Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership Application Requirements

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership Application Requirements


Admissions requirements

  • Resume or CV
  • Three recommendations
  • Written narrative
  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0
  • English language proficiency scores (international applicants)

Student TEstimonial

  • Dr. Jill Van Hof, alumni
    "WMU professor's sophisticated intellect, unbridled dedication to the field, and seemingly unending fountain of knowledge provided inspiration and motivation throughout the course of my study ."Dr. Jill Van Hof, alumni

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.

Second admissions cycle for Ph.D. in EDLD with deadline of March 3, 2023:

The EDLD PhD Program will offer a second Fall 2023 admissions cycle this year with a deadline of March 3, 2023. 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. More information available during upcoming Information Sessions.

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

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. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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. You are responsible for making sure that transcripts and recommendations are submitted before 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.