Doctor of Education Curriculum Structure

The Doctor of Education curriculum design specifically supports your development as a leader through formal study of your organization, participatory research processes, and collaborative decision making.

Through the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) curriculum, professionals engage in:

  • Instruction that includes online lectures, instructor-led discussions and assessments, small group interactions, and limited, optional 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.

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. If you will be working outside of the State of Maine, UNE Online highly recommends that you research your specific state requirements for entry-level into assistant principal or principal positions before entering this (or any) program.

NEW: Transfer and “stack” previous post-master’s or doctoral work

UNE Online is now offering students the opportunity to transfer up to four, three-credit courses from their previous post-master’s coursework (taken within the last five years) into the Ed.D. Students who transfer four three-credit courses into the program have the potential to graduate in less than three years.

Doctor of Education Curriculum and Course Descriptions

Each course is eight weeks long, with two courses per 16 week semester. Each course includes small group interactive work.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Extend and strengthen each student’s professional network.
  • Encourage students to use their newfound knowledge and skills to make a difference for their organization and for the community they serve.


A Successful Student is a Supported Student

Through the Doctor of Education curriculum, UNE Online offers Ed.D. students a variety of academic, technical, and administrative support to help our students succeed in their chosen program.

  • Application: As soon as you begin your application, a dedicated enrollment counselor will guide you throughout the entire application process.

  • Acceptance: Upon your acceptance to the Doctor of Education program, your dedicated student support specialist will be there to provide support and answer any questions you may have – from questions on textbooks to registration, financial aid, and more.

This support is provided in addition to the tremendous support you receive from program staff, your course instructors, and fellow classmates.



If you have any questions about the graduate programs in Education coursework or the program requirements, please speak to one of our enrollment counselors at the email or phone number below.