Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership



admissions requirements

  • Masters degree from an accredited institution, indicated on an official transcript.
  • An overall grade point average of at least 3.0 for all graduate work undertaken beyond the bachelor’s degree.
  • Official transcripts as required by WMU.
  • Career and professional goals written narrative in which an applicant describes their professional goals, and how this doctoral program fits with those goals.
  • Graduate reference forms completed by the different individuals who can address an applicant’s ability to successfully complete doctoral-level work.
  • A professional curriculum vitae or resume.


"My studies gave me exposure to real- world research, which has made me much more confident in seeking a career in this field."Johnny Edwards, Ph.D. Student and Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Portage Public Schools (read more)


Program overview

Due to the increasingly complex tasks including research and data analysis within all types of educational institutions, there is a demand for strong, transformational leaders.

Applying theory to practice is an overall theme for the Doctor of Philosophy in educational leadership, with the case-study approach to learning used extensively. In addition to a small number of concentration related courses, an integrated "professional inquiry, research, and dissertation core" has been developed to increase the likelihood that students complete a Ph.D. rather than adding to the number of "all-but-dissertations" (ABD's) that exist in academia.

The EDLD concentrations require a minimum of 60 graduate credits, including 12 dissertation credits. If you are a working professional and able to take two classes per semester you can complete your doctoral work, including dissertation, in about 3.5 – 4 years.


Why educational leadership at Western Michigan University?

  • 100% of WMU educational leadership graduates were employed or continuing education within three months of graduation.
  • Students are encouraged to pursue additional educational opportunities through one of our many excellent study abroad programs.
  • Customize your degree with an optional WMU Signature Designation.

Application information

The admissions deadline for students hoping to start the program Fall 2023 (or summer if requested) is January 15, 2023. The admissions application process is completely online. If you wish to be considered for department funding as a graduate assistant (GA or DGA), please complete the application by the stated deadline.

The EDLD PhD Program will offer a second admissions cycle this year (for students who wish to start their doctoral program in fall 2023) with an application deadline  March 3, 2023; interviews will be held March 30 and April 3. Applicants will be notified about final decisions no later than April 11. Please note that this second admissions cycle is only for students who do NOT need funding for their first year (2023-24); all deadlines for funding will have passed, and monies already allocated. 

EDLD has permanently suspended the GRE requirement as an admission requirement. Be aware that there may be additional requirements during the admissions review to provide supplemental information about applicant's preparedness to be in a doctoral program.

Resources for current students (including multi-year course offering plans)

For program information visit the current educational leadership Ph.D. students page.


For more information about graduate or doctoral assistantships visit the graduate assistantships page or contact the Interim Department Chair, Dr. David Szabla.

Meet some of our students

** As of March 2023, we are no longer accepting applications for this concentration; interested students are encouraged to consider the Ph.D. in Education and Human Development - Workforce Education and Development Concentration

Cost & Funding

Helpful links