/or teaching.  These assistantships generally cover up to 12 credit hours per semester and provide a stipend.  Clicking on this link will take you to the Graduate College website: Funding Your Graduate Education

What are the program coursework requirements?

The program requires 75 credits for graduation.  The specific overview of program requirements can be found at: Course of Study

When are the courses offered?

Currently the core courses are offered one evening per week from 4:00 – 10:00 p.m. Other graduate courses are offered at various times during the day or evening.

Does this program offer on-line courses?

There are a few on-line graduate courses available but the majority of courses are classroom based.


Last modified June 22 2015 11:08 AM

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