Graduate (Ed.D.) | Spalding University Catalog

Graduate (Ed.D.)

The Spalding University Ed. D.: Leadership Program offers an interdisciplinary, practical doctoral degree that prepares organizational leaders in a variety of fields with the knowledge and skills to advance for-profit and not-for-profit organizations with rigorous cutting-edge research and collaborative study to impact the world of policy and evidence-based practice. The program’s integrated and flexible format for instruction promotes best practices in business, social services, the arts and higher education for advanced-degree students. It offers applicable, dynamic learning to transform participants into mindful, ethical leaders who are exemplary practitioners of organizational research, extraordinary team builders, and drivers of change and innovation.

This 60-credit hour, fully accredited program of full-time study culminates in a terminal degree. Students take ten 6-credit-hour hybrid courses and complete a capstone project focused on creating and executing an original leadership study based on the knowledge and skills they have gained in their doctoral coursework and designed to complement Spalding University’s mission to “meet the needs of the times” by contributing to contemporary leadership scholarship. The program is intended to be competed in 2 ½ years without career interruption. Participants take two courses, consecutively, during each fall and spring semester. They do not take courses during the summer.

Key features of this program are that it:


  • Encourages students to cultivate personal excellence:  Participants nurture their aspirations and untapped potential at an institution that has an outstanding reputation for academic excellence, personalized education, and a legacy of service.
  • Offers an accelerated course delivery model that combines the convenience of on-line learning with 22 hours of face-to-face learning with cohort members in each class:  Participants begin each class with a 2 ½-day weekend, on-campus, immersion learning experience in which instructors, guest speakers and organizational partners imitate conversations for future reflections and discussions.
  • Offers a cutting-edge curriculum:  Participants engage in study that is of practical and immediate relevance as they engage in courses led by doctorally prepared instructors who are also practicing organizational leaders and as they research and analyze a contemporary leadership issue for their capstone project and write an article for a peer-reviewed journal based on that project.
  • Complements instruction with renowned guest speakers:  Participants engage with organizational leaders who offer real-world learning opportunities.
  • Mission-Driven:  Participants engage with a program that is rooted in Spalding University’s core mission of inspiring a diverse community of learners to meet the needs of the times through championing quality learning, diversity and ethical leadership.

A master’s or professional degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0 or higher is a prerequisite for admission. Standardized test scores from graduate school entrance exams are not required for admission. However, TOEFL scores are required for those for whom English is a second language. Additional admission requirements include:

  • Completion of a Spalding University application and payment of a $30.00 non-refundable application fee.
  • Submission of official transcripts from all previously attended institutions of higher education. Applicants must have a transcript from each institution they have attended, even if for only one credit hour of coursework and even if that credit hour appears on another transcript as a transfer credit, sent directly to Spalding University.
  • An in-person interview with the director and faculty of the Ed. D.: Leadership Program.
  • Three letters of professional recommendation sent directly to the program director by the letter writers.
  • Current resume or CV.
  • An on-the-spot critique of a journal article, and
  • A double-spaced essay of no more than five pages, but no less than three pages that provides a personal definition of exemplary behaviors of a leader. In addition, the candidate will state the rationale and purpose for pursuing this degree and will describe his or her long-term professional goals using examples of personal leadership in his or her workplace and community.

If the candidate is currently enrolled in a master’s degree program, she or he may still apply with the understanding that no doctoral class may be taken until the master’s degree is officially completed. Applications are reviewed to take into account the candidate’s skills and attributes to identify individuals who show potential for leadership in this program, as well as potential for organizational success.


Program Requirements
Program requirements include:

  • Satisfactory (a final grade of B or above in at least seven courses, no more than one grade of C, and two Capstone course grades of Pass) completion of ten 6-credit-hour courses.
  • Submission of an approved written capstone project (a scholarly article that describes and discusses the student’s capstone project and findings to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal).
  • Successful oral defense of findings from the student’s capstone project research.

All 60 credit hours in the Ed. D.: Leadership Program must be taken at Spalding University.

Two grades of C, or one grade of F, will result in automatic dismissal from the program and the University. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in all courses must be maintained. No grades below the grade of C will be accepted as transfer credit in any graduate program.


Ed. D.: Leadership Program candidates must complete the program within 18 months of completing EDD 921C2, Leadership Capstone 2.


Ed. D.: Leadership Program Courses and Course Sequence with Student Learning Outcomes, Program Learning Outcomes

Year 1: Fall

New Student Orientation   Credits: 0

One (1) Day on Campus


EDD 901 Leadership Theories and Academic Writing and Research   Credits: 6

Central to this course is acquiring skills as leadership competencies and learning current and historical leadership styles and strategies. Through reading, discussion, and brief inventories, students recognize and analyze leadership theories and their practical application and assess personal leadership characteristics and behaviors to lead to students’ growth as leaders. Students also evaluate and discuss leadership case studies that promote critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.  In addition, this course assists in preparing students for Ed. D.: Leadership Program success through their acquisition of academic writing and presentation skills and by introducing scholarship as an approach to learning and as an academic product with practical applications. Students are introduced to American Psychological Association (APA) style, a program requirement for written assignments. They learn how to conduct database research; to critique empirical articles, books, and other pertinent material; and to construct an academic literature review. Students also analyze a case study to identify and articulate the underlying leadership problem(s).


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify leadership theories and their philosophical origins.
  • Articulate the advantages and drawbacks of each theory from the viewpoints of all organizational constituents, including leaders and followers.
  • Analyze how leadership as a practice and as a discipline has evolved, especially in the Western world, recognize leaders’ governance styles, as manifested by their decision making and behavior, and analyze the effects of these styles on all constituents related to the leaders’ organizations.
  • Demonstrate the ability to think critically about traits essential to ethical, responsible, and successful leadership in the age of accelerations.
  • Assess and refresh personal leadership style as an ongoing practice.
  • Embed new ways of teaching and learning within an organization and develop strategies that mitigate and/or remove barriers to learning.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking, reading, and creative problem-solving skills.
  • Produce academic writing formatted in American Psychological Association (APA) style.
  • Understand elements of basic research and conduct database research.
  • Distinguish scholarly from popular research in order to comprehend and critique empirical research.
  • Conduct literature reviews.


EDD 902 Systems Theory and Leadership   Credits: 6

This course focuses on the interdisciplinary study of systems and on the systemic thinking 21st-century leaders must adopt to lead effectively in a diverse world and global economy. Students learn how current emphasis on the interdependence of individuals, groups, structures, and processes contrasts sharply with the 19th- and early 20th-century philosophy that individuals and organizations thrive as independent agents. Students also analyze a case study to identify and articulate the underlying leadership problem(s).

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and articulate traits of an ethical and effective leader from a systems perspective.
  • Recognize and discuss the systemic nature of institutions and organizations.
  • Recognize and discuss the systemic nature of leadership.
  • Evaluate and analyze leadership issues from a systems theory perspective.


Year 1: Spring

EDD 903 Global Leadership in Local and Transnational Contexts   Credits: 6

This course emphasizes how systemic analysis of organizations and systemic issues studied in EDD 902 apply to the inextricable connection between local, regional, national, and international issues and events. Students focus on organizations and places as perpetually constructed and reconstructed processes, just as students learn to identify global concerns in local contexts. In addition, students identify leaders’ responsibilities to respond practically and locally to such global, power-related issues as justice and inequality, and they gain experience in how and when to apply diverse leadership styles and strategies. By studying corporate sustainability initiatives, including the United Nations Global Compact, as well as responsible global business models, students create business models that promote positive social change. Students also analyze a case study to identify and articulate the underlying leadership problem(s).


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Recognize organizations, places, and globalization as perpetually constructed and reconstructed processes.
  • Identify regionalism as essential to transnational and global inquiries.
  • Focus on global concerns through a local lens.
  • Recognize and analyze connections between regional and national conflicts and global transformations.
  • Demonstrate how local organizations and communities are inextricably linked to national and international policies and practices.
  • Identify leaders’ responsibilities as local change agents in a global environment.
  • Assess the impact various leadership styles and strategies have on global organizational issues and discern best leadership practices for problem solving.
  • Identify global systemic issues that impact leadership and respond with socially responsible organizational methodologies, models, and plans.


EDD 904 Leading Innovative and Creative Change Across the Organization and Within the Community   Credits: 6

This course examines effective, ethical, creative, and transformative ways of implementing organizational and community change. The student learns how a leader can drive and shape an organization to embrace, foster, and promote individual and collective innovation. Further, the student explores skills and strategies to systematize operations and confirm digital access and appropriate infrastructure for an organization to thrive in a global marketplace. In addition, through written and other forms of assessment, the student demonstrates accountability in the mindful use and application of transformative processes, just as the student learns strategic planning, the importance of teambuilding, and the significance of creating partnerships. Students also analyze a case study to identify and articulate the underlying leadership problem(s).


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and articulate how to strategically, effectively, and ethically respond to a need for change.
  • Identify the elements and appropriate uses of strategic planning.
  • Devise and articulate strategies for building teams and creating partnerships.
  • Create an interdisciplinary blueprint of principles, a professional development library, strategies, and approaches, as well as resources, to increase innovation and creativity within an organization, as well as to incorporate innovation and creativity into existing or proposed initiatives using an appropriate level of risk.
  • Demonstrate delegation and accountability skills when requiring innovation and creativity.
  • Establish standards for evaluating innovation and creativity.


Year 2: Fall

EDD 905 Ethical Leadership   Credits: 6

This course promotes a global understanding of the philosophical and civic traditions of leadership as the ethical construct of diverse practices in myriad organizations, institutions, and societies. The student gains greater awareness of the cultural contradictions that influence contemporary organizations, especially in U.S. society, and learns to identify Western views of morality, as well as ethical business practices, in a competitive and diverse world marketplace. This course also focuses on ethical, mindful, and legal decision making based on compliance, regulations and customs in a global marketplace, and the student demonstrates his or her learning via written assessments, oral presentations and other appropriate means of evaluation. This course moves away from the traditional construct of leadership as the manifestation of a single role and instead explores the more substantive concept of leaders’ relationships to internal and external constituents, as well as to cultural mores and constraints. In this course students also enroll in and complete the required research ethics online course and must pass the assessment related to the course.  Students must pass the quiz to pass EDD 905. Students also analyze a case study to identify and articulate the underlying leadership problem(s).


Upon Completion of This Course, Students Will Be Able to:

  • Recognize, comprehend, and apply current ethical leadership practices and behaviors in various types of organizations.
  • Identify leadership models and demonstrate knowledge and acquisition of the skills to create a dynamic and inspirational culture in the workplace.
  • Articulate the potentially huge benefits of these leadership models in the workplace.
  • Overcome the barriers to employing these models.
  • Analyze leadership issues and situations to identify and articulate ethical and legal solutions.
  • Differentiate organizational policies/regulations using the frameworks of justice, compassion, community and the law.
  • Pass the research ethics online course.


EDD 906 Creating Cultural Awareness and Appreciating Cultural Differences in Diverse, Global Organizations and in Intercultural Communication   Credits: 6

Leaders in diverse, global organizations must develop an increasingly sophisticated awareness and understanding of cultural differences, just as leaders must advance their own and others’ communication abilities to appreciate and negotiate intercultural variances among organizational constituents and in international exchanges. This course focuses on identifying and transcending the complexities inherent in conducting intercultural communication between diverse individuals, institutions, and nations. Students also analyze a case study in which they identify and articulate the underlying leadership problem(s).


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate awareness and understanding of intercultural similarities and differences between individuals, institutions, and nations and identify best practices for negotiating and transcending communication barriers that can result from diverse perspectives and practices.
  • Articulate and argue critical organizational, educational, business, and political issues and situations from multiple perspectives and provide logical reasons and evidence to support each claim.
  • Create a detailed plan to educate organizational constituents to be effective, ethical intercultural and cross-cultural communicators and negotiators.


Year 2: Spring

EDD 907 Identifying and Analyzing Organizational Issues   Credits: 6

Students analyze actual local and global issues and organizational problems to identify underlying leadership issues, as well as to develop research protocols and arguments focused on helping to resolve those issues. Students are challenged to think critically to construct cogent analyses based on their knowledge of leadership theories and systems theory, as well as on their understanding of place as process. By the conclusion of the course, students identify a preliminary capstone project topic that meets the capstone project requirements outlined in the Spalding University Ed. D.: Leadership Handbook and in the Spalding University Catalog.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Critically examine leadership issues to hypothesize their underlying origin.
  • Conduct a literature review to focus on resolving one leadership issue.
  • Articulate their own research question and critically assess their own and their classmates’ preliminary research questions.
  • Outline a research plan that may help solve the problem.


EDD 908 Research Methodology and Problem Solving   Credits: 6

The purpose of this course is to educate doctoral-level students in the use of the scientific approach in research and to ensure informed decision making grounded in empirical research. By critiquing research studies, students develop the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes that characterize the disciplined researcher who conducts and applies qualitative, quantitative, and/or mixed-method studies. This course challenges students to think systematically-yet-creatively about inquiry and about how inquiry aligns with an organization’s foundational design and performance-improvement principles. Research Methodology and Problem Solving also promotes inquiry that informs ways in which leaders conceive, develop, implement, and evaluate interventions (programs, products, systems, and aids) to achieve organizational goals and objectives.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Articulate an overview of the research process.
  • Further explore qualitative, quantitative, and mixed research methods and think critically and creatively about which research methods are best suited to investigate specific research questions and why they are best suited to do so.
  • Write and submit their research proposal for Capstone Committee approval.
  • Secure preliminary approval from partnering organization to conduct research or to work with that organization’s previously collected data.
  • Write and submit to Spalding University’s Research Ethics Committee (REC) an application to conduct research.


Year 3: Fall

EDD 920C1 Leadership Capstone I   Credits: 6

In this course, students who have received unconditional approval from Spalding University’s Research Ethics Committee to conduct research for their capstone project and who also have received approval from the organization(s) in which they intend to conduct research collect, group, treat, and interpret data, as well as analyze that data, to identify major themes and inform future organizational practice.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Logically interpret and analyze data.
  • Identify and articulate the importance and implications of the data for future policy and practice.


EDD 921C2 Leadership Capstone II   Credits: 6

In this course, students complete their data analysis and write, as well as revise as necessary, a scholarly article to be submitted first to the Spalding University Ed. D. Capstone Project Committee and then to a peer-reviewed scholarly journal in the field of leadership or in another discipline. During the face-to-face component of the class, students present the capstone leadership project in final written form and defend their research, analysis, and recommendation in an oral presentation accompanied by digital media. During the defense, students provide answers to the research questions posed in the study, link the findings to relevant research, discuss implications of the findings, indicate strengths and limitations of the study, and make recommendations for future research.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Produce a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal article that describes and discusses the student’s capstone study and findings.
  • Orally and with digital media, conduct a 30-minute presentation of the research and results (the Capstone Defense Presentation) relative to the student’s project.
  • Provide a summary of how the student obtained the information regarding the theme/focus.
  • Demonstrate appropriate use of statistical and qualitative language when discussing measurements.
  • Explain how the data were analyzed.
  • Summarize and represent the data that have been collected according to Spalding University guidelines.
  • Offer conclusions and summaries regarding the findings according to Spalding University guidelines.


    * In addition to the Ed. D.: Leadership Program’s 10 6-credit-hour courses, students may take advantage of attending the three annual Spalding University Ed. D.: Leadership Program Abramson Leadership Forums co-sponsored by Leadership Louisville’s Ignite Louisville Program and the Young Professionals Association of Louisville (YPAL). These 2-hour forums held in the spring, summer, and fall of each year and coordinated by Spalding University’s Executive-in-Residence, former 5-term Louisville Mayor, Kentucky Lieutenant Governor, and Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Jerry Abramson will focus on discussions of dynamic leadership issues with regional, state, and national leaders.


Ed. D.: Leadership Program Learning Outcomes

Upon Completion of This Program, Graduates Will:

  • Demonstrate expertise in incorporating and applying interdisciplinary, diverse and global leadership best practices, which will enhance the ability of their organization to compete in a diverse, transnational environment.
  • Apply insights gained from courses and studies to address diverse and global workplace challenges in the age of accelerations.
  • Leverage interdisciplinary cohort collaboration and team-building skills to become exemplary leaders.
  • Create an interdisciplinary culture of risk taking, change and critical and creative thinking that will propel their organization to engage employees in continuous organizational improvement.
  • Align employee actions with organization goals and objectives through effective communication and accountability measures.
  • Demonstrate diverse leadership skills for effective employee engagement, recruitment, and retention.
  • Establish a competitive advantage by embracing and identifying a variety of technological solutions to organizational challenges.
  • Identify, articulate, and logically argue leadership issues from diverse perspectives, including their own, and identify and analyze the underlying leadership issues at the root of specific organizational problems.
  • Apply multidisciplinary teaching techniques to transform thinking, behavior, and workplace performance.
  • Complete and successfully execute all components of a Capstone Committee-approved capstone project. 


Program Sheets
Doctor of Education: Leadership