Leadership in Education Ph.D.

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Program Overview

The UMass Lowell Leadership in Education Ph.D. program emphasizes the generation, critical evaluation and application of knowledge in the field of Leadership PK-Higher Education. This doctoral program is appropriate for professionals pursuing a future career in research universities and other policy and research organizations. Students admitted to this degree may study on a part-time or full-time basis. There is no residency requirement for part-time students. There is a limited number of Teaching and Research Assistantships available for suitably qualified full-time students.

The program provides students with an experience that is unique among Leadership Ph.D. programs offered by other universities in the region.

  • Our School of Education (SOE) is large enough to provide access to a diverse range of faculty expertise yet small enough to ensure personalized attention.
  • Our regularly scheduled seminars and meetings ensure the development of collaborative networking and professional relationships.
  • Lowell’s geographic location allows ready access to a wealth of resources, putting students within easy driving distance of urban, suburban, and rural communities of diverse makeup, as well as state government, and non-university research policy centers.

Questions regarding the Leadership in Education Ph.D. should be sent to the Ph.D. Coordinator via email: [email protected] .

The Leadership in Education Ph.D. program requires 60 credits of study beyond the master's degree.

The degree pathway can be found in the academic catalog.

Admission Requirements

To qualify for admission to the Ph.D. all applicants must meet the following requirements:

Candidates should submit a statement of no more than 1,500 words, that responds to two questions:

  • What are you interested in researching during your doctoral studies, and why?
  • How would doctoral studies at UMass Lowell advance your career goals?
  • Earned master’s degree from an accredited institution. The most appropriate master’s degree is the M.Ed.; however, other related master’s degrees will be considered if the candidate can demonstrate work experience or knowledge of education policy and/or research. The master’s degree must have been earned with a 3.000 GPA or better.
  • Resume, which highlights the applicant’s education and experience relevant to the degree after completion of the bachelor’s degree.
  • Satisfactory TOEFL scores taken within the last year for international applicants as appropriate.
  • Three letters of recommendation that speak to the suitability of the applicant for advanced graduate work, work ethic and knowledge of the field of education and/or education research.
  • Please submit a writing sample that demonstrates the applicant's ability to present a cohesive, focused and persuasive response to an education issues of his or her choice. The writing sample should be accompanied by a brief note explaining the context in which it was written and identifying the kinds of support received by the applicant producing it. 
  • Interview on-campus or via a video-conferencing tool for those applicants seeking Teaching or Research Assistantships, or for those whose application materials raise unanswered questions.
  • International Students: please see  https://www.uml.edu/International-applicants/Application-Requirements/international-grad-admissions.aspx

Application for admission to the Ph.D. program is available online through the Office of Graduate Admissions .

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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies EdD, PhD

Not accepting new students.

The Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program is not accepting new students at this time.

The Department of Educational Leadership (DEL) assumes a leading role locally, nationally, and internationally in preparing a new generation of transformative educational leaders and policy analysts committed to the pursuit of scholarship and serving those most in need. 

The doctoral program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies is distinctive and unique because it:

  • combines different fields of study and disciplines. 
  • draws on highly qualified, interdisciplinary faculty and staff.
  • creates the opportunity for stronger partnerships and collaborations.
  • blends theory and and calls for the development of innovative pedagogies.
  • enables deeper reflection about educational achievement in environments that are dynamic, diverse, democratic and socially just.

Upon entering the program, students become part of a cohort who work together for the duration of the program. This model helps to encourage a more dynamic, supportive and collaborative learning environment.

Choose between the EdD or PhD

The EdD path prepares reflective practitioners with the leadership and management skills necessary to transform educational institutions and improve student learning in a variety of school environments.

The PhD path is designed for those who wish to combine a strong base of theoretical knowledge with an individualized focus to analyze policy about PreK-12, postsecondary, and adult learning environments.

Degree requirements

  • Complete 82 credits of study (includes courses, colloquia, seminars and thesis)
  • Maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Pass the written and oral comprehensive examination
  • Successfully defending a final dissertation

Student Success

Advocate for equal education opportunities

University requirements for graduate admissions

  • Submit an application via the online portal. Be sure to provide your full legal name and to capitalize the first letter of all proper nouns.
  • Pay non-refundable $60 application fee (American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa) via the online portal. For Nursing applicants, the non-refundable application fee is $75.
  • Statement of Purpose, minimum 300 words. Unless otherwise indicated in the program requirement details, indicate your graduate study objectives, research interests and experience, and business or industry experience if applicable. If you are applying for a teaching or research assistantship, include any special skills or experience that would assist us in making assistantship decisions.
  • Transcripts for all post-secondary institutions attended (regardless of whether a credential is earned or not). Unofficial transcripts are accepted for admissions application review, once enrolled a final official transcript is required. International students applying for Data Science must submit semester-by-semester transcripts as well as consolidated transcripts. 
  • Many programs have specific recommendations/requirements, please see the additional program-specific requirements for more information.
  • International students : official TOEFL, IELTS, Pearson PTE or Duolingo (if accepted by program) score. Unofficial scores are accepted for admissions application review, once enrolled official scores are required and must be sent by the testing agency (copies/scans not accepted). This is required of any applicant who did not earn a bachelor’s degree or higher degree from an accredited academic institution in the U.S. or accepted English-speaking country, see exemptions for more details .   The Duolingo test is not accepted for the following programs: Art Education, Biology/Marine Biology, Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies & Theory, Marine Science and Technology (MS, PSM, PhD), Nursing (MS, DNP, PhD), Portuguese Studies, Professional Writing and Communication, Psychology (ABA, Clinical, Research), and Public Policy. 
  • All official documents are required for enrollment, please have documents (ie. test scores) sent prior to the expiration. 

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Educational Leadership PhD

Recognizing the centrality of policy in education practice, Educational Leadership courses   give current and aspiring leaders, policy analysts, and scholars the opportunity to critically examine and synthesize research, theories, practices, and policies and to conduct rigorous research that contributes to improving education.

Students in Educational Leadership gain insight into organizational change and school reform, policies and politics, curriculum development, instructional improvement, and evaluation. Students interested in educational leadership also have the opportunity to work with the Center for Educational Policy, which manages externally funded grants and contracts.

Educational Leadership faculty are available to collaborate with doctoral students as dissertation committee members (determined on a case-by-case basis).

Featured faculty

Jack schneider.

Jack Schneider is a historian and policy analyst who studies the influence of politics, rhetoric, culture, and information in shaping attitudes and behaviors.

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Educational Leadership

Educational Leadership is ideal for students who want to transform PreK–12 education, influencing policy and practices in a wide range of educational contexts.

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Online Doctor of Education in Leadership in Schooling

Earn your terminal degree online through UMass Lowell's Doctor of Education in Leadership in Schooling and prepare for leadership roles in PK-12 districts. This program emphasizes the development of thoughtful and reflective scholar-practitioners.

Complete online courses in Summer, Fall and Spring semesters supplemented by a one-week summer residency each year. Delivered through a cohort model, the program starts in the middle of May. You will take two courses each semester and complete the program over a three-year period.

Please note that this degree does not lead to licensure. For more information on licensure programs for Massachusetts teachers, explore our M.Ed. and Ed.S. degrees .

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Earn a Top-Ranked Master's for Under $20k

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One of the Most Affordable Tuitions in the Nation

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No GMAT/GRE Required

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Variety of Financial Aid and Scholarships Available

Career outlook, curriculum outline.

- Number of Courses Required: 14 (42 credits)

Required Courses (5 Courses / 15cr)

  • EDUC.6440 Foundations for Practitioner Scholars
  • EDUC.6910 Developing Inclusive School Contexts
  • EDUC.6940 Systems Leadership I
  • EDUC.6960 Strategic Partnering with Families and Communities - Available Spring 2024!
  • EDUC.6991 Reading and Applying Educational Research

Research Design & Methods (4 Courses / 12cr)

  • EDUC.6911 Applied Research Design
  • EDUC.6921 Quantitative Data Analysis for Practitioner Leaders - Available Spring 2024!
  • EDUC.6922 Qualitative Research Methods Practitioner Leaders - Available Spring 2024!
  • EDUC.6931 Data Analysis for Practitioner Leaders

Specialization Courses (2 Courses / 6cr)

  • EDUC.6920 Law, Policy, and Finance
  • EDUC.6930 Organizational Learning

One week residency required each summer*

Dissertation Planning and Execution (3 Courses / 9cr)

  • EDUC.7501 Dissertation in Practice - Available Spring 2024!
  • EDUC.7502 Dissertation in Practice: Data Collection and Analysis
  • EDUC.7503 Dissertation in Practice: Dissertation Completion - Available Spring 2024!

Course Descriptions

Educ.6440 foundations for practitioner scholars (3cr).

This course will introduce students to seminal and recent work in the fields of philosophy, history, and psychology as they relate to education. Students will critically examine research and scholarly theory in these fields and their relationship to PK-12 Practice.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

EDUC.6910 Developing Inclusive School Contexts (3cr)

This course will introduce students to theory and research about structural inequities, barriers to education, and promising practices for addressing these barriers. Students will examine theory and research and implications for practice in PK-12 Leadership.

EDUC.6911 Applied Research Design (3cr)

This course is designed to provide PK-12 practitioners with an understanding of the principles of research design and the ethical responsibilities of conducting a research study. Participants will learn a broad range of research methodology approaches that can be applied to problems of practice. Participants will become skilled at reading, evaluating, and judging the trustworthiness of studies using different methodology approaches. They will design a practitioner-oriented research study.

EDUC.6920 Law, Policy, and Finance (3cr)

In this course students will examine scholarship and research in the areas of law, policy and finance as these affect educational practice. They will analyze law, policy and finance and its implications for leaders in PK-12 schools and school systems.

EDUC.6921 Quantitative Data Analysis for Practitioner Leaders (3cr)

The primary focus of this course is to prepare practitioner leaders to understand, interpret, and analyze quantitative data as it relates to their identified problem of practice.

EDUC.6922 Qualitative Research Methods Practitioner Leaders (3cr)

This is the first in a two-part sequence of courses that will introduce students to the scope of issues, techniques, and perspectives that compose qualitative research methodology. In this first course students will be introduced to historical, philosophical, and theoretical issues undergirding the approach, principles of research design, data collection techniques, and approaches for preliminary organization of the data. Students will also be introduced to literature and technologies of the field.

EDUC.6930 Organizational Learning (3cr)

This course will introduce students to research and theory in the field of organizational learning and its application to PK-12 practice. Students will study the origins, evolution and contemporary findings of research in this field. Students will explore the practical implications of organizational learning for PK-12 leadership.

EDUC.6931 Data Analysis for Practitioner Leaders (3cr)

This course is designed to provide second year EdD students opportunities to learn how experts in the field are applying principles of improvement science to address educational problems--particularly those related to equity. At the end of the course, students are expected to demonstrate how they will apply improvement science methods to address a persistent educational problem in their own school or system contexts.

EDUC.6940 Systems Leadership I (3cr)

Drawing on organizational, management, and educational scholarship, this course introduces students to concepts and practices associated with strategic systems leadership. Students will apply their understandings of how to leverage both formal and informal sources of influence in their analysis of relevant teaching cases and the data they collect in an extensive field study project.

EDUC.6960 Strategic Partnering with Families and Communities (3cr)

This course will critically examine the variety of issues associated with partnering with parents, families and community organizations. Through analysis of theory, research and collective knowledge, doctoral students will learn how to strategically engage parents, families and community organizations and recognize the different forms of engagement. This course will emphasize collaborative strategies that "shares power" with key stakeholders in U.S. schools.

EDUC.6991 Reading and Applying Educational Research (3cr)

This course is designed to build student capacity for evidence-based decision making in K-12 schools. Specifically, it will advance student ability to locate educational research, evaluate it for quality, extract findings, and apply those findings to practice. Critically, the process of applying research to practice will consider local context and draw on stakeholder experiences, weaving them together with scholarship to develop school improvement plans.

EDUC.7501 Dissertation in Practice (3cr)

Ed.D. students will design their study, complete their proposal, conduct their study and defend their dissertation in practice, while enrolled in dissertation credit. This course is for ED.D. cohort students only.

EDUC.7502 Dissertation in Practice: Data Collection and Analysis (3cr)

In this second course of the EdD dissertation course series, students will collect and analyze data with the support of the course instructor.

EDUC.7503 Dissertation in Practice: Dissertation Completion (3cr)

In this final course of the EdD program students formally report on their data in a written dissertation that they defend at the end of the semester.

Ed.D. Program Requirements

The Ed.D. requires completion of 42 credits beyond the master's or education specialist (CAGS) degree. Nine of these credits are focused on dissertation research. The research for the Ed.D. is applied in nature and may examine an issue pertinent to a local setting. The Ed.D. program requires completion of 11 online courses (33 cr) and 9 credits of dissertation research support through online dissertation seminars. Additionally, candidates must attend a week-long summer residency each year they are in the program.

In order to complete either degree, candidates must:

  • Complete the required minimum number of credits in the specified program;
  • Complete all courses, including residency requirements, with a cumulative grade point average of B or better;
  • Have no more than two courses below the grade of B counted toward their degree;
  • Pass two doctoral examinations;
  • Satisfactorily complete and defend a dissertation proposal;
  • Satisfactorily complete and defend the dissertation;
  • Submit all required paperwork at each stage of the degree;
  • Maintain continuing matriculation if not enrolled in coursework or dissertation research credit;
  • Conform to all human subjects requirements for research as specified by the Institutional Research Board (IRB);
  • Complete the program within eight years from the date of admission.

Program Requirements

To be recommended for a University of Massachusetts Lowell doctorate degree, candidates must satisfy all of the general requirements below, plus any additional requirements that may be required by the department through which the program is offered. Any additional requirements for this program are either listed below or may be found in the University's Graduate Program Catalog .

General Requirements:

  • Candidates for the master's degree must complete the program within five years of matriculation in order to receive the degree.
  • Students must complete the program of study designed by the Department in which they are enrolled and approved by the University.
  • Satisfactory grades in all subjects offered for the degree must be earned. See Academic Standing .
  • All financial obligations, including tuition, fees and expenses, must be satisfied as evidenced by completion.
  • Upon completion of all their courses, graduate degree candidates must submit a signed Declaration of Intent to Graduate (DIG) form to their coordinator. The coordinator will apply them in SIS, Graduation Tracking.

GPA Minimum

No more than 6 course credits of grades below a B may be counted toward the master's degree; no more than 9 credits of the same grades may be counted toward the doctorate. No graduate degree will be awarded to any student whose overall cumulative grade point average falls below 3.000.

Graduate Program Policies

warning notice which will also be sent to the graduate coordinator, and filed with the student's record in the Registrar's Office. The student will be strongly advised to meet with the graduate coordinator or his/her designee within 30 days of receipt of the warning notice and develop an academic plan to bring his or her GPA to a level above 3.0. For additional information, please refer to the Graduate Program Policies found within the UMass Lowell Graduate Catalog. --> In applying for a degree program or registering for courses, each student assumes full responsibility for knowledge of and compliance with the definitions, regulations and procedures of UMass Lowell as set forth on our website. For additional information, please refer to the Graduate Program Policies found within the UMass Lowell Graduate Catalog.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition at UMass Lowell is typically half the cost of private colleges, and our online tuition is among the lowest in the nation. Tuition for online programs offered through the Division of Graduate, Online & Professional Studies is the same whether you live in-state, out-of-state or outside of the U.S.

Please note: Tuition and fees are subject to change.

Looking for Financial Assistance?

Admission requirements.

The Ed.D. is an online cohort-based program that begins once each year, in May. Applications are accepted during the preceding year, between April - October 15, the priority deadline. Priority applications are reviewed after the 10/15 deadline. Applications with missing materials are not reviewed. Admission decisions are sent by year end, with a commitment date in January for accepted applicants. Should spots in the cohort become available, waitlisted applicants will typically be notified in February. Applications are accepted after the priority deadline but will only be processed on a case-by-case basis if there are open spots in the cohort.

  • An M.Ed., Ed.S. or master's degree in a field relevant to K-12 education
  • Should be currently working in a K-12 school or other setting that serves these students, have at least three years' experience as a teacher and/or as an instructional leader, have a commitment to continuing to serve such students as a leader who will influence excellence and equity
  • Official transcripts from previously earned degrees
  • Two letters of reference that speak towards the candidate's capacity for/record of leadership or STEM leadership in or relevant to K-12 settings and their commitment to learning and continued personal and professional growth including an ability to give and receive feedback/engage in interchange of ideas.
  • A professional resume
  • A two-page statement of purpose in which the applicant describes their understanding of equity-based educational problems and identifies and articulates the reasons to address a contextually relevant, equity-based problem (for STEM applicants should have a STEM focus).
  • F1 student visas are not issued for this program

Questions Regarding Your Graduate Application?

Email [email protected] or call 800-656-4723 (for U.S. students) or 978-934-2390 (for international students).

For General Assistance:

For general questions about registering for courses or to find out who the advisor is for your graduate program, call 800-480-3190. Our admissions and advising teams are here to help!

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UMass Boston

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  • Urban Education, Leadership & Policy EdD / PhD

Become a critical and reflective leader seeking to improve urban education through research and practice.

Our program has been grounded in social justice and equity since its founding in the early 1990s. This foundation is represented in our curriculum, admissions decisions, our faculty's research and scholarly expertise, and the dissertation research students conduct.

The mission of the Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Program is to develop dedicated, critical, and reflective leaders seeking to improve urban education through research and practice. While focusing on urban school issues, this program recognizes the interconnectedness of such issues on state, national, regional, and global scales. We prepare educational leaders who represent a variety of backgrounds, and support equity and diversity in all its forms, striving to contribute to the public good and a more socially just world. Through the course of their doctoral trajectory and culminating in a dissertation, students investigate issues of their choice that are relevant to their professional lives as leaders committed to educational change.

Why Apply for UMass Boston's Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Program?

Our curriculum focuses on preparing pre-K to 12 urban school leaders and scholars who are committed to fostering, facilitating, and managing change in diverse settings. Through the course of study toward the EdD or PhD, the Urban Education program at the University of Massachusetts Boston offers a range of knowledge, skills, and experiences to students, enabling them to:

  • Engage  with multiple sources of information (e.g., policy, research, history, and empirical data) and learn multiple research methods and theories within an area of concentration;
  • Conduct  original research on critical problems in K-12 education that relates to their professional practice and contributes to the ongoing academic conversation in their concentration area and in the fields of urban education and leadership;
  • Create  new knowledge from research that addresses real world problems, culminating in a dissertation;
  • Apply  social justice-oriented frameworks and research-based knowledge to real world academic and practical issues facing K-12 education institutions in order to be change agents in education;
  • Advance  their careers as leaders and successfully compete for employment in a wide variety of national and international school-based, agency, and community roles including higher education faculty, state department of education personnel, community agency/organization educational leaders, policy analysts, and researchers.

Cohort Model

Each year, the program admits a cohort of between 8 to 12 students, who take courses together throughout their program of study. The cohort model fosters collaborative approaches to learning, exploration, development and problem solving. Through cohort development, students build strong peer-to-peer relationships that cultivate a vibrant learning environment founded in meaningful connection, active engagement, and a commitment to individual and group development. In the classroom, the cohort model fosters a learning environment in which students can establish meaningful connections to theory, research, and practice.

What We Offer Our Scholar-Practitioners:

  • A diverse program that cares about doing our work in, with, & for our communities,
  • A cohort model focused on relationship-building,
  • Committed faculty who have experience as practitioners and scholars,
  • A 65-credit curriculum focused on equity, racial justice, and organizational change,
  • Pedagogy that engages students in broader educational research issues while inviting students to draw from professional knowledge and expertise,
  • Dissertation seminars that support the qualifying exam and writing of the dissertation,
  • An evening course schedule that supports full-time working professionals, and an
  • Annual scholarship-to-practice event.

Start Your Application

Plan Your Education

How to apply.

Applicants must meet general graduate admission requirements in addition to the following program-specific requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution of recognized standing or an international equivalent at the time of enrollment
  • A minimum, cumulative GPA of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale (or international equivalent) in all undergraduate work
  • A master's degree or the equivalent from a college or university of recognized standing
  • Official transcripts for all institutions where you have earned more than 6 credits; if your transcript is in a language other than English, please include an English translation, validated by an official public translator
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae
  • Essay (Personal Statement) A personal statement of no more than two pages (double spaced) should be sufficient to explain the applicant’s academic background, motivation, and research interests.
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation Recommenders should have worked closely with the applicant in an academic, professional, or community service setting. Letters should not be written by friends or family members of the applicant and should focus on the applicant’s abilities and past academic performance. The letters should also assess the applicant’s level of motivation for and commitment to a leadership role in urban education. Former professors familiar with the applicant’s academic abilities could address the applicant’s capacity to perform graduate-level work. Supervisors or colleagues at the current place of employment could describe and give evidence of the applicant’s potential as a social-change agent in urban educational contexts.
  • Employer Agreement Form The Employer Agreement Form shows year-by-year how the applicant and their employer will arrange the applicant’s work schedule to permit the applicant to meet the program’s requirements. These include three June sessions and a full weekday (Friday) on campus each week during the semesters leading up to the dissertation seminars. Please upload the Employer Agreement Form to the Documents section in the GradCAS application.
  • If applicable, request official TOEFL, IELTS, PTE and Duolingo scores to be sent to the University of Massachusetts Boston

All application materials should be sent directly to Graduate Admissions via the GradCAS application. Do not send the materials to the Leadership in Education department office. Materials must be sent directly to admissions in order to be processed.

The admissions committee will interview all finalists before making its recommendations for acceptance into the program.

Deadlines & Cost

Deadline: March 1

Application Fee:   The nonrefundable application fee is $75. UMass Boston alumni and current students that plan to complete degree requirements prior to graduate enrollment can submit the application without paying the application fee.

Program Cost Information: The degree options in the Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Program include a 65-credit EdD or PhD. The total for tuition and fees can be calculated by using the graduate tuition rates listed on the Bursar's website .

This is one program with two degree options. Students take the below required courses in both degree options. In addition to these courses, students will take one advanced research methods course and five electives, totaling 65 credits.

Required Core Courses (26 credits)

  • EDLDRS 701 – Leadership Workshop I
  • EDLDRS 703 – Critical Issues I
  • EDLDRS 705 – Introduction to Inquiry for Educational Leaders
  • EDLDRS 714 – Integrative Seminar I
  • EDLDRS 715 – Integrative Seminar II
  • EDLDRS 720 – Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum in Urban Contexts
  • EDLDRS 730 – Historical Roots of Contemporary Urban Schooling
  • EDLDRS 732 – Organization and Leadership in Educational Institutions
  • EDLDRS 750 – Education Policy
  • EDLDRS 760 – Qualifying Paper Seminar

Required Research Courses (21 credits)

  • EDLDRS 740 – Research Methods I (Quantitative)
  • EDLDRS 741 – Research Methods II (Qualitative)
  • EDLDRS 891 – Dissertation Seminar I
  • EDLDRS 892 – Dissertation Seminar II
  • EDLDRS 893 – Dissertation Seminar III
  • EDLDRS 899 – Dissertation Research (8 credits)

In addition to coursework, students in the Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Doctoral Program must successfully complete four major benchmarks:

  • comprehensive assessment
  • qualifying paper
  • dissertation proposal and hearing
  • dissertation and defense

The dissertation is designed to demonstrate students’ ability to analyze a problem in urban education extensively and to assess its implications for practice or policy. The problem involves a specific issue or policy, which is of critical concern in urban education. The problem can be drawn from organizational or administrative practice, theories and practices regarding learning and teaching, historical or cultural issues, or public policy at the state, regional, national, or international level.

Graduation Criteria

Complete 65 credits from 21 courses including twelve core courses, two concentration courses, two electives, and five dissertation courses.

The student may transfer up to 6 credits of coursework taken beyond the master’s level that has not contributed toward the award of any other degree.

Doctoral candidacy: Pass a comprehensive assessment and qualifying paper. Dissertation: Propose, compose, and defend a dissertation based on original empirical research.

Statute of limitations: Seven years.

Contact & Faculty

Graduate Program Director Abiola Farinde-Wu Abiola.Farinde [@] umb.edu

  • Abiola Farinde-Wu, Graduate Program Director, Associate Professor of Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies
  • Patricia Krueger-Henney, Associate Professor, Urban Education, Leadership and Policy Studies
  • Wenfan Yan, Professor, Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies Program
  • Bodunrin Banwo, Assistant Professor of Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies
  • Melissa Colon , Assistant Professor of Urban Education, Leadership, and Policy Studies

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Department of Leadership in Education

Learn more about how the Department of Leadership in Education prepares professionals for leadership roles in education.

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Educational leadership.

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Inspiring the creativity to improve teaching, learning, and leading.

Educational leadership involves creative intelligence and systems thinking. In this program, you’ll learn to use new knowledge and strategic planning to initiate, facilitate, support, and sustain school and district improvement. You’ll grow as an educational leader with vision and the skills to put that vision into action. 

During your studies, you'll conduct novel research and create new knowledge, all drawn from your personal and professional experiences. With faculty mentorship, you'll create a dissertation that explores your area of scholarly interest and inquiry. We'll encourage you to engage in evidence-based thinking and self-reflection that will foster development throughout your career.

And by joining this low-residency program, you'll join a close-knit community of diverse learners who co-construct knowledge and support each other throughout residencies and online coursework.

This program is appropriate for traditional leaders, such as superintendents and principals, and others, such as instructional coaches or department heads. Our alumni go on to a variety of leadership positions in K-12 education, as well as to positions in higher education.

Program Structure

Low-residency PhD program

  • You need to hold a Master’s degree or a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) from a regionally accredited institution to apply for our PhD programs in Educational Studies.
  • Courses in research and writing methods, school systems, technology, adult learning and development, communities of practice, interdisciplinary seminars, and more
  • Accompanied by a doctoral seminar. You’ll take coursework and attend residencies in the first and second years of your program. At the end of your required coursework, you’ll complete a qualifying paper. You’ll then advance to year three, in which you write your dissertation, completing the final 9 credits. Year three requires approval of the dissertation prospectus and thesis by your dissertation committee, an oral defense of the dissertation, and a public presentation of your work.
  • The program includes three on-campus summer residencies of 9 days each, with online coursework between residencies. The summer 2021 residency will be held remotely.
  • Take 6 credits/semester for 7 semesters, including summer, and 3 credits in the fall of the third year. Complete your coursework in just under 3 years. Then, begin your dissertation in your third year.

PhD students outside in caps and robes, about to attend their hooding ceremony


After completing 36 credits of your required coursework and receiving doctoral committee approval for your qualifying paper you’ll then advance to year three. In year three, you will take the final 9 credits, which are devoted to helping you write your dissertation proposal and dissertation. The program of study concludes with a public defense of your dissertation, doctoral committee approval, and graduation. 

  • Engage in critical inquiry.
  • Apply foundational knowledge.
  • Consume and produce research.
  • Initiate, facilitate, support, and sustain innovation.

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Why Get Your PhD in Education?

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Remote Learning at Lesley University

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A Legacy of Higher Learning

Of our 2019 graduating class is employed or furthering their education..

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Discover Boston & Cambridge

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Cambridge, MA

Cambridge is located in the heart of a dynamic urban area near a variety of institutions and organizations, where you'll benefit from a unique concentration of diverse learners and teachers from all over the world. We are close to a number of other universities, where our doctoral students routinely participate in research and educational events.

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Interviews challenge anti-immigration attitudes

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Poet tackles racism in the classroom

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Xoxi Mendez

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PhD graduate throws off disability stigmas: "I’m not less than."

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Mindfulness in the Classroom

Stephen Gould

  • K-12 Schools
  • School District Administration
  • Teacher Education
  • Advocacy Groups
  • Higher Education Research
  • Other Educational Institutions
  • Educational Leadership Individually Designed
  • 617.349.8300 [email protected]
  • Debbie Mosher [email protected]

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Valerie Shinas

Professor, PhD Department Chair

Professor Valerie Harlow Shinas is the chair of the Ph.D. in Educational Studies department and a faculty member in the Graduate School of Education. She joined Lesley University in 2012 after more than a decade working with middle school students and teachers. 

“As a teacher educator, I use my teaching experiences to make visible the connections between theory and practice for my students. Much of my work at Lesley University has centered on preparing teachers and teacher candidates to develop and deliver effective literacy and disciplinary literacy instruction. With expertise in the areas of technology-integrated literacy instruction and the TPACK theoretical framework, my research interests include integration of digital tools to support literacy and learning in K-12 classrooms.

"In addition, recent scholarly work has focused on teacher development and assessment of teacher practice. My transition to the PhD department has allowed me to use my experiences as a teacher educator and more than ten years as an educational researcher to support doctoral students on their academic journeys."

Education: BA, Anna Maria College; M.Ed., University of Massachusetts-Lowell; PhD, University of Delaware.

Stephen Gould

Stephen Gould

Asst Professor, Director, PhD in Educational Leadership and Human Development & Learning

Stephen directs and teaches in the Educational Leadership  and Human Development and Learning specializations of the PhD in Educational Studies program. He is a recognized educational leader with over 30 years of experience as an assistant superintendent, principal, and teacher. His areas of expertise include leadership development, curriculum, assessment, instructional design, organizational development, systems thinking, team building, strategic planning, and executive coaching. Gould served as chair of the Professional Development Committee for the Massachusetts Elementary School Principals Association (MESPA) for over 10 years and was instrumental in developing MESPA's Principal Certification Program as well as their Doctoral Program Partnership with Boston College. He has been a frequent workshop presenter, consultant and executive coach for MESPA, the National Institute for School Leaders (NISL), and the Ikeda Center. In a parallel life, Stephen is a song writer, composer and djembe player.

In academic year 2013-2014, Steve traveled to Kuwait to advise the Ministry of Education and work with school leaders to improve schools. The majority of the work is focused on helping 500 K-12 Kuwaiti school leaders better understand and implement collaborative approaches to improving teaching, learning, and leading.

See Steve’s conversation with the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue , about the many connections between music and leadership. 

Education: BM, Berklee College of Music; M.Ed., Fitchburg State College; Ed.D, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Kaoru Miya Miyazawa

Associate Professor

Kaoru Miyazawa is an associate professor in the PhD in Educational Studies Department of the Lesley Graduate School of Education. She received an Ed.D. from the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University, in 2010, and was a visiting scholar at Fukushima University, Japan, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015-2016. She was a faculty member of the Education Department at Gettysburg College, PA from 2010 to 2022, where she also served as the Department Chair and Certification Officer in the PK-12 preservice program.

As a former K-12 English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, her research examines how technologies of governance, collective memories, and emotions shape the official curriculum and day-to-day teaching practices in schools. Throughout her past work on immigrant students' future aspirations in NYC and curriculum change in post-disaster Fukushima, she has explored how citizens from marginalized communities develop desires for development, and how they pursue those through schooling. Her dissertation on immigrant students' aspirations was a finalist for the Dissertation Award in the Curriculum Studies Division of the American Educational Research Association in 2011.

Her work has been published in journals and books in various disciplinary fields, ranging from the Journal of Curriculum and Theory, Girlhood Studies ,  Language Arts , and Harvard Educational Review . She has recently published a book entitled Risk Society and Education in Post-Disaster Fukushima (2021) from Routledge. 

In addition to conducting research, she has worked with K-12 public school teachers, community organizers, and artists to implement projects to share multilingual students' voices and develop global empathy. As a scholar and an educator, she aspires to decolonize education and research by recuperating locally grounded indigenous knowledge for sustainable development and forming glocal network.

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Kabba Colley

Kabba E. Colley is a Professor in the Ph.D. in Educational Studies Program in the Graduate School of Education at Lesley University. His rich professional experience includes high school science teaching, curriculum development, teacher education, program evaluation, education research, and higher education administration.

Prior to joining the faculty at Lesley University, he served as academic dean and department chair at various higher education institutions. In addition, he held research positions at TERC Inc., The Northeast Regional Educational Laboratory and The National Center for Improving Science Education. He is an experienced program evaluator and has evaluated nationally recognized science and mathematics education projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.  

His most recent service to the academic community includes serving on the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) Research and Dissemination Committee, the International Advisory Board of the National Science Teachers Association and reviewer for  The Science Teacher ,  Cultural Studies of Science Education  and  American Journal of Evaluation.

Kabba’s research interests focus on project-based science instruction, gender issues in science education, international education, and recruitment and retention of Black and Latino male teachers.  He has authored two books, namely  Resilience and success: The professional journeys of African American women scientists  (co-authored with Dr. Binta M. Colley) (2013) and  Purposeful engagement in science learning: The project-based approach  (2016), Peter Lang Publishers, New York, NY.

He considers himself a “data head” and is currently studying and exploring possible applications of data science in education to inform policy and practice at the state level.  He is a recipient of the US Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Group Research Projects Abroad Award in 2017.

Sal Terrasi in office

Salvatore Terrasi

Director of Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity, Adjunct Professor

Salvatore (Sal) Terrasi is project director for the Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity  and oversees all program activities. He is a member of the adjunct faculty and an authority on educational research, measurement, and evaluation. As a practitioner with more than 45 years of experience in public education, Sal has been a classroom teacher, school adjustment counselor, special education team chair, and director of research. He has presented at many professional conferences, published articles in a number of professional journals and conference proceedings, and is co-author of “Trauma and learning in America’s classrooms,” Kappan (March 2017)

Associate Professor Susan Rauchwerk

Susan Rauchwerk

Dr. Susan Rauchwerk

I currently serve as a Professor of Education and Associate Chair for STEAM in the Graduate School of Education. I direct the Lesley University WonderLab , a research and practice incubator for urban greenspace education. My primary goal in life is to help others establish and nurture connections to the natural world, and help mobilize actions that lead to local and global sustainability. I play and practice sustainable living in my urban-ish farmstead through gardening, chickens and pollinator meadowscaping for biodiversity.  

My scholarly and practice-based research focuses on science and engagement through  Critical Exploration . As the daughter of a concentration camp survivor and the mother of an African American teen, I am committed to understanding the impact and responsibility of my white privilege, and contributing to a just and equitable education and future for ALL.

I am a senior advisor to doctoral students in Educational Studies programs, and teach  Schools as Systems in the Education Leadership specialization. I teach STEAM content pedagogy courses to candidates seeking an early childhood or elementary license, as well as those seeking a middle school or high school science license. I also serve as core science education and professional development faculty with the  Biogen STAR Initiative . 

I served as an Educator in Residence  at Mount Auburn Cemetery through the  Ecosystem Project  funded by the Ruggiero Trust grant ( video ). Through an innovation grant, I support  Make Way for Citizen Science children’s book project, where Lesley students work with science researchers and citizen science volunteers to write and illustrate children’s books focused on Mount Auburn Citizen Science. 

My other work includes ongoing support of  equitable education initiatives in Ethiopia . Teacher candidates in my STEAM methods classes research write and illustrate culturally relevant  science stories and lessons  helping students understand how poverty and access to education impact learning. Thanks to a generous grant from Lesley University, I traveled to Ethiopia in 2016 to train Ethiopian educators and librarians as part of the Ethiopia Reads  Book Centered Learning Committee . Through a partnership with WEEMA, the science stories written and illustrated by Lesley students are translated into three languages and distributed through WEEMA and Ethiopia Reads libraries.  Read more about this project . 

I have been the program director for  Science in Education , co-director of  Elementary Education , and the director of the Urban Teacher Center.   An avid gardener and environmental sustainability activist, I helped Lesley students establish an  organic garden , and teach the Science and Ethics of Food and Farming.  I have organized a number of public science events including  Restoring Urban Environments , the Climate Café, and STEAM Exploration Party as part of the Cambridge Science Festival.   

I also consult with schools to integrate nature-based education into the curriculum and schoolgrounds, providing professional development, curriculum design and strategic planning. 

Caroline Heller

Caroline Heller

Professor Emerita

Dr. Caroline Heller is Professor Emerita at Lesley University. Previously, she taught in the PhD in Educational Studies programs in the Graduate School of Education. In her research courses, she brought her background as an urban educator, qualitative researcher of out-of-school literacy settings, writer for the Teaching Tolerance Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and archival researcher for her study of central Europe before the war.

Her interest in helping qualitative researchers write well about their areas of study led her and nine of her doctoral students to write a book describing this endeavor , Meaning is the Fruit of This Intimacy: Narrative Writing for Doctoral Students and Qualitative Researchers, to be published by Teachers College Press in early 2023.

Caroline’s memoir,  Reading Claudius: A Memoir in Two Parts , was published by Dial Press, Penguin Random House in 2015, and was re-issued as a paperback by Leapfrog Press. It looks at Central Europe before, during, and after World War II through the lens of her own family, particularly her father, Paul, who was imprisoned in Buchenwald for six years. The memoir is based on historical research, letters, interviews, and extensive travel. The book was reviewed favorably in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Yazmin Colon Garcia

Yazmin Colon Garcia

Associate Director, PhD in Educational Studies

Yazmin Colón Garcia is the Associate Director of the PhD Program in Educational Studies and has been at Lesley since 2008 in a variety of roles.

In her current role, Yazmin serves as the department's primary point of contact for information on student support and academic services. She works closely with senior advisors, specialization directors, and the co-chairs of the department, monitoring student academic progress from the point of enrollment through degree completion. Yazmin also works closely with university administrative offices, identifying issues for guidance, problem solving, and referring students to appropriate offices as needed.

  • Low-Residency
  • Tuition $1,150/credit x 45 $51,750
  • Fees PhD Matriculation Fees $9,000 Residency Fees $1,500 Comprehensive Fee $1,125

All graduate students are reviewed for merit scholarships through the admissions process and are awarded at the time of acceptance. Other forms of  financial aid  are also available. Review all  graduate tuition and fees , and what they cover. Tuition and fees are subject to change each year, effective in the Summer term.

Ready to get started? We're here to make the application process as smooth as possible. Just answer a few quick questions, and get your customized application guide.

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Contact Schools Directly - Compare multiple Doctors of Philosophy  (PhD) Programs in Leadership in Boston, USA 2024

1 PhD Programs in Leadership in Boston, USA 2024

Leadership is the ability to direct and manage other people, whether within formal or informal contexts. It requires skills such as decisiveness and communication, which may be acquired through participation in a leadership educational program.

Education in the United States is mainly provided by the public sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: state, local, and federal, in that order. The common requirements to study at a higher education level in United States will include your admissions essay (also known as the statement of purpose or personal statement), transcript of records, recommendation/reference letters, language tests

The PhD is a doctoral degree, specifically called a "doctor of philosophy" degree. This is misleading because PhD holders are not necessarily philosophers (unless they earned their degree in philosophy!). That said, PhD recipients are able to engage in thought experiments, reason about problems, and solve problems in sophisticated ways.

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Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

Boston university school of theology.

Boston University School of Theology

  • Boston, USA

Blended, Distance Learning

The Doctor of Ministry degree (DMin) is a professional doctoral degree meant to enrich religious leaders in traditional and non-traditional settings, deepen their understanding of and commitment to ministry, and refine its practice. The focus of the Boston University DMin is Transformational Leadership, and anyone can become a transformational leader.

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

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

Educational Leadership & Higher Education

Applications for the next PSAP cohort will be due Early 2025. Courses for that cohort will begin that July. 

The Professional School Administrator Program (PSAP) is a highly collaborative, 3-year doctoral program for systems-level educational leaders. Students develop scholarly and practical skills in areas such as leadership for social justice, school reform, community-building, and leadership for learning. PSAP is the unique result of BC’s partnership with the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS) and The Center for Behavioral Health, Equity, and Leadership in Schools (BHELS) at William James College. 

Key Features

A cohort of leaders .

Applicants must demonstrate track records as educational leaders. Cohort members hold leadership positions from across the public, Catholic, independent, and charter school sectors.  

Scholarly practice

Boston College is a member institution of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED). PSAP students tackle today's challenges, guided by research and data, and focus on educational equity and social justice. Graduates continue on as leaders in districts, states, schools, non-profits, or as graduate-level instructors. 

Mentoring and Support

PSAP students are supported by world renowned experts in educational leadership, as well as actively mentored by practicing superintendents, throughout their doctoral journey and beyond.

Executive Schedule

All classes are in person and held 8:30 AM - 4 PM. Classes meet on five Friday-Saturday “weekends” each semester. Summer sessions take place in 2-week blocks, beginning in July of admittance. 

At a Glance

The program consists of 13 Boston College courses (39 credits) and seven non-credit bearing Leadership Licensure Program for Superintendents (LLPS) modules.

96% of students finish within 3 years. 

Cohort members complete all coursework together, in sequence, beginning with a two-week session in July of the first year. Each 26-member cohort is admitted every odd year.  

Through a cohort model that emphasizes collaborative learning and support, this program aims to create a powerful network of district-level leaders throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond.


  • Courses: 12
  • Credits: 39
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • LLPS Program Modules

Program of Study

Core: 7 Courses

Research: 5 courses, doctoral comprehensive exam, learning outcomes.

  • Competence in instructional leadership (district level leadership, ethics and equity, culturally proficient leadership, needs of diverse learners, collaborative, reflective, open to feedback, strong oral and written communication, self-directed, confident)
  • Competence in management and operations (planning and implementing change, budget development, human capital analysis, school committee relationships, strategic thinking, teaming skills)
  • Competence in family and community engagement (culturally proficient leadership, educational equity audit and diversity planning, professional development implementation, community relationships, crisis communication)
  • Competence in professional culture (self-awareness, culturally proficient leadership, team leadership, reflectiveness and self-assessment of leadership)
  • Competence in advanced level data collection, analysis, and interpretation of research in the field of educational leadership

Leadership Licensure Program for Superintendents (LLPS)

The Leadership Licensure Program for Superintendents (LLPS) is a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) approved path to fulfill the requirements for a Massachusetts initial license as a Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent under the partnership of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS) and The Center for Behavioral Health, Equity, and Leadership in Schools (BHELS) at William James College. Successful completion of the associated LLPS curriculum modules are required for earning  the Ed.D. from Boston College, regardless if a candidate is pursuing DESE licensure.

LLPS curriculum modules are taught concurrently with a 500-hour practicum for those pursuing licensure.

Candidates work under the direction of an LLPS Supervisor and Supervisor Practitioner, both of whom are licensed superintendents or assistant superintendents. Students have regular opportunities for feedback, assessment, and  reflection.

LLPS Module Topics:

  • DNA of Equity-Centered Leadership
  • Management and Operations
  • Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners
  • High Performing Teams
  • Supervision and Evaluation
  • Family and Community Engagement
  • Productive Superintendent/School Committee Partnerships

Learn more by clicking the button below for additional information on the LLPS and the licensure program.

LLPS and Licensure Program

Financial Aid

Education should level the playing field. we feel the same way about financial aid..

The Lynch School of Education and Human Development provides more than $10.8 million in financial aid to students each year. As a result, the quality of BC’s instruction, the benefit of our alumni network, and the impact a BC degree will have on your employment options is both affordable and invaluable. 

More About Financial Aid

Where are our alumni now?

  • Superintendent
  • Director of Curriculum & Instruction
  • Executive Director
  • Director of Pupil Services
  • Chief Academic Officer
  • Dean of Students
  • Executive Director of Strategy
  • Assistant Superintendent


  • Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District
  • Ludlow Public Schools
  • Southern Worcester County Educational Collaborative
  • Hopkinton Public Schools
  • Brockton Public Schools
  • Newton South High School
  • Boston Public Schools
  • Holyoke Public Schools

Application & Deadlines

The next cohort will begin Summer 2025. 

Prerequisite Information: To be eligible for the EdD program, applicants must already hold a Master's degree. To finalize the admissions process, applicants must supply a letter from their supervisor confirming that they will be released to attend classes.  A non-refundable application fee of $75 is required. The fee is waived for select applicants .

To be uploaded to your online application. In addition to your academic history and relevant volunteer and/or work experience, please include any licenses currently held, any social justice-related experience, any language skills other than English, and any research experience or publications.

Personal Statement

To be uploaded to your online application. PSAP students are outstanding administrators and have diverse backgrounds, experiences, and interests. Together, cohort members collaborate with and challenge each other intellectually. Your personal statement provides an opportunity to get to know you, your hopes for your doctoral experience, and what you might bring to the cohort. In 1,000-1,500 words, please tell us about some of your aspirations, research interests, and any challenges or experiences that shed light on you as a leader or potential cohort member. 

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required in total. These letters help provide an overall picture of you as a leader, collaborator, and potential graduate student. Ideally, at least one letter should assess your potential for doctoral-level work, from someone well-situated to provide that assessment, such as a professor or researcher in education or a related field. 


Transcripts from all college/university study are required. Applicants who have received degrees from institutions outside the United States should view the "International Students" section for additional credential evaluation requirements. Please begin your online application before submitting your transcripts. Details on how to submit transcripts and international credential evaluations can be found  within the application . In order to ensure your transcript reaches our office, it is important to review and follow the instructions.

Standardized Tests

GRE scores are not required. If you wish to send GRE scores, the Lynch School GRE code is 3218.

Please view the "International Students" section for information on English Proficiency test requirements.

Writing Sample

To be uploaded to your online application. All applicants to this program are required to submit one writing sample demonstrating their ability to effectively communicate at the graduate level. Applicants should be the sole author of the sample, and it should reflect (a) critical thinking and/or synthesis of ideas, and (b) effective organization, logic, and argumentation. Often, an academic term paper or master’s thesis is the most appropriate choice, regardless of how long ago the paper was written. However, other genres of writing (e.g., journal article, op-ed, district evaluation report) may also be appropriate. 

International Students

Applicants who have completed a degree outside of the United States must have a course-by-course evaluation of their transcript(s) completed by an evaluation company approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) . Submission of falsified documents is grounds for denial of admission or dismissal from the University. Applicants who are not native speakers of English and who have not received a degree from an institution where English is the primary language of instruction must also submit a TOEFL or IELTS test result that meets the minimum score requirement. Please click the link below for full details on these requirements.

Requirements for International Students

Quick Links

Facts & figures, diversity, equity, inclusion, & justice, tuition & aid.

  gsoe@bc.edu   617-552-4214


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