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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 innovation, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, compassion, and diversity of thought, culture, 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.  

Our JDP Ed.D. program invites you to our Spring 2024 online informational sessions where you will have the opportunity to meet with our program faculty, current students and alumni. Learn about admission requirements, tuition, schedule and much more. 

Register for either Zoom Sessions here

Thursday, May 2nd, 2024 hosted by CSU San Marcos from 6-7 pm PST. 

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024 hosted by UC San Diego from 6-7 pm PST.  


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.  If you missed our Spring 2023 informational meetings, please reach out to Melissa Wolf for a copy of our presentation.  


New cohorts begin in January (Winter Quarter) every year.

Application Deadline:  Thursday, August 1st, 2024. 

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

1. Application Form

Apply Now!

Start date of January 2025. 

Select 'Doctor of Education', Program Interest 'Educational Leadership', Entry Term '2025 Winter'

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. 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 2023–2024 academic year.

In addition to the three academic quarters (FALL, WINTER, SPRING), students are also responsible for paying summer quarter tuition which is the same amount as the academic year quarter.  

JDP Lead Lab Speaker Series


JDP Lead Lab Speaker Series 

Speaker Bios may be found here

The focus of this speaker series is to bring together a collaborative community of educational practitioners from the region to create coherent effective systems of instruction. We have developed a series of speakers to facilitate learning and reflection on education issues today.  Please invite your teams to learn and participate in connecting leaders.

There is no cost to participate and all presentations will be from 5:30 pm- 7:00 pm followed by a reception/networking opportunity from 7-7:30 pm.  

*Please RSVP to to all the presentation(s) you plan to attend.

If you have any questions, contact us at: Dr. Theresa Meyerott  (619) 852-5022 or or Melissa Wolf  (858) 822-2177 or


Monday, February 26, 2024

Title: Using Queer Epistemologies to Explore Equity and Justice in Educational Spaces



Dr. Allison Mattheis, Professor


Lucio Lira, Pride Center Counselor Coordinator, Mesa Community College, Doctoral Student, UCSD


Friday, March 8, 2024

Title: Strength and Resiliency: Reimaging Relationships with Self, Others, and Institutions


Maria Oropeza Fujimoto

Dr. Maria Oropeza Fujimoto, Associate Professor


Friday, March 15, 2024

Title: Institutionalizing Anti-racist Education in K-12 Settings 


Miguel Zavala

Dr. Miguel Zavala, Associate Professor 


Friday, April 19, 2024

Title: Leading from the Inside Out


Ashanti Hands

Dr. Ashanti Hands, President, San Diego Mesa College 


Friday, April 26, 2024

Title: Forge Ahead: Mastering Challenges in Academia and Beyond through Mental Grit and Positive Reframing


Franklin Garrett

Dr. Franklin Garrett, Associate Dean, San Diego College of Continuing Education


Friday, May 17, 2024

Title: Cultural Proficiency: Leading with Purpose Using Culturally Responsive Leadership Practices to Empower Teams across Educational Systems to Ensure Student Success


Theresa Meyerott

Dr. Theresa Meyerott, Assistant Professor


Mercedes Hubschmitt, Director in Learning Support Services and Homeless and Foster Liaison, Poway Unified School District, Doctoral Student, UCSD

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) 
Audrey Paredes

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 


Join past and current EDS students on Facebook and JDP LinkedIn page

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JDP Dissertations

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News & Announcements

Fellowships and Awards

April 2024

Congratulations to Shanelle Watkins, JDP Cohort 18 Student.  Shanelle won the 2024 CSU San Marcos Glad Slam Graduate Non-Stem Award. She will represent CSU San Marcos at the CSU-wide Grad Slam on May 3, 10-2:30pm via Zoom. Congratulations, Shanelle! 



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.


JDP Graduate Student Resources

JDP Dissertations

JDP Student Handbook

JDP Library Resources

UC San Diego Graduate Student Resources

Google map of JDP Alumni

Graduate Student Resources: Student Health and Wellbeing 

Online Peer Support: Togetherall is a safe, free, online mental health support community where students may anonymously connect with others who understand what they're going through – 24/7.

Triton2Triton is a supportive, online connection space where students may connect via chat with trained peers who understand what they're going through and can help with navigating resources.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): CAPS provides no-cost, integrative, student-centered services that are designed to support UC San Diego students’ academic success, personal development, and holistic well-being. All registered UC San Diego students may access CAPS services by calling 858-534-3755 or visiting the CAPS website.

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