Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


The University of California, San Diego and California State University, San Marcos offer 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. Please select the About tab above for more information.

The Joint Doctorate in Educational Leadership functions on a cohort based learning system. Our students represent groups of great depth in diversity and professional experience. Students include Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, Principals and Assistant Principals, Program Directors at the Pre-K to University program level, Learning Specialists and School Counselors.

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 strengths 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. Currently most educators are preoccupied with repairing a 19th century model of education. We believe we need leaders who know the past but envision the future and are prepared to design and lead in ways that meet the needs of 21st century learners. We envision a community of learners, who strive to critically review and engage in research as a way to contribute to knowledge, improve practice, build theory, and shape the future of education in the region.

Applications are currently being accepted for Cohort 11 which will begin January 2015.


What Are the Admission Requirements?

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.

If you missed our previous information session, you may view our presentation here.

The application deadline is August 1, 2014.  The program begins in January 2015.


Application Checklist

A completed application will include the following components:

The application form is complete online.

In the application select the following choices:

a.  Choose Program/Department: Education Studies

b.  Choose Major: Educational Leadership (Joint EdD)

c.  Choose Degree: Ed.D is the only selection

d.  Choose Term:Winter 2015 is the only selection


Academic History

A 3.0 cumulative GPA is required from the school awarding the bachelor's or higher degree.


For Application Review purposes: The Education Studies program accepts uploaded transcripts only.  Please scan both the front and back sides from each university/college level institution attended, even if the back side is blank.  Convert the scanned transcripts to PDF format (see link within the online application), and upload both front and back sides of your documents .  For any problems with uploading transcripts, contact our Admissions Evaluator at the Office of Graduate Studies, Rose Marine.  Applicants with academic work in progress who expect to complete a degree program before the date of enrollment at UCSD must also upload a current printout or transcript of their academic history. 

Upon provisional admission to graduate study at UC San Diego:

* Send One set of official hard copy of transcripts from all institutions attended and from the institution where you obtained your undergraduate degree to the Office of Graduate Admissions (OGS) at UC San Diego. OGS will require these transcripts from you if you are officially admitted into the University.



Three letters of recommendation submitted via the online recommendation form available within the application or mailed to us using the downloadable form (also accessible through the online application).  We request two recommendations which speak to the applicant's leadership skills, and one of which speaks to the candidate's ability to do doctoral-level work.

Statement of Purpose

The online application includes a statement of purpose.  The statement should focus on 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 program will shape candidate's future in leadership practice

d. Areas of interest for dissertation research

Resume/CV and Writing Sample

A copy of the applicant's professional resume, and a sample of professional writing or publication which demonstrates analytical skills in thinking and writing on a topic of the applicant's choice. Appropriate citations and references should be included. Alternatively, student may submit an individually authored masters academic paper.

GRE (general test only) Scores

The GRE exam (general test only) must be take prior to the admission deadline.  Our program code is R4836.  If you have already taken the exam 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.

Questions about the JDP Program, Contact Melissa Wolf.

Important Note: Tuition Fee discounts for UC and CSU employees are not available for this program.

The CSU fee waiver nor UCSD Employee Discount does not apply to this program.

* For former UC San Diego graduate students, contact Melissa Wolf to complete the necessary re-admission forms.  A new online application is not required. 

Please be sure to retain copies of all application materials submitted to Education Studies (EDS).  EDS will not be able to make copies of any application materials that are part of your file.  Any admission documents submitted with your application becomes the property of the University. 


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 Masters degree

b. Outstanding letters of recommendation

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

d. A track-record of successful leadership experience

Courses in the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

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 (4,4,4,4,4,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 and staff in the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

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


Frances Contreras

Alan J. Daly

Amanda Datnow

Carolyn Huie Hofstetter

Jim Levin

Paula Levin

Alison Wishard Guerra

CSUSM Affiliated Faculty

Mark Baldwin

Erika Daniels

John Halcon

Kathy Hayden

Jennifer Jeffries

Delores Lindsey

Robin Marion

Grace McField

Sue Moineau

Patricia Prado-Olmos

Lorri Santamariã

Patricia Stall

Laurie Stowell

Administrative Staff

UCSD, Education Studies Program

Frances Contreras
JDP Co-Director
(858) 534-5344

Melissa Wolf
Student Affairs Officer
(858) 822-2177

CSUSM, College of Education

Patricia Prado-Olmos (CSUSM)

JDP Co-Director

CSUSM, Student Services

Andi Shibata
Student Affairs Officer
(760) 750-4292

CSUSM, Office of Graduate Studies

Linda Collins
Administrative Support Coordinator
(760) 750-4066


Students in the Joint Doctoral Program


Student Resources

Joint Doctorate Student Handbook

Joint Doctorate Student Biographies

UCSD's Graduate Student Handbook

JDP Dissertations

Map of where JDP graduates work

Frequently Asked Questions


Contact Information

Education Studies Program

University of California, San Diego
Pepper Canyon Hall, 3rd Floor
tel: (858) 534-1680
fax: (858) 534-2462

Mailing Address:
9500 Gilman Drive #0070
La Jolla, CA 92093-0070


Frances Contreras (UCSD)

Patricia Prado-Olmos (CSUSM)

UCSD Graduate Coordinator, Financial Aid Officer:

Melissa Wolf

CSUSM Student Affairs Officer:

Andi Shibata



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 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's 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.


Joint Doctoral Program Alumni Page

Cochort 2 Graduation 2009

Cohort 5 Graduation 2012

Alumni Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Alumni in the News

Dr. John Collins, one of our first graduates, was just named as the next Superintendent of Poway Unified School District. His thoughtful concern for social justice, commitment to engaging and inclusive learning environments for all students and problem/solution focused leadership skills, frequently demonstrated to classmates and faculty, are exactly what Poway needs as it copes with dwindling financial resources and works to maintain its status as a high performing district.

Dr. Prapanna Smith, Cohort 3 and Director of Integral Elementary School, was recently featured on KPBS for his and his staff's work in providing a learning environment that addresses the whole child: the spiritual, physical, and socio-emotional as well as academic. His cutting edge dissertation exploring how learning environments in schools across two continents may contribute to students developing a sense of life purpose makes an important contribution to understanding how we can create classrooms that meet the needs of all students.

Dr. Emelyn de la Peña, Cohort 2 and Director of the UCSD women's Center, also was recently featured on KPBS's "These Days" with Maureen Cavanaugh, in the March 2, 2010, program, "Sexual Assault Awareness".

Dr. Richard Lawrence, Cohort 3, has been selected to be a member of the national Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, recognizing his scholarship, leadership, and advocacy and service.

Dr. Jose Villarreal was recently recognized as the Cox Communications Hispanic Heritage Month Honoree, and previously by the Mexican American Business and Professional Association as their principal honoree.


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Contact Information

Education Studies Program

University of California, San Diego
Pepper Canyon Hall, 3rd Floor
tel: (858) 534-1680
fax: (858) 534-2462

Mailing Address:
9500 Gilman Drive #0070
La Jolla, CA 92093-0070


Frances Contreras(UCSD)

Patricia Prado-Olmos (CSUSM)