K-12 Educational Leadership, Ed.D.

The K-12 concentration prepares you for a position as a principal, superintendent, or other school site district administrators.

As a student enrolled in the PK-12 Educational Leadership concentration, you’ll explore your role as a leader, and build upon and extend your competence in the following areas as they relate to educational leadership: organizational analysis, educational change and reform, school law, public school finance, curriculum design and evaluation for administrators, school personnel administration, and educational policy. You will participate in field-based experiences as part of your courses. Through an inquiry-driven approach, you will engage in research for your dissertation that is applied, meaningful, and informs the schools and districts where you work. Graduates are equipped with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to successfully form and work in teams, systematically reflect upon their work as leaders, and deeply understand their responsibility to lead ethically, justly, and compassionately as they engage in a lifelong search for truth and partner with others along the way.

The Doctor of Education program is approved by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for PK-12 administration licenses. Students who have successfully completed the 24 credits in the Superintendent/ District Leadership Licensure Program will then complete 30 credits through the Doctoral Completion Program to complete the K-12 Educational Leadership, Ed.D..

Program Overview

  • 54 credit program: 24 credits from Superintendent/ District Leadership Licensure Program and 30 credits through Doctoral Completion Program, culminating in Ed.D. and dissertation.
  • You will take a series of courses, two at a time with research courses introduced early to provide a foundation for study and your own research.
  • An example of course sequencing beginning in Fall 2020.
  • To see the 24 credits of Superintendent/ District Leadership Licensure Program.
  • To see the 30 credits of Doctoral Completion Program.


  • Courses are offered on weekends in Madison at the Edgewood College Monroe Street Campus. We also make use of online resources to accommodate busy schedules. Classes begin in August.

Demystifying the Dissertation Process: Virtual Webinar

Has fear of doing a dissertation kept you from following your passion and earning a doctoral degree? Let Edgewood College demystify the dissertation process! Log on to this 30-minute Webinar to learn what the Ed.D. dissertation process is all about. You will receive practical tips on how you can complete a doctoral degree while still working full-time, hear from Edgewood College faculty, staff, and alumni and learn how you can join the next cohort.

Admission Requirements

Application deadline - The priority application deadline for all 2020 PK-12 Leadership cohorts is July 15. Applications received after July 15 will be reviewed and accepted on a space-available basis.

  1. Complete and submit the Ed.D. application (Contact your admission counselor to find out how to apply for free.).
  2. Provide evidence of a master's degree from a United States regionally accredited or equivalent post-secondary institution with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for regular admission status. The cumulative grade point average is computed on the highest degree held at the time of application to the Edgewood College graduate program.
  3. To qualify for the superintendent license, you must supply evidence of eligibility to hold a teacher or pupil services license in Wisconsin and demonstrate appropriate experience.
  4. Request that official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate academic credits received from any post-secondary institutions be sent directly to Edgewood College Graduate and Professional Studies.
  5. Provide two letters of recommendation. Letters must attest to the applicant's ability to collaborate with colleagues and be successful as an educational leader. Letters should be mailed directly to Edgewood College Graduate and Professional Studies, 1000 Edgewood College Dr, Madison, WI 53711.
  6. Submit a letter of intent including a brief statement of the reason for pursuing the advanced educational leadership licensing, and a brief discussion about how the program can help the applicant reach personal and professional goals.
  7. Provide a resume or curriculum vitae that includes: but it not limited to the areas listed below:
    • Education: Major(s), schools attended, degrees obtained and dates of attendance
    • Professional positions held

Applicants may also include:

  • Presentations made to organizations, groups and professional associations
  • Honors/ awards received
  • Memberships in professional and other organizations
  • Community Service: Name(s) of organizations, description of activities and positions held
  • International Students may have additional admission requirements.

Course Requirements

Summer 2020

ED800 Ethical and Inclusive Leadership I - 3 credits 8 week blended course – August 29 (9-noon: webEx), September19 (9-noon: webEx) October 10 (9-noon: webEx)

This two-part course will provide a comprehensive overview of leadership at the superintendent, district, principal, and teacher levels. In Part I, various models of leadership in K-12 private and public settings are examined. Analyses of leadership quadrants and strengths of individual leadership styles are completed. Academic writing and applied research skills are stressed. Guest presenters who are working in current roles of leadership supplement and enhance reading and writing assignments and activities. The value and impact of professional associations and the role of social media in leadership will be examined. An observation and analysis of a school board meeting is required. Standards and guidelines for all assignments are provided.

ED802 Ethical and Inclusive Leadership II - 3 Credits 8 week blended course – October 12 – December 11, 2020 Class meeting times: 10-24-20, 11-7-20, 12-5-20

For those who aspire to leadership roles in Wisconsin public and private schools, Part II of the course will use criteria set forth by the Department of Public Instruction, and Wisconsin Statutes and Standards : knowing teacher obligations; creating a vision for education; the need for awareness of the inclusive and diverse needs of students, nurturing a school culture of continuous improvement; managing resources of the organization; collaborating with others, acting with integrity in an ethical manner; and interacting with the larger community politically, socially, legally, and economically to affect educational improvements. Additionally, students will begin the process of identifying their dissertation topic and employ research practices as they perform applied research relevant to their topic and/or their current educational position. A culminating project focusing on leadership aspects of a student selected issue or problem is required.

Spring 2021

ED803 Practicum Development - 1 credit 8 week blended course – January 11 – March 19, 2021 Class meeting time - January 23, 2021

The practicum is a three-semester placement with a mentor where the candidate can obtain real-time information, examples, and experiences relating directly to the Seven Wisconsin Administrative Standards. In this course, students will work with the instructor to consider licensing options and review the content guidelines for desired licenses. During the development phase of the practicum, qualified mentors will be identified, and the mentor/mentee relationship will be formally established.

ED 804 Political and Policy Leadership - 3 Credits Class meeting times – 2-6-21, 2-20-21, and 3-13-21

The relationship between politics, educational policy, and educational practice is explored in its broadest sense. Particular emphasis is given to political and leadership theories, their practical application and the role of leadership in developing and implementing policy in the political environment within and outside of educational organizations. Politics and policy are discussed within an ethical framework of social justice and equity. Content will be applied in a variety of class experiences, mentoring activities, and related field assignments.

Summer 2021

ED805 Practicum Experience - 1 credit 8 week blended course – May 17 – July 9, 2021 Fully online

The practicum is a three-semester placement with a mentor where the candidate can obtain real-time information, examples, and experiences relating directly to the Seven Wisconsin Administrative Standards and licensed content guidelines. The partnership design of the practicum experience blends coursework and reflection with practical experience. The application of learning and research under the guidance of a school district mentor or doctoral faculty member provides the structured “hands-on” experience required to fulfill the licensing requirement as well.

ED806 School District Human Resource Management - 3 Credits 8 week blended course – May 17 – July 9, 2021 Class meeting time – 5-29-21, 6-19-21, and 7-3-21

This course examines how to manage human resources effectively in the dynamic political, legal, social, and economic environment currently impacting schools. Among the topics included are: recruitment and retention; training and development; workforce diversity; organizational structure and job design; performance evaluation; and, compensation models. Students will gain a solid understanding of the fundamentals of human resource management and its strategic relevance in K-12 education. By providing a practical perspective on the development of human capital in intensely “people-oriented” organization, students will develop a conceptual framework of how to create a system of attracting, retaining and developing talent that creates and supports the vision and values of the school district.

ED808 School District Law - 3 credits 8 week blended course – June 17 – August 6, 2021 Class meeting time – 7-10-21, 7-24-21, and 8-7-21

This course offers a case study approach to school law in the areas as staff, student, district, and personnel law as well as broader state and federal categories such as tort liability, civil rights, gender equity, and facility administration. Legal issues of inclusion and diversity will be examined. Ethical and leadership implications of legal issues will be explored under the tutelage of experienced and dedicated specialized educational lawyers and certified district administrators. Completion of several projects are required with the focus on expanding knowledge of how to address applied legal issues in a K-12 setting.

Fall 2021

ED807 Practicum Reflection - 1 credit 8 week blended course – August 16 – October 15, 2021 Class meeting time – fully online

The practicum is a three-semester placement with a mentor where the candidate can obtain real-time information, examples, and experiences relating directly to the Seven Wisconsin Administrative Standards and licensed content guidelines. The reflection phase of the practicum allows the cohort to share their mentorship experience, providing additional insights and cooperative learning to the practicum experience. Students will also finalize their licensure portfolio as a part of this course.

ED 812 Curriculum, Instruction, and Inclusive Learning Environments - 3 Credits 8 week blended course – August 16 – October 15, 2021 Class meeting time – 9-18-21, 10-2-21, and 10-16-21

Curriculum, instruction, assessment, and the learning environment are stressed in a context emphasizing organizational frameworks for management and leadership; leadership roles in staff development; learning theory, human development, and ethical considerations of supporting teaching and learning at the district level. Consideration of multicultural understanding and responding to individual differences are emphasized in the process of creating professional learning communities. Specific attention is given to emergent research in learning style, cognition, intelligence, constructivism in theory and practice. Candidates are required to research curriculum issues and to apply course content to district and/or department situations in a variety of class experiences and mentoring relationships.

ED 814 School District Budget and Finance - 3 credits 8 week blended course – November 7, November 14, December 12, 2020

This course will provide a substantive approach to public school finance at the school district level. Students will gain a practical understanding of the Wisconsin Uniform Financial Accounting Requirements (WUFAR), state and local funding systems, and tax impacts as related to Wisconsin school finance. This course will also cover technological applications and ethical considerations specific to districtwide leadership positions. Students will have the opportunity to research specific topics of interest within the scope of school finance and budget.

ED816 - 3 credits

This course is designed for students in the K12 administrative program who did not pursue the superintendent license but who wish to pursue the Ed.D. in educational leadership. The course introduces K12 leaders to the theory and practice of action research to prepare them for engaging in the dissertation research and writing process.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Pursuing your doctorate in education (Ed.D.) is the next step for many educators looking to expand their career opportunities. An Ed.D. not only adds to your professional qualifications but it builds your network, deepens your understanding of research methods, and strengthens your academic writing.

Some students interested in a doctorate in education question the value of earning a Ph.D. vs. an Ed.D. This article in Inside Higher Ed provides a brief comparison of the strengths of each degree.

The Chronicle of Higher Education compiles information on the salaries paid to senior administrative positions. Learn more about the compensation you might expect for various positions at higher education institutions.

Tuition and Credits

In Fall 2020, tuition for the 24 credits of the superintendent/district leadership license is $589 per credit. If students elect to continue their studies for an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, they will take an additional 30 credits at the regular graduate tuition rate of $1032. The Board of Trustees sets the tuition annually, so a small increase each year is possible. In addition, doctoral students pay a $105 fee each term.

Completion Equals Success

Tuition is only one factor in choosing a program. Completion rates are another important element of doctoral programs. Edgewood College boasts an 85 percent completion rate, compared to 57 percent at other institutions.

Therefore, your chances of attending Edgewood College and completing your degree are much higher, making it a smart investment of both time and money.

Our individual attention to student support helps guide each student through meaningful, engaging coursework, research, and dissertation completion.

Financial Aid

Graduate students are eligible for financial aid in the form of Federal Stafford Loans. Learn more about Stafford Loans, including eligibility requirements and application instructions.

Dissertation Support

For over 19 years, the Ed.D. Program at Edgewood College has guided students to successful dissertation defense and degree completion. Our graduation rate is about 80%, well-above the national average. One element to helping students succeed lies in the dissertation support they receive.

  • Each student is paired with a dissertation advisor during the Applied Research courses wherein the dissertation advisor, research faculty, and student work together to craft the research question(s) and align methodology.
  • The dissertation advisor and student continue to work together through dissertation defense, but along the way, other committee members join to offer support.
  • Each student receives a dissertation editor who is skilled in APA, grammar, and academic writing that will provide feedback to ensure readiness for the dissertation proposal and defense.
  • Students also receive fully formed dissertation committees, and extensive program support in scheduling proposal and defense meetings.

Our Faculty

  • Subject-matter-experts who work in the field of study instruct the content courses. These professionals bring a timely and global view to content material.
  • Full-time Ph.D. research faculty who have experience in publishing and R1 research instruct our research courses.
  • Our Academic Writing Specialist instructs the dissertation writing courses to guide students through the proper academic style and tone.

Alumni News

Our alumni are everywhere, accomplishing amazing things. The articles below are just a few examples of their latest activity.

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Dr. Kelli Chelberg

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