Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I have to want to be a superintendent to be admitted to the program?

No. The program prepares students to be superintendents and other system-wide B-12 public school leaders and provides an opportunity for those already in or planning to move into B-12 public school leadership positions to improve their educational leadership practice through an Education Doctorate (Ed.D.). Although many of our students hold an administrative license and will seek superintendent licensure upon completion of the program, this is not a requirement for admission.

2. Is there a superintendent licensure track?

Currently there is not a separate track for those students seeking superintendent licensure and we do not have a licensure-only program that is separate from the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program. The Watson College of Education will recommend superintendent licensure for those doctoral students holding a current North Carolina administrative license, complete the Educational Administration concentration, and who prepare and defend a superintendent e-portfolio that contains NCDPI approved Hallmarks. However, licensing is subject to the approval of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (See See Dr. Carr for information.

3. Can I be admitted to the program if I do not have a B-12 public school administrative background?

Yes, if you have at least three years of applicable leadership experience in B-12 or higher education.

4. Can I add on an administrative license or a curriculum/instruction and supervision license while completing the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program?

If you are interested in our Licensure-Only School Administration Program, please consult our Master of School Administration website. If you are interested in our Licensure-Only Curriculum/Instruction and Supervision Program, please consult our Curriculum/Instruction and Supervision website. Select courses (maximum 6 credits) from the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program may be applied toward Licensure-Only in consultation with the Master of School Administration or Curriculum/Instruction and Supervision Program Coordinator and the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program Coordinator. However, it is difficult for students who are full-time working professionals to complete Licensure-Only requirements while completing the requirements of the Doctoral Program.

5. How many course credits will transfer from another doctoral program?

Typically a maximum of six credit hours may be transferred. The student must have earned doctoral level credit for the course(s) as indicated on an official transcript from an accredited university in the past five years, and have earned a grade of "B" or better. The course(s) must be appropriate to the program of study and approved by the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program Coordinator, the Watson College of Education Associate Dean for Academic Programs, and the UNCW Graduate School. Any credit hours transferred must be approved upon admission to the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program.

6. What is the difference between a Ph.D. and an Ed.D. degree?

Both degrees are terminal degrees-i.e., the highest degree attainable in a given field of study. A Ph.D. degree in Education is a Doctorate of Philosophy in Education; an Ed.D. degree 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 and Administration Doctoral Program is an Ed.D. program that requires a dissertation focused on applied research that will benefit educational practitioners and audiences.

7. What jobs will this degree prepare me to do?

As a terminal degree, the Ed.D. prepares graduates for a variety of leadership roles in the community, PreK-12 system, higher education, and private sector. Specific career possiblities depend on the graduate's experience and expertise. For a glimpse at current graduates, see the Where Are Our Graduates webpage

8. How long does it take to complete the program?

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 five 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.

9. What coursework is required for the program?

Please see Program Course Requirements.

10. What are the specifics of the three internships?

Please see Internships and Directed Independent Study

11. What are hybrid courses?

Hybrid courses include both face-to-face and online instruction. All of the required program courses include some online instruction. The percentage of online instruction varies across courses depending on the nature of course content-i.e., some courses will include more online instruction than others and select courses may be fully online.

12. What is a cohort model?

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 all 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.

13. When are new students admitted to the program?

Applications received by May 15 will be considered for August enrollment. New students are only admitted in the Fall semester; we do not admit students mid-year (e.g., Spring). Please see our Welcome Page for information about admissions for the next cohort group.

14. How many students do you admit to the program?

Current cohort group sizes range from fifteen to twenty students. We anticipate that future cohort group sizes will fall within this range.

15. What are the admissions requirements?

Please see Admissions Requirements.

16. How much does tuition cost?

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

17. If I am not a North Carolina resident, how can I establish residency?

Please see Residency Information.

18. Who should I contact for financial aid information?

Please see the UNCW Financial Aid Office.

19. Are Graduate Assistantships available?

There are Graduate Assistantships available in the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in the Department of EL and the Watson College of Education for which doctoral students may apply. 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.

20. How many classes or credits should I or could I take during a semester?

The program supports working professionals and it is assumed students can only successfully take 6 credits, or 2 classes, at a time. Students who choose to go full-time can take 9 credits, however, they will need to monitor their progress carefully, with their advisor, to make sure they can get the courses they need for graduation. We do not recommend students "load up" on courses to get through the program quickly. The level of reading and writing is too intense for students to take more than 6 credits in a semester. During the summer, the semester is compressed to only 4.5 weeks, with 2 summer sessions. Students trying to take more than 6 credits across both semesters may not be successful. The only exception is registration for internships in the summer. One internship can be taken in the summer, for an additional 2 credits, regardless of when the internship was completed. Part-time students need, and will not be given, permission to take more than 6 credits during one semester, with the exception of students taking internship credits in the summer.

21. Who should I contact for more information about the program?

For more information about the program, contact the Program Coordinator for the concentration of interest: 

Dr. Donna DeGennaro
Leadership in Curriculum and Instruction Concentration

Dr. Marsha Carr
Leadership in Educational Administration Concentration

Dr. Kevin McClure
Leadership in Higher Education Concentration