Educational Administration - P-12 School Leadership Ed.D.

Educational Administration - P-12 School Leadership Ed.D. Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

For a limited time, P-12 school leadership applicants can apply for a $50 application fee waiver! Contact Graduate Secretary Cindy DeRyke ( for your waiver code. This program is available while funds allow.

The Grad2Grad program offers a 15% tuition reduction for P-12 school leadership degree/endorsement applicants who hold a UNL bachelor’s or master’s degree and have at least two years teaching experience.

Applications are due January 15, 2021

Program Length

3-5 years

Credits Required


*beyond the master’s is typical



GRE/Entrance Exam

Not Required

Application Process


A Powerful, Respected Doctorate

Today’s superintendents are leaders and change agents, responsible for everything from ensuring the fiscal health of the district, to improving instruction and student learning, building community partnerships, and ensuring a safe, welcoming culture and climate for all. For us, the superintendent is lead-learner, engaging in continuous improvement efforts in all facets of education and district leadership. To maximize effectiveness and impact, more an more aspiring superintendents seek to earn the terminal degree for school leadership practitioners--the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).

To support the development of superintendents as lead learners, the EDAD faculty have been actively engaged in the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) for more than ten years. This group of prominent universities across the USA collaborates to ensure the Ed.D. is a robust, unique, and practical degree for rising leaders intent on addressing authentic challenges and opportunities in P-12 education. We use the CPED framework to promote scholarly practice, provide deliberate learning opportunities, develop inquiry as practice, and support practitioner inquiry into problems of practice within their own contexts.

The Nebraska Difference

That is why we have built a program focused on standards, supported by research, and founded on relationships. Our program is aligned with the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL) as well as the Nebraska Principal Effective Practices Framework. But we didn’t stop there. We call it The Nebraska Difference.

Our Unique Program

Award-Winning Faculty

  • 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-12 Schools

  • Students apply their classroom learning to address real challenges facing P-12 schools. 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.

Individual Attention

  • Students 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

 "At each step of my education the faculty at UNL challenged me, provoked deep and critical thinking, and equipped me with knowledge, resources, and skills to become a better scholar-practitioner. Through coursework and my dissertation study, I developed a network of scholars and practitioners who are working to make a positive impact in rural school communities. Our communities need leadership now as much as ever. My experiences with UNL EDAD have allowed me to grow in my leadership capacity, while also investing in the leadership potential of others. For me, #LeadBigRed is about positivity impacting our communities, our state, and our world one student at a time."

-Travis W. Miller, Ed.D., Superintendent, Bayard Public Schools

travis miller

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.

During the first, second, and third summers of enrollment, students in this program are required to attend one-week residencies in Lincoln. All other courses are delivered online. Upon completion of UNL courses, including an authentic, field-based internship, students are prepared to take the state-required PRAXIS Exam and upon passage, apply for superintendent endorsement in Nebraska. Students 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.

UNL/UNK Joint Program

Summer Courses

  • EDAD 987A Superintendent Academy I (3 hours, requires 1 week on-campus w/additional online content) A forum for dialogue and an exchange of ideas and experiences while creating a network of support for colleagues. Exploration and developing the skills, knowledge, understandings and unique features required of the superintendent's roles and responsibilities. Multiple perspectives on effective leadership and participants will be challenged to look at educational issues in new ways. Participants will be encouraged to bring contemporary educational issues to the sessions for intensive, confidential review and discussion. Interaction with session leaders and participants will be facilitated in an effort to examine the rapidly changing realities of public education and the impact these changes are having on the roles/responsibilities of the public school superintendent.
    • Credit Hours: 3
  • EDAD 801 Cross-Cultural Leadership Studies For those interested in exploring leadership and leadership issues from a cross-cultural perspective. Students construct their understanding of different cultural perspectives on leadership through readings, interviews, and field trips. Provides students with a valuable perspective on their own and other cultural perspectives through the comparison of cultural viewpoints. Native American understanding of leadership.
    • Credit Hours: 3

Fall Courses

  • EDAD 906 Issues in System Level Administration Selected system level issues faced by pre-K to grade 12 school administrators.
    • Credit Hours: 3
  • Research/Statistics class
    • Credit Hours: 3

Spring Courses

  • EDAD 905 Issues in Governance of Educational Institutions Issues in the governance of K-12 schools including administrator-school board roles and relationships.
    • Credit Hours: 3
  • Research/Statistics class
    • Credit Hours: 3

Summer Courses

  • EDAD 988 Dissertation Proposal Development (3 hours, requires 1 week on-campus w/additional online content) Intended for students who are working on the development of their dissertation proposal. Component parts of the dissertation proposal. Students from all areas of Teachers College and the University of Nebraska who are in the process of developing their proposal will find this course to be of use. Typically the course should be taken after the research tools have been completed.
    • Credit Hours: 3
  • EDAD 986 Leadership in Educational Organizations The examination of leaders and leadership in educational organizations. Through assigned readings and written assignments, students will make applications of the readings to: a) the organization of educational institutions and programs, b) the leadership that occurs in educational organizations and programs, c) the leadership skills and actions that are necessary to achieve the mission, goals, and objectives of educational organizations, d) the student's individual leadership growth and development.
    • Credit Hours: 3

Fall Courses

  • EDAD 901 System-Level School Improvement Knowledge and skills required for system-level leaders to bring about school improvement and enhance student achievement. Creating systems that engage the public, performing in complex political environments, and delivering needed services to schools and classrooms.
    • Credit Hours: 3
  • Research/Statistics class
    • Credit Hours: 3

Spring Courses

  • EDAD 835 Business Management of Schools Allocation and management of fiscal resources including aspects of financial planning and reporting, budgeting and accounting procedures, purchasing, risk management and insurance, investing and bond issues, and auxiliary service.
    • Credit Hours: 3
  • Research/Statistics class
    • Credit Hours: 3

Comprehensive Examination should be taken in Fall of 3rd year

Summer Courses

  • EDAD 987B Superintendent Academy II (3 hours, requires 1 week on-campus w/additional online content) Designed to provide future school superintendents a link between theory and practice through case studies and voice-of-experience discussions. This academy is a forum for processing the "on-the-job" experiences with participants who are pursing doctoral studies, those who are about to enter the role of the superintendent, or those who are new to the work of school leadership. Provides training situations for developing leadership skills, examination of the practical challenges that school leaders face. Examination of contemporary educational issues through different organizational frameworks and review of various issues related to the management of change.
    • Credit Hours: 3
  • Elective
    • Credit Hours: 3

Fall Courses

  • EDAD 987C Internship: Superintendency Opportunity for educational administrators to gain an understanding of administering changes or innovations, and to obtain supervised field experience. Consideration will be given antecedents of change, change models, the role of government, forces that restrict or stimulate change, tools to implement change, and evaluation.
    • Credit Hours: 3
  • Elective (Ed Politics & Policy OR Data for Decision Making)
    • Credit Hours: 3

Upon completion of the courses through UNL, students will then spend the next few semesters writing their dissertation.

  • 12 hours of dissertation (EDAD 999) to be completed between Spring 3rd year and Spring 5th year
  • EDAD 842: College Students in America This course is designed to provide students an understanding of a broad range of facts and issues pertaining to undergraduate college students in America
    • Credit Hours: 3
  • EDAD 920: Diversity & Equity in Educational Organizations Understanding the individual and organizational issues of diversity and multiculturalism in P-20 schools. Increase the students¿ knowledge and appreciation of: cultural, social, political, and economic realities of our complex, pluralistic society in relation to our educational system. Through the integration of relevant information from history, law, interpersonal development, organizational development, and philosophy, students will develop a complex, comprehensive understanding of diversity and equity.
    • Credit Hours: 3

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Process

The application deadline for Summer admission is January 15.

The Ed.D. program is designed for practitioners in the P-12 educational setting who aspire to be superintendents, central office leaders, or administrators in Educational Service Units, etc. For those without an administrative license, the curricula is designed to fulfill the state requirements for building level and district level endorsements. For those with a building level license, the Ed.D. fulfills state requirements to add a district-level endorsement to an administrative license.

In order to be eligible for the program, applicants must hold a Nebraska teaching certification (or equivalent) and have at least two years of successful teaching experience. Successful applicants typically also hold a Nebraska administrative certification (or equivalent), such as a principal endorsement, at the time of application and have experience as teacher-leaders, school building leaders, or other leadership positions.

Our faculty members include professors of practice with significant school and district leadership experience and tenure-line faculty with experience in P-12 schools and research expertise who are dedicated to preparing students ​to become systems thinkers, reflective learners, and servant leaders in P-12 administrative positions.

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.

Students interested in pursuing a career as a professor or researcher studying P-12 school leadership should discuss their career goals with Dr. Sarah Zuckerman, Dr. Jiangang Xia, or Dr. Taeyeon Kim prior to applying to a doctoral program. This discussion will help match a potential program of study with your career goals.

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:
    • Nebraska's EDAD P-12 leadership program is built around the educational leader as a Visionary Thinker, Reflective Learner, and Servant Leader. Describe how you have exemplified these actions in your current or previous leadership roles.
    • Explain your professional experiences and motivations for doctoral studies, specifically Nebraska's EdD program, which is focused on the educational leader as a Visionary Thinker, Reflective Learner, and Servant Leader.
    • Describe a local problem, challenge, or opportunity that is unique to your context that might be addressed as part of your Program of Studies and dissertation. Share how Nebraska's EdD program would help you address this local challenge, problem, or opportunity.
  • Writing Sample: Provide three writing samples that demonstrate your scholarly writing ability, for example, a term paper, thesis, or published article.
  • Resume
  • Three recommendation letters


Want to know more?

Sarah Zuckerman

Sarah Zuckerman Assistant Professor, P-12 School Leadership ED.D. Coordinator

Full Sarah Zuckerman bio

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