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Welcome and thank you for your interest in the University of Vermont's Ed.D. (Doctorate in Education) program. 

Mission and Purpose

The Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (Ed.D.) is an applied research program for professionals serving in educational leadership positions in schools, colleges, policy arenas, non-profits and social service organizations. The program seeks to produce leaders who can construct and apply knowledge to make a positive difference in the lives of children, youth, individuals, families and communities through promoting excellence in a number of areas:

  • leadership and change strategies in and across organizations;
  • development of learning organizations in response to social issues;
  • design, implementation and analysis of applied research in education;
  • interpretation and application of research;
  • understanding of broad social issues and policies and critical perspectives of social justice, equity, and diversity;
  • meeting the needs of students with learning challenges and disabilities and their families;
  • analysis of policy and fiscal management in education and human services; and
  • implementation of policies and practices that promote equity and social justice, collaboration and cultural awareness and responsiveness.

Learn More About the Ed.D.

Application Information

Thank you for your interest in the Doctor of Education Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

To be successful, the admissions application process should begin months before the deadline. Instructions for the admissions process are available on the Graduate College admissions webpage. The application process for the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program is through the Graduate College and includes the following submissions:

  • Online application
  • Current resume or curriculum vita
  • A detailed Statement of Purpose including a summary of how the Ed.D. program relates to your professional, career, and educational goals
  • Three letters of recommendation using the Graduate College form
  • Transcripts from ALL institutions attended
  • Writing sample

GRE scores are NOT required for admission consideration.


All application materials for should be submitted to the Graduate College Admissions Office as early as possible, but no later than January 15. Notification of admission, wait listing, or denial will be mailed to applicants by April 15.


The status of your application can be obtained through your personal portal at the Graduate College Admissions website.  You can also call (802) 656-2699 or email


For prospective graduate students seeking application information, please visit the Graduate College website.

Cohort Model

The Ed.D. is based on a cohort approach to learning. Each year, newly admitted and enrolled students form a cohort. Each cohort proceeds through the first two years of the program together, enrolling in all required core courses. Program faculty will assist each cohort to develop into an effective learning community wherein students challenge and support one another. We believe that a cohort approach for adult learners fosters a spirit of community, maintains commitment, and leads to higher completion rates as compared to other approaches to doctoral studies.

In addition, the composition of the cohort represents a variety of specialized interests including PreK-12 education, higher education, non-profits, and social services. Through knowledge acquisition, research, spirited dialogue, and collaboration, students form lifelong professional relationships that often span decades.

Core Curriculum Themes

The coursework and experiences contained within the 18-hour core course requirement encompass five major themes. Throughout the core and in the Comprehensive Exam, students are to provide evidence of their knowledge and skills related to these program themes.

Organizational Theory, Change, and Leadership

  • Analyze, develop, and construct policy that advances humane and just goals.
  • Clarify and articulate one’s role as a leader in creating a society grounded in an ethical/moral vision of a humane and just world.
  • Communicate clearly for the purposes of critically examining an argument, reporting research, presenting a policy, and advocating for a cause.
  • Critically examine one’s own leadership dispositions and style in relation to theory and knowledge to increase one’s capacity as an effective, caring leader.
  • Understand and apply the principles of inter-professional collaboration in multiple education and human service contexts.
  • Understand and apply knowledge of organizational development and change theory to the design and implementation of strategies and practices.
  • Demonstrate one’s knowledge of the richness of diverse cultures to expand our perspectives, enhance our understanding of effective leadership, and inform what we do.

Process of Inquiry/Applied Research and Utilization of Knowledge

  • Develop a philosophical and epistemological understanding of diverse research paradigms and methods to promote applied scholarship.
  • Critically examine and interpret qualitative and quantitative data to gain insight into educational dynamics and develop strategies for intervention.
  • Utilize research skills to conceptualize and conduct a study.

Critical Perspectives

  • Critically analyze societal and educational dynamics related to justice, equity, freedom, and diversity.
  • Critically examine the interrelationships among ideology, power, and socio-historical context with particular reference to the control of knowledge.

Learning and Development

  • Employ theories of human development and learning in constructing frameworks for program development and evaluation, organizational change and professional development.
  • Apply understanding of collaborative learning and exhibits effective interpersonal skills.

Policy Study and Analysis

  • Understand the relationship between policy and practice
  • Examine policy as a lever for change
  • Apply knowledge about policy for organizational improvement

Additional program information can be found in the Graduate College Catalogue.

Program Elements

Primary Career Intention

  • Leadership positions in education (PreK-12, post-secondary education), state and local government policy arenas, social service and non-profit organizations.

Purpose and Emphasis

  • Preparation of professional leaders competent in identifying and solving complex problems.
  • Focus on approaches to applied research problems and applications that use quantitative, qualitative, mixed-method, and other approaches to address and illuminate problems of practice.

Time Commitment

Most Ed.D. students are part-time students who remain employed full-time as teachers, administrators, or other educational professionals.  Students complete their studies within the 7-year UVM Graduate College time allowance. A small number of Ed.D. students enroll full-time in the doctoral program.

Applicant Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in related field with prior graduate work characterized by a strong academic record.
  • Demonstrated successful experience in leadership roles.
  • Strong professional writing skills.
  • Commitment to principles of social justice and educational equity.

Dissertation Expectations

  • Standard (e.g., five chapters) or article dissertation format with a focus on an applied research project. The candidate will conduct original well-designed research project for informing practice (per Graduate College guidelines). This format reflects theory or knowledge for addressing decision-oriented problems in applied settings.

Knowledge Assessment

  • Written and oral assessments provide evidence of ability to improve practice based on theory and research as well as demonstration of research competencies.

Research Methods

  • Courses develop competencies in applied research skills.
  • Research addresses questions of practical importance.

Schedule of Coursework

The program is designed to accommodate professionals who are currently employed in full-time positions in schools, health and social service agencies, and institutions of higher education. Full-time enrollment is also possible. The program requires:

  • A minimum of 59 semester credit hours beyond the Master's degree.
  • Coursework is divided into six core content and research courses (18 credits), seven courses (21 credits) in a selected concentration, and one course (3 credits) of elective research.
  • 17 credits of dissertation research credits are required.

Completion of a comprehensive examination and qualifying paper are requirements in addition to the coursework and dissertation research.

Year One: The Core

During the first year, students participate in the learning community known as the cohort. Students take two core courses in the fall and one core course in the spring for the first year. Students take an additional core course in the fall of their second year, and a course focused on policy during the spring of their second year. The content of these courses includes critical perspectives, emerging views of leadership, organizational development and change, and research methods.

Year Two and Beyond

Students will have completed an individually designed program plan of study is constructed with the assistance of their faculty program advisor. Together an additional 21 hours of coursework related to the student’s area of interest is planned (18 concentration courses and one additional research course).

Year Three

The case study style comprehensive exam is taken in the fall, upon completion of the core courses. Students continue their Program of Study through the concentration and elective courses.  A dissertation advisor is identified in the third year and consultation regarding the topic and methodology of the dissertation ensues.

Years Four - Seven

Remaining courses completed.  The dissertation research is undertaken and written up in traditional or article dissertation format.  Graduate occurs with all the pomp and circumstance involved.

Transferring Courses (up to 9 credits)

Students petition to their program advisor for approval of up to 9 transfer credits that abide by Graduate College requirements.  Details of the transfer policy is in the Student Handbook and on the Graduate College website.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


When is the application deadline?

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

Can credits be transferred into the program?

Up to 9 credits of relevant coursework may be transferred into the Ed.D. program with the permission of the Studies Committee and the Ed.D. Program Coordinator. Courses must be recent and related to the overall goals of the Doctoral Program. This includes courses taken prior to admission in the Ed.D. program either at another institution or at the University of Vermont.

How long does it take to complete the program?

Most of our students attend on a part-time basis completing their core courses, and electives within 3-4 years. The dissertation process from proposal writing through the dissertation defense differs for each student depending on the research design and time commitments. Generally, students complete the entire program, including the dissertation within five years.

For students who attend the program on a full-time basis, they are usually able to complete the course requirements and the dissertation in 3.5 to 4 years.

How many years do I have to complete the program?

The maximum number of years to complete the Ed.D. is 9 years.

What courses are required?

There are three content courses (9 credits) and three (9 credits) required research courses.

When are the courses offered?

Core courses and electives are offered during the fall and spring semesters, with some electives being offered over the summer.

Do you offer online courses?

Online courses are not offered for the Ed.D. program.

What is the tuition?

For up to date information about tuition rates, please visit the Student Financial Services site.

Who are the students who comprise the cohort?

They are teachers, school leaders, higher education and student affairs administrators, and leaders in social service and non-profit organizations. They are adults with enormous experiences, and a desire to be a part of an intellectual and caring learning community focused on promoting change.

What are the major requirements of the program?

Students are required to complete 18 hours of core courses over four semesters. After completion of these courses, students complete a comprehensive examination to demonstrate their understanding of the content covered within the core courses.

An additional core research course, EDLP 459 Mixed Methods Research, is taken in the second or third year of study. An elective research course is taken at the discretion of the student.

Students are required to take 21 credits in their chosen concentration (within the College of Education and Social Services).

A qualifying paper is also required prior to advancing to the research dissertation process. The format for the paper is a literature review on a research topic related to the student’s area of interest. Students work with their Program Advisor to complete the qualifying paper.

Seventeen (17) credits of Dissertation Research are required and taken throughout the student's course of study.