Educational Leadership with a Concentration in Special Education (Ed.D.)


The mission of the Doctor of Education (Ed. D. degree) in Educational Leadership is to provide its student's opportunities to extend educational leadership knowledge and research in PK-12, higher education, and community settings.

The Doctor of Education degree emphasizes preparation for leadership careers in a variety of settings in the field of education: PK-12 education, community colleges, vocational schools, and universities. Additionally, graduates may secure faculty positions in Educational Leadership departments at universities. The program trains individuals to apply research and theory to practical problems. It enhances students' management skills that assist them in exhibiting informed leadership. The dissertation is expected to inform practice towards solving important education and human development problems. The educational objectives of the program are:

  • To prepare professional individuals capable of achieving the highest levels of educational competence in daily practice.
  • To prepare outstanding academic and administrative leaders for educational agencies at the campus, district, higher education institution, county, regional, state, and national levels, emphasizing leadership skills required to educate minorities, particularly Hispanics.
  • To provide a deeper understanding of the professional educator's legal, financial, and operational demands, as well as adequate historical and contemporary contexts that influence their role.
  • To provide an understanding of the theories and research methodologies that illuminate the significant role of the professional education practitioner.
  • To provide professional educators with problem-solving and applied research skills.
  • To offer access to a doctoral-level program in educational leadership to all Rio Grande Valley citizens with the qualifications and motivation to pursue it.
  • To assist in forming professionals who will serve in administrative and policy positions to enhance the educational and economic opportunities of persons who need the most development of their human potential.
  • To provide uniquely qualified leadership, teaching, and research skills required to meet the special needs of this area's culturally diverse student population.

A minimum of 63 semester hours of post-master's degree coursework, a written comprehensive exam, plus six semester hours of the dissertation are required for the Doctor of Education degree at UTRGV. The majority of the coursework will be at the 8000 level. Courses at the 6000, 7000, and 8000 level may be applied toward the degree.

In addition to these requirements, courses are offered at UTRGV in various fields that may be related to the doctoral student's particular area of interest. Students may choose from among those courses with their advisor's advice to support their career and research goals. Many graduate courses in UTRGV’s inventory may be used as supporting work.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted to the doctoral program in educational leadership, prospective candidates must first meet all requirements for graduate admission to UT Rio Grande Valley, as well as the other requirements listed below:

  1. Master’s degree in Education or related field with a minimum GPA of 3.25
  2. Three professional letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources (one person must be your current supervisor, another with a terminal degree who can attest to your academic ability, and a person of your choice).
  3. Applicant Statement - maximum of five pages double spaced, including the following headings: Purpose for Pursuing an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership; Description of Professional Goals; and Commitment and Dedication.
  4. Resume showing professional presentations, publications, grants, recognitions (e.g., honors and awards for leadership, teaching, academics), five years full- time leadership, supervisory experiences, or classroom experience (college/university level, school/district, business, military, regional, state-level, international, other), leadership activity in community organizations, professional associations, or community service
  5. A writing sample following the guideline provided by the program; write an essay that describes your credentials for admission to the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program (Ed. D.) and advocate for yourself. Present your case by describing specific characteristics or experiences that set you apart from other applicants.
  6. Participation of finalists in the program’s Assessment Center, which will assist in evaluating the applicant’s verbal, written, and analytical skills

Application for admission must be submitted before the published deadline. The application is available at

Upon admission to the program, the student becomes a member of a doctoral cohort.

Transfer of Graduate Credit

A maximum of 9 semester hours of relevant coursework may be transferred to the doctoral program and applied to the degree plan. No course with a grade lower than B may be transferred.

Maximum Period for Completion

A student has a maximum of 10 years to complete the degree from the date of first entry into doctoral-level courses. Under special circumstances, an extension for an additional year may be granted. 

Individual Student Evaluation and Academic Standing

A student in the program is expected to enroll continuously in coursework. Once a student is eligible to enroll in dissertation courses (EDUL 8390 and EDUL 8395), the continuous enrollment policy only applies to fall and spring terms.

To be in good academic standing, students are expected to maintain a GPA of 3.33 or higher during the entire program of study and receive grades above a C in core and research courses.

Upon receiving a grade of C or F in a course, the student will be on academic probation. In such a case, the student must make an appointment with his or her Academic Advisor and the Doctoral Program Director to discuss future courses and expectations. In collaboration with the Advisor and the Doctoral Program Director, the student will develop a written plan for improvement and retake the course. Upon successful execution of the terms of the plan, the student will be released from academic probation.

Upon receiving a second grade of C in a course, the student will be suspended from the program for one full semester, effective immediately upon receiving the grade. Returning to the program does not carry a guarantee of reinstatement of financial aid. The student may be asked to follow a plan of improvement to be decided by the Academic Advisor and the Doctoral Program Director. The student will be dismissed from the program upon receiving a second F.

The student will be dismissed from the program upon receiving the third C. A student desiring to appeal such dismissal may petition the doctoral program director. The appeal must be received within ten days of notification to the student of dismissal. A final appeal may be made to the dean of the College of Education and P-16 Integration.

Program Requirements

Required Courses - 39 Hours

Core Courses - 27 Hours

EDUL 8300Scholarly Writing


EDUL 8301Leadership and Organizational Behavior


EDUL 8302Theories of Learning and Instruction


EDUL 8303Educational Politics and Policy


EDUL 8304Social and Cultural Contexts of Education


EDUL 8306Ethics and Values in Educational Leadership


EDUL 8307Organizational Theory in Education


EPSY 8352Special Education Law & Practice


Research Courses - 12 Hours

Choose four from the following:
EDRE 8301Qualitative Research


EDRE 8302Quantitative Research


EDRE 8303Advanced Qualitative Research



EDRE 8304Advanced Quantitative Research


EDRE 8308Proposal Writing and Conceptual Framework Development


EPSY 8351Special Education Inquiry


Prescribed Electives - 6 Hours

EDUL 8336Problems in Education


EPSY 8354Social & Emotional Interventions in Special Education


Concentration Courses - 18 Hours

EDUL 8350Doctoral Internship


EPSY 8353Special Education Literature & Readings


EPSY 8355Special Topics in Special Education


EDUL 8350 must be taken twice. EPSY 8355 must be taken three times. 

Dissertation - 6 Hours

EDUL 8390Dissertation Proposal Development


EDUL 8395Dissertation Research and Writing


Total Credit Hours: 69