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Advanced study in the Doctor of Education in Administrative Leadership program at Shenandoah University is designed to serve learners with career goals related to PK-12 educational administration. The program advances application of organizational and leadership theory to schools and other institutions of public trust; understanding of the context in which these organizations operate; and a comprehensive approach to ethical leadership and mission-driven organizations. Graduates of this program hold positions in schools, colleges and universities, and community-based organizations.

The program is unique in its emphasis on the application of theory to real-world problems and lived experiences. Through cohort-based coursework and self-directed study, learners think deeply, examine critically, and understand theoretically the challenges and problems facing schools and related organizations today. We employ a student-centered, inquiry-driven, and problem-oriented approach.

  • Student-Centered: Learners bring to the program a general area of interest in which to ground their studies. We work with individuals to shape and examine a particular interest as it relates to administration and leadership in an individual’s life.
  • Inquiry-Driven: Learners are expected to use a learning model that emphasizes question-asking and synthesis rather than knowledge acquisition and the mere accumulation of facts. The topic of interest brought to the program is explored systematically, thoughtfully, and deeply under the guidance of faculty members who share a vision of graduate education.
  • Problem-Oriented: Topics are typically grounded in the lived experiences of real people in a real place. We do not ask the learner to apply theory to cases alone, but to the lived experience as well. Success in this approach to learning is established early with the idea that problems are opportunities where learning can occur. In this sense, a problem is the difference between what is and what should be.

Please Contact Dr. Cathy Shiffman with any questions: Cshiffma@su.edu

What Our Program Offers You

What our students learn/Skills you will acquire

Our cohort program consists of core courses in organizational leadership, theoretical and applied social science research, and courses in your chosen concentration. Our program emphasizes the application of theory to real-world problems and lived experiences so we leverage your professional experiences with course content.

You will:

  • develop an understanding of the historical and theoretical underpinnings that inform the field of organizational leadership
  • build skills to critically examine and apply theory and research to the real world
  • deepen awareness of diverse perspectives, values and beliefs, and capacity for ethical practice
  • recognize the historical, social and political context in which institutions of public trust are situated and operate
  • synthesize and connect theory and research to personal experience

Your dissertation is the program capstone in which you will develop, conduct and report results of an independent research study. It can range from an applied, disciplined inquiry into a problem encountered in the workplace to the more traditional thesis-like research report.

What kind of issues/problems does this major prepare you to solve?

The program encourages the development of thoughtful and innovative approaches to change. Your skills and habits of mind will facilitate critical examination of, engagement with, and responses to current research, societal changes and policy developments in the field.

What makes our program unique?

The cohort is a defining feature of our program. You move through a sequence of required courses with other students, enabling the development of close relationships with leaders across schools, school systems, higher education institutions and other organizations of public trust in the region.

A sequence of refined courses and experiences prepares you to undertake a doctoral dissertation research study that will make a contribution to your profession. You benefit from Shenandoah University’s low faculty-student ratios. Our doctoral faculty works closely and collaboratively with you to create an environment that is both challenging and supportive.

As our program caters to full-time working professionals, classes are scheduled in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate busy schedules. The majority of the coursework is on campus. Because our program is comprised of mid- and senior-career professionals in K-12 education, higher education and other institutions of public trust, the diverse professional backgrounds provide for cross-fertilization of ideas and learning around problems facing leaders in various organizations.

Course Requirements

The EdD is a practitioner’s degree requiring a 60-credit (minimum) program of study in one of two tracks. Completion of the initial administrative licensure track will qualify learners for Virginia initial administrative licensure. Curriculum specialization is also possible. Cohorts typically attend class one night per week.

Program Core
Leadership: Theory and Application
Societal Factors: Influences on Policy, Programs and Practice
Organizational Theory and Behavior
Governance and Public Policy
Contemporary Issues in Leadership

Introduction to Research Literacy
Advanced Social Science Methods for Doctoral Research
Quantitative Research Design and Analysis
Advanced Quantitative Research Design and Analysis
Quantitative Research Proposal & Pilot
Qualitative Research Proposal & Pilot