Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

An advanced education degree offered fully online, no campus visits required

Accreditation | Curriculum | Course Descriptions | Applied Research | UNE Catalog | Admission Requirements

This Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is a cohort program with two cohorts per year: Spring A term and Fall A term. It is a three-year program, including dissertation, and is completed entirely online with no residency requirement. Your dissertation is also presented online.

The program focuses on Transformative Leadership, and will prepare you to transform self, organization, and community through focused, flexible study. You will become powerfully positioned to build allies with others striving for common outcomes as well as collaborate with individuals with divergent values and perspectives.

US News and World Report Ranking

Best Online Programs 2015US News & World Report Best Online Programs Grad Education 2015

The University of New England claimed a spot in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 rankings for Best Online Graduate Education Programs. UNE placed 100th out of 250 public and private colleges and universities listed in the report. UNE is one of only 25 private universities appearing in the top 100, and is one of just two Maine institutions included in the ranking. 

Click here for more information on UNE's Rankings.


  • 51-credit hour program
  • 100% online – no campus visits required
  • Learn on your schedule in a flexible study environment
  • Renowned faculty of practitioners, researchers & educators
  • Strong networking forum
  • No GRE required
  • Regionally accredited by New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC)


  • Prepare leaders who are future-focused and capable of fostering innovation and change.
  • Promote a continuing cadre of educators who maintain active connections and collaboration with one another, with schools, communities and professional groups.
  • Establish a higher education program that is technologically sophisticated, educationally effective, and academically rigorous.
  • Build a national reputation based upon transformative collaborative action research.
  • Provide each candidate with a carefully selected faculty mentoring team contributing actively to the candidate’s progress with their program of study, their research, and their dissertation, beyond what is usually available with a single advisor.

Emphasis on transformative leadership

Transform self . . .

Engage in leadership reflection activities to identify your strengths, pinpoint areas for growth, and align your individual development goals.

Transform organizations . . .

Draw from the tenets of organization development theory, critical social theory, and adult development to analyze and influence the culture of your organization.

Transform communities . . .

Refine your leadership stance to interact more fully with the communities you serve. Imagine the organization in which you work as an organic system that can respond to the needs of the community. 

The UNE Ed.D. program is well-matched for individuals working in:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Nonprofit Organizations (NPO)
  • Non-governmental Organizations (NGO)
  • Private Organizations
  • Public Agencies

After completing the Ed.D. educational leadership program, students should be able to:

  • Participate fully and responsibly in supportive and action based learning environments of authentic value for colleagues in K-12 education, community college, health, business, and other sectors.
  • Develop and utilize transformative institutional processes to foster, assess the results, and respond to the reported analysis for continued systemic change.
  • Use technology for research collaboration and dissertation development among colleagues and faculty (e.g., web/videoconferencing).
  • Fully utilize an integrated curriculum that fuses discrete elements of each candidate’s program of study into a coherent whole.
  • Fully utilize online search tools and databases to identify research studies and other relevant resources.
  • Participate in virtual seminars and conferences building a professional learning community.
  • Employ problem and case-based learning strategies extensively in courses and dissertation.
  • Write and successfully defend a field-based dissertation.

Curriculum Structure

This online Ed.D. program design specifically supports your development as a transformative leader through formal study of your organization, participatory research processes, and collaborative decision making. Professionals engage in:

  • Instruction that includes online lectures, instructor-led discussions and assessments, small group interactions, and limited, flexible synchronous sessions.
  • Preparation outside of class that includes readings, project development and applied research. 
  • Completion of a culminating dissertation that employs your professional knowledge and new learning and demonstrates transformative leadership, organization, and community change. 


NEASC accredited

The University of New England is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC CIHE). NEASC is the nation’s oldest regional accrediting association whose mission is the establishment and maintenance of high levels of education, from pre-kindergarten through the higher education doctoral level. Accreditation is the review of the quality of educational institutions and programs. In the United States, accreditation is a major way that the public knows that an institution or program provides a high quality education.
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US News and World Report Ranking

Best Online Programs 2015US News & World Report Best Online Programs Grad Education 2015

The University of New England claimed a spot in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 rankings for Best Online Graduate Education Programs. UNE placed 100th out of 250 public and private colleges and universities listed in the report. UNE is one of only 25 private universities appearing in the top 100, and is one of just two Maine institutions included in the ranking. 

Click here for more information on UNE's Rankings.

Course list

Classes are taken in order, as a cohort, at a rate of one class every eight weeks. 

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Program Year One

  1. EDU 801 Prep/Transformative Leadership (Credits: 3)
  2. EDU 802 Qualitative Research Methods (Credits: 3)
  3. EDU 803 Interpreting Empirical Data (Credits: 3)
  4. EDU 804 Technology & Educational Transformation (Credits: 3)
  5. EDU 805 Managing Change (Credits: 3)
  6. EDU 806 Policy Analysis (Credits: 3)

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Program Year Two

  1. EDU 807 Enacting Transformative Leadership (Credits: 3)
  2. EDU 808 Research Team Project A (Credits: 3)
  3. EDU 809 Research Team Project B (Credits: 3)
  4. EDU 810 Ethical Leadership (Credits: 3)
  5. EDU 811 Diagnosing Organizational Dynamics (Credits: 3)
  6. EDU 812 Dissertation Seminar (Credits: 3)

Doctor of Education (Ed.D) Program Year Three

  1. EDU 813 The Politics of Change (Credits: 3)
  2. EDU 814-817 Dissertation (Credits: 12)

Note: Candidates must complete the entire degree within five years. Under highly unusual conditions, candidates may petition for an extension beyond five years.

Click here for full course descriptions for the Online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership Curriculum.

Applied research: your dissertation

“Conducting and disseminating relevant research through integration of scholarship and practice.” Graduate programs for practitioners focus on “applied research,” that is, asking questions or “problem-posing” in organizational settings. Dissertations are studies conducted by graduate students with the support of instructors, advisors and committee members, and a peer study group. They can be qualitative, quantitative, or used a “mixed methods” approach, depending on the question and the setting.

Dissertation: “An in-depth, rigorous examination of a particular issue that provides new knowledge and/or perspectives.” Dan Butin (2010). Reference: Butin, D. (2010). The education dissertation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

The process: Cohort members explore possible research topics from their admissions essay through Year One. At the end of Year One (EDU 805), you will draft a pre-proposal to present to a team of instructors during the next term. You continue to develop your Proposal through Year Two. The formal “dissertation timeline” starts at the end of Year Two and carries through the end of Year Three.

Documentation and Timeline: See Course Map & Themes.

 Topic explorationPre-proposalProposal presented to the CommitteeData collection/findingsFinal draft presentation to Committee
CourseEDU 801EDU 807-809EDU 812-813EDU 814-817EDU 817-onward
DocumentAnnotated bibliographyThree-section draft: Introduction, literature review, proposed method(s)Three-section revised draft: Introduction, literature review, methodFour-section revised draft: Introduction, literature review, method, dataFive-section final draft: Introduction, literature review, method, data, conclusion
StaffingEDU 801 InstructorEDU 807-809 Instructor(s)Instructors, 3 member committee3 member committee3 member committee
   Study Group peer reviewersStudy Group peer reviewers 

Three member committee structure

Faculty advisors will supervise a graduate student team or “Research Group” of four to five members to support drafting and revision of text and data collection throughout the third year of the program. The advisor serves as lead instructor, the second committee member supports the advisor by providing consultation and editing of student writing. This two-person team is responsible for dissertation development. The third member is selected by the graduate student and serves as the site-based or local resource. The three-person committee meets with your team for the Proposal and for the Presentation.

Regularly scheduled advisory meetings: structured support 

During Year Three of your doctoral program, Research Groups will meet online with their advisor and/or second committee member and with peer reviewers once each per month (two meetings per month, November to June). Structured support is one of the most important factors for successful and timely doctoral program completion.

Your dissertation

This is a formal document that meets the standards for unpublished educational research. You will also craft a user-friendly summary, also known as the “executive version” or “research brief” which is useful to your specific audiences and stakeholders. Generally, the executive version of your dissertation contains a short description of your study with recommendations appropriate in length for a website or other organizational setting. For the most part, this material is taken directly from the conclusion of your dissertation.

Innovative approaches to leadership development allow you to:

  • Develop a Transformative Leadership Portfolio (TLP) to document your leadership work within and beyond the program
  • Extend and strengthen your professional network
  • Make a difference for your organization and for the community you serve

Strong support network

Right from the start you will receive support to articulate and refine your research agenda. A solid research focus is essential for productive practitioner scholarship, and will ensure congruence between formal study, application of theory, and your individual and organizational goals.

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