Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) - Leadership

Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Leadership

Leaders who seek to become change agents from their local communities to the regional, state, and national levels will benefit most from the American College of Education doctoral program.

Leaders from all disciplines are welcome, including education, business, nonprofit management and community leadership. Applicants should hold a master’s degree including an M.A., M.B.A., M.Ed. or M.S., with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, from a regionally accredited institution. International degrees may also be accepted. Please visit the Admissions page for more information.

Students interact with leaders from non-profit organizations, community elected officials and other groups. Seminars feature guided interviews with noted leaders, interaction with mentors and peers, and exchange of ideas about new areas of research. Throughout the program, students utilize emerging technology to become proficient in integrating technology into their own workplace.


The Ed.D. in Leadership is a terminal degree with a dissertation requiring original research. The program can be accomplished by working professionals. Doctoral students enroll in and begin the core courses of their doctoral program before declaring one of eight focuses of study below.

Focuses of Study

If interested, Ed.D. in Leadership students may choose a focus of study. The following focus of studies are currently offered: 

  • A: Adult and Continuing Education – for leaders who work in the areas of adult learning and continuing education. Coursework focuses on the major theories of adult education, instructional strategies for the adult learner, critical analysis of instructional programs, and assessment of the adult learn.

  • B: Curriculum and Instruction – coursework focuses on research tools and evidence-based learning and teaching approaches, ethical leadership, operations planning and innovation, policy and governance, and the like. 

  • C: Early Childhood Education – provides an in-depth exploration of theory, research, and practical applications relevant to professionals working in the early childhood field. Students will gain advanced knowledge of developmental theories and modern early childhood practices which influence children, educators, families, stakeholders, and public policy.

  • D: Educational and Community Organizations – for leaders of diverse organizations, this track includes a course in emerging technologies.

  • E: Health and Wellness – provides students with the information necessary to expand their knowledge in the health and wellness field. The program provides content that includes not only the fundamentals of health and wellness, but also the theories, systems, and policies. Students enrolled in this focus of study will be provided the opportunity to learn foundational leadership skills in health education.

  • F: Higher Education – courses offer a broad perspective of critical issues facing higher education, emphasizing the complexity of student issues while balancing the demands of federal and state regulations. Designed to complement and support professional agendas, individual studies prepare leadership to understand the integrated aspects of complex systems influenced by modern societal issues.

  • G: International Education – well suited to those aspiring to work in the field of international education, spanning international schools, institutions of higher education, international organizations, international aid agencies, global foundations, and non-profit organizations, among others.

  • H: Instructional Leadership – coursework focuses on fostering high levels of human resource development, student-centered environments, student performance and critical thinking, technology integration in curriculum, and college and career readiness in the 21st century

  • I: Online Education – open to all professionals, this track is designed for leaders who design and administer digital learning initiatives

  • J: Second Language Instruction – provides students with information to work with second language learners in a variety of settings. The program provides content addressing key foundational theories and research-based strategies to support the educational or instructional needs of diverse learners. Students enrolled in this focus of study can select courses that address instructional methods applicable to traditional classroom settings or they may select courses that support working with second language learners through a leadership role 
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  • K: STEM – uses digital resources to foster innovative engagement in the integrated contents of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The courses offer a holistic overview of historical and current issues and trends that impact integrated science education while cultivating research-based strategies to improve learning and leadership in the field.

    Courses in this program are approved by the National Institute for STEM Education. Students who complete the certificate program with NISE can substitute certificate credits for any two of the four courses in the Ed.D. in Leadership with STEM Leadership focus of study.

Students may begin their doctoral program and complete core courses before declaring a focus of study

In keeping with the College’s standard of providing affordable advanced degrees, courses of study do not require textbooks. Students access a broad range of library resources available through the ACE online library.

Please visit the Admissions page for detailed information about course materials and fees.

Program Summary

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D). in Leadership prepares graduate students to contribute to their professional communities as leaders who address real-world problems through evidence-based decision-making. Students engage with other professionals in their specific fields, including partners ranging from school districts and state government to businesses and nonprofits, to apply skills and knowledge to complex problems of practice. Doctoral students select one of eight areas of emphasis.

In addition to highly interactive, project-based coursework, students will pursue original research in leadership culminating with a dissertation. A faculty advisor and a doctoral committee will provide guidance.

View our faculty here

Program Outcomes

  • Collaborate in diverse communities of learning, and build partnerships with states, school districts, or other organizations.

  • Contribute to solutions for complex problems of practice.

  • Analyze and promote best practices in leadership.

  • Demonstrate evidence-based decision-making, integrating principles of equity, ethics, and social justice.

  • Develop and implement personal- and organization-level knowledge and skills, including technology.

  • Demonstrate mastery of content knowledge through the utilization of critical and creative thinking.

  • Demonstrate competence in the application of multiple research methods.

  • Contribute to professional knowledge bases through the dissemination of applied research.


Initial Course (3 semester credits each, unless noted otherwise)

This Course to be taken at the beginning of program

LEAD6001 Introduction to Advanced Studies (1 semester credit)

Remaining Courses (3 semester credits each, unless noted otherwise)

Classes to be taken during remaining terms (order based on availability)

(3 semester credits each unless noted otherwise)

LEAD6103 Evidence-based Learning and Teaching
LEAD6113 Ethical Leadership and Social Justice
LEAD6123 Management of Financial Resources
LEAD6133 Models of Leadership and Coaching
LEAD6143 Strategic Operations Planning and Innovation
LEAD6153 Policy and Governance
LEAD6163 Management of Human Capital
LEAD6173 Global Perspectives
LEAD6183 Grants Writing for Leaders
RES6003 Applied Statistics (Pre-req: RES6013)
RES6013 Research Methods
RES6023 Quantitative Research Designs (Pre-reqs: RES6013, RES6003)
RES6033 Qualitative Research Designs (Pre-reqs: RES6013, RES6003, RES6023)
RES6011 Research Tool: APA & Bibliographic Software (1 semester credit)
RES6021 Research Tool: Creating and Analyzing Measures (1 semester credit)
RES6031 Research Tool: Information Display Strategies (1 semester credit)

Focus of Study Options

Students may select one of the following seven focus of study options:

Focus of Study: Adult and Continuing Education (3 semester credits each)

ED6013 Adult Learning
ED6023 Instructional Strategies for the Adult Learner
ED6033 Evaluating Instructional Programs
ED6043 Assessing Adult Learners

Focus of Study: Curriculum and Instruction (3 semester credits each)

CI5103 Curriculum and Instructional Design for Diversity
CI5353 Standards-Driven Learning
ED5203 Assessment Strategies
LIT5203 Strengthening Literacy

Focus of Study: Early Childhood Education

EC6013 Research and Trends in Early Childhood Education
EC6023 Theories and Foundations of Child Development
EC6033 Collaborative Partnerships in Early Childhood Practices
SPED6083 Early Childhood Assessment and Intervention

Focus of Study: Educational and Community Organizations (3 semester credits each)

ORG6203 Partnerships and Community
ORG6213 Emerging Technology in Organizations
ORG6223 Communications and Advocacy for Leaders
ORG6233 Organizational Behavior and Culture

Focus of Study: Health and Wellness (3 semester credits each)

HLTH6413 Fundamentals in Health Education
HLTH6433 Foundational Leadership in Health Education
HLTH6403 Theories and Principles of Behavior Change in Health Education
HLTH6443 Systems, Policy, and Leadership in Health Informatics

Focus of Study: Higher Education  (3 semester credits each)

LEAD6203 Law, Compliance, and Governance in Higher Education
LEAD6213 Resource Management in Higher Education
LEAD6223 Student Affairs
LEAD6233 Issues in Higher Education

Focus of Study: International Education (3 semester credits each)

LEAD6243 International Development and Policy (must be taken first in sequence)
LEAD6253 The Role of International Organizations and Global Foundations (pre-req: LEAD6243)
LEAD6263 Education and International Migration
LEAD6273 International Programs, Curricula, and Pedagogies

Focus of Study: Instructional Leadership (3 semester credits each)

Instructional Leadership
LEAD6293 Designing and Leading Professional Learning
LEAD6303 Achievement and Accountability
LEAD6313 The Art of Decision-Making

Focus of Study: Online Education (3 semester credits each)

TECH6303 Online Learning and Teaching
TECH6313 Creating Online Collaboration and Communities
TECH6323 Designing Courses and Programs
TECH6333 Online Teaching and Assessment

Focus of Study: Second Language Instruction (3 semester credits each) - choose any four

BE6043 Advanced Foundations of Second Language Learners
BE6053 Assessment Methods for Second Language Learners
BE6063 Methods and Materials for Second Language Instruction
BE6073 Professional Advocacy and Leadership for Second Language Learners
ES6083 Understanding Linguistics and Second Language Learners

Focus of Study: STEM Leadership (3 semester credits each)

SCI6203 Foundations of Integrated Science Education
SCI6213 Engaging Diversity in the Science Classroom
SCI6223 Modern Learning and Integrated Science Education
SCI6233 Inventing and Reinventing Mathematics and Science Curriculum: Elementary, Secondary, and College Level

Seminars (1 semester credit)

SEM6601 Doctoral Seminar I
SEM6611 Doctoral Seminar II
SEM6621 Doctoral Seminar III

Dissertation (1 semester credit each unless otherwise noted)

RES6501 Crafting a Dissertation (Taken concurrently with RES6201. Taken at least four terms; can be repeated as needed until dissertation is completed)
RES6201 Dissertation I (Pre-req: RES6013, RES6003, RES6023, RES6033, and completion of 51 semester credits)
RES6301 Dissertation II (Pre-req: RES6201, RES6501)

Total for Ed.D. in Leadership: 64 semester credits


LEAD6001 Introduction to Advanced Graduate Study (1 semester credit)

Students will undertake an examination of the rigors of advanced graduate study and reflect on personal strengths and challenges at the start of their program. Topics include identity as scholar-practitioner, models of inquiry, self-assessment, and professional goals.

LEAD6103 Evidence-based Learning and Teaching

Students will design, implement, and assess evidence-based teaching strategies appropriate for the online course room. Students will demonstrate best practices for effective online teaching through course activities.

LEAD6113 Ethical Leadership and Social Justice

The course focus is on theory, research, and practices related to ethical administration. Students will assess ethical decision making and implications for policy.

LEAD6123 Management of Financial Resources

Students will examine principles and concepts of finance at local, state, federal, and international levels; strategies for maximizing and obtaining financial resources, and economic issues of the third sector.

LEAD6133 Models of Leadership and Coaching

Students will evaluate and compare different leadership and coaching models and determine appropriateness for diverse settings.

LEAD6143 Strategic Operations Planning and Innovation

Students will design, develop, and implement models of strategic planning that exhibit innovation.

LEAD6153 Policy and Governance

Students will analyze specific current and future public policies and conduct policy impact analyses. Students will evaluate best practices for working with local school councils, volunteer boards, advisory councils, and external stakeholders.

LEAD6163 Management of Human Capital

The course emphasizes principles and practices of personnel administration, including recruitment, selection, evaluation, staff development, and employee relations. Students will evaluate best practices for working with volunteer boards, advisory councils, and external stakeholders.

LEAD6173 Global Perspectives

Students will model and promote responsible global citizenship. Culturally relevant pedagogy will be examined and critiqued.

LEAD6183 Grant Writing for Leaders

Students will analyze funding sources and the process of applying for funds from an organization or agency. Students will develop and critique requests for proposals.


RES6003 Applied Statistics

Students will examine topics associated with statistics including parametric and non-parametric tests, hypothesis formation, frequency distributions, measures of central tendency and dispersion, inferential statistics, and correlation. Emphasis will be placed on the selection of appropriate statistical techniques. Students will conduct and interpret statistical analysis using SPSS.

RES6013 Research Methods

Students will examine foundations of research design, data collection, analysis, and presentation. Students will assess ethics of educational research and reporting.

RES6023 Quantitative Research Designs

Students will compare quantitative research designs and applications. Students will interpret quantitative data and choose appropriate presentations for results.

RES6033 Qualitative Research Designs

Students will compare qualitative research designs and application to real-world issues. Topics include data collection and analysis, as well as ethical issues in qualitative research.


RES6011 Research Tool: APA & Bibliographic Software (1 semester credit)

Students in this course will employ APA format for manuscripts and citations and compare bibliographic software for organizing references.

RES6021 Research Tool: Creating and Analyzing Measures (1 semester credit)

Students will assess existing measures of performance and effectiveness. Students will create sample online surveys for data collection, as well as examine and analyze survey results. Issues associated with the development of valid measures, interviews, questionnaires, and surveys will be addressed.

RES6031 Research Tool: Information Display Strategies (1 semester credit)

Students will design appropriate strategies to present research results, including charts, tables, graphs, and summaries.


Students will select one focus of study. To review course detail for each focus of study, click here.


SEM6601 Doctoral Seminar I (1 semester credit)

Students will present a summary of an emerging real-world issue and engage in peer reviews.

SEM6611 Doctoral Seminar II (1 semester credit)

Students will compare criteria for professional presentations and submit an abstract appropriate for presentation at a state or national conference.

SEM6621 Doctoral Seminar III (1 semester credit)

Students will analyze an issue, demonstrating academic writing, and submit an article draft for peer review.


RES6903 Dissertation I

Students will develop and present research proposal under supervision of faculty advisor. May be repeated.

RES6913 Dissertation II

Students will prepare and deliver final presentations of their research project. May be repeated.

Semester Credits Tuition Per Credit Total Tuition
64 $306 $19,584.00

Applicable fees

  • Application fee: $100
  • Technology & library fee: $30 per credit hour (for a total of $1,920)
  • Dissertation fee: $200
  • Program conferral fee: $150

Total program cost: $21,954.00. For more information, visit the tuition section.

Total program cost for students who were admitted, re-entered, or changed programs before the February 22, 2016 term: $21,234.

Additional considerations for Ed.D. students

Access to an e-portfolio is provided through existing fees; no additional fee is charged. Required course materials currently include bibliographic software that may be purchased using a discount negotiated by ACE.

Students may choose required statistics software, either for free or as a purchased tool.

ACE has prepared me to adapt to the systemic changes that are occurring in our education system. The evidence-based, relevant methodology in ACE's curriculum has enabled me to manifest dramatic improvements within my own school community.

Jeremy Heck M.Ed. Educational Leadership 2012