Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership Application Requirements


Applications for the Doctor of Philosophy educational leadership program (including the four concentrations areas of K-12 leadership, higher education leadership, workforce education and development (formerly career technical education), and organizational analysis leadership) are normally only reviewed once a year and must be submitted by January 17 (for potential admission the following summer I, II, or fall semester).  

To be considered for Fall 2021 admissions, all application materials must be received by January 25.  Students must apply for this admissions cycle to be considered for regular department funding opportunities (such as graduate/doctoral assistantships) for Fall 2021.

Due to COVID-19 challenges, the GRE requirement temporarily suspended for all EDLD Ph.D. applicants for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Note: There are no "conditional admissions" for this Ph.D. program. Students must meet the minimum requirements noted below to be admitted to the program. 

Application procedure and requirements

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Within this online application applicants must include the following:

  1. A professional resume or curriculum vita
    • This must include a summary of the applicant’s leadership experience.
    • Applicants must have three years of professional career or leadership experience.
  2. General GRE scores (or GMAT scores) GRE requirement temporarily suspended for 2020-21 and 2021-22.
    • Applicants may self-report their General GRE scores and attach a copy of their unofficial scores within the online system. In addition, they must request that their official GRE scores be sent to WMU (code 1902).
    • Applicants must have scores within the 50th percentile or better for the GRE Verbal Reasoning, GRE Quantitative Reasoning and GRE Analytical Writing components. If applicants do not meet these minimums they must add a page within their written narrative that addresses this concern, describing how they would secure assistance with their writing and/or mathematical skills as needed to successfully complete the program, and justify why they should be considered for this program.
    • The official GRE scores must be received by WMU by the Jan. 17 application deadline. GRE tests are offered daily at these testing centers. It often takes several weeks to schedule a testing time and it takes at least three weeks for your results to be sent to the University. Applicants should keep this in mind when preparing their applications.
    • Note: A wavier from WMU’s Graduate Dean now allows applicants to submit GMAT scores and percentiles in lieu of GRE scores. All other requirements noted above, including the desired percentile ranks, are still in effect for such GMAT scores. 

  3. Three recommendations
    • These must be obtained from three different individuals in a position to address the applicant’s ability to successfully complete doctoral level work.
    • Applicants must request such recommendations from within the online system. The recommenders will respond via the online system as well.
    • Please be aware that references will only be sent an electronic request with an online link for the reference AFTER a student has submitted their application.  Therefore, do not wait until the last day to submit an application.  Additionally, it is a good idea to forewarn your references that the electronic reference request is coming, and needs to be submitted by the admissions deadline.
  4. A written narrative
    • Applicants must clearly describe their professional goals and how this doctoral program fits with those goals.
    • This narrative should be no more than four double-spaced pages and will be considered as a writing sample. It must also include information about GRE scores if they are below the minimum required (see GRE information above).
  5. Education history information
    • Applicants must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0 or better as indicated on an official transcript.
    • Applicants must submit an official transcript from the institution from which you received your Bachelor degree, as well as a transcript from institution(s) where any graduate level courses or degrees have been taken/completed.  Applicants are not required to submit an official transcript of courses taken/completed at Western Michigan University.
  6. English language proficiency scores (international applicants only)
    • As required by WMU, international applicants must provide proof of English competency, unless they have successfully completed either four years of upper secondary school or one year of full-time tertiary (university-level) education within specific countries (see here for the list of such countries).
    • English proficiency scores may be reported within the online application system and official scores must be sent to WMU (and received by the January 17 application deadline for this program).
    • Desired minimum English language proficiency scores for this Ph.D. include: 7.0 on IELTS; 233 on TOEFL (CBT), 577 on TOEFL (PBT), or a 90 on TOEFL (iBt), with the following minimum subscores on the TOEFL (iBT): 22 in reading, 20 in listening, 24 in speaking, and 24 in writing. Students not meeting these desired minimums may still apply for the program; however, lower scores will be a factor in the admissions decision.
    • Students not meeting these minimum desired scores may apply after having met the requirements for advanced-level students within WMU’s Center for English Language and Culture for International Students program (to be considered, students must pass all advanced-level classes with a final grade of “B” or better in each class). No conditional admissions are granted for potential applicants who are enrolled in, but have not yet successfully completed, the CELCIS program.

In order to be considered for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in educational leadership all required materials must be submitted within the online application system by the deadline.

Applicants will be selected based upon meeting the criteria and personal fit to the program goals and objectives. The total number of applicants accepted will depend upon the quality of individual applicants as well as available resources to support students in the program.


Once applicants are reviewed by faculty, select applicants may be invited to participate in an interview. Information on that process and the associated dates can found here: Applicant interview and decision dates.


Contact Dr. Donna Talbot or Dr. Wanda Hadley.