Graduate (Ed.D.)

The Spalding University Doctorate in Leadership Program is an interdisciplinary program that prepares, in two separate tracks (Executive and Scholar-Practitioner), senior and mid-management 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 both business and higher education for advanced-degree students by offering applicable, dynamic learning that permits students to engage in one course at a time without career interruption. Program partnering organizations complement Spalding instruction with guest speakers and real-world learning opportunities. The dissertation, which a student may choose to co-author with a cohort member, may focus on a research question that directly applies to the researcher’s place of employment or to the needs of a partnering community organization. The Leadership Program is designed to transform participants into leaders who are exemplary practitioners of organizational research, extraordinary culture and team builders, drivers of change and innovation, and models of entrepreneurship, who are also influential in global communications, compassionate, and mindful.

The program is a 60-credit hour, fully accredited, interdisciplinary program of full-time study that culminates in a terminal degree.  It consists of 10 6-credit-hour courses, a dissertation, and an executive summary.  The program is intended to be completed in 2.5 years without career interruption. The hybrid instructional format is designed to support students' learning and professional needs.  Participants take two courses, consecutively, during each fall and spring semester. They do not take courses during the summer.  The hybrid learning format, which assures that students focus deeply on one topic at a time, combines:

  • Low residency: Each course includes a 2.5 day intensive learning experience on the Spalding University campus. The face-to-face immersion builds a collegial learning community and supports content that is best suited for in-person delivery.
  • Online learning: Each course also includes eight weeks of robust and highly interactive online study. 

The focus of the dissertation is understanding and solving a real-world workplace- or community-based issue. 

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 online learning complemented by 22 hours of face-to-face learning with cohort members in each class:  Participants earn a terminal degree in 2.5 years without career interruption. Each class begins with a two-and-one-half-day weekend, on-campus, immersion learning experience in which instructors and guest speakers initiate conversations that launch eight-week online reflections and discussions.
  • Offers a cutting-edge curriculum:  Participants are immersed in study that is of practical and immediate relevance as they forge a solution for a complex workplace or community challenge.
  • Practical Research:  Participants complete a practical, hands-on dissertation that integrates theory and practice into the student’s professional or community environment and that creates substantive, positive change.
  • Mission-Driven:  Participants engage with a program that is rooted in Spalding University’s core mission of service to others, compassion, and the promotion of peace and justice. 

The program description now applies to both tracks of the program. Differences in student experience in the two tracks of the program will not be in course content, course delivery, or student learning outcomes, but will be inherent in the particular assignments, guest speakers, and instructors selected to provide optimal learning to meet each group’s needs. 

Admission
Prior completion of a master’s or professional degree from a regionally accredited college or university is a pre-requisite 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
  • Submission of official transcripts from all previously attended institutions of higher education
  • An in-person interview with the director of the Doctoral Program in Leadership and Leadership Program faculty
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • 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 an executive 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) completion of 10 6-credit-hour courses.
  • Submission of an approved dissertation.
  • Successful oral defense of findings from the research.
  • Submission of an executive summary to the organization on which dissertation research is based.
  • A technology-assisted oral presentation of the executive summary to the leaders of the organization on which dissertation research is based.

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


Ed.D. in Leadership Education candidates (students who entered the program prior to the 2015-2016 academic year) must complete the program within a period of five years. A one-year extension may be granted upon written request to the Program Director. Extensions must be approved by the Dean and the Provost.  Ed.D.: Leadership candidates (students who entered the program in or after the 2015-2016 academic year) must complete the program within 18 months of completing EDD 922D3, Dissertation Seminar 3: Final Edit and Defense and Executive Summary Preparation and Presentation.

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 global economy.
  • Apply insights gained from courses and studies to address diverse and global workplace challenges.
  • Leverage interdisciplinary cohort collaboration and team-building skills to become exemplary executives.
  • 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.
  • Embrace the “Leader as Teacher” philosophy and apply multidisciplinary teaching techniques to transform thinking, behavior and workplace performance.
  • Complete and successfully defend a dissertation focused on the student’s workplace or on a partnering community organization.

Program Sheets
Doctor of Education: Leadership: Executive Track

Doctor of Education: Leadership: Scholar-Practitioner Track