Ph.D. in Educational Leadership: K-12 Leadership Concentration

doctor of philosophy

Woman talking with hands together.

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.


  • Amie McCaw
    "I have learned how to better evaluate educational articles and identify strong research practices when reading and learning about possible initiatives and curriculum changes that impact my job as an elementary principal."Amie McCaw, Ph.D. student, elementary principal at Vicksburg Community Schools

Program overview

Students wishing to develop leadership skills and serve as a superintendent or other central office administrator within a school district serving elementary and secondary students will want to pursue this program in the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology at Western Michigan University.

Students completing this concentration may also receive one or more endorsements indicating that they would have met the state requirements for various K-12 administrative certificates (e.g., superintendent; central office).

Note: To complete many K-12 content course assignments, and to have a mentor for an administrator internship, applicants must be employed within a K-12 setting OR have access to a school district setting.

Learn more about the PhD in Educational Leadership.

Interested in learning more? Please join us for an upcoming virtual information session! More coming soon.

Notification: Starting, January 2025, the State of Michigan will be requiring state testing for those that are wanting to attain a School Administrator license for either the Central Office or Building Level. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Why K-12 leadership at Western Michigan University?

  • New! Potential course credits now available via Prior Learning Assessments (PLA).
  • 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.
  • We are the only institution in the U.S. that includes an optional co-curricular designation known as the WMU Signature. Pathways include: Teaching & Student Success, Leadership, Health & Wellbeing, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice, and more! 


WMU's doctor of philosophy in educational leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. 

Required program of study


The Lead is a monthly online publication that highlights the work of our Educational Leadership (K-12) programs, and contains a wide-array of information relevant to school administrators; it also celebrates the work of our alumni, students and faculty. Visit The Lead newsletter page for all issues.

Cost & Funding

Helpful links



Dr. LaSonja Roberts, K12 Ph.D. Program Coordinator