Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Program Objectives

Those students completing the degree requirements for the EdS or EdD will have met the academic requirements necessary for a Montana Class III Administrative license with a Superintendent endorsement. Additionally, the Educational Leadership Program at Montana State University offers the Montana School Superintendent Certificate Program for students who already hold a Master's degree and Principal Licensure.

Program Flow

The Educational Leadership program courses are offered using blended delivery methods. Blended courses use a combination of distance delivery and face-to-face meetings. Many EdD program courses are blended such that the class meets for face-to-face instruction one weekend a month and online during the weeks in between meetings.

After admission to the EdD program, the applicant will be assigned a temporary advisor and should then meet with his/her assigned advisor. Actual courses taken during the initial stage will be based on the student's previous academic work and advisor/committee approval.

Program of Study

Program of Study

 Course Number Course                                                                                                                                                                            Credits 

Doctoral Core                                                                                                                                                 12 

EDCI 604 Advanced Educational Psychology                                                                                                 3
EDLD 610 Ldrshp and Organizational Thry                                                                                                     3
EDLD 630 Supervision & Instruct Ldrshp                                                                                                        3
EDLD 657 Ed Policy & Politics                                                                                                                        3

Superintendent Certification Required Courses   OR Electives                                                                12 

EDLD 620 The School Superintendent                                                                                                            3
EDLD 645 Personnel and Collective Bargaining in MT                                                                                    3
EDLD 650 MT Finance & Facilities                                                                                                                   3
EDLD 655 MT Legal & Policy Studies                                                                                                              3

Research Required Core                                                                                                                                15 
EDU 600 Doctoral Seminar                                                                                                                              3
EDU 602 Educational Statistics II                                                                                                                     3
EDU 610 Qualitative Educational Research                                                                                                     3 
EDU 607 Quantitative Educational Research                                                                                                   3
EDU 650  Dissertation Seminar                                                                                                                        3

Dissertation Credits                                                                                                                                         15 
EDU 690 Doctoral Thesis                                                                                                                                   15

Doctoral Core Courses (15 credits) choose from the following15
Advanced Educational Psychology
Leadership and Organizational Theory
Supervision & Instructional Leadership
Leading Social Justice
Education Policy & Politics
Special Topics
Critical Race Theory
Planning Program Assessment
Superintendent Certification Required Courses (15 credits)15
Field Experience in Educational Leadership
The School Superintendent
Personnel and Collective Bargaining in MT
MT Finance & Facilities
MT Legal & Policy Studies
NOTE: If a student already possesses superintendent licensure they may choose from other electives to be determined by the student and their chair
Research Required Core Courses (15 credits)15
Doctoral Seminar
Educational Statistics II
Qualitative Educational Research
Quantitative Educational Research
Dissertation Seminar
Dissertation Credits (15 credits)15
Doctoral Thesis
Total Credits60


Each doctoral student's committee must consist of at least four approved members. The chair and one other approved member must be from the Educational Leadership faculty. Two other approved members will be selected based upon their ability to contribute to the student's studies leading up to and through the dissertation research. These two committee members must have academic credentials in the area of the student's program of study and be approved by the Head of the Department of Education and Dean of the Graduate School.


The student should carefully select a chair after thorough conversations with the Educational Leadership faculty members that he/she believes might have an interest in his/her doctoral research and/or the ability to work with him/her towards generating a defensible dissertation. The committee as a whole is subject to approval by the Head of the Department of Education. The chair will advise students in selecting committee members and in understanding the dissertation process. The chair and at least one committee member will be the primary readers of the dissertation as it is being written. The importance of selecting the right chair cannot be overstated. However, chairs and members of the student's committee are subject to change. In addition, revision to the program of study can be made during the course of study with the committee's approval.

Comprehensive Examinations

Comprehensive examinations are required for completion of all EdD degrees in Educational Leadership. Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of the program of study and the ability to interact with the research in that area. Students should refer to The Graduate School's Policies and Procedures web page and the Department of Education Graduate Handbook at for more detailed information on comprehensive exams.

After completion of at least two thirds of the required coursework, EdD students will complete a written comprehensive exam. The exam is completed in writing and then orally defended in front of the entire Graduate Committee. Through the comprehensive exam, students will be expected to demonstrate: 1) the ability to integrate concepts from courses into a holistic viewpoint; 2) the ability to apply material to anticipated real-life situations based on the theoretical principles and concepts covered in classes; 3) the ability to critically read, analyze, and critique research; and 4) a readiness to move forward to create their own research.

Generally, there are two primary question areas: 1) Identification of a topic with the potential to contribute to the literature in Educational Leadership, and a critical evaluation of the research on that topic; and 2) Design a research project on the topic of interest. Students will be expected to demonstrate a mastery of aspects of both qualitative and quantitative projects (such as sampling, validity, reliability, data analysis).

Mode of Course Delivery

Doctoral level courses are offered in a variety of modalities including face-to-face in-person courses, synchronous online learning, and a combination of both.  

Additional Doctor of Education Requirements

The Doctor of Education degree must meet the minimum requirements in the For Doctoral Students section of the Graduate School's website. Additional requirements for the EdD degree beyond these minimums are available through the Department of Education.  All EdD degree candidates are expected to be familiar with both The Graduate School's degree requirements and Department of Education degree requirements listed on the program's website.

Contact Information

Dr. Jason Cummins, Assistant Professor and Program Leader

Dr. Bill Ruff, Professor 
406-994-4182 Email:

Application Process for the EdD in Educational Leadership

*Prior to applying for an Educational Leadership EdD program, applicants must have a Master's degree in education or a related topic, have gained at least three years teaching experience as a certified or licensed teacher, and possess a 3.0 undergraduate gpa. Those applicants who do not hold an administrative license will be required to take principal preparation coursework as prerequisites to many doctoral courses.

Applicants are required to complete the online application and submit the following documentation via the Graduate School Online Application System. Prior to applying to the Educational Leadership doctoral program applicants must hold a Master's degree.

  1. Completed Graduate School Application
  2. Academic Transcripts: Applicants must provide official transcripts verifying all Bachelors degree and Masters degree coursework (as well as confirmation of bachelor’s and master's degree earned) from the applicant's certifying university. Unofficial transcripts may be uploaded during the application process. Official electronic transcripts may be emailed directly from the Institution to or  Transcripts may also be mailed to the Department of Education Graduate Programs Office, 215 Reid Hall, PO Box 172880, Montana State University, 59717. Transcripts from a degree awarded through MSU do not need to be provided. NOTE: We require an undergraduate and graduate GPA of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale). Transcripts will be evaluated for rigor and academic fit. 
  3. Personal Essay: Suggested length is 2-3 typed, double-spaced pages. The applicant should briefly describe the following
    1. Education and other educational professional experiences
    2. Research interests and experience including alignment with faculty interests and expertise and an example of research experiences using educational theory, research methods, and application.
    3. Professional goals
  4. Writing Sample: Please upload a selected example of writing that demonstrates academic potential such as an artifact that highlights your interests, strengths, context and goals/desires more conducive to holistic review.
  5. Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  6. Three (3) letters of recommendation:  (NOTE:  At least one of the three letters must be from the candidate's PRESENT direct supervisor in his/her educational field.) The letters should be from individuals qualified to assess the following.
    1. Knowledge in chosen field
    2. Motivation and perseverance toward goals
    3. Ability to work independently
    4. Ability to express thoughts in speech and writing
    5. Ability/potential for college teaching
    6. Ability to plan and conduct research
  7. For International Applicants ONLY: Please visit the Graduate School International Application Process website for application submission information. 

Application Deadline

Below is the deadline by which all of application materials for the EdD in Educational Leadership must be submitted via the online application system. Students matriculate into the EdD program in the fall semester only. Applications to the EdD programs are reviewed once per year at the April 1st deadline. Applications received after the deadline may be reviewed for acceptance on a case-by-case basis.

  • Fall Semester:  April 1st

* An early review deadline of February 1st has been set for those applicants wanting to be considered for Graduate Assistantships. Applications must be complete for an early review. A student must be accepted to an education program before requesting a Department of Education Graduate Assistantship.  Graduate Assistantships require students to work on campus 19 hours per week.  For further information regarding teaching assistantships visit webpage:

Admission Process

Complete applications will be reviewed by members of the Graduate Admissions Committee who then convene to make final admission decisions. Once a decision has been made the application will be forwarded to The Graduate School for final administrative processing.  Please note that the application review process will begin at the close of the application deadline and not before. We strongly suggest that doctoral applicants contact faculty with whom their planned research would align.  This will assist us in identifying an appropriate advisor for program applicants and provide us an opportunity to get to know about you.  E-mail addresses of our professors are listed on the Faculty and Staff Directory:

Contact Information

Graduate Program Assistant
PO Box 172880, Reid Hall 215
Department of Education, Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717-2880 
Phone: 406-994-6786 Email: