Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations


Degrees offered



Main Campus
Anne Arundel Community College
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 conduct research that will contribute to knowledge and practice 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.  The course content includes study of language, learning, and instruction; historical, global, and philosophical perspectives; change theory; and educational policy and legal issues.


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  If they do not earn a grade of B or better in the repeated class, the student will be withdrawn from the program.  Students are required to be enrolled in fall, spring, and summer or request a leave of absence. 


     Introductory Course (must be taken in the first or second semester of the program)

          EDU-XXX Research Writing for Doctoral Students

     Language and Learning (9 Credits)

          EDU-624 Dialects in American Schools (3)
          EDU-698 Linguistic and Cultural Diversity (3)
          EDU-747 Learning, Language, and the Brain

     Philosophical Perspectives (9 Credits)

          EDU-674 Global and International Perspectives in Education (3)
          EDU-772 Changing School Populations in Historical Perspectives (3)
          EDU-775 Democracy and Education: Philosophical Perspectives (3)

     Changing Populations (9 Credits)

          EDU-715 Educator as a Change Leader (3)
          EDU-722 Education and Policy Analysis for Changing Schools (3)
          EDU-760 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 any two graduate level courses related to an area of special interest. 

     Dissertation Courses (6 Credits plus Dissertation Continuation)

          EDU-705 Dissertation Seminar (3)
          EDU-706 Dissertation Methodology (3) or EDU 707 Historical Methodology (3)
          EDU-800 Dissertation Continuation (2 credits per semester up to 8 credits)*

          *Students requiring EDU 800 enrollment beyond four semesters must request extension through their advisor.


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 the ability to articulate perceived role as agents of change in education.

Written and oral examination s must be passed in the following areas: 

  • Higher education theory
  • Philosophical perspectives of education
  • 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.

Grades assigned to comprehensive examinations are:

  • High Pass
  • Pass
  • Fail

Students are officially notified of the results by the Assistant Dean, School of Education.  Students must complete the comprehensive examination 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 knowledge to the field.

During the dissertation courses (705 and 706), the student confers with the Dean, School of Education, to select a Dissertation Committee (a Chair and two readers) who are subsequently appointed by the Ph.D. Committee.

After completing the Dissertation Seminar(s), students must enroll in EDU-800 Dissertation Continuation 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, the student must appeal to the Dean, School of Education, 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. The student then  applies to the University IRB for approval of the research. This approval must be granted before the candidate can conduct the research.

Submission of the Dissertation

The candidate submits drafts of the dissertation to the dissertation Chair and readers for suggestions and review throughout the process of reading and writing.  When the candidate, advisors, and readers agree that the dissertation is ready for final review by the School of Education Ph.D. Committee, the candidate submits required copies to the Dean, School of Education.  The School of Education Ph.D. Committee reviews the full dissertation and if the Committee finds the dissertation to be satisfactory, the Committee schedules the defense.  Manuscripts must follow the format expectations set forth in the Dissertation Handbook or will not be accepted by the Committee.

Dissertation Defense

The candidate defends the dissertation before the Ph.D. Committee in consultation with the advisor and readers.  The defense must be successfully completed by April 1 for May graduation or by November 1 for December graduation.  These are firm deadlines. 

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, the candidate must appeal to the Dean, School of Education, for an extension of time.


EDU-624 Dialects in American Schools

This advanced course examines the effects of linguistic variation in K-12 classrooms. Various factors will be analyzed that can result in linguistic variation, such as social class and ethnicity. Students examine nonstandard language varieties of English, including African American Vernacular English, and World English varieties. An important focus of the course will be effect of nonstandard English on the development of literacy skills. The course will also address unique pedagogical strategies for teaching speakers of nonstandard varieties of English. Students will complete individual research projects, in which they analyze the language development of K-12 students. [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-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-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-722 Education and Policy Analysis

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-747 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-in action research and the insights this information provides for effective instructional practices with special manipulation. Students design, conduct and discuss research projects addressing aspects of brain functioning and the consequences for learning. [ 3 credits ]

EDU-760 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-772 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 American 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-775 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-800 Dissertation Continuation

Throughout the writing of the dissertation, PhD candidates are expected to continually document progress toward completion of the dissertation and receive continuous feedback from their dissertation chair and readers.  [ 1.5 credits beginning Fall 2021 semester ]