The Doctorate

Annette Kennedy

Tomorrow’s leaders will be those who thrive in a diverse, complex, technologically advanced world. The San Jose State University Ed.D. curriculum focuses on real-life case learning and engages in rigorous inquiry in core areas needed for leadership success in efforts to reform schools, engage communities and increase student achievement.

If you have any questions about our doctoral program, please contact us!

Program Overview

  • Official Title: Ed.D., Educational Leadership
  • Format: Cohort
  • Length: 3 years / 9 semesters
  • Units: 60
  • Start term: Summer
  • Application window: November - February

Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

As a result of completing our doctoral program, Ed.D. Leadership Program graduates will:

  1. Analyze the relationship between system structure and system behavior and propose appropriate structural changes to bring about desirable educational outcomes.
  2. Compare and contrast the strengths and limitations of research and scholarly literature, on the basis of validity, reliability, credibility, bias, and interpretability.
  3. Apply systemic leadership perspectives for creatively addressing complex challenges in educational settings.
  4. Apply concepts such as validity, reliability, bias, and consequences to evaluate the technical quality of qualitative and quantitative data.
  5. Analyze current education policy and school reform trends for equity with integration of research, policy, and practical considerations.
  6. Design and evaluate educational organizations to foster learner-centered teaching, learning, and research-based professional development.
  7. Analyze the role of political, social, and economic forces in perpetuating opportunity gaps for BIPOC and other minoritized learners in K-20 educational institutions. 

Initial Eligibility and Requirements

The Ed.D. program is designed to admit candidates who meet the academic requirements for rigorous doctoral study and who possess personal qualities and professional experiences that suggest a strong potential for success both as doctoral students and as educational leaders.

Meeting the minimum requirements qualifies an individual for consideration but does not guarantee admission to the program. Additional candidate qualifications proposed by SJSU district partners include strong oral and written communication skills, organizational aptitude, and excellent problem-solving ability. The Ed.D. program requires the following of all applicants for admission to the doctoral program:

  • The applicant holds an acceptable baccalaureate degree and master's degree earned at a regionally accredited institution of higher education, or the applicant has completed equivalent academic preparation as determined by the Office of Graduate Studies & Research
  • The applicant has attained a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in upper division and graduate study combined.
  • The applicant was in good standing at the last attended institution of higher education.
  • The applicant has demonstrated sufficient preparation for, experiences in, and potential for educational leadership, including successful experience in school, postsecondary, community, and/or policy leadership; academic excellence, problem-solving ability, and technology proficiency; and interest in critically assessing and improving current educational policies and practices.
  • The applicant, if born and educated in a country in which the native language is not English, has demonstrated English-language proficiency by achieving a SJSU-published minimum score on one of the three accepted English-proficiency exams.

Curriculum & Course Requirements

View an overview of our course requirements below. More information about each of these courses is available on the SJSU Catalog website. In addition to these requirements, our program includes a two-week global studies component that will expose participants to other systems, challenges, and solutions.

  1. Educational Leadership: Theory and Practice (4 courses, 12 units)
    • Educational leadership: theory and practice
    • Leadership, diversity, and culture
    • Leadership, complexity, and systems thinking
    • Education policy, equity, and school reform
  2. Organizational Behavior and Adult Learning (3 courses, 9 units)
    • Organizational behavior and change in education
    • Leadership for learner-centered organizations
    • Communication for educational leadership
  3. Contexts for Education Leadership and Schooling (4 courses, 12 units)
    • Politics of education and financing of schooling
    • Assessment, testing, and evaluation: Contexts and implications for school change
    • Education and leadership in a global context
    • Field studies in a global context
  4. Research Methodology: Tools for the Scholar-Practitioner (5 courses, 15 units)
    • Educational research
    • Qualitative methods in educational research
    • Proseminar I: Doctoral studies and research in education
    • Proseminar II: Doctoral studies and research in education
    • Proseminar III: Doctoral studies and research in education
  5. Dissertation (12 units)

Frequently Asked Questions

Upcoming Information Sessions

The eighth cohort of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at San José State University begins Summer 2021, and applications will be accepted starting November 1st. For more information on the doctoral program, please sign up for one of our information sessions. The tentative dates of the Ed.D. Info Sessions are:

  • October 28, 2020 | 6:00pm-7:15pm
  • November 18, 2020 | 6:00pm-7:15pm
  • December 16, 2020 | 6:00pm-7:15pm
  • January 20, 2021 | 6:00pm-7:15pm
  • February 17, 2021 | 6:00pm-7:15pm

Register for an upcoming information session

Steps to Apply

Applying to the Ed.D. Program is a two-step process. The deadline for the complete application is February 1, 2021. Admissions take place on a rolling basis, so we recommended that you submit the department application materials as soon as possible. All of the following must be completed by the admission deadline to be considered into the Ed.D. program:

Step 1 | Apply to SJSU Graduate Admissions & Program Evaluations (GAPE)

  1. Visit to create your application profile and pay the $70.00 application fee.

  2. Submit one set of officially sealed transcript from each college where you studied. No Professional Development Transcripts will be accepted. Transcripts must also include narrative if work was completed at a non-graded institution. Send or deliver all transcripts to:

Graduate Admissions & Program Evaluations
San Jose State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0017

Step 2 | Apply to the Ed.D. Leadership Program

Submit the following information by email to

  1. Ed.D. Application Form [pdf].

  2. One set of official/unofficial transcripts for each college or university attended.

  3. Three (3) letters of recommendation attesting to your leadership ability and potential for success in a doctoral program.  Letters should be completed with our recommendation form [pdf] and one of the letters should be from your school district or employer indicating support for participating in doctoral studies. Recommendation letters should be submitted directly from the person writing the recommendation letter.

  4. Current professional resume or curriculum vitae that includes leadership experience and/or leadership strengths as indicated through job experiences, administrative credentials, and/or other evidence of leadership capacity and practice; not to exceed 4 pages.

  5. A written statement of purpose, which explains your reasons for pursuing doctoral studies in educational leadership. Please indicate your history and background and some of the core commitments and principles, which drive your career goals. Also discuss some of the challenges facing education and educational leadership in California, nationally, and globally; 2-3 pages maximum, single spaced.

  6. A writing sample of your individually authored research, reports, and/or papers (maximum of 20 pages). Your writing sample should be single authored and include citations and references. The writing sample is intended for you to demonstrate ability to craft a meaningful argument on an education-related topic and to cite research/literature to support your view. A PowerPoint presentation does not meet this requirement. 

For full consideration, please submit all documents by the deadline. Applications received after the deadline will be considered until the 2021 cohort is filled. Documents should be submitted to

Additional Resources

For information about financial aid opportunities, internship and job opportunities, research opportunities, and more, visit our Student Resources webpage.