About the Ed.D.
The EDAD Doctorate in Educational Administration (Ed.D.) program is an applied professional degree that prepares scholarly practitioners to lead continuous improvement for equity in educational organizations at all levels, P-20. Through coursework and a dissertation in practice (DiP) students will gain knowledge, skills, and dispositions to understand education from a systems perspective; to change the ways educational organizations reproduce structural inequalities; to integrate research, policy, theory, and meaningful practice to serve the needs of diverse communities; and to enhance equity, inclusion, and effectiveness through sustainable improvement. This program is designed for educational leaders seeking to enhance their capacities to lead change at the school, district, university, system, or state-level and other educational settings and organizations.
The hybrid program, with online coursework interspersed with strategic face-to-face experiences, is designed around the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate Department (CPED) framework, as well as state and national educational leadership standards, including the Nebraska Department of Education and the National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP). The Ed.D. offers a combination of common core courses and specialized courses in Higher Education and P-12 Leadership. Higher Education students have the option of concurrently earning a community college leadership graduate certificate. P-12 students have the option of concurrently completing the requirements for a district-level endorsement from the Nebraska Department of Education.
The goal of the Ed.D. program is for graduates to demonstrate excellence in these core areas of knowledge, skills, and dispositions through coursework and the DiP:
- Understand the complex systems that create inequitable educational outcomes;
- Envision and articulate more equitable futures for institutions, students, and communities;
- Critically engage in improvement science with stakeholders, using context-based inquiry, research, and theory to create change;
- Embody social justice/equity leadership through their knowledge, dispositions, and actions;
- Lead educational change & continuous improvement to create more equitable outcomes for students at all levels;
- Practice life-long learning and self-reflection.
The Dissertation in Practice (DiP) is a culminating, applied research project that focuses on a problem of educational practice. Unlike the Ph.D. dissertation, which generates original knowledge and builds or extends theory, the Ed.D. dissertation generates information that can be used to improve practice in a specific educational setting. Drawing on tenants of improvement science, the DiP should 1) identify an actionable problem of practice that exists in the students’ professional area, unit, or setting, 2) develop a change based on the students’ professional knowledge and doctoral training, 3) implement and study the change effort systematically, and 4) report findings to both local stakeholders, the doctoral committee, and other professionals for whom the change might be relevant. See Dissertation in Practice for more information.
The Ed.D. is designed to be completed two courses at a time, with superintendent endorsement candidates taking an extra credit during the first three summers. In consultation with your advisor, you may develop a flexible plan that allows you to take one course at a time.
EDAD 900 Doctoral Pro-Seminar
EDAD 920 Diversity and Equity in Educ. Organizations
(Intro to District Leadership 1)
EDAD 983 Qualitative Methods
Milestone: Formation of committee and program of studies meeting
EDAD 981 Quantitative Methods
EDAD 986 Leadership in Educational Organizations
(Intro to District Leadership 2)
EDAD 901 Improvement Science 1
EDAD 902 Improvement Science 2
EDAD 988 Dissertation Proposal
(Intro to District Leadership 3 &District Internship)
Milestone: Comprehensive Examination due 2 weeks prior to 1st day of fall term
EDAD 999 Dissertation (3-6cr)
Milestone: DiP proposal presentation scheduled during J-term
EDAD 999 Dissertation (3-6cr)
EDAD 999 Dissertation (3-6cr)
|Fall 4- Completion|
Milestone: DiP presentation to faculty and public presentation
Consider submitting your DiP to be considered for the CPED
Dissertation in Practice of the Year Award
Consider submitting a manuscript that is derived from your DiP for publication in scholarly or practitioner journals
Consider presenting your DiP at professional conferences
* Those seeking district endorsement need to enroll in a minimum of 12 credits for the dissertation. All other students need to enroll in a minimum of 15.
The Ed.D. offers three specialization tracks: Higher Education, Community College,and P-12. Students across specializations take core courses together. These courses are EDAD 900, 920, 983, 981, 901, 902, 986 and 988. Specialization courses may overlap with other programs.
Specialization courses in Higher Education include: EDAD 966, 879, 920, 383, 843, 907, 932, 936, 935*, 934*, 923*, 912B* (*only ONE of these courses can count towards the Higher Education Specialization).
Specialization courses in Community College include: EDAD 923, 912B, 934, 935, 936, 996.
Specialization courses for P-12 include EDAD 905☨, 906☨, 835☨, 907, 919, 929, 935, 966, 990☨, District Internship☨, District Leadership Capstone☨, and SPED 856/57☨ (☨ To qualify for the District Endorsement, students must complete these courses as part of their specialization unless they have completed these courses or equivalent courses previously). Electives in P-12 may include courses in EDAD or in related departments (e.g. SCED, TLTE, ALEC).
Students in the Joint UNL-UNK program should coordinate their program of studies with both campus advisors.
See the Graduate Bulletin for course descriptions.
Specializations by Semester
|Higher Ed.||Community College||P-12 w/ District Endorsement||P-12||Joint UNK Program|
EDAD 990 (1 credit)
UNL EDAD 900
UNL EDAD 990 (1 credit)
UNK EDAD 955
UNK EDAD 956 (1 credit)
EDAD 929/919 (odd/even)
EDAD 929/919 (odd/even) or
UNK EDAD 944
UNK EDAD 957
Higher Ed. Specialization
SPED 857/SPED 856
EDAD 990 (1 credit)
SPED 857/SPED 856/ Elective
UNK EDAD 940
UNK EDAD 992
UNK EDAD 990 (1 credit)
Higher Ed. Specialization
UNK EDAD 998 (internship)
EDAD 929/919 (odd/even)
EDAD 929/919 (odd/even)
EDAD 929/919 (odd/even) or
Higher Ed. Specialization
EDAD 990 (1 credit)
UNL EDAD 900
UNK EDAD 990 (1 credit)
District Internship (1-2 credits)
UNL EDAD 983
Elective (fall or spring)
District Internship (1-2 credits)
UNL EDAD 981
Elective (fall or spring)
District Leadership Capstone
|Fall 4- completion|
Important note: The University of Nebraska (NU) disallows the use of graduate credit toward two equivalent degrees. That is, graduate-level courses that satisfy the requirements of a prior doctoral degree (Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.) or education specialist degree (EdS)—considered a doctoral equivalent—already awarded cannot be transferred or included in a doctoral program of study. However, graduate-level coursework toward a doctoral degree that has not been awarded (for example in the case of someone transferring from another doctoral program) can be counted.
Courses taken at NU can be counted towards coursework previously taken. On a limited basis, students may transfer doctoral-level coursework from non-NU institutions after the program of study has been filed. The transfer of credit, in this case, is not technically completed until Graduate Studies processes the transfer credit at the time of a student’s application for graduation. The supervisory committee and Graduate Studies must be consulted throughout this process, and the student must submit a request to the Ed.D. program coordinator for review by the Ed.D. team in order to determine of transfer equivalency (below).
Determination of equivalency of prior doctoral coursework for Ed.D. program requirements
Note: Whereas students’ programs of study technically include prior graduate-level coursework toward the Ed.D. overall, in accordance with the department’s practice of admitting masters degree holders, the transfer or inclusion of prior doctoral-level courses as equivalents of the Ed.D. program requirements (core courses) is subject to an approval process, outlined below.
- The transfer, inclusion, or equivalencies of prior coursework, whether completed at NU or elsewhere can be counted as satisfying Ed.D requirements for core courses with the exception of EDAD 900, 901, 902, and 988.
- No transfer, inclusion, or equivalency of prior credit is allowed for specialization courses. The limitation includes such courses taken as a non-degree seeking student.
- For students who have completed prior courses at NU that are eligible to satisfy Ed.D. program requirements, these can simply be listed as graduate coursework already taken.
- For students who wish to transfer in doctoral-level coursework from other institutions to count as equivalents of Ed.D. program requirements, they and their advisor must submit a request for equivalency determination to the Ed.D. program coordinator. The program coordinator will present the request to the program faculty at the earliest scheduled program meeting for consideration, if a quorum of members is present to vote as with other program business.
- A request should include the course details, an argument for the proposed equivalency, and accompanying evidence. Criteria in evaluating transfer courses that will substitute Ed.D. requirements are:
- Time: Coursework should generally have been taken within the past 10 years at the time of consideration for transfer.
- Content: Students will provide a syllabus and/or course catalog information for the course under consideration for transfer. The advisor will provide the student a copy of the syllabus for the UNL course the substitution is being considered for. The student is responsible for looking across the two syllabi and providing a written rationale for why the course is an appropriate substitute for the UNL course. Within this response the student must also provide evidence that the course was a doctoral-level class such as an indication it satisfies requirements for a doctoral program.
 Exceptions being a very rare instance when a student is admitted directly to the Ed.D. without a prior graduate degree.
For students seeking the superintendent endorsement, they must complete the superintendent program of studies form for submission to Graduate Studies and the Certification office, complete the required specialization courses, internship, and requirements for the Ed.D. Students must also take the School Superintendent Assessment (6991) through ETS with a score of at least 162.
In addition to the program milestones described below, Graduate Studies provides information on necessary forms and deadlines for milestones required by the university.
Year 1: Creation of Supervisory Committee & Program of Studies
In students’ first fall semester in the program, students should work with their advisor to form a supervisory committee and a program of studies. The student is responsible for contacting potential committee members, scheduling the meeting, and drafting the program of studies in consultation with the advisor. The committee and program of studies forms are to be approved by the advisor and committee and sent to the Ed.D. Program Coordinator and Graduate Chair for review prior to submission to the Graduate Secretary, who forwards the forms to Graduate Studies. Per Graduate Studies rules, the supervisory committee must be formed and the program of study approved before the student has less than 45 credit hours left to complete, this is typically no later than the spring term of the first year of study.
Supervisory committees must have a minimum of 4 members, two of whom are designated as readers apart from the chair and co-chairs, per Graduate Studies policies. These members must include:
- The advisor who serves as chair (or co-chair)
- A member of the EDAD faculty with graduate faculty status who has agreed to take on the advisor role for the student in case of the advisor’s departure. This person is known informally as a “second” or “contingent” advisor.
- One other member with graduate faculty status, from among the EDAD faculty, EDAD faculty affiliates, or other departments within the NU system. For students in the joint UNL-UNK program, this member will be the student’s UNK advisor.
- One “outside” member within the NU system but outside of EDAD who has graduate faculty status.
- A fifth member to serve as a reader in the case of committees with co-chairs and an outside member who is not serving as a reader. This member must hold graduate faculty status in the NU system;
- A fifth member from outside of the NU system to serve as a special committee member and reader. From the Graduate Catalog:
- “Students may request the appointment of a faculty member from another institution outside the University of Nebraska system to serve on their supervisory committee. These external “special” members must hold a terminal degree appropriate to the discipline and have academic accomplishments comparable to the criteria for Graduate Faculty. Special Members are appointed as voting members of the supervisory committee and must be willing to participate in the student’s doctoral program in a manner consistent with this role. The Special Member may serve as one of the two appointed readers; but may not serve as committee chair, co-chair, or outside representative.”
- “Special Members are appointed on an individual student committee basis; a separate nomination must be submitted for each supervisory committee on which a Special Member intends to serve. In addition, only one Special Member may serve on each supervisory committee, and the committee must include a minimum of four members of the Graduate Faculty.”
- Core Courses;
- Research methodology and applied research courses, including dissertation hours;
- Specialization courses;
- Professional and scholarly development (elective) courses.
Supervisory committees may include:
Program of Studies
Program requirements and course sequencing guidelines are outlined in this handbook and posted on the program website. The Ed.D. program is a 96-credit hour program, typically entailing 60 credit hours beyond a masters degree and/or previous graduate-level coursework (36 credits) and a minimum of 12 credit hours of dissertation work. Students and advisors must identify sufficient prior graduate-level credit hours. They may be from any regionally accredited university (or international equivalent) and from any academic discipline. For students seeking a superintendent endorsement, these courses must include those for a building-level endorsement.
There are four main areas for course requirements:
For students seeking superintendent endorsement, required courses include the three one-credit Introduction to District Leadership, three-credit District Leadership Internship, and the three-credit District Leadership Capstone.
The sequence of core courses and research courses is established by the program coordinator and faculty assuming students will take two courses per semester. Students may take one course at a time in consultation with their advisor.
Specialization courses should be planned ahead of time, taking into account when they are regularly offered. It is recommended to plan for contingencies in case of schedule changes and opportunities that arise. These contingencies are not reflected in the program of study form itself. But any changes made during a student’s course of study need to be documented and communicated to Graduate Studies. Advisors must notify Graduate Studies of supervisory committee approval for course substitutions as they occur or, more commonly, at the conclusion of coursework or at the time of application for graduation.
Elective courses are meant to be carefully selected based on a student’s current professional and scholarly development needs, according to their career goals. These elective courses can be doctoral-level courses from EDAD or any other NU system department with prior authorization from the advisor and fellow department and instructor.
The supervisory committee chair must submit the program of study form for review by the Graduate Chair and Ed.D. Program Coordinator who will check it for compliance with program requirements. The Graduate Chair submits the finalized program of study to the Graduate Secretary, who sends the form to Graduate Studies on behalf of the supervisory committee chair.
In addition to required coursework, the program of studies form should list transfer or inclusion of prior graduate coursework toward the doctoral degree overall, up to 36 credits.
For students seeking superintendent endorsement, the Superintendent Program of Studies form must be on file for credentialing. For students seeking the superintendent endorsement, transfer courses must include equivalents of the building-level certification courses. If students are missing coursework, or if the coursework is over 10 years old and the student does not currently hold an administrative position, these courses will be added to the program of study to ensure students meet the state endorsement requirements and obtain the skills and knowledge described in contemporary administrative standards.
Year 3: Comprehensive Examination and Candidacy
A comprehensive exam is a doctoral study milestone required by the University of Nebraska Graduate College, which describes it as an “investigation of the breadth of understanding of the field of knowledge of which [a student’s] special subject is a part.” Successful completion of the comprehensive exam qualifies a doctoral student to apply to doctoral candidacy, which in turn qualifies one to propose and ultimately submit a dissertation project for a final oral exam.
The faculty of the Ed.D. program in the Educational Administration department holds the comprehensive exam to be an essential and formative bridge between coursework and a dissertation in practice. While the exam is drafted and submitted after the bulk of coursework has been completed, it draws on program experiences, expectations, and analytical work conducted throughout.
Praxis: Connecting Theory and Practice
As the Ed.D. is an applied credential, we define the relevant field of knowledge for the comprehensive examination to be the knowledge, skills, and dispositions (KSDs) required as educational leaders to lead complex systems-change for equitable futures for students, institutions, and communities. These KSDs are outlined in the program goals section. Therefore, the comprehensive exam serves as a formative evaluation of one’s preparation to lead such change by articulating their own personal and professional positionality along with a scholarly analysis of their improvement praxis relative to their selected problem of practice. In addition, the comprehensive examination serves as an opportunity for critical reflection on one’s improvement praxis to allow for personal and professional growth in regard to change leadership for improvement and equity.
Praxis is defined as the mutually reinforcing process of action informed by reflection and theory with an explicit goal to empower others—especially those marginalized due to socio-political identities and inequitable power differentials—to acquire the critical tools to transform their own lives (Given, 2008). Authentic praxis includes critical reflection on the consequences of such action (Freire, 1970/1993).
Procedure and Timing
Comprehensive exams are due two weeks prior to the first day of classes in the Fall academic term following the completion of EDAD 901-902 sequence. The exam is completed on a students’ own time schedule but requires the completion of a praxis journal and an initial improvement science project that by their nature are developed over time. Thus the comprehensive exam follows the completion of these activities, even as it is an extension of them. It cannot be completed beforehand nor separate from them. Any deviation from this sequence must be negotiated with the advisor and program coordinator and reflect unforeseen challenges, such as job changes, illness, family responsibilities.
Comprehensive exams will be read by the Ed.D. committee and returned to students no later than the end of the first week of the fall semester with written feedback and marks of pass or revisions requested. For revisions requested, students should meet with their advisor to discuss what is needed. Revisions should be resubmitted within two weeks to ensure students remain on track.
The comprehensive examination builds directly from the Preliminary Improvement Science Project completed during EDAD 901 and 902. For that project, students will articulate a problem of practice and engage in preliminary work on at least one improvement cycle as preparatory work for their dissertation in practice. This preliminary improvement science cycle will form the basis of students’ analysis of their experiences, successes, and needed development of their own improvement praxis in the comprehensive examination.
Students will maintain a praxis journal throughout the 901-902 sequence (although they are encouraged to do so throughout the duration of their studies). The minimum requirement for this journal is a total of 20 half-page entries (single-spaced), crafted on average every 10 to 11 days during the academic terms, starting at the beginning of EDAD 901, for a total of 10 full pages. The praxis journal may be integrated into the coursework but must be maintained regardless of course assignments.
These two components, along with a positionality statement, developed from previous drafts completed in EDAD 900 and EDAD 983, constitute the material on which students will engage in a critical reflection in their comprehensive examination.
The comprehensive exam consists of two major aspects: 1) a self-study of one’s positionality in educational leadership both generally and relative to a selected problem of practice, and 2) an analysis of one’s improvement praxis in preparation to demonstrate readiness to conduct a dissertation in practice and in preparation for sustained improvement praxis upon graduation.
- 1. Self-study of Positionality Relative to One’s Problem of Practice
In this portion of the exam, drawing on excerpts and insights from their praxis journals and course assignments, students are to explain their social identities as an individual, educator, and leader in relation to their vision for educational improvement, by responding one way or another to the following prompts:
- Describe one or two relevant experiences that shape your views of education, leadership, and your vision for educational improvement.
- Explore where you sit in the nexus of power, oppression, and inequity in educational organizations and endeavors.
- Explain how can you use your role to envision and create more equitable futures.
- Explain how your positionality will shape and inform all stages of your dissertation in practice—from its inception to implementation and interpretation, etc.
- 2. Analysis of Improvement Praxis
In this portion of the exam, students will engage in a reflective analysis and critique of their own improvement science practice and change leadership, drawing links to applicable theories and scholarly literature. The analysis must speak to students’ praxis so far in conducting a preliminary improvement science project, identifying successes and opportunities for improvement, including areas of action, understanding, and/or tools/processes that need further development. This analysis of improvement praxis much account one way or another the following prompts that map to aims of the program (see: About the Ed.D.):
- How does your praxis cultivate asset-based, participatory, and culturally responsive/sustaining ways of thinking?
- Which improvement science tools (e.g. causal analysis, logic models, theories of change) are salient to guide and evaluate the change you are pursuing?
- What critiques do you have of improvement science models?
- What evidence or propositions do you turn to when envisioning a better, more equitable future in relation to your selected problem of practice (and/or educational endeavors broadly)?
- How does your praxis embody or relate to the values of equity, ethics, and social justice?
- How do you engage in and lead inquiry using multiple types of data to identify, describe, act on, and measure areas for change?
- How do you engage in and lead inquiry in collaboration with multiple stakeholders to empower and support others for success, seek opportunities for change, cultivate trust and relationships for change, and/or develop the will and skill of others to develop a shared vision for a more equitable future and to implement change?
- How have/will you demonstrate(d) curiosity, humility, authenticity, vulnerability, and compassion in your improvement science efforts?
- How do/will you engage in continuous learning in relation to your selected problem of practice and longer-term?
The comprehensive exam is submitted as a clearly written, carefully proofread 5,000-7,000 word paper (excluding a title page; reference list; tables, graphs, figures, and charts; and appendices). It should be formatted using the most recent edition of the APA Publication Manual for in-text citations, references, and page formatting (for example, 10-12 point font, double spaced, with a header that contains a running header and page number, among other requirements).
The scope and purpose of the paper should be clearly and succinctly articulated early on in the paper. The paper must be written in a prose style, with limited use of bulleted lists and similar summarizing techniques. Tables, charts, graphs, and figures should be used to present relevant data and should be clear and easy to understand, as well as referred to and described clearly in the text.
Students should provide evidence for their reflections, including the empirical (quantitative and/or qualitative) data and/or conceptual foundations for their thoughts. To that end, tables, charts, and graphs, as well as material presented in the appendices and scholarly and practice-oriented publications should be integrated, referred to, and cited. This necessarily requires insights from one’s praxis journal and initial improvement science project, and so students must incorporate carefully selected—and brief—excerpts that are analyzed in ways that advance the students' explanation of their thinking.
The paper should conclude with actionable steps students will take to further their improvement praxis in their remaining coursework, DiP process, and additional formal and informal professional development activities.
Appendices must include your EDAD 902 paper, your initial and revised positionality statements. Students may include other materials they have created if directly referenced in the body of the paper. A full reference list must be included reflecting deep reading beyond sources assigned in courses.
Evaluation Approach and Criteria
Comprehensive examinations will be evaluated in relation to the prompts, with a focus on reflexivity on improvement praxis and change leadership.
Year 3: Dissertation Proposal and Presentation
The Dissertation in Practice (DiP) is a culminating, applied inquiry project that focuses on a problem of educational practice in context. It serves as a summative report and evidence of a reflective, scholarly change and improvement endeavor. Unlike the Ph.D. dissertation that generates original knowledge, fills a gap in the literature, and builds or extends theory, the Ed.D. dissertation generates information that can be used to improve practice in a specific educational setting. Drawing on tenants of improvement science, the DiP should 1) identify an actionable problem of practice that exists in the students’ professional context, 2) develop a theory of action or theory of change based on the students’ professional knowledge and the scholarly literature base, including both empirical and theoretical work, 3) implement and study the change effort systematically, and 4) report findings to local stakeholders, the doctoral committee, and other professionals for whom the change process and outcomes might be relevant. The DiP process unfolds in two parts: the proposal and the dissertation itself. Each portion requires a written component and a presentation.
Students will work closely with their chairs to develop their proposal and dissertation, including regular submission of drafts for feedback, prior to presentation and feedback from the whole committee.
The dissertation proposal is essentially a contract between the student and committee as to what and how the student’s inquiry project will be undertaken. Students need to demonstrate their readiness to engage in that work by demonstrating 1) a description of the problem of practices, including the scope and scale of the problem and the context in which it is occurring; 2) knowledge of empirical research and relevant theories; 3) development of a theory of the problem drawing from professional and research knowledge; 4) creation of a theory of action/theory of change that outlines causal relationships, levers for change, and pathways to improvement; and 5) development of an inquiry plan. Each element is further explained below.
- Description of the problem of practice:
- Discussion of the scope and scale of who is impacted, how many are impacted, and in what setting/ context;
- Explanation of the significance and urgency for practice and student outcomes, including how the problem is strategically connected to larger organizational goals and vision;
- Description of the current indicators/symptoms of the problem that you wish to change, including relevant data and metrics. Should include references to a needs assessment, equity audit, or other sources data sources to be included in the appendices.
- Focused literature review of the professional knowledge base
- What do we know about the problem of practice in the professional literature? What are the relevant inputs and outcomes? In what contexts has this professional knowledge been created?
- What social scientific perspectives and theories have been brought to bear on this priority?
- What has been tried before? How successful were the interventions?
- What aspect(s) of this research do you find most compelling, persuasive, and legitimate? Why?
- Are there apparent inconsistencies, indicators of selectivity and bias, and gaps?
- How would you sum up the state of knowledge about this problem of practice? What are the main needs, problems, opportunities, assets, and gaps?
- Theory of the problem: Based on your review of the literature, your previous improvement efforts, local data, and your professional experience: describe the antecedents, correlates, causes, and consequences? Should include a root cause analysis.
- Theory of action: Based on your literature review, your previous improvement efforts, and your professional experience develop a theory of action aimed at creating the desired change. Develop a logic model of pathways for change.
- Inquiry plan: Based on your theory of action, develop an interactive Plan-Do-Study-Act process to implement their theory of action, including:
- Design protocols for leading plan development
- Necessary resources
- Measurement plan including, but not limited to, short-term measures, proximal and distal measures, process measures, balancing measures. Discussion of reliability and validity of measures and other data collection and analysis procedures
- Protocols for using data to improve practices
- Expected products of the project (protocols, processes, curriculum, professional development activities, etc.)
These elements can and should build from students’ coursework. However, they should be revised and appropriately cited (e.g. self-citation of prior data analysis written in a paper). This proposal should be approximately 30 pages in length, along with relevant appendices (e.g. protocols, timelines). This means writing should be tightly focused on their problem of practice and as concisely as possible. Documents should be crafted in clear, professional prose and formatted using APA.
Proposal Timing and Process
Proposal presentation will be scheduled during the three week January term, following students’ comprehensive examinations. A draft will be due to advisers by the last week of fall term. The purpose of having a set time for proposal and dissertation presentations is three-fold: 1) to provide opportunities for Ed.D. students to come together as a community of practice to support and celebrate each other’s work; 2) to provide opportunities for other cohorts to learn from presentations by demystifying and making public an often private and isolating process; and 3) to provide a concrete deadline to support students in staying on track.
However, we recognize that life happens and that context-based inquiry does not always go as planned. Therefore, alternative presentation venues and dates can be arranged in consultation with the students’ committee.
Dissertation proposals will be evaluated in relation to the elements described above, with a focus on a clear description of the problem of practice, the theory of action development, and feasibility of proposed project.
Year 4: Dissertation and Presentation
The final dissertation document will include the material from the proposal, revised as necessary. The final document will be approximately 80 pages, along with relevant appendices and an executive summary. It will include material from the proposal (revised as necessary) and the following:
- Findings: Result of the PDSA
- Discussion of what actions were taken in each PDSA cycle. Documentation of each PDSA cycle should be included in the appendices.
- Discussion of the results of each PDSA cycle and subsequent changes, including analysis of data and metrics that compares post-change effort measures with pre-change effort measures.
- Discussion of what was learned about the problem of practice in each cycle?
- Protocols for using data to improve practices
- Evaluation of theory of the problem and theory of action: was it sufficient for guiding action? Are there changes or refinements to be made
- Reflection: What worked, what didn’t? What do we still need to know about the problem? What challenges/barriers were encountered? Document personal growth as a leader over the process.
- Appendices with products ( e.g. curriculum, tools, processes protocols) and an element for public dissemination (e.g. reports, videos, blog posts, podcasts).
Writing should be tightly focused on their problem of practice and as concisely as possible. Documents should be crafted in clear, professional prose and formatted using APA.
A full draft of the dissertation must be submitted to Graduate Studies at least a month prior to the desired graduation date. Guidelines for the preparation of a dissertation document can be found at Graduate Studies.
Dissertations will be evaluated in relation to the prompt, including revisions requested from the proposal.
Dissertation presentations will be scheduled in consultation with their committees, starting in the students’ fourth year. Students will work with their committee chair to develop a complete draft for submission to the whole committee at least two weeks prior to scheduling their presentation.
In addition, students are highl;y encouraged to submit their DiP to a relevant professional meeting (e.g. Nebraska Administrator Days, NASPA) and to present their findings back to the stakeholders in their context.
Graduate Studies publishes deadlines for submission of a request for graduation and submission of dissertation each semester. In order to graduate, students must complete the Application for Graduation in MyRED at the start of the term in which they plan to graduate. The online Application for Graduation will become available in MyRED the semester following Admission to Candidacy. Students participating in commencement must also complete the Hooding Participation form.
Expectations & Roles
Our goal for Ed.D. doctoral students is to enable them to thrive as scholarly practitioners throughout their programs of study. EDAD provides EdD students with communities of support via advising and mentoring. Advising and mentoring of EdD students utilizes the cohort community, cross-cohort community, and hybrid networks to strengthen students’ scholarly and professional development.
- Cohort community: Each year, a group of 20-24 students across P-20 are admitted as part of an EdD cohort. Students take required core courses together for half of their classwork (Year 1 & Year 2). Since the cohort is built with students coming from different personal and professional backgrounds as well as with varied scholarly interests, students develop a deeper knowledge and diverse understanding of complex systems and educational outcomes. Faculty members teaching core courses make collaborative efforts to guide a cohort community as they navigate the program together and build meaningful learning experiences. The online EDAD Student Success Center, which contains default information, learning materials, as well as videos recorded by core faculty members and the program coordinator, is used to support the cohort-based advising. Each year, students’ areas of interest and work experience within the cohort are shared with faculty. Advisors utilize this shared information to facilitate peer interactions and group learning activities as part of the mentoring and advising process. At the end of each semester (or academic year??), core faculty members share evidence of student progress (cohort base), which informs collective decisions about students’ milestones.
- Advisee community: Individual advisors have a group of advisees from each cohort. This allows them to encourage and support cross-cohort community as new cohorts are added. Within this group, students will be able to connect with peers within their cohort plus other cohorts who share similar scholarly and disciplinary interests. This community can be a space for regular check-ins, peer-mentoring, small group seminars, and collective efforts to prepare professional/scholarly outcomes (e.g., conference presentations, group publications). Advisors can also utilize a buddy system that matches advanced doctoral students and newly admitted doctoral students to facilitate peer mentoring.
- Hybrid networks: Students are required to engage in both online and face-to-face learning throughout the program. While most interactions would occur online, students may receive intensive face-to-face advising and mentoring when students attend in-person classes during the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd summers on campus. In addition, when students come to campus for dissertation proposals and defenses, other students are encouraged to attend the events to learn from another cohort and mingle thereby broadening their scholarly and professional networks. Beyond the UNL, advisors highly encourage students to engage in local and national conferences, such as Women in Educational Leadership Conference (WELC), Administrators’ Days, University Council of Educational Administration (UCEA), National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), American Educational Research Association (AERA), etc.
University Policies and Student Resources
Updated University policies and resources identified below can be found on this page.
- University-wide Attendance Policy
- Academic Honesty Policy
- Services for Students with Disabilities
- Mental Health and Well-Being Resources
- Final Exam Schedule
- Fifteenth Week Policy
- Emergency Procedures
- Diversity & Inclusiveness
- Title IX Policy
- Other Relevant University-Wide Policies
Updated Graduate Studies policies and information can be found on this page.