Become a Leader

Developing globally minded, ethical leaders who appreciate varied perspectives is at the core of a Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota education.

The Education Doctoral Degree in Leadership program offered at Saint Mary’s is especially designed for professionals who are passionate about the intersection of leadership and scholarship. Since its inception, the program’s innovative, practitioner-focused curriculum has inspired leaders in a variety of fields — education, healthcare, corporations, nonprofits, and more. Upon successful completion of the program, Saint Mary’s graduates are well prepared to manage people, lead departments, and serve as top-level executives.

In-Person and Online Course Delivery

With two delivery options to choose from — traditional, which features evening and weekend classes that meet in person, or blended, which offers online coursework that is enhanced through a summer residency — students will find a convenient class schedule that meets their needs. Regardless of your preference, you’ll find a diverse learning environment that encourages collaboration and in-depth conversations with your peers. You will also have the opportunity to explore your passions through research and reflection alongside highly regarded scholar-practitioners.

Current students and faculty discuss the value of the Ed.D. in Leadership program and the convenience of blended course delivery.

Program Outcomes

Graduates of this program are expected to be able to:

  • Communicate effectively
  • Engage in complex critical thinking
  • Engage others with justice, empathy, compassion, and cultural competence
  • Become capable contributors to our knowledge
  • Create and nurture learning organizations
  • Lead appropriate organizational change
  • Operate in a complex, global environment
  • Demonstrate leadership competencies

Frequently Asked Questions

The Ed.D. degree is a practitioner-focused program for those who plan to move into leadership positions within their professional area of expertise or who wish to expand their professional profile and opportunities to enable them to work in teaching or leadership roles in education, business, healthcare, or training. Traditionally, the Ph.D. degree is seen as primarily research-focused for those who plan to teach and research full time.

Upon graduation from the Ed.D. in Leadership program, you will receive the credential of doctorate or doctoral degree. You will be referred to as a Doctor of Education, and your signature line may include Ed.D. after your name.

You can complete coursework in less than three years. You then move into the comprehensive exam and dissertation. You can complete the entire program (coursework, comprehensive exam, and dissertation) in four years. Program policy requires that the full program be completed in eight years or less.

The particular day of the week and start time may differ with each course in the program. Each course will meet face-to-face one evening per week for seven class sessions plus one online session at some point during each course. Courses are a total of eight weeks in length. Courses are offered year-round (spring, summer, and fall semesters). Face-to-face sessions are offered at the Twin Cities Campus or at the Rochester Campus.

Courses are offered year-round during spring, summer, and fall semesters. Following this schedule, you will complete six courses each year (two courses per semester). This results in completion of coursework in less than three years. 

The online model follows the same curricular path as the face-to-face model, however, the majority of the coursework is completed online. You will complete most coursework during the year via fully online course delivery (spring and fall semesters), and you will participate in three annual weekend residencies plus online coursework (summer semester).

During the spring and fall semesters, you will take part in fully online courses that meet using technology such as live and recorded video meetings, written or video discussions, and other forms of communication using technology. Learn more about what life is like as a blended cohort student

The summer residency is five days in length and is typically held over a long weekend in mid-July at the Twin Cities Campus. The residency is a fantastic opportunity for robust collaboration with faculty and colleagues from across the globe. Watch our students discuss this dynamic time together. The residency allows you to engage in a deeper sense of community and to network professionally with faculty and fellow students during course activities, meals, and formal and informal gatherings. 

Applicants for the face-to-face model are encouraged to apply throughout the year and, if accepted, begin with the next available face-to-face cohort at the Twin Cities Campus or Rochester Campus, typically in the fall semester each year.

Applicants choosing the online model begin the program once per year in the spring. Program orientation is offered at the end of April. You begin online coursework in May and have your first residency weekend in July.

You are expected to have access to a computer with video and microphone capabilities. High speed internet access is essential.

Both. There will be course activities and assignments that can be completed at your leisure. You will also be expected to join online group work and discussions at prearranged days and times. These requirements will be clearly outlined on course syllabi.

Tuition and fees for the program are outlined here. In addition to the cost per credit, you will pay an application fee, a dissertation defense fee, and a graduation fee. You are also responsible for the cost of books and technology.

If you take a course during the summer residency you are responsible for room and board during the residency weekend.

We encourage you to focus on areas of research that most interest you! Our faculty come from a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds to mirror that of our students — from business to education to healthcare and all areas in between. Listen to program faculty discuss research conducted by their former students and the dissertation topics they found most fascinating. Course activities and assignments allow you to dig more deeply into areas you are passionate about researching. Take a look at our dissertation archives to see what our alumni have done.

Here are some dissertation topic examples:

  • A Phenomenological Study of how Individuals Experience Re-employment After Being Laid Off
  • A Comparison of Student Open-ended Written Comments in Traditional to Online College Course Evaluations: a Quantitative Content Analysis
  • Differing Conceptions of Past Practice in Wisconsin Public School Contract Negotiations: a Phenomenographical Study

Our faculty hold doctorate degrees in a wide range of fields. Learn more about the professional and educational backgrounds of your future professors in the faculty section below, or let our faculty tell you about what they are currently researching.

Yes! Many students take both online and face-to-face courses. You will work closely with program staff to determine how both online and face-to-face course schedules fit into your degree plan.

The comprehensive examination (comp exam) is taken at the culmination of coursework and prior to starting your dissertation. The comp exam is an integrative experience requiring you to demonstrate mastery of concepts studied during the core courses, as well as the ability to apply these concepts to your profession. You will have 15 days to provide a written response to three question prompts. You then meet with your chair and committee members for an oral defense, which is a conversation about your exam responses, allowing you to provide additional context and rationale to defend your work.

Comp exam workshops are provided throughout the program to prepare you for this process.

If you are looking to provide school leadership within private, parochial, or select charter school settings that do not require administrative licensure, the Ed.D. in Leadership program would be a great fit for you. However, this program does not lead to administrative licensure for K-12 public schools. If you are looking to become a licensed Minnesota principal, superintendent, or director of special education, you can do so within the Ed.S. in Educational Administration program. Some of your Ed.S. credits may transfer in as elective credits for the Ed.D. should you choose to complete both programs.

Our faculty are practitioner scholars who focus on teaching and advising. The research they conduct in the field informs and supplements their work in the classroom. Watch a video of a faculty member explaining why the student and faculty relationship at Saint Mary’s is so special. 

After determining your chair and committee members, you will work with your chair on determining your research question and methodology before moving into the Proposal Development course. During this course, you will collaborate with your chair, course faculty, and peers to emerge from the class with a proposal you are ready to defend. This process will keep you on track with your research and writing and provide you with a support structure of clear goals and deadlines for completion. Once your proposal has been accepted, your adviser and committee will support you throughout the data gathering, writing, and defense phases of your dissertation to give you the push you need to get to the finish line and graduate.  

Our students and alumni work in schools, businesses, nonprofits, and healthcare institutions across the world. As a graduate of the Ed.D. program, you will join a network of alumni leading organizations across the United States, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. Within Minnesota, our alumni are leaders in businesses such as Mayo Clinic, 3M, General Mills, Wells Fargo, and more. They also serve as administrators and educators in public and private early childhood, K-12, and higher education institutions. 

Yes. Check out this video about the variety of fields and backgrounds of our students. This variety lends to the uniqueness of our program. You will learn from the experiences of your peers at the same time you are learning from our faculty and the discoveries you make through your own research. Your perspective will be broadened as you examine leadership and organizational development through the lens of not only education but healthcare, government, business, non-profits, and more. 

Connect With Us

Megan Troje, M.A.

Lead Field Specialist

Admission - SGPP

LaSalle Hall - TC Campus, LSH 114

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5211

Connect with Megan for information on programs offered by the School of Education.

Megan Troje M.A.


John (Jack) McClure, Ph.D.

Program Director

Ed.D. in Leadership

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 221

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5216

Meet John (Jack) McClure
Shannon Cisewski, Ed.D.

Associate Program Director

Ed.D. in Leadership

Core Associate Professor

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 223

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 238-4518

Meet Shannon Cisewski
Sonia Feder-Lewis, Ph.D.

Core Professor

Ed.D. in Leadership

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 225

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5152

Meet Sonia Feder-Lewis
Paul Kotz, Ph.D.

Core Professor

Ed.D. in Leadership

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 213

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5130

Meet Paul Kotz
Yvette Pye, Ph.D.

Core Professor

Ed.D. in Leadership

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 226

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5139

Meet Yvette Pye
Amanuel Teklemariam, Ed.D.

Core Associate Professor

Ed.D. in Leadership

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 219

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5191

Meet Amanuel Teklemariam
Rustin Wolfe, Ph.D.

Core Professor

Ed.D. in Leadership

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 222

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5182

Meet Rustin Wolfe
Susan Hines, Ed.D.

Core Professor

Ed.D. in Leadership

Brother Louis Hall, BLH 224

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5194

Meet Susan Hines
Professor smiling with students

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