School of Education

Ph.D. Educational Leadership — P-12

OverviewUniversity Council for Educational Administration (UCEA)

The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program is designed to provide students with a strong background in five domains: (a) leadership, (b) research, (c) policy, (d) ethics and (e) diversity. As the highest academic degree granted by Clemson University, the Ph.D. is designed to prepare students to become scholars who discover, integrate and apply knowledge as leaders in schools and post-secondary and community educational institutions and agencies. This is accomplished through close association with and apprenticeship to faculty members experienced in research, teaching and a variety of leadership roles in the field of education.

A student admitted to the Educational Leadership doctoral program must begin course work within one year from the semester of acceptance or reapply for admission. Students are discouraged from taking more than six (6) hours of doctoral course work prior to being admitted to the program (this does not preclude the use of courses completed in the Ed.S. degree in educational administration).

Admission Requirements

Regular application deadlines are October 1, for spring admissions and March 1, for summer/fall admissions.
Click here to check on the status of a submitted application.

  • Baccalaureate and Master’s Degrees from accredited institutions.
  • The cover letter must be two or three (2-3) pages in which candidate discusses (1) reasons for pursuing the Ph.D. degree in Educational Leadership, particularly as related to career and professional goals, i.e. elementary and secondary education or higher education, (2) one or more issues on which the candidate might like to do research, and (3) distinguishing characteristics that demonstrate candidate’s potential for success in this program. This letter will be evaluated as a writing sample. You may send an electronic version of this document to
  • Admission to the Clemson Graduate School
    • Meet all requirements of the Graduate School.
    • Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate work.
    • Three recommendations that address the applicant's professional experience and scholarly potential.
    • Current curriculum vita listing educational background, work experiences, professional service experiences, and other related experiences. You may send an electronic version of this document to
    • Competitive GRE score (within five years of application date).
    • Applicants for whom English is a second language must also submit acceptable TOEFL scores.
Program Requirements

In accordance with departmental policy, the program of study in Educational Leadership will include a minimum of 58 graduate level course credits beyond the Master's Degree and an 18 hour dissertation project.

These required courses represent a basic body of knowledge in Educational Leadership. A student must demonstrate a proficiency in this material through the comprehensive examination. The following is a list of core courses:

Program Core: 18 hours

Preliminary Core

  • EDL 9100 Introductory Doctoral Seminar
  • EDL 9000 Principles of Educational Leadership
  • EDL 9050 Theory and Practice in Educational Leadership
  • EDL 9110 Systematic Inquiry in Educational Leadership or EX ST 801 Statistical Methods

Candidacy Core

  • EDL 9880 Directed Research
  • EDL 9890 Advanced Seminar in Educational Leadership
  • EDL 9900 Clinical Research in Educational Leadership

Research and Assessment Methodology: 16 hours
(All courses must be approved by the committee)

  • Introductory Courses in Both Qualitative and Quantitative Methods
  • Advanced Course Work in either Qualitative or Quantitative Methods

Concentration: 18 hours
The field of specialization may be either Public School Administration (P12) or Higher Education. The courses for specialization should be selected in close consultation with the student's Advisory Committee. These courses allow the student and Advisory Committee to tailor the program to the unique needs of the student within the overall philosophy and structure of the program. An 18-hour minimum is required as approved by the student’s committee. Some of the possible courses include:

ED L 7650: Assessment in Higher Education
ED L 8000: Philosophy, Schooling and Educational Policy
ED L 8050: Advanced Educational Leadership: Theory and Practice
ED L 8100: Introduction to School Building Planning
ED L 8150: The Superintendency
ED L 8200: Politics of Education
ED L 8300: Business Management in Education
ED L 8390: Research Methods in Educational Leadership
ED L 8400: Field Problems in School Administration and Supervision of Instruction
ED L 8500: Practicum in School System Administration and Supervision
ED L 8850: Selected Topics in Educational Administration
ED L 9150: Educational Planning
ED L 9350: History of Higher Education
ED L 9500: Educational Policy Studies
ED L 9550: The Two-Year College
ED L 9600: Legal Principles in the Administration of Institutions of Higher Education
ED L 9650: Higher Education Finance
ED L 9700: Foundations of Higher Education
ED L 9720: Ethics in Educational Leadership
ED L 9750: College Teaching
ED L 9760: External Effectiveness in Higher Education
ED L 9800: Current Issues in Educational Leadership

Internship: 3 hours
The purpose of the Research Internship (EDL 9860) is to provide students an apprenticeship, preferably, under the guidance of their Major Advisors or any other member of their Doctoral Advising Committees to build their curriculum vita and their emerging research agenda for their dissertations. The Research Internship provides students an opportunity to develop viable research questions from the problems and issues of practice and then participate in the development of the research design, data collection, analysis and reporting phases of research studies. Student products from the Research Internship include conference proposals, presentations and manuscripts.

Cognates: 6 hours (18-21 recommended)
Cognates are courses from academic fields supporting students’ research agendas. As part of the program of study, each student must complete six graduate semester hours in a cognate area. All six hours must be from the same discipline and approved by the student's graduate committee.

Dissertation: 18 hours
EDL 9910 Doctoral Dissertation Research

Additional Information

To access the Higher Education Program site, click here.

Contact Information

For more information on:
The P-12 Focus: please contact Frederick Buskey (
The Higher Education Focus: please contact Pam Havice (