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Program: Educational Leadership

Degree: Doctorate in Education
​In the department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development (ELPHD)
Delivery Method: On Campus, Off Campus

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NC State’s Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is designed to prepare systems-level leaders to improve the quality of K-12 schools by preparing the next generation of superintendents dedicated to educational excellence and equity. Graduates are empowered with leadership strategies that improve student performance in environments that are dynamic, interactive and culturally diverse.

Program Description

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at North Carolina State University leads to district/superintendent licensure and is intended to prepare district-level school leaders who can:

  • Provide sound instructional leadership at all levels
  • Use qualitative and quantitative data as a basis for school improvement
  • Effectively administer fiscal, curricular and personnel resources
  • Exhibit strong written and oral communications skills
  • Participate effectively in educational politics, policy analysis and development
  • Critically and strategically analyze school problems
  • Demonstrate effective leadership at the school and district level
  • Administer schools in a legally and ethically defensible manner
  • Demonstrate excellence in administration

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership requires core courses in educational leadership, research methods courses, an internship and a dissertation. Students must be officially admitted to the Ed.D. program to enroll in doctoral classes. Please be aware that the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development program area of study in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA) is also offered, but only the Ed.D. leads to superintendent licensure.

Admission Requirements

Note:  All application materials must be submitted through the Graduate School’s online application site.   No hard copies will be accepted.

  • Applicants must hold a North Carolina Principal’s license or be eligible to receive one
  • Complete the online application to NC State Graduate School (see “Apply Now” button at top of this page)
  • Upload unofficial transcripts from each college and university attended (except NC State University). If you are recommended for admission, the Graduate School will request an official copy of your transcript(s) be sent directly to the Graduate School (for address see  Please do not send transcripts to the department.)
  • Confirm the submission of three letters of reference. One letter MUST be from your current supervisor. The application system will send an email directly to your references asking them to complete a reference for you. All references are submitted electronically.
  • GRE scores are required for admission in Summer 2023 and beyond.
  • Your professional resume (uploaded in online application system) Please be detailed. Be sure to include information on your teaching assignments (grades and subject), your leadership experiences, current work assignment, and include your current supervisor’s name and contact information (phone and email).
  • Upload your Personal Statement at the online application site. (As you prepare this statement, please reflect upon why you are interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Administration and Supervision, what you hope to do with this degree, and why you are a good candidate for this program.)

Course of Study

All doctoral degrees in the College of Education require a minimum of 72 graduate credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. Most doctoral programs in the College of Education require a minimum of 60 graduate credit hours beyond an approved master’s degree.


Course descriptions can be found in the university course catalog.

Basic Courses (Choose a minimum of 9)

  • ELP 720 Cases in Educational Administration
  • ELP 724 Contemporary Educational Thought
  • ELP 728 Educational Law
  • ELP 729 Educational Finance
  • ELP 735 Policy Research in Education
  • ELP 751 Politics of P-12 Education
  • ELP 753 Data-Based Decision Making for School Administrators
  • ELP 756 Organizational Leadership & Management
  • ELP 757 Research in P-12 Administrative Leadership
  • ELP 780 Evaluation Theory & Practice
  • ELP 789 Personnel In Education
  • ELP 795* Special Topics
  • ELP 795A Leadership for School Improvement
  • ELP 795D Human Relations: Communication, Culture, & Change
  • ELP 795N Seminar in Leadership Studies
  • ELP 795F Formative Ideas in American Education
  • ELP 820 Independent Study (6 credits max. – permission required)

* Note: ELP 795 is a course number assigned to many courses, including new piloted courses. Therefore, you may have multiple 795 courses listed on your Plan of Work as approved by your advisor.

In addition to the courses listed above, students may take additional or alternative courses as approved by their advisor.

Research Methods and Data Analysis (Choose a minimum of 3)

  • ED 710: Applied Quantitative Methods in Education I
  • ED 711: Applied Quantitative Methods in Education II
  • ED 730: Introduction to Qualitative Research in Education
  • ED 731: Advanced Qualitative Research and Data Analysis in Education

Internship (Two 3-credit courses)

  • ELP 851 Intership in Educational Leadership

Dissertation Preparation

Take last to prepare your dissertation proposal.

  • ELP 891 Problems in Research Design in Education

Dissertation Writing (9 credits)

  • ELP 895 Doctoral Dissertation Research