Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

The University of California, San Diego, and California State University, San Marcos offers a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership. This cohort-based three-year (including summers) doctor of education degree is designed to enable education leaders to participate in a research-based program while working in an educational setting.


Develop passionate and empathetic educational leaders who shape an equitable future for a diverse society.

Mission of the JDP Program 
The Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) in Educational Leadership at UCSD/CSUSM is committed to supporting and developing education leaders who are dedicated to equity, justice, inclusiveness, compassion, and diversity of thought, cultures, and backgrounds.

JDP Community of Leaders:

Creates inclusive, compassionate, and safe environments
Learns from and with others
Demonstrates empathy with desire to cross boundaries (Boundary Crossers)
Dreams, wonders, imagines new educational environments
Designs creative solutions with and for people
Questions convention, status quo, assumptions
Works relentlessly to close equity gaps
Embraces doubt
Nurtures strengths and vulnerabilities

We seek educators who wish to expand their knowledge of discipline-specific pedagogy, research methodology, and education reform in order to lead curricular and pedagogical improvement efforts with pre-service, beginning, and experienced teachers in local schools. Our students represent groups of great depth in diversity and professional experience.  Students include primary, secondary and post-secondary educational practitioners. We address a broad range of educational issues specifically concentrating on:

  • P-12 Leadership/Administration

  • Higher Education Administration & Student Affairs

The Joint Doctorate in Educational Leadership has three foci. First, we are committed to a program of study that addresses issues of social justice in all aspects of education. Second, we teach and use a strength and asset-based inquiry approach that enables you to embrace your own strengths and to identify and build on the strengths of others as stepping stones to powerful leadership. Third, we engage you in exploring cutting-edge research and practices that will enable you to design and lead educational systems in and for the future.

The deadline to apply is August 1, 2018.

Connect with us to learn more about our program, faculty and our students.  Email Melissa Wolf with any questions you may have. 

Which is for me? Ph.D. and Ed.D. Comparison Chart

About Overview

The Joint Doctorate in Educational Leadership is a year-round intense learning experience that starts in the Winter Quarter (semester at CSUSM) and requires at a minimum of three full years of study with classes held winter, spring, summer, and fall. Students are registered for 8-10 units each quarter, which translates into two 4-unit classes and in some quarters a 2-unit practicum or in the third year two (2-unit) colloquia. At the graduate level this is the equivalent of a full-time load.

Students will take courses designed to develop five specific leadership capacities that form the foundation of the program. They are: (1) Leadership for Learning; (2) Leadership for a Diverse Society; (3) Leadership for Organizational Change; (4) Leadership for Organizational Development; and (5) Leadership for the Future. The program prepares leaders for culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse educational settings, and provides the tools to conduct research in such settings.

In each of these classes, students collaboratively explore current research and theory and are asked to critically analyze and relate the readings to their practice. In addition, practice is reviewed in relation to how it informs theory and research. In the research strands, students critically review current research, learn how to do a literature review that helps frame new avenues for future research, learn the basics of research design, investigate both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, and learn how these methods can be combined to conduct more valid and reliable research.

Leadership Capacities

Leadership for Learning: The foundation of this Joint Ed.D. rests on the belief that the work of school leaders must always address the common objective of enhancing and providing the best conditions for student learning. Learning to apply the effective tools of leadership requires the acquisition of flexible communication skills, creative decision-making capabilities, a collaborative approach to problem solving, and the confidence to take calculated risks. At its core, effective leadership depends on one's ability to advance the skills and dispositions of the adults involved in the instruction of students.

Leadership for a Diverse Society: Leadership for a diverse society requires diversity of designs, practices, and solutions. Candidates in the Joint Ed.D. Program will learn to implement inclusive practices, not only as a matter of policy, but also as a matter of personal commitment and understanding of how institutions are historically transformed as a result.

Leadership for Organizational Change: Developing leaders who are prepared for and understand the importance of organizational change is a program priority. Meeting the needs of an evolving educational system will require leaders who support a myriad of strategic innovations that will lead to positive changes in their organizations. Candidates will focus on developing critical habits of action to support effective problem solving, build leadership capacity within institutions, and alter institutions in ways that significantly improve the learning condition for their students.

Leadership for Organizational Development: The program will help individuals design organizational growth plans and encourage them to actively support each other as they work to implement their plans. This experience will help graduates understand the importance of building leadership capacity within their educational organizations. One of the essential features of the program is the development of a community of learners who have experience creating safe, reflective environments for academic study, risk taking, and the practice of academic leadership.

Leadership for the Future: The program will help leaders plan for the future as leaders. This strand is comprised of a specific course focused on the future as well as two advanced topic classes and two colloquia designed to address cutting issues in leadership such as legal issues, technology, cognitive development, learning theory, and social concerns that impact all leaders. The goal is not just to focus on the problems of today, but to design and lead learning organizations able to create positive futures.

Research: In addition to expanding students’ theoretical and practical knowledge in leadership that can address issues of social justice, a key component of a doctoral program is conducting research. A series of research courses enable students to learn about both qualitative and quantitative research paradigms, and to know how to design and conduct a major study often using the student's own workplace as the laboratory.


Candidates must meet the general admissions requirements and be accepted by the Graduate Divisions of Cal State San Marcos and UC San Diego. In addition, students must be recommended for admission by the Joint Ed.D. Graduate Admissions Committee.

Applicants interested in being considered for Financial Aid should complete the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. UC San Diego's School Code is 001317.


Application Checklist

Application Deadline:  August 1, 2018

New Cohorts begin January every year.

 A completed JDP Ed.D. Application will include the following components:

1.) Application Form

Fill out the application form online. 

2.) Statement of Purpose

Your Statement of Purpose should address the following four areas: 

a) Demonstrated leadership experience (Examples include completion of work for the Administrative Services Credential for P-12 candidates; Program director at a school, district or regional institution; community college project director; postsecondary administration; in-region professional education experience)

b.) Knowledge of educational research and application to practice

c.) Plan for how participation in the program will shape candidate's future in leadership practice

d.) Areas of interest for dissertation research

3.) Recommendation Letters

Three letters of recommendation need to be submitted via the online recommendation form available within the application or mailed to us using the downloadable form (also accessible through the online application). You may find it useful to consider in advance whom you will ask to serve as recommenders so that you can contact these individuals and confirm their willingness. We suggest selecting recommenders who can comment on your ability be successful in a rigorous Ed.D program as well as speak to your leadership skills.

4.) Resume

An applicant must submit a professional resume. 

5.) Writing Sample

An applicant must submit a publication or a sample of academic writing, which demonstrates analytical skills in thinking.

6.) Transcripts

For application review purposes (only), scan and upload copies of transcripts from all institutions attended since high school.* In the online application, you will be prompted to upload a PDF of your scanned documents. Please upload both the front and back sides of the transcript, even if the back side is blank. Uploaded transcripts should be recent and include the following: your name, the institution name, dates of attendance, grades/marks received, credits, and grading legend.  If no transcript is available, please upload a statement explaining the circumstances.

*Do not mail hard copies until provisionally admitted

Upon provisional admission UC San Diego: Official transcripts from all institutions attended after high school will be required to finalize your admission and must be submitted to the Graduate Admissions office. Official records including transcripts, evaluations, mark sheets, diplomas, certificates, translations, and study abroad work must be delivered in a sealed envelope from the administering institution or service. Documents will not be accepted if opened or sealed by the student. Certified electronic transcripts sent directly to Graduate Admissions from the issuing institution care also accepted.  Electronic transcripts should be sent to

Applicants with academic work in progress who expect to complete a degree program before the intended date of enrollment at UC San Diego must provide evidence of degree conferral and a final academic transcript as soon as they are available.

By the time enrollment begins, successful applicants must hold a bachelor's degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution in the United States or from a recognized university-level academic institution abroad. Completed coursework for both domestic and international applicants must demonstrate the equivalent of at least a B average in the United States.

7.) GRE Scores

The GRE exam (general exam) must be taken prior to the admission deadline. Our program code is R4836. If you have already taken the test and did not have your scores sent to UC San Diego, contact ETS to have your scores sent to us electronically. The test scores are valid for 5 years.

8.) Application Fee 

The non-refundable fee is payable by credit card through the online application. You may also pay by check, following the instructions in the online application. If you choose to pay by check, please note that your application will not be processed until your check has been received.

* Former UC San Diego graduate students should contact Melissa Wolf to complete the necessary admission application.  


What Are the Criteria for Selection?

The Committee will look for the following evidence in selecting top candidates:

a. Distinguished academic record, including completion of Master's degree

b. Outstanding letters of recommendation

c. Appropriate standardized test results, given area of expertise, and

d. A track-record of successful leadership experience 


After you Apply

Admissions decisions are usually made within four to six weeks after the deadline. Once you have submitted a complete application, it will be reviewed to determine if the admissions committee would like to schedule an interview. Interviews are required for admission and are by invitation only. We prefer to conduct interviews in person to get to know you better and learn more about your background and goals.


What courses will I take?

The required work during the program provides: (1) a series of core courses that address fundamental subject areas in educational leadership, such as leadership in curriculum design and delivery, instructional leadership and research, equity and diversity, change theory and human motivation, and current issues and policy analysis and (2) broad training in research methods appropriate to topics in education. The core course work and other program experiences will contribute to the preparation of doctoral dissertation research. The Ed.D. program is scheduled using the UCSD quarter system.

Course Descriptions

EDS 280/EDLD 705 RE-Thinking Leadership (4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This course will present the evolution of leadership thought and theory, with an emphasis on the distinction between, and inter-relatedness of, effective management and leadership. The ethics of leadership practice and epistemological perspectives of emerging leadership styles will be explored, and students will have opportunities to reflect on the nature of leadership as it is practiced in educational settings. Applying critical, self-reflective leadership practice through structured activities is also an element of this course.

EDS 281/EDLD 710 Leadership for Learning (4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This course will explore various models of curriculum and instruction in response to student learning needs. It also will examine models of school organization and the leader's role and responsibility in developing a school culture that promotes student achievement, using evidence-based decision making. A major emphasis will be on evaluating research upon which theories and practice are based.

EDS 282/EDLD 715 Leadership for a Diverse Society (4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This course will address theories and practices for achieving schools and classrooms that are informed by and built around the participation of diverse communities and cultures. The emphasis in this course is on how leadership intersects with socio-historical and socio-cultural theories that suggest the organization of schools and instruction is critical to student inclusion and outcomes. A basic premise of this course is that a socially just learning theory begins with using all of the resources and knowledge of families, communities, and cultures in formulating policy and practice.

EDS 283/EDLD 720 Leadership for Organizational Change (4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This course will present multiple theories of organizational change, explore group processes and identify models of decision-making, and analyze human motivation theories. Establishing and nurturing a purpose-driven organization, while dealing with competing demands, will be discussed. A major emphasis in this course is on people as agents of change and creating high quality ethical and productive workplaces where employees can achieve success and satisfaction, while advancing the mission of the educational organization.

EDS 284/EDLD 725 Leadership for Organizational Development (4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This course will investigate the skills and dispositions needed for students to lead the development of learning organizations. Faculty will teach and model concepts of working with people within educational organizations and programs. Emphasis will be placed on individual's team development and facilitation, organizational communications, adult learning, and professional development.

EDS 285/EDLD 730 Leadership for the Future (4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This course addresses interdisciplinary influences on leadership practice within learning organizations. Contributions from scholars in futures studies will be used to explore topics such as long-range planning, demographic trends, technology, and brain theory.

EDS 286AB/ EDLD 740 AB Advanced Topics in Leadership AB (4,4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This course explores topical issues in the field of leadership. It focuses on recent developments that have broad implications for research and practice in educational leadership. Course topics will vary each time the course is offered.

EDS 287ABC/ EDLD 750 ABC Educational Research and Evaluation Design ABC (4,4,4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This course integrates a variety of social and behavioral science perspectives and research methodologies in examining topics of central relevance to education. Students have opportunities to design and apply to educational research questions on a variety of methodologies including: experimental and quasi-experimental survey, interview, ethnographic, case study, video data analysis, and discourse analysis methods. This is a three course sequence.

EDS 288 ABC/ EDLD 760 ABC Advanced Research and Evaluation Methods ABC (4,4,4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This course addresses more advanced topics in research design and methodology. Students hone the requisite research skills to conduct dissertation research. Students gain varied hands-on experiences in collecting and analyzing data relevant to schooling, as well as learn how to develop, manage, and analyze large data files. Students create a research agenda and develop skills needed in proposal writing: development, organization and coherence, conceptualization of research design, and attention to audience and writing style. This is a three course sequence.

EDS 289ABCD/EDLD 796 ABCD Dissertation Writing Seminar ABCD (4,4,4,4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This seminar provides an opportunity for doctoral candidates to present and critique in-progress dissertation research and writing. Topics addressed also will include writing for professional publications and presenting research findings to varied audiences. This is a four course sequence.

EDS 290/EDLD 792 Dissertation Research (S/U grade only) (1-12)
Catalog Description: Supervised research studies with individual topics selected according to students' special interests. Students will develop a research proposal appropriate for M.A. thesis, begin to gather and analyze data.

EDS 291 AB/ EDLD 770 AB Leadership Research Practicum AB (2,2 quarter units)
Catalog Description: Students use their placements in local schools and educational settings to examine leadership research and practice topics raised in the Leadership core courses and Research and Evaluation Design Courses. (S/U grade permitted) This is a two course sequence.

EDS 292/ EDLD 785 Qualifying Paper Preparation (4 quarter units)
Catalog Description: This course will provide students with time, resources, and guidance for the purpose of developing a review of literature on a student-related topic, which typically becomes the focus of the dissertation research project. Students will be expected to use a variety of research tools in order to discover and identify relevant information. (S/U grade permitted)

EDS 294AB/EDLD 798 AB Colloquium on Educational Leadership (2,2 quarter units)
Catalog Description: Program faculty and visiting lecturers present leadership research in progress. The colloquium series serves as a forum to discuss current research in educational leadership. (S/U grade permitted) This is a two course sequence.

EDS 299/ EDLD 794 Dissertation Research (4,4,4,4,quarter units)
Catalog Description: Directed research on dissertation topic for students who have been admitted to candidacy for the Ed.D. degree. (S/U grade)

Faculty & Staff

Faculty members from both institutions will serve as instructors for all courses, as well as dissertation advisors. Where appropriate, practitioner-scholars will join faculty members in delivering instruction. Instructors bring an extensive background in leadership practice and theory. Students will experience a dynamic blend of scholarly inquiry and practical application from instructors who are actively engaged in understanding the nature of leadership.

UCSD Affiliated Faculty

Alan J. Daly

Amanda Datnow

Carolyn Huie Hofstetter

Chris Halter

Christoforos Mamas

Frances Contreras

Makeba Jones

Megan Hopkins

Mica Pollock

Thandeka Chapman


CSUSM Affiliated Faculty

Patricia Stall

Sinem Siyahhan

Manuel Vargas

Ana Hernández

Annette M. Daoud

Brooke Soles

Carol Van Vooren 

Erika Daniels

Ingrid Flores

Joely Proudfit (Luiseño)

Jodi Robledo

Joni Kolman

Laurie Stowell

Moses K. Ochanji

Patricia Prado Olmos

Rodney Beaulieu

Rong-Ji Chen


Administrative Staff


UC San Diego, Department of Education Studies 

Alan Daly 
JDP Co-Director
(858) 822-6472

Melissa Wolf 
JDP Executive Program Associate
(858) 822-2177

CSU San Marcos, College of Education

Pat Stall
JDP Interim Co-Director
(760) 750-4386

Nam Nguyen
Student Affairs Officer
(760) 750-8544


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Graduate Student Resources

JDP Dissertations

JDP Handbook

UC San Diego Graduate Student Resources

Google map of JDP Alumni

General Resources

Guide to formatting page numbers for a UCSD doctoral dissertation

Guide to writing an abstract

Automatically forwarding your UCSD e-mail to another email account that you check regularly

UCSD's Human Research Protections Program (IRB)

UCSD OGS's Preparation and Submission Manual for Doctoral Dissertations and Master's Theses (the "Blue Book")

Guide to formatting page numbers for a UCSD doctoral dissertation

UCSD's Dissertation Submission Site

Guides to transforming a dissertation into journal articles or a book

EDS video and/or audio release form

General video and/or audio release form

OGS's Degree Information Procedures and Completion

Student-Parent Resource Site

Presentation hints


Zotero tutorials

Graduate Fees and Funding Opportunities

Graduate Fees for the JDP in Educational Leadership

Funding Opportunities + Scholarship and Grant Opportunities Specific to EDS


AERA Student Stipends EDS is proud to offer student travel stipends to support travel to AERA for the 2018 conference. Future funding beyond 2018 will be determined pending available budget. 

Graduate Student Association Travel Grants for students who have a first-authored paper accepted for presentation

Tax Resources

Free tax preparation assistance (domestic):

Free tax preparation assistance (international) – UCSD International Center:

Questions re. 1098-T1-877-467-3821  Students may access their 1098-T at the following website:

Questions re. 1042-S (international students, only): Paul Rodriguez, 858-534-3241 or Anne Winterton, 858-822-1185

Questions re. W-2,1260,3862,00.html

Questions re. 1099,1162,24144,00.html

General information – Graduate Division website:

Walk-In Advising
Mondays & 
9:00 AM - 11:30 AM 
1:30 PM - 3:30 PM
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Pepper Canyon Hall 3rd Floor

Contact Us
UC San Diego Students 
Non-UC San Diego Students

Phone: 858-534-4851

Student Services

Melissa Wolf
UC San Diego

Nam Nguyen
Cal State San Marcos
(760) 750-8544

Faculty Directors

Alan Daly 
JDP Co-Director, UC San Diego 
(858) 822-6472

Pat Stall
JDP Interim Co-Director
(760) 750-4386