Doctoral Degree Programs

EdD in Urban Education Leadership

Ranked #14 in Education Administration by US News and World Report

RSVP for an in-person info session:  April 14 | June 9

Meet our program faculty, coaches and students

Read about ways in which the EdD program team are impacting national policy and program improvement.

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Awarded Exemplary Leadership Preparation Program Award in 2013 from the University Council on Education Administration (only two programs in the US received this UCEA recognition in 2013 and only four programs in the US have received this recognition to date).

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Awarded the Dr. Shirley S. Schwartz Urban Education Impact Award from the Council of Great City Schools in 2012, honoring an outstanding partnership between a university and an urban school district that has had a positive and significant impact on student learning.

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First higher education leadership preparation program in the US to receive  Exemplary Affiliate Status (highest designation) by the George W. Bush Institute’s Alliance to Reform Education Leaders, which seeks to improve the way America's principals are prepared and supported.

The EdD Program in Urban Education Leadership is nationally recognized for its innovation and quality, received the inaugural University Council for Education Administration Exemplary Educational Leadership Preparation Program Award and was identified as a “model” program by the Illinois Board of Higher Education Commission on School Leader Preparation. The program is designed to prepare and develop principals who are able to lead significantly improved teaching and learning in urban schools. This program seeks applicants who are outstanding teachers and assistant principals seeking to transition to school leadership positions, as well as principals desiring to take their schools to the next level. This intensive, highly-selective cohort model combines coursework with supervised practicum experiences and an emphasis on collaborative data collection and analysis at the school level. With additional coursework and fieldwork beyond the Illinois P-12 Principal Endorsement, the program supports the continued development of novice principals and also prepares system-level leaders to lead school improvement at the district level.

Program Features

Transformational leaders build school capacity that produces dramatic improvements in student learning in the schools and systems they serve. UIC’s Urban Education Leadership program is designed for current teachers, school and system leaders who are committed to becoming such leaders.

What makes us unique:

  • Candidate selectivity.  Each candidate accepted into the UIC program has undergone a rigorous application and selection process to ensure instructional expertise, a record of success in taking leadership roles, and an abiding commitment to leading the improvement of schools.
  • A full-year internship under the guidance of a mentor principal. Candidates gain hands-on experience with core principal competencies taught through coursework and coaching. The year also gives UIC time to observe and assess candidates on the job.
  • Three years of on-the-job coaching. All of our coaches are former principals who have successfully executed transformation of urban schools. These individuals observe our candidates during their internship and formative years as a school or district leader.  Coaches provide immediate feedback on performance and ongoing guidance to accelerate learning and leadership development.
  • Focused, in-depth coursework with immediate application. Traditional principal preparation is often little more than a survey of the professional literature with individual courses taught in isolation from one another. Our courses, by contrast, build on each other, are focused specifically on the work of transforming high-need schools and reflect ongoing collaboration among academic and clinical faculty.
  • The major elements of the program structure are:

    • A nationally recognized, ongoing partnership with the Chicago Public Schools that collects data for continuous program improvement as a shared responsibility between the partners
    • Coursework before, during and after residency that incorporates local, state, and national and local principal professional standards
    • Qualification for the state P-12 Principal Endorsement after a full-year supervised residency in schools
    • Supervision of pre-service residency by a mentor principal and a UIC coach with a proven record of improving student learning in urban schools
    • Supervision of post-residency leadership work for at least two years
    • Additional coursework leading to an Ed.D. degree with a data-based capstone thesis that focuses on strategies for improving schools
    • Additional coursework option leading to superintendent’s endorsement
    • Outcome metrics that guide continuous program improvement by documenting UIC principals’ impact on schools using advanced measures of student performance

Ready for more?  Sign up for our email list below, view the application instructions or start the application process or contact Katonja Webb with questions about the program.  Learn more about the Illinois P-12 Principal Endorsement and Illinois Superintendent Endorsement process by visiting the Council on Teacher Education.

Students and Alumni in the News

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Jason Nault, MEd Education Administration and Leadership '05 and EdD Urban Education Leadership '15, was named the new principal at J.P. Taravella High in Coral Springs, Fla., part of Broward County Public Schools.  Jason previously served as the principal of North-Grand High School in Chicago.

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Paul Karafiol, EdD Urban Education Leadership student, was named the new interim principal at Lake View High School in Chicago.  Paul was previously assistant principal at Ogden International Academy and completed his residency at Walter Payton College Prep.


Wells Community Academy High School in Chicago was honored by Chicago Public Schools as a Model School for restorative justice.  Wells is led by principal Rita Raichoudhuri, EdD Urban Education Leadership '16, pictured with CPS chief executive Forrest Claypool and Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson, EdD Urban Education Leadership '11.

Center for Urban Education Leadership at UIC

Don't forget to visit the Center for Urban Education Leadership, the organization that helps put great leaders in every school by supporting what we do and sharing all of our research and findings with the public.  Follow the work of the Center on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information contact Katonja Webb at the Center for Urban Education Leadership at (312) 355-0546 or

Degree Requirements

Incoming students must complete either 80 credit hours to obtain the Ed.D. or 96 hours to obtain the Ed.D. with Superintendent Endorsement. In both cases, these credits include coursework that covers research, policy, and practice. Coursework is integrated with field experiences to develop leadership capacities consistent with the Ed.D.  A Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) is available for those who do not complete the Ed.D., but who have completed the residency, 64 credit hours of prescribed course work, and exams.

Course listings can be found at

Ed.D. and CAS Program Requirements



EDPS552: Leading Urban Schools


EDPS556: Leading Classroom Diagnostics & Interventions


EDPS551: Cycles of Inquiry for Improving Schools


EDPS568: Education and the Law


EPSY535: Human Development for School Leaders


EDPS557: Developing Organizational & Leadership Capacity


EDPS558: Leading Improvement of Mathematics Learning


EDPS559: Internship in Educational Leadership


EDPS548: Leading Improvement of Literacy Learning


EDPS550: Improving Education Organizations


EDPS586: Practitioner Inquiry for School Leaders


EDPS592: Professional Career Training in Education Policy Studies


EDPS571: The Education Policy Process


EDPS579: Organization Theory in Education


The Ed.D. requires all the General coursework required for the CAS.

In addition, Ed.D. students must complete the following coursework.



EDPS544: Research Design in Education Policy Studies


EDPS591: Professional Capstone Inquiry


Students who would like to pursue the Illinois Superintendent Endorsement must take EDPS 592, EDPS 553, EDPS 589, and one additional course selected in consultation with the advisor from the following: EDPS 412, EDPS 567, or EDPS 581.



EDPS 412: Politics of Urban Education


EDPS 553: Leading Urban School Systems


EDPS 567: Economics of Education


EDPS 581: Collective Bargaining in Education


EDPS 589: Administrative and Leadership Theory in Education


EDPS 592: Professional Career Training in Education Policy Studies


Additional Items for All Specializations

Annual Reviews

Students will be required to submit an Annual Review, in compliance with College policy on doctoral programs, to show evidence of academic and professional progress. The annual review will include specific work products completed as part of coursework and fieldwork, and revisions may be required in these products as part of cumulative portfolio reviewed for Comprehensive Examination.

Comprehensive Qualifying Exam

Successful completion of the comprehensive exam is required for completion of the CAS and entry into the Research Project stage of the EdD program. No student with a cumulative GPA below 3.00 or with more than one course remaining to complete will be permitted to take the qualifying examination. The exam will include a review of a portfolio of annual performance assessments designated by program faculty. Students who fail to pass all components after the second attempt may recommended by the program faculty to the Graduate College for dismissal from the program.

The EdD Capstone Case Study

The capstone is the culminating demonstration of professional expertise in lieu of a traditional dissertation for the EdD program.

The case study is to be a “case of” leadership and the initiation, development, and management of organizational improvement processes. The primary focus is not individual programs, policies, practices, and other initiatives that might be generated by those processes (e.g., particular curricular initiatives, parent involvement programs, strategies for improving school climate, etc.). Instead, the primary focus is to be on capacity-building processes, cycles of inquiry, processes of continuous improvement or other organizational improvement processes initiated in a school.  Individual programs, practices, and other initiatives would receive attention in terms of how those broader organizational processes are working, what they are producing, and why.

The Preliminary Examination

The preliminary examination is taken at the completion of all course work. The exam is an oral defense of a written Doctoral Research Project proposal. The primary purpose of the preliminary examination is review and approval of the Doctoral Research Project capstone proposal for admission of the student to Ed.D. candidacy.


For further information on the program and degree requirements, please consult the Doctoral Student Handbook.

Advising Guide

EdD Urban Education Leadership Advising Guide for admits 2013 and onward

EdD Urban Education Leadership Advising Guide for admits 2012-prior

Options and Outcomes

  • UIC graduates are among the most highly sought after administrators by local school councils in Chicago Public Schools.
  • Of candidates who finish the academic year residency in good standing, 99% have obtained administrative positions – most of them as principals – in Chicago Public Schools.
  • UIC-led schools are outperforming comparable CPS schools in measures ranging from freshman on track rates to graduation rates to standardized test scores.

Application Process

Application Deadlines

Spring Deadline:  July 15

  1. Applicants who are not currently registered graduate students at UIC must complete the UIC Graduate School application. Submit your application fee when completing the application.
  2. Complete the online College of Education application.
  3. The following documents should be uploaded online upon receiving email instructions after completing the UIC Graduate School application. View the Document Upload Guide for more information.
    • Upload undergraduate transcripts for your last 60 hours of the undergraduate degree and all graduate transcripts.
    • TOEFL or IELTS test scores for international applicants only
    • Three letters of recommendation.  Taken as a whole, these letters should address the applicant’s instructional performance, capacities to work effectively with adults, demonstrated abilities to learn and adapt in challenging situations, and intellectual strengths. You are encouraged to submit one letter from a current supervisor and the others from current or former supervisors, colleagues, or professors.
    • Goal Statement: Please address the following two topics within your goal statement.  1) The EdD program in Urban Education Leadership is interested in candidates who have demonstrated their performance as classroom instructors and leaders in educational settings and who are strong and adaptable learners. In 500 words, explain your goals in becoming a principal, why you think this program is a good match for you, and your qualities as a learner that will contribute to your success in the program and as a principal.  2) In an additional 300 words, please write an analytical explanation of why urban schools perform at comparatively low levels of student achievement and discuss the leadership strategies you believe are necessary to improve urban school performance.
    • Resume, including teacher leader roles with time frame
  4. Submit GRE or GMAT test score to UIC.

Program FAQs

What is the difference between the PhD in Urban Education and the EdD in Urban Education Leadership?

Typically the PhD in Urban Education leads to positions such as research faculty at a university, administration at the university level, or research in a local/state agency or other policy organization. The EdD in Urban Education Leadership leads to positions in school/district level leadership in K to 12 schools. 

What are the minimum qualifications for admission into the EdD program in Urban Education Leadership?

The minimum qualifications include an earned master’s degree, substantial teaching experience, experience as a teacher-leader or school/district leader, and a demonstrated commitment to leading the improvement of high needs urban schools. The admissions process is highly selective.

How do I apply to the program and what sequence do I follow?

The application process for The UIC Urban Education Leadership program requires you to apply  to both The UIC Graduate College and The UIC College of Education. 

How are students selected for the EdD program in Urban Education Leadership?

After you have submitted all required materials to both the Graduate College and the College of Education, you may qualify for an interview with the program faculty. Doctoral candidates must hold a master’s degree, have demonstrated exceptional classroom instruction as well as leadership as teachers or administrators, have evidence of parent and community involvement and demonstrate clear commitment to transforming schools where the leadership need is most evident. Decisions for admission are made by the program faculty and are ultimately based on the content of the submitted documents and a successful interview. The admissions process is highly selective.

How long does it take to complete the EdD program in Urban Education Leadership and is a dissertation required?

This program is designed to allow students to complete coursework in 3 ½ years with as much as one additional year to complete the doctoral research project, for a total of 4 ½ years.

Can I transfer in credit hours I have already earned elsewhere?

If the hours have not been applied toward another degree and the course content matches the curriculum in the EdD program then most likely you will be able to transfer in some course credit. There is no guarantee that hours will automatically transfer. The final decision is made by the program faculty once you have been admitted to the program

Do I have to leave my current position in order to be in the EdD program in Urban Education Leadership?

The EdD program requires that you have school-wide or system-level leadership experience and is designed to develop transformative leaders. After you are admitted to the program, if your current position is not in school-wide or system-level leadership, then the program faculty will place you in a leadership role in the Chicago Public Schools and will provide you with coaching and mentoring. Three years of site-based coaching and mentoring is provided, and is aimed at producing candidates who have proved their ability as change agents in schools. The coaching is provided by former high performing principals and experienced leadership trainers to supplement mentoring by outstanding principals who are successfully confronting the needs of urban schools.

What days and times are courses typically offered for the EdD program in Urban Education Leadership?

In the first year, courses are typically offered in the evenings and Saturdays to minimize conflicts between course work and practice. In the second and third year, other week nights are used for courses. Students are encouraged to enroll in summer course work to ensure progress toward the degree. The course work is co-designed and co-taught by UIC academic faculty together with transformative principals and system level instructional officers who have themselves transformed urban schools.

Can I get an Illinois P-12 Principal Endorsement through the EdD program in Urban Education Leadership?

The Illinois Type 75 Administrative Certificate will be discontinued by the state in 2014. The UIC EdD program has transitioned from the Type 75 certificate to the new Illinois P-12 School Principal Certificate. 

Will the Ed.D. program in Urban Education Leadership directly assist in job placement when I am finished?

The EdD program provides an abundance of networking opportunities and job application support but does not guarantee job placement after completion of degree. We seek to prepare candidates to be successful in a highly competitive job market

Where are classes/courses held?

Most classes/courses in the EdD program are held on the east side of campus in EPASW

Is financial aid available for the Ed.D. program?

In recent years, fellowships have been made available to a limited number of advanced students.