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Program Details

Frequently Asked Questions

Please see our Admissions Requirements. No, we do not require the GRE as part of admission to our programs.

Our Ed.D. program has a priority admissions deadline of January 15 to be considered for August enrollment. Applications received by May 15 will be considered for August enrollment, as space is available. New students are only admitted in the Fall semester; we do not admit students mid-year (e.g., Spring).

Cohort sizes vary and are determined by each specialization depending on resources available to adequately support students. Cohort sizes can range from 10 to 15 students per specialization.

Application review processes vary significantly by specialization. For fall admissions, the earliest decisions may be made in February, with the review process continuing into March or April (particularly for those being considered on a space-available basis). If you have questions about the timeline for admissions decisions or the reasoning behind those decisions should be addressed directly to the specialization to which you applied.

Admission to the Educational Leadership doctoral program is competitive, and admission rates differ each year depending on the strength of the applicant pool. In addition, admission rates vary by specialization and are determined by the specialization separately depending on resources available to adequately support students.

Given the increase in applications to the Ed.D. program and the varied cohort sizes across the specializations, each specialization may require an interview as part of the admissions process. Generally, the specializations will determine the criteria for selecting applicants for interviewing. Interviews allows the program faculty to get as much information about your qualifications, assess whether there is a good match between students and the prospective specialization, and ability to succeed at the graduate level.

According to UNCW Graduate School policy, a maximum of twelve semester hours of graduate credit may be transferred from another regionally accredited institution in partial fulfillment of the total hours required for any graduate degree. Students may not transfer in more than one third of the required hours for any program. The courses must be post-master's level and appropriate to the program of study; students also must have earned a "B" or better in the course. Authorization of transfer credit is subject to approval by the program coordinator, Associate Dean of Watson College, and the UNCW Graduate School. For more specific information on transferring courses, please refer to this page.

Both degrees are terminal degrees (i.e., the highest degree attainable in a field of study). A Ph.D. in Education is a Doctorate of Philosophy in Education; an Ed.D. is an Education Doctorate. The Ph.D. is a research-focused degree, whereas the Ed.D. is a professional degree focused on scholarly practice. It is similar to other professional doctorates such as a Medical Doctorate (M.D.), a Juris (Law) Doctorate (J.D.), and a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.). A Ph.D. degree in Education requires a dissertation study generally focused on original research to inform disciplinary knowledge. An Ed.D. degree requires applied research, in the form of a dissertation, or other similarly rigorous research project. The Educational Leadership Program is an Ed.D. program that requires a dissertation focused on applied research that will benefit educational practitioners and audiences.

The program is designed so that students may complete required coursework in three academic years, including summers. Once coursework is completed, students register for six required credits to complete their dissertation study over one or two semesters. If the dissertation is not completed within those six credit hours, the student registers for one "Research" credit each semester until the dissertation is completed. Therefore, the minimum amount of time within which a student could complete the program is three and one-half years; however, four years is a more realistic estimate for most students, depending on the requirements of their dissertation study and other demands on time. The maximum amount of time allowed for program completion is six years. Students may request a one-year extension subject to approval of the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program Coordinator, Educational Leadership Department Chair, and UNCW Graduate School.

Find detailed information on specific program course requirements see the program page for your specialization of interest.

Our curriculum is designed to support working professionals and sequenced for students to successfully take 6 credits, or 2 classes, at a time. The curriculum and course sequence are designed to facilitate students' knowledge building and development with information from their previous coursework throughout the program. Due to the prescribed course sequence design of the curriculum "loading up" on courses is generally not feasible due to course offerings.

We currently have two options for students to be enrolled in our program, a Main Campus or Distance Education option. Distance education students are not required to meet at all on campus. Distance education students attend the synchronous face-to-face class sessions using Zoom, a platform that allows them to be part of the classroom experience virtually. Ours is a hybrid program which blends face-to-face instruction and online instruction where students meet synchronously (our main campus students in a classroom and our distance education students via Zoom) alternating weeks during the semester with online work on the opposite weeks.

Distance education students are not required to meet at all on campus. Distance education students attend the synchronous face-to-face class sessions using Zoom, a platform that allows them to be part of the classroom experience virtually.

Students are admitted into a cohort group that begins the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program together and completes required program coursework together (i.e., students take most of their required coursework with the group of students with whom they entered the program). The use of a cohort model has been identified as a best practice for adult learning as it supports social knowledge construction, collaboration, group affiliation, and peer support.

You can find more information on DIS by visiting this page.

You are required to complete an internship and we have several ways you can do that. We have an international internship; or you can set up your own internship at your institution or another one in your area with the caveat that you are not completing the internship in your current functional area. For more specific information on internships, please see the Internships and Directed Independent Study page.

The Ed.D. program is 60 hours of course work post-master's degree, so credit is not accepted from a completed master's program. Often the knowledge content of previous courses is no longer current enough to be considered relevant toward an Ed.D. Our program strives to ensure that students are provided a rigorous education that includes curriculum comprised of current knowledge and an accurate understanding of relevant information, theories, and practices. In addition, our curriculum is designed in such a way that students learn and acquire knowledge in the core leadership content, research methods, and specialization content in a prescribed sequence.

The CCL certificate and the Ed.D. can be done simultaneously or separately (both having separate application processes). We also allow students to concentrate their electives in the Ed.D. program with CCL classes so they can have a "stream" of electives in CCL but not have to pay the separate application fee to be admitted into the CCL certificate program. As each of the programs, CCL and Ed.D., have separate admissions processes there is no guarantee that if you are admitted to one (i.e., the CCL certificate program) that you would automatically be admitted into the other (i.e., Ed.D.).

Tuition and fees are established by UNCW at the end of each academic year for the following year. Please see here for the most current information.

Please see the UNCW Financial Aid Office. Click here for more information on Scholarships from the Graduate School.

There are a limited number of doctoral level graduate assistantships (GA) available in the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in the Department of Educational Leadership and the Watson College of Education for which doctoral students may apply. However, graduate assistantships are not guaranteed. Graduate assistants may not be working full time outside of their doctoral studies. They must be available to work on campus for 20 hours each week, between the hours of 8am and 5pm. Follow this link for more information on Graduate Assistantships on campus.

The coursework and instructional experiences in our program are not designed to prepare students for the faculty role. However, this is a terminal degree and would potentially meet the criteria needed for selected faculty positions in post-secondary institutions. Generally, faculty at collegiate levels have doctorates or terminal degrees in their respective academic discipline already, as these credentials are often a requirement to teach at the collegiate level.