US News Best Online Programs Grad Education 2023The University of Missouri Educational Doctorate (EdD) Program is a part-time, cohort-based program in Educational Leadership. This professional practice doctorate is designed to enhance the knowledge and competencies of leaders in PK-20+ educational organizations (e.g., colleges and universities, nonprofits, schools and school districts). This 54-credit hour program is designed to be completed in 3 years (6 credit hours a semester for 9 semesters), including coursework, comprehensive exams, and the dissertation-in-practice.

Coursework Outline

The emphasis of the EdD Program is on developing effective, thoughtful, and reflective practitioners who are competent in identifying and solving complex problems of practice in educational settings. As a program dedicated to the development of scholarly practitioners, graduates will know:

  • Foundational and current theories and perspectives in leadership theory and practice, organizational analysis, educational policy, and content and context of learning;
  • The importance of being responsive to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion;
  • How to identify and analyze problems of practice;
  • The value of reflective practice;
  • Theories and research behind teams and group dynamics.

In addition to developing knowledge that is informed by theory and research, the following five themes are integrated with practice, emphasizing real-time application. Graduates will be able to:

  • Provide effective leadership to their respective organizations;
  • Work collaboratively to achieve organizational goals with a diverse set of stakeholders;
  • Address problems of practice through the use of data, both pre-existing and data collected on their own;
  • Engage in reflective practice in order to effectively implement change;
  • Respond to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion within their organizations and communities.

The EdD Program is offered 100% online, using a combination of synchronous (Wednesday evenings, 5:00PM-8:00PM Central, scheduled in advance as needed) and asynchronous components. Optional on-campus opportunities (e.g., meetings with faculty, networking events, writing retreats) may be offered during the program based on student interest and availability. All admitted students will be expected to participate in a virtual orientation event in August.

Application and Admissions Process Overview

Applications are due every year on March 1st (by 11:59 PM Central Time), with coursework beginning in the Fall semester of that same year.

Admission Guidelines and Minimum Requirements:

  • A master’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Relevant organizational or educational leadership experience.
    • We recommend candidates have a minimum of 3 years of full-time professional experience prior to the start of the cohort for which they are applying.
    • We define leadership experience broadly so please be sure to share any and all such experiences in your application (e.g., building administrator, team leader, program director, chairing a committee, creating a new program/initiative).
  • Evidence of consistency between candidate’s goals and the mission and goals of the EdD program and the ELPA department.
  • Evidence of strong communication skills (verbal, written).
  • Potential for success in a doctoral program.
  • GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale) in graduate studies (master’s degree) from an accredited institution.
  • For non-native English speakers, minimum scores accepted by the MU Graduate School for TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, Cambridge C1 Advanced exams, or Duolingo English Test.

Application Requirements:

  • Unofficial transcripts (see the Graduate School’s discussion of the Application Process for more information; you will be asked to submit official transcripts if admitted)
  • Résumé or CV (be sure to account for all relevant organizational and educational leadership experiences)
  • Personal statement that addresses your reasons for seeking entrance into the educational leadership EdD program and identifies your professional goals. In other words, why do you want to do this program and how will this degree help move you toward your personal or professional goals in the future?
  • ELPA EdD Essay: For the educational leadership doctor of education program, please upload an essay addressing the following:
    In your work as an educational leader, you are likely faced with issues that need further attention or investigation. These issues may be ideal topics for your dissertation in practice*. For this essay, begin by describing an idea for a dissertation in practice* that you would be interested in studying (limit to one paragraph). Then, in 500 words or less, respond to the following questions:

    • How is your dissertation in practice* idea responsive to creating more equitable and inclusive educational spaces and support systems for all stakeholders?
    • How might the results of your study be beneficial to you as a leader and to your organization (or current context)?

      *A dissertation in practice refers to a specialized form of academic research and scholarly work that is typically associated with professional doctoral programs, such as a doctor of education (Ed.D.). Unlike traditional dissertations that primarily contribute to theoretical knowledge, a dissertation in practice emphasizes applying scholarly research to address real-world challenges and issues within a specific professional field or context.

  • Please video and upload your answers to the questions below:
    1) Describe your leadership philosophy. In other words, what principles, values and beliefs do you use to lead in your current organization?
    2) Tell us about your primary leadership experiences, and how these have influenced your definition of leadership over time.”
  • Three recommendations from individuals who can comment on your potential for success in a doctoral program.
    • At least two letters should be from faculty who have taught or advised you. (If this is not possible, there will be a place on the application form for you to explain.)
    • At least one letter should address your leadership experience/potential.

Click here to begin an application.

Contact Us 

For more information about the EdD Program, please contact us at (573) 884-2163 or