Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations


Degrees offered



Main Campus
Eastern Shore Higher Education Center (ESHEC)
Southern Maryland Higher Education Center (SMHEC)

The Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations is designed to prepare graduates who will be equipped to provide instructional leadership for linguistically and culturally nonmainstream learners whose research will contribute to knowledge in the field. The driving purpose of the program is to bring the best of relevant contemporary scholarship to bear on creating learning environments that improve the academic performance of all students and to meet the particular needs of these new learners. The program requires a knowledge core, a research core, comprehensive examinations and a formal dissertation.

Program of Study

The program requires elements common to all doctoral studies: research methods, comprehensive examinations, research seminar and dissertation. The course content includes study of language, learning and instruction; historical, global and philosophical perspectives; change theory; and educational policy and legal issues.

Courses in the areas of language, learning and philosophical perspectives provide necessary understandings and approaches fundamental to all aspects of the program. Because they establish the foundation and focus for all other studies, these courses should be taken at the beginning of the doctoral program.


Depending on the prior graduate work of the student, 45 to 60 credits will be required to complete the degree. Students receiving a grade less than a B in the Ph.D. program must repeat the class.  If they do not receive a grade of B or better the second time they take the class, they will be withdrawn from the Ph.D. program. Students receiving more than one grade less than a B will be withdrawn from the Ph.D. program. Students are required to be registered in classes fall, spring and summer or request a leave of absence.


Introductory Research Course (3 Credits)

EDU-543 Reading, Analyzing and Interpreting Educational Research (3)

Language and Learning (12 credits)

EDU-647     Learning, Language and the Brain (3)
EDU-676     Educational Applications of Multimedia (3) or
EDU-665     Digital Game Based Learning and Design (3)
EDU-697     Language and Intercultural Communication for Changing Populations (3)
EDU-698     Linguistic and Cultural Diversity (3)

Philosophical Perspectives (12 credits)

EDU-672     Changing School Populations in Historical Perspectives (3)
EDU-674     Global and International Perspectives in Education (3)
EDU-675     Democracy and Education: Philosophical Perspectives (3)
IDS-500      The Human Spirit and the Liberal Arts (3)

Changing Populations (9 credits)

EDU-615     Educator as a Change Leader (3)
EDU-622     Education and Policy Analysis for Changing Schools (3)
EDU-660     Legislative and Legal Decisions Affecting Changing School Populations (3)

Research Core (9 credits)

EDU-695     Research Design (3)
EDU-701     Methods of Quantitative Research (3)
EDU-703     Methods of Qualitative Research (3)

Special Interest Area (6 credits)

Students select two courses related to an area of special interest within the broad domain of instructional leadership and improving learning for changing student populations.

Comprehensive Examinations

Students take written and oral comprehensive examinations demonstrating knowledge of the broad conceptual and procedural aspects of instruction for changing populations. The written portion of the exam requires students to write essay answers demonstrating proficiency in writing, critical thinking, and holistic perspectives, and to demonstrate their ability to articulate their perceived roles as agents of change in education.

Written and oral examinations must be passed in the following areas:

  • Language and learning
  • Philosophical perspectives
  • Changing populations

Written comprehensive examinations are administered in September and January. If a student fails any section of the examination, the student will have one opportunity to rewrite the failed section. The written examinations are read by two faculty members. In the event of divided scoring, a third faculty member will be asked to review the examination. After two failures of any section, the candidate may not continue in the Ph.D. program. Written examinations are not returned to students.

Students sit for the oral examination when all sections of the written comprehensives have been passed. Oral examinations are scheduled within three weeks after the successful completion of the written tests. Two or three faculty reviewers conduct the session. In the oral examination, the candidate should be prepared to respond to questions that pursue issues raised in the written examinations, to discuss any other topic related to the program of study, or to explore how he/she plans to proceed with the dissertation. As a result of the oral examination, a candidate may be required to take additional course work in a specific area.

Grades assigned to comprehensive examinations are:

  • Pass with honor (PH)
  • Pass (P)
  • Fail (F)

Students are officially notified of the results by the dean of education.

Students must complete the comprehensive exam requirement within two years of completing course work.


The dissertation is the culmination of the student's doctoral studies. In this scholarly work of original and independent research, the student addresses a problem or issue relevant to education, conducts research that is quantitative, qualitative, or historical/philosophical (depending on the chosen subject), and develops a dissertation that adds to knowledge in the field.

Dissertation Proposal

The student is assisted in the process of preparing a dissertation proposal through the Dissertation Seminar(s). To be eligible to register for the Dissertation Seminar, the student must have completed successfully all required courses, have passed the written and oral comprehensive examinations, and be a student in good standing at the University.

The following courses are offered:

  • EDU-705 Dissertation Seminar (required for students engaging in qualitative or quantitative research) (3 credits)
  • EDU-706 Dissertation Seminar: Methodology (required for students engaging in qualitative or quantitative research) (3 credits)
  • EDU-707 Dissertation Seminar: Historical Methods (required for students engaging in historical or philosophical research) (3 credits)

These courses assist the student in developing a dissertation proposal. During this time the student confers with the dean of the school of eduction to select a dissertation committee (chair and two readers) who are appointed by the dean.

After completing the Dissertation Seminar(s), students must register for EDU-800 Dissertation Continuation (1 credit) for each academic semester (Fall, Spring and Summer) until they graduate.

When the student completes the dissertation proposal and the chair and two readers approve it, the student submits the proposal to the School of Education Ph.D. committee to approve. Students are expected to submit a proposal to the School of Education Ph.D. committee within two years of passing comprehensive examinations. If a student fails to submit a proposal within this timeline, he/she must appeal to the dean of the school of education for an extention of time. (See  website for application for extension of time.)

Advancement to Candidacy

Once the School of Education Ph.D. committee approves the dissertation proposal the student is considered a Ph.D. Candidate. Once the Ph.D. committee approves the proposal, students conducting research with human subjects also apply to the IRB for approval for their research.

Submission of the Dissertation

The candidate submits drafts of the dissertation to the dissertation advisor and readers for suggestions and review throughout the process of research and writing. When the candidate, advisors and readers agree the dissertation is ready for final review by the School of Education Ph.D. committee, the candidate submits required copies to the dean of the school of education. Due dates for submission of dissertations to the dean are January 1 (for May graduation) and August 1 (for December graduation). If the dissertation is found to be satisfactory, the dean of the school of education schedules the dissertation defense. Manuscripts that do not follow the format expectations set forth in the Dissertation Handbook will not be accepted.

Dissertation Defense

The candidate defends the dissertation before a committee formed by the dean of education in consultation with the advisor, readers and the candidate. The committee includes faculty from the School of Education. Where relevant to the student's research topic, the committee may also include a faculty member from a complementary discipline. The dissertation defense must be successfully completed by these dates:

  • April 1 for May graduation
  • November 1 for December graduation

These are firm deadlines.

Dissertations are graded as follows:

  • Pass with distinction
  • Pass
  • Fail

Candidates are expected to defend their dissertation within two years of being admitted to candidacy. If a candidate fails to defend a dissertation within this timeline, he/she must appeal to the dean of education for an extention of time. (See website for application for extension of time.)


EDU-543 Reading, Analyzing and Interpreting Educational Research

Provides an interactive learning environment that will enable students to acquire knowledge, skills and abilities required for the analysis, interpretation and evaluation of educational research. In addition, the course will enable students to cultivate the skills necessary for engaging in their own creative and meaningful research. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-615 Educator As a Change Leader

Explores the dynamics of innovation and change in organizations and institutions, the conceptualization, planning, and management of innovation and change, and various decision-making and problem-solving strategies. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-622 Education and Policy Analysis For Changing Schools

Creates awareness of recurring issues and tensions inherent in providing educational opportunities in a democratic society. Examples are: impact of linguistic and cultural diversity on equity, ethical issues confronting teachers and policy-makers, tensions between individual and collective interests, limits of democratic authority and equality of educational opportunity in a democratic society. This course introduces the process by which such policies are accomplished: identifying context and relevant antecedents, framing of problems and solutions within policies, policy implementation and anticipating and responding to policy consequences. The course includes theoretical and applied readings on state and national policy issues as they affect the educational environment and the learning needs of mainstream and non-mainstream students. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-647 Learning, Language and the Brain

Demonstrates how new brain imaging capabilities illustrate the ways the brain acquires knowledge and stores memories. This seminar course examines current brain-inaction research and the insights this information provides for effective instructional practices with special attention to language acquisition and manipulation. Students design, conduct and discuss research projects addressing aspects of brain functioning and the consequences for learning. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-660 Legislative and Legal Decisions Affecting Changing School Populations

Applies analytical and legal reasoning skills to issues emerging from implementation of recent legislation setting standards for: achievement expectations for specific student populations, mandatory testing requirements, teacher quality and licensing, instruction for students for whom English is a second language and related issues. Using the case study approach, students apply the precedents established in previously studied landmark cases to cases and problems currently pending, or soon to come, before district courts and the Supreme Court. Emphasis is placed on alternative dispute resolution in a wide variety of situations that present the possibility of litigation with focus on issues affecting changing student populations. [ 3 credits]

EDU-665 Digital Game-Based Learning and Design

This course provides an overview of the learning theories, best practices, and classroom application models involved with incorporating educational games and simulations into learning environments. The use of current and emerging technologies found in the gaming arena will be explored and documented for classroom application. This course brings together cultural, business, government and technical perspectives on developing and integrating electronic gaming techniques and technologies to enhance and enrich learning. Course participants will develop an understanding of the current trends (technical and sociological) in computer and console gaming, and what can be learned and applied from the world of gaming to positively affect teaching and learning. They will also experience an authentic creative process when they explore the game design process. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-672 Changing School Population in Historical Perspective

Considers the immigrant experience as integral to major developments in the history of American education. The United States has been called "a nation of immigrants," and John Dewey has defined the school as a society in miniature. This course traces the influence waves of immigration have had on American attitudes and institutions of education from colonial times to the present as successive generations have responded to the pedagogical, economic and political implications inherent in the changing demographics of American schools. The course provides insights into the aims, challenges and priorities for curriculum and instruction as A merican schools have confronted such issues as learning differences, gender, race, ethnicity and social structures in changing populations of learners. The course traces the history of complex interactions as multicultural and multilingual students, teachers, staff, parents, community leaders and others have sought to create schools as learning communities. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-674 Global and International Perspectives in Education

Prepares students for learning and teaching for the 21st century with new methodologies, new skills and new approaches in an increasingly interdependent world. These interdependencies include: international communications systems providing worldwide access to information, global economic situations that impact career and work, ideological contests that are global in nature and significance, and the challenge of global disparity in standards of living and access to resources. Inquiry into the nature of these interdependencies enables educators to make decisions impacting curriculum and instructional methodology appropriate for preparing all students for intelligent participation in the contemporary world. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-675 Democracy and Education: Philosophical Perspectives

Analyzes the major philosophical perspectives that have formed and continue to inf luence American attitudes toward the enterprise of schooling and toward the roles and responsibilities of schools in the United States. Selections address education both as a public responsibility and as an individual pursuit. Students also examine the unique moral, ethical and educational issues raised by the linguistically and culturally pluralistic nature of society in the United States. Through reading, study, analytic discussion and reflection students identify more clearly their own philosophies of education with regard to serving non-mainstream learners and the ethical principles that guide their professional decisions. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-676 Educational Applications of Multimedia

Provides an introduction to designing and planning multimedia projects in the K-12 setting through collaborative inquiry. Topics to be introduced include storyboarding, conferencing, video editing and incorporating multimedia elements into selected software programs. Students will read some of the latest research covering the impact of multimedia development on student achievement. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-695 Research Design

Examines and analyzes principles of research design in education. This will include a review of research tools and resources and an overview of quantitative and qualitative approaches as applied to educational issues. Students will be expected to identify elements of exemplary research models and to present a sample design in one of these modes. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-697 Language and Intercultural Communication for Changing Populations

Examines the nature of language as the instrument of communication that expresses cultural and societal modes of thinking, customs and values. Participants analyze their own and others' socio-cultural perceptions, values and behaviors in order to gain insight into student behaviors and develop strategies that facilitate effective instruction and learning for all students. The study of linguistic patterns enables teachers and other educational leaders to gain global insights into the role of language in fostering individual and cultural identity. This course focuses on sociolinguistics and the social contexts in which language is used. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-698 Linguistic and Cultural Diversity

Assists educators in better understanding the nature of language and language acquisition in the context of their relevance for education. First and second language acquisition will be studied in detail, primarily from a cognitive perspective with emphasis on the analysis of the diverse variables that play a role in language acquisition and how these affect literacy development. The focus of this course will be on the study of language development of K-12 students who are linguistic minority students, including those for whom Standard English is a second dialect and those for whom it is a second language. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-701 Methods of Quantitative Research

Introduces the student to statistics and statistical reasoning, uses of location and dispersion measures, regression and correlation, formation of hypotheses tests and analyses of variance and contingency tables. Applies statistical concepts to research design and educational measures including description statistics, presentations of data, estimation and hypothesis testing. Practice entering, analyzing, and interpreting data using statistical software, such as SPSS, is integrated throughout the semester. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-703 Methods of Qualitative Research

Explores qualitative methods currently used in educational research. Students examine the paradigms drawn from philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology and comparative studies as they rely on narrative rather than quantitative ordering of data. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-705 Dissertation Seminar

Supports each degree candidate in identifying a dissertation topic, conducting a comprehensive review of the literature relevant to the topic, and developing the dissertation proposal. The proposal presents the formal plan for research and includes an introduction, review of the literature and research methodology. In this collegial setting, seminar members present their findings, share research data and dilemmas, and participate in critically examining and analyzing their own and one another's progress. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-706 Dissertation Seminar: Methodology

The overall goal of this course is to provide the student with the opportunity to extend skills learned in prior coursework in the dissertation program, and their prior experiential learning, leading to the development of a dissertation proposal. Student will extend prior coursework in theory, skills at developing literature reviews, and the appropriate use of research designs to develop a research design assessing the efficacy of an educational or educationally related project targeted to the student's substantive question of inquiry. Attention will be focused upon developing the skills and knowledge needed to formulate dissertation research questions in order to design a piece of research that is original, credible and important to the field. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-707 Dissertation II: Historical Methods

This course is designed to introduce the dissertation student to the complex methods of completing historical research. The course will focus on the fundamentals of historical research and woriting, and consider the differences between historical dissertations/research projects and other types of dissertation work. The course will orient students toward critical thinking, source analysis and criticism and historical interpretation. The course will focus on how to formulate a research project including an historiography and annotated bibliography. In addition to understanding how to assess secondary sources, students will consider how to examine and determine the viability of primary sources for a research project. Students will have time to consider topics of interest and work towards a proposal for a substantial research project. [ 3 credits ]

IDS-500 The Human Spirit and the Liberal Arts

Explores the human quest for meaning and significant aspects of the human experience through study in the liberal arts disciplines of literature, philosophy, religion, the social and natural sciences, and the fine arts. In this multidisciplinary course, students complete assigned readings and write analytic and reflective essays for each class session. A research essay and an in-class final examination are required. [ 3 credits ]