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

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

Accred­i­ta­tion | Course Descrip­tions | Applied Research | Admis­sions Require­ments | UNE Aca­d­e­m­ic Cat­a­log

This Ed.D. in Edu­ca­tion­al Lead­er­ship is a cohort pro­gram with three cohorts per year: Spring A term, Sum­mer A term, and Fall A term. It is a three-year pro­gram, includ­ing a 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.

Please note: If your goal is to become an Admin­is­tra­tor in the State of Maine, and you cur­rent­ly have your Master’s Degree, the 30-cred­it CAGS in Advanced Edu­ca­tion­al Lead­er­ship is the pro­gram that would lead to Build­ing Admin­is­tra­tor 040 cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in the State of Maine.

Best Online Programs Graduate Education

US News & World Report Ranking

Best Online Graduate Education Programs 2018

The Uni­ver­si­ty of New Eng­land claimed a spot in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 rank­ings for Best Online Grad­u­ate Edu­ca­tion Pro­grams. UNE is ranked in the top 100 pub­lic and pri­vate col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties list­ed in the report and is one of just two Maine insti­tu­tions includ­ed in the rank­ing.


  • 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/video con­fer­enc­ing).
  • 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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Course Descriptions

EDU 801 Preparation for Transformative Leadership (Credits: 3)

This course sup­ports the devel­op­ment of self, orga­ni­za­tion, and com­mu­ni­ty through the enact­ment of Trans­for­ma­tive Lead­er­ship val­ues. Instruc­tors pro­vide cur­rent and aspir­ing lead­ers in diverse set­tings (e.g., edu­ca­tion, health, non-prof­its, NGOs, pub­lic and pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions and agen­cies, etc.) with per­spec­tives, knowl­edge, expe­ri­ences, and skills need­ed to trans­form their orga­ni­za­tions through the effec­tive use of human and tech­no­log­i­cal resources. The course intro­duces three ele­ments that will ground sub­se­quent work: self-study, site-study, and research top­ic explo­ration.

EDU 802 Qualitative Research Methods (Credits: 3)

Qual­i­ta­tive research pro­vides field-focused, inter­pre­ta­tive, detailed descrip­tions of par­tic­i­pants and their set­tings. Stu­dents iden­ti­fy and imple­ment research meth­ods, devel­op­ing a set of skills to crit­i­cal­ly observe indi­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties, inter­view par­tic­i­pants, and exam­ine arti­facts typ­i­cal­ly used in qual­i­ta­tive stud­ies. Exam­i­na­tion of one’s role with­in the research set­ting is informed by engag­ing in crit­i­cal reflec­tion. Stu­dents eval­u­ate qual­i­ta­tive meth­ods that align with their pro­posed research study pur­pose.

EDU 803 Interpreting Empirical Data (Credits: 3)

Stu­dents are intro­duced to basic con­cepts of quan­ti­ta­tive research design, method­ol­o­gy, and inter­pre­ta­tion of results. Stu­dents ana­lyze data sets to become adept at inter­pret­ing a wide range of sta­tis­ti­cal results. Quan­ti­ta­tive analy­sis and inter­pre­ta­tion are applied to typ­i­cal local based sam­ples and large data­bas­es. This set of con­cep­tu­al and method­olog­i­cal skills is applied to pro­posed research designs.

EDU 804 Technology & Organizational Transformation (Credits: 3)

Tech­nol­o­gy has demon­strat­ed the poten­tial to trans­form soci­ety and insti­tu­tions. Stu­dents will exam­ine how tech­nol­o­gy has affect­ed edu­ca­tion­al and oth­er sys­tems to date and iden­ti­fy how tech­nol­o­gy appli­ca­tions could sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve the effec­tive­ness of stu­dent learn­ing, pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, school and insti­tu­tion­al man­age­ment. The knowl­edge acquired from this course will per­mit stu­dents to devel­op strate­gic plans and pol­i­cy for tech­nol­o­gy use in their respec­tive insti­tu­tion­al sys­tems.

EDU 805 Managing Change (Credits: 3)

Stu­dents are exposed to crit­i­cal com­pe­ten­cies (atti­tudes, knowl­edge, skills) need­ed to cre­ate con­di­tions for sys­tem­at­ic and pro­duc­tive change, and to facil­i­tate the process of intro­duc­ing and sus­tain­ing inno­va­tion with max­i­mum col­lab­o­ra­tion and min­i­mum dis­rup­tion. Also con­sid­ered are var­i­ous per­spec­tives on how orga­ni­za­tions func­tion, and how indi­vid­u­als and groups with­in those set­tings can inter­act to achieve orga­ni­za­tion­al goals for planned, pur­pose­ful change.

EDU 806 Policy Analysis (Credits: 3)

Pol­i­cy analy­sis, for­mu­la­tion, and imple­men­ta­tion is pre­sent­ed as ele­ments for lead­ers to uti­lize in pro­mot­ing and estab­lish­ing sound and sta­ble pro­to­cols and pro­ce­dures to guide and gov­ern indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions in per­form­ing tasks and achiev­ing desired out­comes. Means by which trans­for­ma­tive lead­ers intro­duce new or revised pol­i­cy with max­i­mum par­tic­i­pa­tion and min­i­mum dis­rup­tion are empha­sized.

EDU 807 Enacting Transformative Leadership through Research (Credits: 3)

This writ­ing inten­sive course cov­ers the foun­da­tions of enact­ing lead­er­ship con­tent gained thus far in the pro­gram for the pur­pose of locat­ing, devel­op­ing, ana­lyz­ing, syn­the­siz­ing and con­struct­ing a sound lit­er­a­ture review con­sis­tent with the research on the student’s cho­sen research top­ic. This course pro­vides stu­dents with oppor­tu­ni­ties to devel­op skills that are essen­tial for con­duct­ing research and com­plet­ing a dis­ser­ta­tion, with a par­tic­u­lar focus on review­ing lit­er­a­ture and com­pos­ing a lit­er­a­ture review chap­ter.  Stu­dents will demon­strate the abil­i­ty to dis­crim­i­nate among alter­na­tive research view­points, dif­fer­en­ti­ate con­stituent parts of the review, assess and com­ment on the­o­ries, thoughts, and ideas, con­cept pro­pos­als and rel­e­vant lit­er­a­ture, and con­struct a cogent and com­pelling lit­er­a­ture review.

EDU 808 Using Theory to Guide Research (Credits: 3)

This course is the first of two cours­es (EDU 808 & EDU 809) designed to pro­vide a cog­ni­tive map intro­duc­ing the researcher to the­o­ret­i­cal and con­cep­tu­al frame­works. This course focus­es on the the­o­ret­i­cal frame­work in par­tic­u­lar and its prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tion to inform and guide research. The course design is designed to strength­en the abil­i­ty of stu­dents to relate the­o­ry to select lead­er­ship case exam­ples with­in the text. Stu­dents will fur­ther devel­op indi­vid­ual applied research by con­tin­u­ing to review the lit­er­a­ture, by artic­u­lat­ing a the­o­ret­i­cal frame­work and con­tin­ue the quest to clear­ly focus the pur­pose of their study.

EDU 809 Conceptualizing Applied Research (Credits: 3)

This course is the sec­ond of two cours­es (EDU 808 and EDU 809) designed to pro­vide a cog­ni­tive map to intro­duce the researcher to the sig­nif­i­cance of the­o­ret­i­cal and con­cep­tu­al frame­works. Stu­dents will be intro­duced to the ways in which con­cep­tu­al frame­works func­tion as a state­ment about why their top­ic is worth study­ing, why it mat­ters, and if the pro­posed research study meth­ods are appro­pri­ate and rig­or­ous. This course will focus on con­cep­tu­al frame­works and their prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tion to syn­the­size research. Stu­dents will fur­ther devel­op their indi­vid­ual applied research by con­tin­u­ing to review process, estab­lish­ing the basis for a sol­id research prob­lem, and use con­cep­tu­al frame­works as both guide and bal­last for research.

EDU 810 Ethical Leadership (Credits: 3)

Stu­dents are exposed to the com­plex set of issues relat­ing to eth­i­cal behav­ior in insti­tu­tion­al set­tings, includ­ing aca­d­e­m­ic integri­ty, cur­ricu­lum choic­es, stu­dent assess­ment, parental involve­ment, com­mu­ni­ty rela­tions, and admin­is­tra­tive-staff con­flict. Through read­ings, case analy­ses, and oth­er means of inves­ti­ga­tion, the con­se­quences of eth­i­cal and uneth­i­cal prac­tices and their impact on indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions are exam­ined.

EDU 811 Diagnosing Organizational Dynamics (Credits: 3)

Trans­for­ma­tive lead­ers are suc­cess­ful in diag­nos­ing and inter­act­ing with both inter­nal and exter­nal forces affect­ing the orga­ni­za­tion­al envi­ron­ment. This includes socio-cul­tur­al fac­tors, pover­ty, fam­i­ly sit­u­a­tions, and health. Stu­dents ana­lyze case stud­ies of effec­tive and inef­fec­tive indi­vid­ual, group, and orga­ni­za­tion­al dynam­ics that dri­ve and restrain change process­es. Appro­pri­ate inter­ven­tion­al strate­gies are con­sid­ered.

EDU 812 Dissertation Seminar I (Credits: 3)

Stu­dents work direct­ly with their dis­ser­ta­tion chair and com­mit­tee to define the research prob­lem, lit­er­a­ture and method­ol­o­gy they will use dur­ing the third year of the pro­gram. By the com­ple­tion of the course, can­di­dates will be pre­pared to pur­sue their dis­ser­ta­tion inde­pen­dent­ly and con­fi­dent­ly and will present a pre­lim­i­nary pro­pos­al for review and com­ment.

EDU 813 Dissertation Seminar II (Credits: 3)

Effec­tive trans­for­ma­tive lead­ers must under­stand and address the dynam­ics, whether pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive forces, affect­ing change efforts in their respec­tive set­tings. The course engages stu­dents in issues of pow­er, con­flict, nego­ti­a­tion, and com­pro­mise. Empha­sis is placed upon how best to intro­duce and advance inno­va­tion by max­i­miz­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion and min­i­miz­ing oppo­si­tion.

EDU 814–817 Dissertation (Credits: 12)

Col­lab­o­rat­ing with their respec­tive dis­ser­ta­tion com­mit­tee, as well as con­tin­u­ing with peer inter­ac­tion, stu­dents engage in the plan­ning, orga­ni­za­tion, research, writ­ing and revis­ing of the dis­ser­ta­tion. Reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled vir­tu­al meet­ings with the chair and full com­mit­tee will ensure that time­ly and sat­is­fac­to­ry progress is made in order to present the fin­ished prod­uct at the end of their aca­d­e­m­ic year.

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

Applied research: your dissertation

Con­duct­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing rel­e­vant research through the 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. Pro­gram Cur­ricu­lum Strands: See Cur­ricu­lum Strands Map & Course Themes

YEAR 1 EDU 801 EDU 802 EDU 803 EDU 804 EDU 805 EDU 806
YEAR 2 EDU 807 EDU 808 EDU 809 EDU 810 EDU 811 EDU 812
YEAR 3 EDU 813 EDU 814 EDU 815 EDU 816 EDU 817

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 the 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.

Suggested next steps:

  1. Admis­sions require­ments – Ed.D.
  2. Com­mon­ly asked ques­tions for the online Ed.D. pro­gram
  3. Inter­na­tion­al admis­sions require­ments

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