West Texas A&M University

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Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership

Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership



Educational leaders have unique challenges that require a commitment to continuous student improvement through building and understanding culture, using educational systems, defining learning, and cultivating shared leadership. The program’s unique focus through rural school preparation equips school leaders with a wide variety of tools to lead and ensures the replication of these skills in any school district, of any size, and in any location.

Program Goals and Outcomes

Distinguished program characteristics include an interdisciplinary curriculum, an emphasis on action research, a high impact experiential immersion experience, and an endowed scholars program. Rather than the traditional dissertation, scholarly research results in two articles that are publication ready.

Required courses for the Ed.D. total 60 semester credit hours. Features of the curriculum include environmental courses (sociology, decision making, and superintendent certification) in the first year to ground the candidate in the interface between the community, his or her decision making, and the job description. The second year introduces methodology courses and additional knowledge and skill courses. The final year focuses on research, writing, and applying theory to practice.

A unique feature of the program is the immersion experience that provides practical work application around problems of practice and opportunities for innovative design. Immersion experiences are planned for each long semester, and during the first summer, there will be an optional international experience available. Any questions about the immersion experiences may be discussed with the program director.

Our program learning goals are to prepare:

  1. Visionary and effective educational leaders grounded in research who are equipped to meet specific challenges in rural educational settings.
  2. Leaders who are responsive to the cultural, sociopolitical, economic, and emergency management contexts of rural communities.
  3. Leaders who are capable of innovative solutions within areas of limited resources and access conditions.

Our candidate learning outcomes include:

  • Critical analysis of the cultural, sociopolitical, and economic milieu impacting educational organizations within rural and small urban areas.
  • Creation of settings that support accessible and equitable learning opportunities for all members.
  • Engagement in diverse, scholarly activities to evaluate current educational organizations, to inform decision making, and to provide new directions for organization improvement.
  • Synthesis of theory, research, and best practices from national and international perspectives to create innovative solutions to meet specific challenges in rural areas. 

Career Opportunities

  • School districts serving fewer than 1,000 students comprise more than 50% of the districts in Texas, creating the need for rural school leaders. This need for rural school leaders is similar in many states across the country.
  • Aspiring and current school leaders can enhance job performance and improve opportunities for leadership as this program focuses on problems of practice, action research, understanding the context that impacts learning, and the interface of the practitioner with the researcher.   
  • Aspiring and current school leaders can develop research skills to apply theory to problems of practice and unravel complexity.
  • The program’s focused preparation in rural school leadership ensures the replication of those unique skills in any school district, of any size, and in any location.

Admission Requirements

Formal admittance to the Ed.D. Educational Leadership program requires:

Phase 1 (Due October 1 at 5:00 PM CST)

  • WTAMU Graduate School application and application fee. Please note we do not require the Texas Common application.
  • A letter of intent (no more than 500 words).
    • Introduces himself/herself and shares professional and personal information;
    • Explains why s/he has applied, what purpose this degree will serve, and his/her intentions regarding the degree;
    • Identifies a challenging problem s/he faced as a working professional. 
    • Describes the problem and shares how s/he addressed that problem;
    • Shares with us why s/he will succeed in this program
    • Provides us with his/her name, phone number, and a private (not professional) email address.
  • A writing artifact is required
    • In a paper no longer than five (5) pages, please identify what you believe is the most pressing problem of practice facing rural school leaders today. This problem can be at the EC-12 area or higher education. Identify your second and third considerations (please name those problems and identify their components) and tell us why you discarded those choices to focus on the problem you chose as the most pressing problem. In other words, explain your rational for selecting that one problem of practice rather than the others that you rejected. Share with us how you, if you were an administrator confronted with this problem, would go about solving this most pressing problem of practice.
    • The resulting paper should be from one to five (1-5) pages in length and should be formatted with 1” margins, 12 point font in Times New Roman, and double spaced.
  • Curriculum vitae/resume that describes the applicant’s education and professional experience;
  • Official transcripts from all higher education institutions attended by the applicant providing evidence of a master’s degree in education or related field;
  • A minimum of 3.25 GPA in graduate courses. (Candidates must maintain a 3.5 GPA to remain in the program with no grade less than a “B.”) and;
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation including at least one from a supervisor who can attest to the applicant’s leadership abilities.
  • Proofread your letter of intent and writing artifact carefully and correct any grammar and punctuation errors. Check the rubric we will use to evaluate your letter of intent, writing artifact and grammar/mechanics errors, if any, in both.
All documents should be submitted to the Graduate School.

Phase 2

Regionally underrepresented candidates are encouraged to apply.

Notice to international applicants: Due to visa regulations regarding online programs, international students in non-immigrant F1 visa status cannot meet visa requirements while residing in the U.S. Applicants in other visa categories not required to maintain visa status through full time enrollment are encouraged to apply. 

  • International applicants are required to provide proof of English proficiency as follows: TOEFL scores taken with the last two years with a minimum score of 550 (Paper), 213 (Computer), or 79 (Internet);  or IELTS 6.0 or greater (academic test);
    • Waivers of English proficiency may be considered on a case by case basis.


Applications for spring 2019 are closed. The next deadline for applications is October 1, 2019 at 5:00 PM CST. Candidates will be notified after November 1st as to acceptance. Classes will begin in the spring of 2020.


Master’s degree and principal certification is required if doctoral candidates wish to certify as a Texas superintendent. For further certification information, please note that on the Texas Education Agency link the information is codified in 19 TAC §242.20

Coursework: 60 hours

Required courses (57 hours):

  • EDLD 6326 Action Research (3)
  • EDLD 6320 Executive Leadership of the Educational Community (3)
  • SOCI 6315 Demographics of Rural Communities (3)
  • EDLD 6322 Executive Administrative Leadership (3)
  • EDPD 6313 Decision Making (3)
  • EDLD 6324 Executive Instructional Leadership (3)
  • CIDM 6305 Quantitative Analysis in Business (3) or RSCH 6311 Quantitative Research (3)
  • EDLD 6340 Leadership in Education (3)
  • EDLD 6304 Educational Laws, Politics, and Policy (3)
  • RSCH 6314 Mixed Methods (3)
  • EDLD 6332 Ethics in Educational Leadership (3)
  • RSCH 6313 Qualitative Research or CIDM 6305 Quantitative Analysis in Business or RSCH 6312 Data Analysis / Research Statistics (3)
  • EDPD 6380 Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Programs (3)
  • EDLD 6336 Organization Theory (3)
  • EMA 6310 Emergency Management and Response (3)
  • EDLD 6000 Scholarly Delivery (12)

Electives (3 hours)

  • EDPD 6305 Curriculum Analysis
  • EDRD 6348 Organization and Administration of Reading Programs
  • EDPD 6310 Instructional Strategies
  • EDSP 6364 Legal Issues in Special Education

 Graduation Requirements

  • Complete all coursework
  • Maintain 3.5 GPA throughout program with no grade lower than a B
  • Write two publishable quality scholarly deliverables 

Immersion Experiences

Immersion experiences provide practical work application around problems of practice as well as opportunities for innovative design. Immersion experiences are planned for each long semester at the WTAMU Canyon or Amarillo campus with an optional international experience available during the first summer in Mexico. While participation is expected at these immersion experiences, we realize that exceptions may need to be made. Those will be made on a case by case basis by the director and EDLD faculty.

An orientation seminar during the first long semester of study introduces the program of studies. Immersion experiences that revolve around rural school problems of practice follow so that school leaders can participate in emerging and ongoing research practices with WTAMU faculty, the majority of whom have administrative leadership experience. Eventually, WTAMU doctoral candidates from other disciplines will join Ed.D. candidates to unravel complex social problems through innovative design.

The international engagement is through the Las Clavellinas Education Collaborative. Candidates who opt to attend will experience service leadership, clinical experience in a rural school setting, gain cross-cultural competence and a global perspective, and conduct meaningful action and scholarly research.   

Additional Information

Candidates may transfer up to twelve (12) semester credit hours of transfer and/or competency-based credit at the determination of the program director or program committee. For more information, please visit Transfer and Competency Credit.

You may also view information on scholarships and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) online.