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UVM is recognized as one of the Best Graduate Schools of Education by U.S. News & World Report

The College of Education & Social Services at UVM is excited to announce the start of our newly revised and reinvigorated 3-Year+ EdD program. Join us for a summer start, July of 2024! We offer a high-quality, high-demand leadership doctorate to prepare more leaders for Vermont’s K-12 schools, districts, non-profits, and social service organizations. With new summer offerings, our 3-year-plus (10 semester) low-residency Ed.D. program is primarily online, offering synchronous evening classes aligned to the needs of the greater Vermont community.

Mission and Purpose

Our 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. Included in the Statement of Purpose should be an indication of the faculty with whom you'd like to work. Visit our doctoral program faculty webpage to learn about their research.
  • Three letters of recommendation using the Graduate College form
  • Transcripts from ALL institutions attended
  • Writing sample that demonstrates the ability to write in the academic context

GRE scores are NOT required for admission consideration.


For summer 2024 matriculation, all application materials for should be submitted to the Graduate College Admissions Office as early as possible, but no later than January 15, 2024. Notification of admission, wait listing, or denial will be communicated 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

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 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 core course requirements encompass five major themes which we expand upon below. 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

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 professionals. The 10-semester low-residency cohort model is designed to include three (3) full academic years plus one (1) additional summer. New cohorts begin in July of each academic year. Students must 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

  • The Ed.D. program is moving to a dissertation in practice (DiP) model in which students identify, research, and develop solutions for a problem of practice in the educational or social service community context.
  • 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 PK-12 schools, health and social service agencies, and institutions of higher education. Full-time enrollment is also possible. The program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the Master's degree. Coursework is divided into:

  • 15 credits of programmatic core
  • 15 credits of leadership core
  • 12 credits of research core
  • 18 credits of doctoral dissertation research

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

Transferring Courses (up to 6 credits)

With approval of their program advisor, students may petition the Doctoral Steering Committee for approval of up to 6 transfer credits that abide by Graduate College requirements. Details of the transfer policy is in the EdD 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, 2024. Applicants will be notified of the decision by April 15th.

Can credits be transferred into the program?

Up to 6 credits of relevant coursework may be transferred into the Ed.D. program with the permission of the Steering Committee. 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. The program is designed to be completed in three years plus one extra summer semester (10 semesters total). 

How many years do I have to complete the program?

The maximum number of years to complete the Ed.D. is 7 years.

When are the courses offered?

Core courses and electives are offered during the summer, fall, and spring. New cohorts begin in July every year.

Do you offer online courses?

Most courses are offered in an online, or a low-residency hybrid format. We will meet in person for a week in July to kick off the program.

What is the tuition?

For up to date information about graduate tuition rates, please visit the Student Financial Services Graduate Tuition Page.

Who are the students who comprise the cohort?

They are teachers, school, and district leaders, higher education and student affairs administrators, and leaders in social service and non-profit organizations. They are adults with professional experience 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 42 hours of coursework over seven semesters. In the spring of year two, students will complete a comprehensive exam. In summer of year three, students will develop and complete a dissertation proposal. Students are expected to defend their dissertation proposal and then defend their dissertation by the end of summer of year four.

Eighteen (18) credits of Dissertation Research are required.

Application Instructions

See detailed Application Information shown elsewhere on this page before you complete the online application.

Online Application Portal

Information Sessions (Online)

Meet our faculty and learn more about the program at one of our virtual information sessions:

See Info Session Dates & Register

International Students: This program is largely delivered online, therefore it does not meet the in-person requirements for an international student visa.