VCU Bulletins

Leadership, Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Graduate program director
Cheryl C. Magill, Ph.D.
Interim chair, Department of Educational Leadership
(804) 828-1332

Additional contact
Autumn T. Cypres, Ed.D.
Chair, Department of Educational Leadership
(804) 828-1940

Program website:

Refer to the program search function of the online VCU Bulletins for a complete listing of all programs, concentrations and related curricular options.

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Admission requirements

Leadership, Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

of entry:


Feb. 15


In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following requirements represent the minimum acceptable standards for admission:

  1. Master’s degree in an appropriate discipline
  2. Three letters of recommendation addressing the student’s potential for graduate study in education
  3. Student’s written statement concerning career interests
  4. Transcripts of all previous college work
  5. Professional vita or resume that addresses colleges or universities attended, educational degrees held, including major/minor, work history in chronological order, beginning with current position, leadership experiences, professional involvement, and awards and honors
  6. Evidence of at least three years of successful leadership experience including evidence of leadership accomplishment for each of three areas: (1) leadership for learning; (2) leadership for equity and (3) leadership for accountability. [This evidence might be a combination of artifacts, testimonials, reports, newspaper documentation or other evidence that provides a description of your ability to lead for learning, equity and accountability. Evidence can be in hard copy format or on a website specifically created for this purpose. (We are seeking candidates who have successfully addressed the issues of student and/or organizational learning, equitable treatment and outcomes, and accountability to students.)]
  7. At least a 50th percentile score on the Miller Analogies Test

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university.  These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

General academic regulations for
all graduate students in all graduate programs at VCU

Program goal

The purpose of the Ed.D. in Leadership program is to provide leaders with authentic experiences, appropriate knowledge and skills, and opportunities for reflection that will enable them to succeed in organizational leadership positions. Three analytic lenses — equity, accountability and learning environments — will guide learning activities and enable students from varying backgrounds to consider learning through common perspectives.

Students will examine cases built around enduring questions in the field and examine these questions through three lenses: learning, equity and accountability. Questions will be explored through contrasting evidence from economic, systems, legal, human relations and political data and perspectives. The program content and assessments will correlate to common curriculum elements across perspectives.

Program features

The Ed.D. in Leadership is a 48-hour, 36-month program. Based upon principles of adult learning, the program has the following features:

  1. Practitioner-oriented
  2. Competitive admissions
  3. Midcareer entry
  4. Prescribed curriculum, with extensive use of case-study approach
  5. Learning-community based
  6. Problem-oriented pedagogy and curriculum
  7. Collaborative instruction involving VCU full-time faculty and area practitioners
  8. Applied research dissertation as a culminating project
  9. Varied meeting formats: weekends, evenings, monthly, weekday blocks of time, summer full-day institutes, face-to-face and online

Student learning outcomes

  1. At the beginning of the Ed.D. program, participants create an online digital portfolio site that consists of two elements: (a) a blog that provides a venue for reflection on their learning and (b) a collection of artifacts that attest to their learning as a leader, with each artifact specifically related to their involvement in the program. Participants populate both elements of the portfolio at their own discretion throughout the first year. In the concluding month of the first year in the program, participants individually present their portfolios to a review team of two faculty members who rate the quality of the educational experience as reflected in each participant’s portfolio.
  2. During the second year of the Ed.D. program, participants work in teams to complete evaluations of programs currently in use in their workplaces. Teams confer with workplace supervisors to develop goals and objectives, review literature related to the program they are evaluating, design an evaluation study, collect and analyze data, and develop conclusions and recommendations. The final products include a formal report, an executive summary and two presentations: one to the workplace supervisor and a second to the other program participants.
  3. Graduate students must be approved for degree candidacy status by the Graduate School to be eligible to receive a graduate degree. Participants who meet the following criteria are eligible for candidacy status, upon recommendation of their faculty advisers.
  4. Capstone project: Candidates collaborate in teams of three or four to design, implement, analyze and defend a study of an issue identified by an organizational client. Participating organizational clients describe the issue that they propose for study, and affinity groups of three or four candidates coalesce around issues of personal academic and professional interest, familiarity and expertise. Under the supervision of a faculty member with appropriate academic credentials, each team of students develops a response to the proposal of that team’s preferred organizational client. The team’s response contains a projected research design and timeline. If this is accepted on behalf of the organizational client by the appropriate representative (referred to as the client in the following), an informal contract agreement is signed. Candidates commence review of extant literature related to the issue and gather preliminary data utilizing sources identified by the client. This preliminary phase culminates in the defense of a capstone proposal to the team’s committee. Capstone committee members are graduate faculty members. Each committee consists of a chair, who is the supervisor of the team’s initial research activities, and two additional members. Once the capstone proposal is defended, the team begins to collect its own current data pertaining to the issue identified by the client. Each capstone committee member independently reviews the work of the team as work proceeds. After one semester of the capstone project, each team presents and defends to the capstone committee and the client separately an interim report, which may include a revised timeline. If this interim report is approved, each team proceeds to complete the collection of data, analyze the data, draw conclusions on the basis of the data analysis and prepares both an executive summary and a full report on the client’s issue. Toward the end of the second semester of the capstone project, each team presents and defends both the executive summary and the full report to the capstone committee and the client separately.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students are required to complete course work in core and elective courses.

  1. Credit hour requirements: Students are required to complete a minimum of 48 credit hours.
  2. Grade requirements: Receipt of a grade of C or below in three courses constitutes automatic dismissal from the program: Courses with a grade below C cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements.
  3. Capstone requirements: Students must complete and defend a team-based capstone research project.

Curriculum requirements

Courses Credit hours
EDLP 700 Effective Learning Networks 3
EDLP 702 Understanding Self as Leader: Theory and Data Analysis 2
EDLP 703 Understanding Self as Leader: Practical Applications 1
EDLP 704 Frameworks for Decision-making: Legal Perspectives 3
EDLP 705 Frameworks for Decision-making: Ethical Perspectives 3
EDLP 708 Leadership Presence 3
EDLP 709 Equity and Leadership 3
EDLP 711 Evidence-informed Perspectives on Practice I 3
EDLP 712 Planning for Sustainable Change I 3
EDLP 713 Evidence-informed Perspectives on Practice II 3
EDLP 714 Planning for Sustainable Change II 3
EDLP 715 Principles for Professional Writing I 3
EDLP 716 Principles for Professional Writing II 3
EDLP 717 Communicating Research Findings 3
EDLP 790 Capstone Development 3
EDLP 798 Capstone Plan Implementation 3
EDLP 799 Capstone Completion 3
Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 48

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Degree candidacy requirements

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Graduation requirements

Other information

Ed.D. in Leadership program handbook:



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