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Overview: EdD Urban Education Leadership

The EdD Program in Urban Education Leadership is nationally recognized for its innovation and quality and was identified as a “model” program by the Illinois Board of Higher Education Blue Ribbon Commission on School Leader Preparation in 2007. It has received the Council of Great City Schools Urban Impact Award and the inaugural Exemplary School Leadership Preparation Program award from the University Council of Education Administration, and is today (2013) the only higher education program to be recognized as Exemplary by the Bush Institute Alliance to reform Education Leadership.  The EdD program is designed to prepare and develop principals who are able to lead significantly improved teaching and learning in urban schools. The program seeks applicants who are outstanding teachers and instructional leaders seeking to transition to principal 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 who will lead school improvement at the district level.

Overview of Program Requirements (Fall 2013) Heading link

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

All options require successful completion of coursework, annual reviews, and a comprehensive written qualifying examination:  Additionally, the EdD requires a preliminary exam and a doctoral research project.  The Illinois Superintendent Endorsement requires an additional 16 hours beyond the EdD degree.

For All Students:

  • Urban Education Leadership Coursework — 64 hours.
  • Annual Reviews
  • Comprehensive Qualifying Examination

For Ed.D Students:

All items above, plus:

  • EDPS 544 – Research Design in Educational Policy Studies (4 hours)
  • Preliminary Examination on a Capstone Project Proposal
  • Professional Capstone Inquiry — (EDPS 591) 12 hours

For Superintendent Endorsement:

All items above, plus:

  • Additional Required Courses – 12 hours
  • Additional Selective Course – 4 hours

Urban Education Leadership Coursework (64 hours) Heading link

You must take the 64 hours of courses required below to pursue any of the Urban Education Leadership degree or certificate options.  Please consult your program advisor for sequencing and scheduling requirements.

  • CI/EDPS 548 — Leading Improvement of Literacy Learning (4 hours)
  • EDPS 550 — Improving Education Organizations (4 hours)
  • EDPS 551 — Cycles of Inquiry for Improving Schools (4 hours)
  • EDPS 552 — Leading Urban Schools (4 hours)
  • EDPS 556 — Leading Classroom Diagnostics and Interventions (4 hours)
  • EDPS 557 — Developing Organizational and Leadership Capacity (4 hours)
  • EDPS 558 — Leading Improvement of Mathematics Learning (4 hours)
  • EDPS 559 — Internship in Education Leadership (8 hours)
  • EDPS 568 — Education and the Law (4 hours)
  • EDPS 571 — The Education Policy Process (4 hours)
  • EDPS 579 — Organization Theory in Education (4 hours)
  • EDPS 586 –-  Practitioner Inquiry for School Leaders (8 hours)
  • EDPS 592 –- Professional Career Training in Education Policy Studies (4 hours)
  • EPSY 535 — Human Development for School Leaders (4 hours)

Annual Reviews Heading link

To monitor your progress effectively and to provide a vehicle through which you and your faculty advisor can reflect on your progress in a structured way, you are required to prepare and submit a formal review of progress each year. Annual reviews are organized according to a program-wide template. Your progress is reported to and discussed by the department faculty. One element on which you are assessed is your engagement in professional activities in the professional community beyond coursework required by the program. For this reason, you are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities for professional growth outside the program, such as colloquia, conferences, preparation of papers for presentation and publication, and leadership roles.

Comprehensive Qualifying Examination Heading link

Successful completion of the written comprehensive exam is required for completion of the CAS and entry into the Capstone Project stage of the Ed.D. program. If you have a cumulative GPA below 3.00 or more than two courses remaining to complete you will not be permitted to take the qualifying examination. The exam will include a review of a portfolio of annual performance assessments designated by program faculty.

The comprehensive exam assesses your demonstrated ability to communicate doctoral-level thinking in three broad domains of leadership theory and practice: leadership for school improvement; establishing information systems at the school level; and demonstrating evidence of leadership performance.

The comprehensive qualifying exam is graded on a “pass-fail” basis. If you fail the exam or a portion of the exam you have one opportunity to re-take the exam or the failed portion. The re-take must be completed successfully within one se,ester for you to remain in the program. Students who fail to pass all components after the second attempt are likely to be recommended by the program faculty to the Graduate College for dismissal from the program.

Continuing on to the EdD Heading link

Successful completion of the above requirements qualifies a student to receive a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Urban Education Leadership. To attain the Ed.D degree, additional coursework and a capstone doctoral research project are required.

Preparing a Capstone Proposal (EDPS 544 – 4 hours) Heading link

The Professional Capstone Inquiry Project is the culminating demonstration of professional expertise in contrast to a traditional dissertation for the Ed.D. program.

The project 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 turn-around processes, cycles of inquiry, or 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.

You are to develop your capstone project proposal as part of your work in EDPS 544. In preparing your proposal, you should select a faculty member from the Educational Policy Studies Department to serve as your project advisor and as chair of your preliminary examination and project defense committees. You are encouraged to consult with your project advisor and other faculty in the program to develop ideas and plans for your project.

The Preliminary Examination Heading link

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

Preliminary exams to defend the capstone proposal are typically conducted in the spring of each year by a five-member faculty committee, three of whom will work with you through the final capstone project defense.  While typically an oral hearing, the committee may require that you respond in writing to questions and/or make revisions in your capstone project proposal as a condition of approval.  Passing the preliminary examination constitutes formal admission to candidacy for the Ed.D.

In order to formally constitute your preliminary examination committee, you must submit to the Graduate College a Committee Recommendation Form.  This form may be obtained from the Graduate College’s website:    At the same time, you should ask the Office of Student Services (3145 ETMSW) for a degree checklist.  A list of the courses you have taken is available through the my.UIC portal: . You must return the completed degree checklist with the signed Committee Recommendation Form to the Office of Student Services.  The completed form must be signed by your capstone advisor and submitted to the Office of Student Services at least three weeks before the date of your examination

Professional Capstone Inquiry Project (EDPS 591, 12 hours) Heading link

After passing the preliminary examination you may begin your capstone inquiry project.  You must register for a minimum of 12 hours of EDPS 591—Professional Capstone Inquiry while completing your project.

The project calls for students to perform the following inquiry and analytic tasks:

  • Describe the initial “theory-of-action” of leadership in the initiation, development, and management of organizational change processes in a school.  A “theory-of-action” is a statement of intention that includes definitions of key elements (e.g., leadership in the particular context) and explanations of why specific intended actions will lead to intended outcomes.
  • Describe, document, and reconstruct as necessary leadership practices, the development of organizational change processes in the school from past to present states, and factors or conditions presumed to play a role, that is, the “theory-in-use.”  This is a construction of what actually happened, as distinct from what was intended.
  • Explain the relationship of leadership practices and antecedent and moderating factors to the development of organizational change processes using theoretical, empirical, and professional literatures and existing data from the school and school district.
  • From this analysis and using this literature, project and provide a rationale for next steps for leadership in developing and managing organizational change processes.

Data that are publicly available and that do not violate FERPA regulations include, for example:  (a) state school report card data on demographics and aggregate student performance on standardized tests; (b) district school report card data on student attendance, teacher attendance, and other markers of school culture and climate; (c) data on school-based practices, procedures, systems, and structures as they existed at point A in a principal’s tenure and as they existed at points B, C, etc. in that tenure; (d) publicly accessible school-based documents (e.g., CIWP document and principals’ memos, that indicate the need, plans, and strategies for implementing change; (e) Consortium on Chicago School Research and CPS school survey data on the CPS Five Fundamentals.

Project Defense Heading link

You are required to defend your Professional Capstone Inquiry Project before the review committee as described above. Defenses are typically scheduled at the end of the fall and spring semesters each academic year.

Illinois Superintendent Endorsement Heading link

If you wish to add the Illinois Superintendent Endorsement to your Ed.D. degree you must complete the following additional 16 hours of coursework:

Required Endorsement Coursework (12 hours)

  • EDPS 553 — Leading Urban School Systems (4 hours)
  • EDPS 589 — Administrative and Leadership Theory in Education (4 hours)
  • EDPS 592 — Professional Career Training in Education Policy Studies (4 hours)

Selective Endorsement Coursework (4 hours)

Students must complete one of the following courses

  • EDPS 412 — Politics of Urban Education (4 hours)
  • EDPS 567 — Economics of Education (4 hours)
  • EDPS 581 — Collective Bargaining in Education (4 hours)