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

Frequently Asked Questions

Michelle Collay, Ph.D., answers some of our students’ most frequently asked questions about the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program. The video transcript can be viewed by clicking the “Text Transcript” links.

What is transformative leadership, and who should consider this program?
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Transformative literature talks about the development of self and the workplace, about organization, and the larger community or society. I talk to our students, primarily prospects, about what they can expect. They can expect a lot of activity to consider themselves as leaders.

We do a site study where they do an examination and evaluation of their organization, how its functioning (or not), what kinds of leadership will improve that organization, how they can measure that improvement, what their role as a leader can be–or is already–in that organization. And then we look at implications of their learning, and their leadership, for the greater society.

Who should consider this program? This particular doctoral program is structured for people who want to strengthen their leadership in different settings. We have a good amount of K-12 folks who are both teacher leaders and administrators, we have superintendents, we have central office folks. We also have some nonprofit people that are working for agencies doing work in communities.

We have military that are in formal training for their military careers but want to enhance their background by having additional materials, opportunities, and personal development to go along with the formal military training they receive. We work with county agencies, city agencies and places where people are expected to lead but may not always get the kinds of training and support that they think is important.

What is special about UNE Online educational leadership programs?
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The University of New England is a wonderful home for emergent professional programs that are fully online because the faculty is very strong, the programs are theoretically sound, and the support processes for students working at a distance are well put together.

Who should consider the Online Ed.D. program at UNE?
Text Transcript

This particular doctoral program is structured for people who want to strengthen their leadership in different settings. We have a good amount of K-12 folks who are both teacher leaders and administrators, we have superintendents, we have central office folks. We also have some nonprofit people that are working for agencies doing work in communities.

We have military that are in formal training for their military careers but want to enhance their background by having additional materials, opportunities, and personal development to go along with the formal military training they receive. We work with county agencies, city agencies and places where people are expected to lead but may not always get the kinds of training and support that they think is important.

What professional opportunities could be gained from UNE’s Online Ed.D. program?
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The most important part of the program's contribution to people’s professional work is a more holistic development of one's self as a leader. They are not just learning how to evaluate their organization, or to conduct research, or to improve their individual capacity. They are doing all three. So, they are are developing individually their capacity as leaders, they’re improving their organizational theory in an applied situation that is at their work place, and they're becoming experts in one area of research that can inform their organizational leadership or perhaps a job they might to take in the future.

Why should a student enroll in this program?
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I think the most important reason that students enroll in advanced graduate work is truly an interest in intellectual development and scholarship. In the case of our program it is a scholar practitioner focused program. There are programs that are much more pure scholarship and there are programs that are very practical and have less attention to scholarship. I feel that we have engaged with our students, faculty, and the program designers to create a truly integrated program.

How does online education promote to quality, community and success?
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The key difference in terms of creating quality for online students? The production of writing, thinking, and reflection is much greater in the online environment than it is face to face. Students and instructors can see everybody's work all the time, so there are no "low talkers" as there might be in a face to face situation. Everybody produces work, everybody can see each other's work.

I've noticed that the more advanced students, or those further along, set a very strong—and reachable—norm for students who have less experience or really aren't sure how to produce an academic response.  They have quality instructors and students further along the journey to use as a reference, and they rise to the occasion. So that's been a really important part of the online program development.

What is unique about the online Ed.D. program at UNE?
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The embedding of the doctoral dissertation within the entire program makes the Ed.D. program at UNE unique. Students begin to work on their topic exploration starting the very moment they do their admissions essay, and continue all the way through the second year. Students anticipate having a proposal in hand by the end of year two so they follow through with refinement, revisions, data collection and conclusion for their proposal into year three. 

Most doctoral programs, whether they are face to face, hybrid, or online, do a batch of coursework and then begin to look at the dissertation materials late in year two. And that allows a lot of time to pass without refining the dissertation topic. So that's a key difference of our program. I think the nature of the site study and embedding people's day job in each course, rather than a sort of practicum somewhere at the end is another unique feature of our program.

As an online student, how will I defend my dissertation?
Text Transcript

Let's talk a little more about the dissertation itself and how that fits. The site study is an opportunity to study the organization, to do an evaluation of what is working, to do a change proposal, and evaluate that change over time. Usually that is some sort of an initiative that lives within their workplace.

The dissertation topic can be directly related to the initiative they're working on in their organization, or it can diverge. For instance, some people are tasked by their supervisor to oversee a change initiative and we have them bring that to the program. Their day job overlaps with their work and that's a good thing. We call that double-dipping and it's good.

They may choose a dissertation topic that diverges from their workplace for several reasons. One might be there's a political nature to it that they want to work on in their own time. There is not too much of that, but it does occur. They may have a professional goal to move to another type of job. They may want to do more instruction outside of their organization and become specialists in that area. So in those cases those folks are encouraged to go ahead and pursue that research topic as they choose.

So they are not required to have those areas overlap but they certainly are welcome to have the site study and the dissertation development be along the same lines.

How is the dissertation structured?
Text Transcript

This is an Ed Doctorate or Education Doctorate, Ed.D., and it is a terminal degree. It is different than a Ph.D. or Doctor of Philosophy, primarily in that it is designed for practitioners who intend to stay in the same roles and responsibilities, or similar roles to those that they currently hold. Most people that seek the Ph.D. are intending to become full-time academics. People who are looking to achieve change in their home organizations aren't particularly interested in teaching full-time in the academy. A lot of folks that are in our program are already teaching in higher education, so they're practitioners in their field and they're teaching a course in a community college or technical program, in some cases traditional undergraduate institutions. So they're they're already scholar practitioners and they're looking to enhance their background and obtain their terminal degree.


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