Educational Leadership (P-12)


Degrees Offered


Clemson’s PhD program in educational leadership focuses on developing mid-career professionals’ knowledge and research abilities in this applied multi- and inter- disciplinary field. Because the majority of PhD students in this field remain connected to their professional roles, this program is placed to accommodate each student’s timeframe while ensuring steady progress to degree completion. Clemson’s PhD program in educational leadership is designed primarily for working professionals to provide a strong background in five domains: leadership,research, policy, ethics and diversity.

The PhD prepares students to discover,integrate and apply knowledge as leaders in schools and post-secondary educational institutions and agencies. This is accomplished through close association with, and apprenticeship to, faculty members&nbsp experienced in research, teaching and leadership. Doctoral students in educational leadership work closely with faculty on shared interests focused on leadership issues from the point of admission through their dissertation defense. Alumni of the PhD program serve P-20 schools, community and state agencies, institutions of higher education as ethical leaders providing research-based educational policies and services for increasingly diverse students and societies. Alumni also serve in non-formal leadership roles as faculty in schools and higher education; as formal leaders such as college deans, directors and presidents; or as principals, district office leaders, and superintendents.

This program will consider applicants for conditional letters of admission (CLA’s) pending successful completion of an approved English as a Second Language (ESL) program. More information can be found on the Conditional Language Admission page.


More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Program of Study

Students interested in the P-12 concentration have four options among their concentration coursework. Students may select a combination of coursework among courses for both higher education and P-12 concentrations. Students may also choose to obtain state of South Carolina licensure for work as school administrators at the building level, district level, or both while enrolled in the program. Students who plan to obtain certification will take coursework with masters and specialist students and must complete the state’s licensure approved program requirements.

Doctoral students collaborate with their advising committees to plan an individualized program within program requirements including courses and non-course milestones culminating with the dissertation. The overall design requires a minimum of 58 graduate-level course credits beyond the Masters degree and completion of an 18-hour dissertation project. The categories of courses include a preliminary core, concentration courses, research courses, cognates, an internship, a post-comps core, and research hours.

The preliminary core consists of a minimum of nine credits completed within the first two years of enrollment which conclude with the preliminary exam, a non-course requirement. The doctoral advisory committee in consultation with the student uses the results of the preliminary examination to establish an individualized program of study, including a minimum of 18 credits of courses in the chosen concentration (P-12 or higher education), research courses, and a minimum of 12 credits through internship and cognates. Two concentrations, P-12 and Higher Education, are offered for candidates pursuiing the PhD in Educational Leadership. The internship experience focuses on a research-based approach to the common dilemmas of knowledge and practice in the applied field of educational leadership. Cognates are courses selected from academic fields supporting each PhD student’s research agenda. Upon completion of a program of studies course work, students qualify as doctoral candidates by successfully completing the comprehensive exam. Doctoral candidates then complete nine credits of post-comps core in preparation for their proposal defense and then, move to 18 hours of dissertation studies before defending their dissertation research. The timeframe for completing this program is controlled by PhD students with support from their doctoral advising committees.


Application Information

Regular application deadlines are October 1, for spring admissions and March 1, for summer/fall admissions.

Required Documents

  • Online Application
  • Official GRE scores
  • Official TOEFL/IELTS/PTE scores for International Students
  • Unofficial Transcripts
    Official Transcripts required upon acceptance. Do not send official transcripts until you have received your letter of acceptance.
  • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • Vita or Résumé
  • 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


The School of Education has a variety of graduate assistantships offered and it is a competitive process. Assistantships are not rewarded in conjunction with our admission process but based on the accepted applicant pool. If you are interested in a particular assistantship we would encourage you to apply as early as possible to be considered for all assistantships offered. 

These positions are offered in the form of stipends and the additional benefit of tuition remission. Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester to qualify for a graduate assistantship and must work a minimum of 10 hours a week as a teaching or research assistant or perform other tasks assigned by the position supervisor.


Program Contact(s)

  • Alison Search
  • Office: University Center of Greenville
  • Phone: (864) 250-8880
  • Email:

Program Coordinator(s)