Graduate (Ed.D.)

The Spalding University Ed.D: Leadership Program is an interdisciplinary program that prepares 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 capstone project may focus on a research question that directly applies to the researcher’s place of employment or to the needs of a partnering community or global organization. The Ed.D: 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 capstone experience, 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 capstone project is understanding and solving a real-world organizational or public policy 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 a hybrid 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 capstone experience 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. 


Individuals seeking admission to Spalding University’s Ed.D.: Leadership Program may apply to the program year round, but the application deadline for admission to the cohort that launches in August each year is the preceding May 15. Applications received after that date will be considered for admission to the cohort that begins doctoral studies in August of the following calendar year. The Spalding University Ed.D.: Leadership Program Admission Committee meets twice annually—in early February and in late May—to evaluate applications. Spalding University notifies applicants of the Admission Committee’s decision shortly thereafter.
Applicants to Spalding University’s Ed.D.: Leadership Program must submit and complete the following for admission consideration:

  1. 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:
  2. A Spalding University application, accompanied by a nonrefundable application fee check in the amount of $30.00 made out to Spalding University, to *Dr. Linda LaPinta, Director, Ed.D. Leadership Program, Spalding University, 901 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40203.
  3. An official transcript from every post-secondary institution the applicant has attended, even if credit earned at one academic institution was transferred to another academic institution or if the applicant did not earn a degree at an institution in which the applicant was enrolled for even 1 credit hour. Official transcripts must be stamped with the word official and must be sent directly from the educational institutions the applicant attended to Spalding University. Official transcripts are not transcripts issued to the applicant, even if the transcripts are sealed and stamped official. If an applicant earned previous degrees at Spalding University, the applicant needs to list those degrees but does not have to pay to have those official transcripts sent to the same university. Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on each master’s or professional degree they have earned.
  4. Three professional letters of recommendation sent directly from the letter writers to Dr. Linda LaPinta at the address noted above or at
  5. The applicant’s current resume or curriculum vitae.
  6. An essay in which the applicant details his or her experience with leadership as a concept and with leading as a practice and in which the applicant indicates what she or he would hope to gain personally and professionally by earning a doctorate in leadership.
  7. A personal interview with Spalding University’s Ed.D.: Leadership Program director and members of Spalding University’s Ed.D.: Leadership Program Admission Committee.
  8. A post-interview, on-the-spot, written critique of a journal article.

The objective of the members of Spalding University’s Ed.D.: Leadership Admission Committee is to admit students to the program who exhibit the knowledge, maturity, and communication skills to succeed academically and professionally as doctoral- and executive-level leaders in a variety of fields. Committee members seek professionally experienced students who exhibit disciplinary depth and who also demonstrate the ability to grow as scholars and leaders by acquiring interdisciplinary breadth. In addition, committee members admit students who exhibit the critical thinking and analytical skills necessary to evaluate issues and ideas; to think systemically; and to conduct original, scholarly research. To that end, Ed.D.: Leadership Admission Committee members each evaluate every component of a prospective student’s application according to a rubric numbered 1 to 5 with 1 constituting poor performance or comprehension and 5 representing excellent performance or comprehension. An applicant must earn an average of 4 out of 5 points on every component of his or her application to be considered for admission. If an applicant receives an evaluation of 1 on any component of the application from even one member of the Admission Committee, that applicant is no longer considered for admission to the program. *All admissions materials should be sent directly to Dr. LaPinta.

Program Requirements

Program requirements include:

  • Satisfactory (a final grade of B or above) completion of 10 6-credit-hour courses.
  • Submission of an approved capstone project article that the student submits to a peer-reviewed journal.
  • 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: Ed.D: Leadership candidates who entered the program in or after the 2015-2016 academic year must complete the program within 18 months of completing EDD 921C2 Leadership Capstone II.

Ed. D.: Leadership Program Courses and Course Sequence with Student Learning Outcomes, Program Learning Outcomes (Revised April 2018)

Year 1: Fall
New Student Orientation Credits: 0
One (1) Day on Campus

EDD 901 Leadership and Academic Writing and Research Credits: 6
Central to this course is acquiring skills as leadership competencies and learning current leadership styles and strategies. Through reading, discussion, and brief inventories, students will assess personal leadership characteristics and behaviors, which can lead them to grow as leaders. Students will evaluate and discuss leadership case studies that promote critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. The course will help prepare students for Ed. D.: Leadership Program success through academic writing and presentation skills, by introducing scholarship as an approach to learning and as an academic product with practical applications. Students will be introduced to American Psychological Association (APA) style, a program requirement for written assignments. They will learn how to conduct database research; to critique empirical articles, books, and other pertinent material; and to construct an academic literature review.

Upon Completion of This Course, Students Will Be Able to:
• Assess and refresh personal leadership style as an ongoing practice.
• Embed new ways of teaching and learning within an organization.
• 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.
• Conduct database research.
• Conduct literature reviews.
• Understand elements of basic research.
• Distinguish scholarly from popular research in order to comprehend and critique empirical research.

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.

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 Leadership Theory: Historical Perspectives in the Age of Accelerations Credits: 6
This course examines the history of leadership theory within the modern discipline of leadership, and also explores the philosophical origins of essential leadership theories. In addition, this course requires students to recognize and analyze leadership styles of legendary human and literary leaders, just as it emphasizes practices necessary for successful, sustainable leadership in the age of accelerations.

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 an entity and 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’ organization.
• Demonstrate the ability to think critically about traits essential to ethical, responsible, and successful leadership in the age of accelerations.

EDD 904 Leading Change Across the Organization and Within the Community Credits: 6
This course examines effective and ethical methods of implementing organizational and community change, with an emphasis on strategic planning, teambuilding, and creating partnerships. Student learning is evaluated via writing assignments, oral presentations, and other appropriate assessments.

Upon Completion of This Course, Students Will Be Able to:
• Identify and articulate how to effectively respond to a need for change.
• Identify the elements and appropriate use of strategic planning.
• Devise and articulate strategies for building teams and creating partnerships.
• Identify strategic and ethical methods of leading organizational and community change.

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. 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 free, 3-hour National Institute of Health (NIH) research ethics online course by accessing the link and take a quiz related to each module of the course. Students must pass the quiz to pass EDD 905.

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 National Institute of Health Research Ethics online course.

EDD 906 Leading Innovation and Creativity in a Competitive Marketplace Credits: 6
This course focuses on how a leader, by employing interdisciplinary approaches, can drive and shape an organization to embrace, foster, and promote collective creativity and 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. Through written and other forms of assessment, the student also demonstrates accountability in the mindful use and application of innovations.

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

• Create an interdisciplinary blueprint of principles, a professional development library, strategies, approaches, and resources to increase innovation and creativity within an organization.
• Incorporate innovation and creativity into existing or proposed initiatives.
• Demonstrate delegation and accountability skills when requiring innovation and creativity.
• Identify appropriate levels of risk when establishing innovative and creative initiatives.
• Establish standards for evaluating innovation and creativity.

Year 2: Spring
EDD 907 Applying Leadership Styles and Strategies to Global Organizational Issues Credits: 6
Students in this course are exposed to and learn how and when to apply diverse leadership styles and strategies. Students explore ways in which complex problems develop in the world and can be approached methodologically and ideologically, as well as investigate and explore resolutions to leaders’ complex challenges. Students study corporate sustainability initiatives, including the UN Global Compact, and responsible global business models that promote positive social change. They develop a business model using principles learned. Students demonstrate their learning and critical thinking via written assessments and oral presentations. In addition, students identify a preliminary capstone project topic that meets the capstone project topic requirements outlined in the Ed. D.: Leadership Handbook and the Spalding University Catalog, and students conduct a literature review in their capstone project area of interest.

Upon Completion of This Course, Students Will Be Able to:
• 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.
• Identify and articulate a research problem specific to an organization and frame appropriate associated research questions.
• Conduct a literature review of the identified research questions.
• Conduct a preliminary literature review in an area of leadership interest to demonstrate awareness and understanding of existing literature in the field and to identify gaps in the research, as well as additional research opportunities.

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 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.
• Create an executive summary based on the research and present the content of that executive summary to members of the organization on which that research is based.

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 or white paper 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. In addition, prior to the face-to-face instructional component of this course, students write and deliver—in conjunction with conducting an oral presentation for the organization on which the students’ capstone project and executive summary are based—an executive summary of their research findings.

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 OR an internal white paper with a timeline/ description for dissemination to be submitted to the organization with which the student has worked.
• 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.

Program Sheets
Doctor of Education: Leadership Education