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Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

The University of California, San Diego, and California State University, San Marcos jointly 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 still 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 thoughts, cultures, and backgrounds.

 JDP Community of Leaders:

  • Creates inclusive, compassionate, and safe environments
  • Learns from and with others
  • Demonstrates empathy with a desire to cross boundaries
  • Dreams, wonders, and imagines new educational environments
  • Designs creative solutions with and for people
  • Questions convention, status quo, and 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 instructional improvement efforts with pre-service, beginning, and experienced teachers in local schools. Our students represent 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 using a strength and asset-based inquiry approach.  This will enable 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.

JDP Community Principles

  • Commit to having our thinking challenged
  • Speak from our own experiences
  • Open to listening and hearing others
  • Create and nurture a space where all voices are heard.
  • Respect confidentiality
  • Share the lesson, not who or where it was said
  • Participate with a “value-added” approach
  • Be mindful about both the message and delivery

Please complete our Ed.D. Interest Form to receive progam updates.

If you were unable to attend our spring JDP Ed.D program information sessions, please feel free to reach out to Melissa Wolf to obtain a copy of the slides. 


Email Melissa Wolf with any questions you may have. 

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



Program 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.

Admission and Application

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.

Please complete our Ed.D. Interest Form to receive program updates.   

Our JDP Ed.D program invites you to our upcoming online information sessions this spring where you will have the opportunity to virtually meet with program faculty, current students and alums. Learn more about admission requirements, program schedule, costs and much more. 

*Please register to participate in this online Information Night. Login information will be sent to those registered prior to the session date. We look forward to interacting with you online!


Wednesday, May 18th from 530-630 pm 


The deadline to submit your application is August 3rd, 2022.  

New cohorts begin in January every year.

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

1. Application Form

Apply Now- Application

2. Statement of Purpose

Your Statement of Purpose should address the following four areas: 

  1. 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)
  2. Knowledge of educational research and application to practice
  3. Plan for how participation in the program will shape your future in leadership practice
  4. 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. 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 to 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. 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 application requirements. 

What Are the Criteria for Selection?

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

  1. Distinguished academic record, including completion of a Master's degree (if no Master's degree, may be asked to produce additional or "equivalent" information). 
  2. Outstanding letters of recommendation
  3. Appropriate standardized test results, given area of expertise, and
  4. 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.

Program of Study

What courses will I take?

JDP Program of Study 

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 coursework and other program experiences will contribute to the preparation of doctoral dissertation research. The Ed.D. program is scheduled using the UC San Diego quarter system. 

What are the costs of the program? 

Students pay tuition quarterly, including the summer quarter, which is the same cost as the other academic quarters.  Students are automatically enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) however, students already covered by an insurance plan may qualify for a health fee waiver. Please see the Student Health Insurance Plan page for more information, including waiver criteria, submission process and deadline.

UC San Diego's Joint Ed.D. Program (UCSD/CSUSM) tuition and fees for the 2021–2022 academic year

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.

Program Core Faculty: 

Brooke Soles (CSUSM) 
Manuel Vargas (CSUSM)

UCSD Affiliated Faculty: 


Alison Wishard Guerra

CSUSM Affiliated Faculty: 

Ana Hernández

Annette M. Daoud

Anthony Matranga 

Christiane Wood

Emiliano Ayala

Erika Daniels

Gilbert Valadez

Ingrid Flores

Jodi Robledo

Joni Kolman

Laurie Stowell

Moses K. Ochanji

Rong-Ji Chen 

Pat Stall

Xochitl Archey 


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, School of Education

Brooke Soles
JDP Co-Director
(760) 750-8284 

Nam Nguyen
Student Affairs Officer
(760) 750-8544


News & Announcements

Fellowships and Awards

April 2022

Rochelle Smarr is a proud recipient of the 2022 Richard E. Cone Award for Emerging Leaders. The Richard E. Cone Award recognizes an exemplary early-career individual who is an emerging leader in the field of community engagement, whose work has had a positive impact on campus and in the community, and who is guided by the best practices of community-campus partnerships.

Congratulations to our 2022 JDP Cohort 18 Chrispeels Fellows!

Candice Dorn, Freddy Mora, Mercedes Hubschmitt and Shanelle Watkins who were recognized with a Chrispeels Fellowship for their outstanding contributions in serving low income/under-served communities and their demonstrated commitment to addressing issues of social and educational inequities.  They join a long line of Chrispeels Fellows who have been instrumental in transforming education in a diverse society.  


Graduate Student Resources

JDP Dissertations

JDP Student Handbook

UC San Diego Graduate Student Resources

Google map of JDP Alumni

Faculty Resources

JDP Faculty Handbook

General Resources

UC San Diego IRB

CSU San Marcos IRB

UC San Diego Graduate Studies Preparing to Graduate 

CSU San Marcos Dissertation Formatting Requirements

Student-Parent Resource Site

Graduate Fees and Funding Opportunities

Graduate Fees for the JDP in Educational Leadership

Funding Opportunities + Scholarship and Grant Opportunities Specific to EDS


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