Program Details

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Program At A Glance

  • Program Duration: 3 years (11 quarters)
  • Program Start: Summer
  • Application Priority Deadline: March 3
  • Program Cost: Cost information is located here
  • Delivery:  Flexible format - primarily online learning with face-to-face classes once a month on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Dissertation Format: Group Thematic Dissertation in Leadership Practice
  • Ability To Maintain Full-Time Employment
  • Professionally Focused
  • Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) Membership


The mission of the doctoral program in educational and organizational learning and leadership is to "prepare effective leaders for an interdependent world." To accomplish this mission, the Doctor of Education in Educational and Organizational Learning and Leadership prepares ethical, reflective, and professional leaders who are culturally competent, value and understand diversity, and use evidence-based practices to work for social justice.

With this mission in mind, the Educational and Organizational Learning and Leadership students situate their knowledge of leadership and their professional identity as leaders within their understandings of self, the organizations in which they interact, and global orientations in an interconnected world.  Used under page titles

Program History

Established in 1976, our program has a distinguished reputation for producing leaders who are making a difference in our world, including chancellors and college presidents, award-winning superintendents and principals and leaders in business, non-profit organizations, healthcare and the government. It is that venerable history and our cohort model matched with educational and leadership practice that fosters a strong and invaluable network of skilled leaders from diverse fields of practice and expertise.

As the first academic doctoral program in an independent university in the state of Washington, the original program started as Educational Leadership (EDLR) program with a cohort of 27 students. Since its creation, the program has produced more than 500 graduates who hold leadership positions throughout the region, state, nation, and world.

Dr. John Morford served as the Dean of the College of Education and was the EDLR program’s first chair, serving as senior professor of educational leadership from 1977 through 1991. Over the years, the program has attracted a diverse group of students with respect to gender, age, culture, race/ethnicity, ability, and employment identity. Prior program participants have been selected for Fulbright Fellowships and graduates have received outstanding dissertation awards from their national/international professional associations.

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Program Learning Outcomes and Philosophy

The Executive EdD program is designed to equip students with the skills every transformative organizational leader needs to be effective, including organizational development, collaborative inquiry, team and partnership building, learning science, and program evaluation. 

Graduates of Seattle University's Educational and Organizational Learning and Leadership program will be scholarly practitioners and influencers with the ability and competencies to name, frame, and solve problems of practice, using empirical evidence to evaluate impact. Understanding the importance of equity and social justice, they use applied theories and practical research as tools for collaborative change. 

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Program Features

Curriculum Grounded In Theory And Practice

To successfully complete the Ed.D program, students must earn 66 credits in leadership, research and dissertation courses. Research, theory, and practice come together to create actionable solutions:

  • Rooted in applicable and practical coursework
  • Strengthened with evidence-based research and leadership practices
  • Grounded in social justice


Blended coursework that combines face-to-face sessions, online learning, and field experiences make the EOLL program the ideal option for the working professional.

Professional Engagement & Networking 

Come together with colleagues to resolve case studies that allow for professional collaboration in our cohort-based program. Faculty and fellow graduate students offer you a broad-based knowledge of the field, lifelong friends and fellow colleagues in educational leadership. The cohort models build a sense of connection for alumni and collaborators.

CPED Membership

Seattle University College of Education is a member of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED): 100 colleges and schools which have committed resources to work together to prepare educational leaders to become well-equipped scholarly practitioners who provide stewardship of the profession and meet the educational challenges of the 21st century.

Group Dissertations Of Practice 

All doctoral students will participate in the Thematic Dissertation in Leadership Practice (TDiLP), which is informed by cooperative community-based research and based on CPED working principles and design concepts. The group dissertations connect Ed.D research and inquiry with real-world leadership practice to bring about productive community change.

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The EOLL curriculum is structured around developing leaders who are: value centered, committed to service and social justice for the common good; professional, reflective, holistic, interdisciplinary, creative, visionary, and scholarly; effective interpersonally and as a leader in organizations; and both committed to and possessing the conceptual knowledge and skills to lead in diverse communities and in an interdependent world.

These values serve as the backbone of our program and live out in each course, module, and summer experience that our students engage in. After completing their coursework and their Thematic Dissertation in Leadership Practice dissertation, students will have the organizational, leadership, and research skills necessary to serve in senior positions in school district central offices, independent schools, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, advocacy organizations, and more.

To complete the Doctorate in Education program, students must earn 66 credits beyond an approved master's degree, which includes three (3) required summer institutes.

Leadership Requirements (36 credits)

After an intensive summer introduction for the new cohort, participants in the doctoral program are involved in seminars that focus on the Leader as Self, Leader in Organizations, and Leader in a Global and Interdependent World. Students also engage in year-long projects.

  • EOLL 6000: Foundations in Doctoral Studies (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6010: Critical Analysis and Inquiry in Leadership Studies (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6050: Empowering Leaders for Social Justice (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6210: Leadership as Self (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6220: Interdisciplinary Perspectives of Leadership Practices (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6230: Scholar-Practitioner Seminar in Leadership Practice (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6310: Leadership in Organizations (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6320: Catalysts for Change in Organizational Leadership (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6330: Design Thinking in Organizational Learning (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6410: Leadership in a Global World (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6420: Community-Engaged Leadership Practice (3 credits)
  • EOLL 6430: Scholar-Practitioner Seminar in Leadership Practice II (3 credits)

Research Requirements (30 credits)

The EOLL program at Seattle Univeristy includes a capstone Thematic Dissertation in Practice research component, requiring each student to conduct inquiry relevant to information needs of a learning organization. Students form thematic dissertation groups led by at least one doctoral faculty mentor and organized around broad, complex, organization-based issues or problems relevant to leadership.

  • EDLR 6160: Social Inquiry Methods
  • EDLR 6170: Educational Research Methods I
  • EDLR 6180: Educational Research Methods II
  • EDLR 6190: Participatory Approaches to Social Inquiry
  • EDLR 6510, 6520, 6530: Thematic Dissertation in Leadership Practice

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You will enter Seattle University's Ed.D. in Educational and Organizational Learning and Leadership program in a cohort, completing your studies with the same group of people. The program is delivered through a blended online model of residencies, online discussions, and individualized instruction.

The program, while rigorous, is planned to meet the needs of working professionals. During the first two years, students typically take classes on Friday evenings and all-day Saturday, once a month. Because of the infrequency of classes, attendance is mandatory. During the third year, students work in teams on a thematic doctoral dissertation under the guidance of a faculty committee. Students should also expect to do extensive reading and research outside of class meeting times

Additionally, students attend three Summer Institutes. The Ed.D. Summer Institute is an one-week educational residency held each year of the three years of your doctoral education. Courses and activities run from 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday on the Seattle University Campus. The activities include lectures, guest speakers, group projects, and off-site visits. This summer experience will give students the opportunity to meet their classmates and professors face to face and complete various collaborative learning exercises designed to build essential leadership skills.

The basic calendar framework is three years of coursework followed by research for the dissertation. There are four quarters per year: June-August, September-December, January-March, April-June with two courses (6 credits) per quarter. This calendar was designed to be sensitive to the working professional, while maintaining the integrity of Ed.D. level work.

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Cohort Learning & Profile

Peer learning and a sustained network are essential hallmarks of the Ed.D. program. As a result, students will progress through the program as part of a cohort, taking the same courses and accomplishing program milestones together. We intentionally build a diverse community of scholars who foster a dynamic learning environment through robust dialogue, shared learning experiences, and the presentation of current professional work and doctoral research.

Cohort Profile

Individual cohort profiles vary significantly by program, but here is the big picture for the Ed.D.  students who entered in 2019-2020:  

  • Doctor of Educational Leadership (EOLL) Cohort 43: 14 students
  • Gender Ratio: Female: 79% | Male: 21% 
  • Geographical Distribution: 5 states, 2 countries of citizenship 
  • International Students: 1% 
  • Students of color: 33% 
  • Age Breakdown: 
    • Range: 23 to 48
    • Average: 34 
  • Years of Work 
    • Range: 3 to 19 
    • Average: 10.3 

Note: All class profile numbers are accurate as of October 4, 2019. 

Types of Employment

Students came from a broad range of organizational contexts such as primary, secondary, and tertiary education; government services such as ministries of education, public and private education, multi-lateral organizations, religious organizations, nonprofit organizations, philanthropic foundations and corporations

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A unique feature of our program is the Thematic Dissertation in Leadership Practice (TDiLP), which leverages cohort teams, working under faculty supervision, to engage in action-based research with a community partner. Together, you and your cohort members will conduct group thematic dissertations that require real-world application of leadership skills while being client-oriented. All dissertations are collaboratively conducted, written and defended. This process has been integral to our graduates being acknowledged as high-level practitioners in their respective fields while contributing meaningful solutions and bases of knowledge to some of society’s greatest challenges.