Educational Administration - P-20 Education

Educational Administration - P-20 EducationDoctor of Education (Ed.D.)

New applicants to our Ed.D. with a superintendent endorsement should look into our Big Red Leader tuition remission program as they might be eligible for a 15% tuition discount for this P-12 School Leadership program.

Program Length

3-5 years

Credits Required


*beyond the master’s is typical



GRE/Entrance Exam

Not Required

Application Process


Learning the research interests and expertise areas of potential faculty advisors, particularly at the doctoral level, is an important consideration for prospective students. We encourage prospective applicants to learn about faculty advisors via the links below and through the “Meet our Team” link on the “About EDAD” tab.” Based on capacity, the following faculty members serve as advisors in this program:

Leading for Equity

The EDAD Ed.D. 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 blended program, with online coursework interspersed with strategic face-to-face experiences, is designed around the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) principles and 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 cohort-based learning and specializations in Community Colleges, Higher Education, and Higher Education and P-12 System Level School Leadership. Students specializing in P-12 System Level School Leadership 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 students to demonstrate excellence in these core areas of knowledge, skills, and dispositions through coursework and the DiP:

1. Understand the complex systems that create inequitable educational outcomes

2. Envision and articulate more equitable futures for institutions, students and communities

3. Critically engage in improvement science with stakeholders, using context-based inquiry, research and theory to create change

4. Embody social justice/equity leadership through their knowledge, dispositions, and actions

5. Lead educational change & continuous improvement to create more equitable outcomes for students at all levels

6. 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 PhD dissertation that 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.


This program allows students to choose from three different areas to focus. Below are the three specializations which are available. 

Community Colleges
The Ed. D. in Educational Administration with a specialization in Community Colleges allows students who are currently employed at a community college the ability to advance their knowledge in the field so that they can be more marketable when advancing in their career.

Higher Education
The Ed. D. in Educational Administration with a specialization in Higher Education allows students who are currently employed at a college or university the ability to advance their knowledge in the field so that they can be more marketable when advancing in their career.

P-12 System Level School Leadership
The Ed. D. in Educational Administration with a specialization in P-12 System Level School Leadership allows students who are currently employed in an administrative position at a P-12 school the ability to advance their knowledge in the field so that they can be more marketable when advancing in their career. Student who choose this specialization will have the option to add on the superintendent endorsement.

Upon completion of UNL courses, including an authentic, field-based internship, students with the specialization in P-12 System Level School Leadership are prepared to take the state-required PRAXIS Exam and upon passage, apply for superintendent endorsement in Nebraska. These students then have the option of completing the program outlined here, which is part of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate entirely at UNL or in a program offered collaboratively between UNK and UNL.

Our Unique Program

Faculty with Real World Experience

  • Students learn from faculty who conduct and share leading research on authentic school leadership challenges. These scholars are devoted their careers to teaching, researching, discovering, and sharing what works in school leadership.
  • Students also learn from faculty with decades of real-world experience as school leaders. These leaders have walked the walk of school leadership as principals, superintendents, and more.

Learning to Address Real-World Challenges in P-20 Education

  • Students apply their course knowledge to address real challenges facing P-20 education. In their culminating activity, a committee of experts assists students in producing a Dissertation in Practice that tackles an authentic dilemma or opportunity in their school community.

Accessible Courses

  • Students form meaningful relationships with classmates, faculty, and others through a unique combination of face-to-face and online courses. Experiences such as the summer research seminars which are offered during the summer in a blended fashion, dissertation proposals, on campus conferences, and other events allow for a mixture of online and in-person learning.

Individual Attention

  • Students in the P-12 System Level School Leadership with a Superintendent Endorsement specialization complete an authentic internship experience in their districts with support from a field-based mentor and faculty member. Students learn from leading Nebraska superintendents in two dynamic, hands-on summer seminars, held at the Nebraska Council of School Administrators offices in Lincoln

Launching Your Journey

Program Curriculum

After attaining a Bachelor's degree, a minimum of 96 graduate semester hours is required to complete in order to receive a Doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska. The Ed.D.requires completion of a minimum of 45 semester hours to be completed through UNL, regardless of how many graduate hours you may have already acquired before admission. However, students are allowed to transfer some credit from previous graduate hours towards their Ed.D. Most students transfer 36 credits from a master's degree, leaving only 60 credits to be completed through UNL, 12 of which are dissertation hours.

Course Sequence for students enrolled prior to Summer 2022

Course Sequence for students enrolled since Summer 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

"So true are the words of Jon Gordon (2007) in that no one ever creates success alone. Pursuing my doctorate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln afforded me the chance to be surrounded by a positive team of supportive people rooting me on every step of the way. My classes and experiences pushed me and extended a myriad of opportunities to grow and develop as a learner and researcher. I am thankful to the staff of UNL for all of the scholarly advice, patience, and wisdom in helping me achieve a lifelong goal."

Vann Price, Ed.D., Supervisor of Secondary Personnel Services, Lincoln Public Schools (Lincoln, NE)

"When pursuing a doctoral program, I wanted an experience that combined theory and research with practical application. The program of studies, guidance of the professors, and collaborative peers provided just that – an opportunity to learn the field of educational administration while focusing on areas that impacted my work as a principal and eventually a superintendent. The entire journey was highlighted by a dissertation that was grounded in theory and previous research but immediately applicable to my work as a principal. Not only was I able to contribute to the existing research with my study, but I was able to go back to my school and make a difference with my learning."

Clayton J. Theisinger, Ed. D., Superintendent, Putnam County CUSD #535 (Granville, IL)

"I was initially drawn to their Community College Leadership Certificate (CCLC). After gaining confidence and a credential with the CCLC, I then decided to continue and pursue my EdD with UNL’s EDAD program, seamlessly applying my CCLC credits towards the doctorate. One of the things that I loved most about UNL’s doctoral degree was the flexibility of the online program and the ability to learn from and alongside community college colleagues from across the country."

Terri Sullivan, Ed.D., Associate Professor - Office Management, Montgomery County Community College (Blue Bell, PA)

Application Process

The application deadline for Summer admission is January 15.

The Ed.D. program is designed to prepare scholarly practitioners in the P-20 educational setting to lead continuous improvement for equity in educational organizations at all levels, P-20. Our students who wish to focus on P-12 education, aspire to be superintendents, central office leaders, or administrators in Educational Service Units, etc. Other students who wish to focus on higher education or community colleges strive to move into roles like higher education administrators.

Students considering doctoral work in Educational Administration often question the differences between the Ed.D. or Ph.D. To determine which is a better fit for you, consult the department's Doctoral Degree Information page.

Graduate Admission Requirements
  • Application for Admission with $50 non-refundable application fee.
  • One set of transcripts.
  • If the student’s native language is not English, verification of English proficiency is required.
  • If International: upload copies of all college- or university-level transcripts or mark sheets (records of courses and marks earned), with certificates, diplomas, and degrees plus certified English translations.
    • **Official documents are required from all students who are admitted and enroll. Photocopies of certified records are not acceptable. International students enrolled in other U.S. institutions may have certified copies of all foreign records sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies by their current school’s registrar office.
  • If applicant is not a US citizen and expects an F or J visa: financial information.
  • Applicants must also fulfill any additional requirements the department specifies at the time of application.
Major Admission Requirements
  • Personal Statement:
    • In this letter to the admissions committee, address the following questions:(1) What are your professional education and leadership experiences? (2) How are equity and diversity centered in your work as an educator and a leader? (3) How does an Ed.D. in Educational Administration figure into your career trajectory and goals as an educational leader? (4) What is your plan and strategy to complete your degree in a timely manner (for instance, online coursework, occasional required on-campus experiences)? This should be limited to 2-3 Pages.
  • Essay:
    • In this essay, describe what you see as an important pressing educational challenge or opportunity in your organization or community. Be sure to identify what has been said or done (or not said or done) regarding the issue by local stakeholders to date (e.g. teachers, faculty, administrators community members). Explain why this challenge/opportunity is important to address in your context, and how you might address it through organizational improvement efforts as part of your dissertation practice. Explain how your scholarly inquiry regarding this challenge or opportunity could help resolve a problem of practice. This should be limited to a maximum of 4 pages.
  • Writing Sample: Upload 2 academic/scholarly writing samples. Applicants typically submit papers written for other courses or academic programs that give the admissions committee a sense of the applicant's academic writing skill and background.
  • Resume
  • Three recommendation letters


    Want to know more?

    Dr. Nicholas J. Pace

    Nicholas J. Pace Professor & Department Chair

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