Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)


West Texas A&M University’s Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership is a fully online Ed.D. degree program that has two tracks. Track one prepares individuals to lead rural schools and to teach educational leadership within a university setting. Track two prepares individuals for leadership positions within higher education and educational organizations. Although the program focuses on rural school leadership, both tracks equip educational leaders with a wide variety of tools to lead in any school district, of any size, and in any location. 

Distinguished program characteristics require 60 hours of courses that include an interdisciplinary curriculum, an emphasis on action research, the opportunity for a high impact experiential residency, and an endowed scholars program. Candidates who qualify can transfer in 12 hours of transfer credit and/or competency credit into the three-year program. This satisfies the residency requirement from the Graduate School.

Features of the curriculum highlight environmental courses (sociology, decision making, and superintendent certification) to ground doctoral candidates in the interface among the community, the individual’s decision making, and the job description. The first year in the Educational Leadership Track also includes superintendent certification courses.  While the first year in the Leadership in Higher Education Track focuses upon methodology courses, both tracks are introduced to additional knowledge and skill courses in the second year. For both tracks, the final year focuses on research, writing, and applying theory to practice. Rather than the traditional dissertation, scholarly research results in two articles that are publication-ready.

Program Goals and Outcomes

Program learning goals for the online Ed.D. (both tracks) prepare:

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

Candidate learning outcomes:

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

Career Opportunities

Educational Leadership (EDLD) Track:

  • 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.

Leadership in Higher Education (HE) Track:

The Leadership in Higher Education Track for the online Ed.D. is designed for those individuals who have a master’s degree in areas other than educational leadership, but desire an administrative position in a Higher Education environment or educational organization that serves rural schools and communities. 

The program prepares individuals for administrative and instructional positions in community colleges, colleges, universities, government agencies, and educational organizations. Although the focus is on rural schools and communities, the leadership skill set will transfer to suburban and urban areas.  

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 in 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 rationale 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 3.0 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.
All documents should be submitted to the WTAMU Applicant Portal by October 1 at 5:00 PM CST.

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 are 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.


We are now accepting applications for our next cohort. Applications are due October 1 at 5:00 PM CST. Candidates will be notified after November 1st as to the acceptance. Classes will begin in January of the following year.


Master’s degree and principal certification are 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: 48 hours of classwork and 12 hours of 6000

Educational Leadership (EDLD) Track

Leadership in Higher Education (HE) Track

EDLD 6000 Scholarly Delivery EDLD 6000 Scholarly Delivery

EDLD 6326 Research Design / Action Research

EDLD 6326 Research Design / Action Research

EDLD 6320 Executive Leadership in the   Educational Community

RSCH 6312 Data Analysis / Research Statistics
RSCH 6311 Quantitative  Research

SOCI 6315 Demographics of Rural Communities

SOCI 6315 Demographics of Rural Communities

EDLD 6322 Executive Administrative Leadership

RSCH 6313 Qualitative Research

EDPD 6313 Decision Making

EDPD 6313 Decision Making

EDLD 6324 Executive Instructional Leadership

RSCH 6314 Mixed Methods

RSCH 6312 Data Analysis / Research Statistics
RSCH 6311 Quantitative  Research

EDLD 6356 Power, Myth, and Memes

EDLD 6340 Leadership in Education

EDLD 6340 Leadership in Education

EDLD 6304 Educational Law

EDLD 6304 Educational Law

RSCH 6314 Mixed Methods

EDLD 6358 Finance in Higher Education

EDLD 6332 Ethics in Educational Leadership

EDLD 6332 Ethics in Educational Leadership

RSCH 6313 Qualitative Research

EDLD 6360 Higher Education Policy

EDPD 6380 Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Programs

EDLD 6354 History and Future of Higher Education

EDLD 6336 Organization Theory

EDLD 6336 Organization Theory

EMA 6310 Emergency Management and Response

EMA 6310 Emergency Management and Response

Elective (3 hours): 
EDPD 6305 Curriculum Theory and Analysis or
EDRD 6348 Organization and Administration of Reading Programs or
EDPD 6310 Instructional Strategies or
EDSP 6364 Legal Issues in Special Education

Elective (3 hours):
One elective approved by the Ed.D. program director in a field other than Educational Leadership

Graduation Requirements

  • Complete all coursework
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program with no grade lower than a "B"
  • Write two publishable quality scholarly deliverables 

Immersion Experiences

Immersion experiences provide practical work applications 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.

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.