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 prepares graduates to provide instructional leadership for linguistically and culturally non-mainstream learners and prepare research that will contribute to knowledge in the field. This Program of Study applies the most current, relevant, contemporary scholarship to bear on creating learning environments that improve the academic performance of all students and meets the particular needs of these learners. The Program requires a knowledge core, a research core, comprehensive examinations, and a formal dissertation.

Program Objectives

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 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 of Study must repeat the class.  If they do not earn a grade of B or better in the repeated class, the student will be withdrawn from the Ph.D. program. Students earning less than a B in more than one course within the Program of Study will be withdrawn.  Students are required to be enrolled in 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 complete 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 August and January. If a student fails any section of the examination, the student will have one opportunity to rewrite the failed section. 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 Vice president of Academic affairs/Provost.

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 enroll in the Dissertation Seminar, the student must have successfully completed all required courses, passed the written and oral comprehensive examinations, and be in Good Academic Standing at the University.

The following courses are offered regarding Dissertation research:

      • 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 Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost to select a Dissertation Committee (a Chair and two readers) who are subsequently appointed by the Dean.

After completing the Dissertation Seminar(s), students must enroll in 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 Vice President of Academic Affiars/Provost for an 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 Vice President of Academic Affiars/Provost. Due dates for submission of dissertations are January 1 (for May graduation) and August 1 (for December graduation). If the dissertation is found to be satisfactory, Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost 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

If a candidate fails to defend a dissertation within this timeline, he/she must appeal to the Dean of Education for an extension of time. (See website for application for extension of time.)