Organizational Leadership EdD: Higher Education

Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership: Higher Education Leadership (Qualitative Research)

Offered By: College of Doctoral Studies

Prepare for Leadership in Higher Education

Position yourself to help lead postsecondary institutions into the future effectively and ethically by turning challenges into opportunities using research-driven strategies. Earn your Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with a focus on higher education at Grand Canyon University and take advantage of opportunities to cultivate an intelligent leadership style. This EdD higher education concentration is designed for active and aspiring leaders in teaching and postsecondary administration.

The College of Doctoral Studies has designed an in-depth curriculum that blends governance, fiscal management and strategic planning with corporate social responsibility. As a student, you are taught to evaluate and address complex challenges from a leadership standpoint. By exploring leadership styles and ethical practices in higher education, you have the opportunity to gain high-level decision-making capabilities that translate well to modern postsecondary education institutions.

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Pursue Your EdD in Organizational Leadership From GCU

Join online classes and engage in discussions with faculty members and peers with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Evaluate qualitative data and apply research-driven strategies for the future. GCU strives to graduate ethics-minded professionals who intend to lead their educational institutions with integrity while adhering to the principles of servant leadership.

This qualitative program is designed to allow you to directly contribute to the wealth of knowledge in the field of educational leadership. Through both classwork and the completion of an original research study that culminates in a dissertation, you will be prompted to generate new insights into organizational leadership within the education field.

GCU offers thoughtfully designed degree programs intended to accommodate the needs of working professionals who require scheduling flexibility. You can earn your doctoral degree in organizational leadership predominantly through online classes.1 Work through the coursework from anywhere and connect with your peers and instructors via our intuitively designed e-learning platform. Residencies take place on or near GCU’s campus, offering the opportunity to fine-tune your research project and expand your professional network.

A qualitative program involves analyzing important patterns and identifying key trends that can have an impact on your greater industry. It contrasts from GCU’s quantitative EdD in Organizational Leadership with a focus on higher education leadership, which involves performing a statistical, data-driven research study.

Develop Higher Education Leadership Skills

The landscape of higher education is dynamic and continually evolving, requiring careful decision-making through the lens of ethical practices and standards. The curriculum focuses on ethical dilemmas and stewardship, allowing you the opportunity to emerge with a renewed sense of purpose for becoming an agent of positive change in your field.

Throughout your coursework, you will be taught core competencies applicable to the higher education field. These skills include:

  • Using a synthesis of scholarly literature for the purpose of identifying gaps that could benefit from further research
  • Developing organizational resilience that can allow higher education institutions to navigate change
  • Budgeting, fundraising, fiscal planning and capital asset management in a higher education setting
  • Interpreting qualitative data

Leadership in Higher Education Courses

This doctoral program begins with an exploration of scholarly research and academic writing. From the first course, you can begin the dissertation process. After covering literature reviews and research questions, you will move on to explore the development and evolution of leadership theories. Other core topic areas include the following:

  • The history and politics of higher education, with an examination of the political landscape and relevant ethical issues
  • The internal and external governance and structures in higher education
  • The creation and maintenance of a diverse learning infrastructure through faculty professional development, alumni relations and the building of a scholarly community
  • The establishment of a shared mission, vision and goals among stakeholders for the purpose of long-range strategic planning

As a doctoral student, you participate in two five-day residencies on or near campus. These are conducted to provide networking opportunities, peer feedback and mentorship from faculty members. The doctorate in higher education requires a minimum of 60 credits for completion.

Alumni Doctoral Degree Scholarship
Now Available

GCU alumni enrolling in a doctoral program for the first time may be eligible for a $2,000 scholarship.§

Career Paths for EdD in Organizational Leadership Graduates

Doctoral programs with a higher education leadership focus can prepare graduates to bring their vision for their schools into reality. 

School enrollment should be a priority for all higher education institutions. Growing and sustaining enrollment requires strategic thinkers and planners among school leadership.2 Some career options that may be related to the core competencies taught in this doctoral degree program include the following:

  • Academic dean
  • Chief academic officer
  • Financial director
  • Postsecondary administrator 

GCU Offers Institutionally Accredited Doctor of Education Programs

As an institutionally accredited school, GCU prioritizes our commitment to offering quality education and comprehensive curriculum in order to optimize the learning experience. In addition, the Higher Learning Commission has continually accredited GCU since 1968. The College of Doctoral Studies shares the university’s commitment to upholding the principles and standards established by our accrediting bodies.

Leadership in Higher Education FAQs

As you reflect upon your intended career trajectory and your educational options, it may be helpful to do some background research before submitting your doctoral degree application. GCU has compiled the following FAQs and answers to provide food for thought.

For those with a passion for driving forward progress in higher education institutions, an EdD degree can definitely be worth the time and effort. During your coursework and throughout the dissertation process, you’ll have opportunities to acquire key leadership skills and other core competencies applicable to higher education settings — from fiscal management to organizational change and beyond. You’ll have the potential to emerge from your degree program with greater clarity of vision and purpose for the future.

The Doctor of Education degree is a professional doctorate, also sometimes known as a practitioner’s degree. Although earning this degree requires a great deal of research, the EdD’s predominant focus is on practice rather than research. In other words, it prompts learners to examine how theories may be applied to various situations in workplace settings.3

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree and an EdD degree are both terminal degrees. While they may overlap in areas of focus, they aren’t quite the same. A PhD degree emphasizes research. It’s an ideal choice for those who wish to engage in scholarly work following completion of the degree program. In contrast, the EdD is designed to prepare learners to apply theories in practical settings with the intent of solving problems or challenges in their field. The EdD is designed for current or aspiring leaders, such as administrators.3

Explore core competencies in leadership within higher education institutions and contribute your own research and insights to the body of knowledge in the field. Fill out the form on this page today and take the first step toward earning your terminal degree at GCU.

If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint and background clearance is required.

1 The program includes an in-person residency requirement.

2 Reynolds, Q. (2023, July 17). 3 Essential Tips for Increasing Student Enrollment in Your District. Education Elements. Retrieved on Feb. 29, 2024. 

3 OnlineEdDPrograms.com. (2023, Feb. 1). Question: What is the difference between an EdD and a PhD in Education (EdD vs. PhD)? OnlineEdDPrograms.com. Retrieved Feb. 29, 2024.

§ MOU-Alumni 2000 Doctoral-July2024: The Alumni Scholarship for Doctoral Programs is only valid for those applicants who submit a complete application and begin a Doctoral program in July 2024. This scholarship cannot be used in conjunction with any other GCU scholarship or awards and only applies to online and evening programs. Please speak to a university counselor for complete details.

Time to Completion and Dissertation Process

To learn more about time to completion and the dissertation process at GCU, visit our doctoral page.

Course List

Major:
60 credits
Degree Requirements:
60 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course introduces doctoral learners to the principle elements of research, scholarly writing, and effective argumentation. Learners are made aware of the dispositions and expectations of doctoral researchers as well as the University’s overarching values and beliefs regarding research and the responsibility of scholars to contribute new knowledge to their respective fields of study. Learners begin the process of identifying a researchable dissertation topic and are acquainted with appropriate scholarly resources that support the development of the dissertation.

Course Description

In this course, learners are introduced to the critical reading of scholarly qualitative and quantitative literature at the doctoral level. Learners also explore the concept of synthesizing the scholarly literature to identify problems and problem spaces that emerge to form a researchable topic of study. The application of scholarly argumentation from the extant literature to defend the need for a research study is discussed.

Course Description

This course examines multiple ethical frameworks, principles, and theories as they apply to the study and practice of leadership. Corporate social responsibility will be addressed from the perspective of ethical decision making. Prerequisite: RES-815.

Course Description

This course provides an overview of the impact of leadership and the effects of behaviors on the formulation and execution of strategy within an organization. Topics include the increasing importance of resilience and change in today’s global and turbulent economy.

Course Description

In this course, learners are introduced to key components of qualitative and quantitative research designs and the means to critically appraise the application of research designs as observed in the scholarly literature. The University's core research designs are presented. Consideration is given to the initial selection and defense of a research design to address a problem that emerged from the extant literature.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the sampling, data collection, and data analysis methods employed in qualitative and quantitative research designs. Learners explore the alignment of sampling, data collection, and data analysis methods to the research topic, research questions, and research design. The course positions learners to select qualitative or quantitative designs for their dissertation studies. Prerequisite: RES-831.

Course Description

This residency allows learners to continue developing their skills as academic researchers. Learners will have hands-on experience applying quantitative and qualitative design principals to develop the foundational elements for their potential dissertation studies. Prerequisite: RES-850, RES-825, RES-831, or RCS-831.

Course Description

This course provides a broad, global overview of the history and politics of higher education and examines the political landscape and ethics surrounding higher education. A brief overview of governmental interventions is also presented.

Course Description

This course examines the internal and external governance and structures in higher education. The course emphasizes analysis of the leadership practices necessary to guide construction of appropriate internal and external frameworks.

Course Description

This course examines budgeting, fundraising, fiscal planning, and capital asset management in the higher education setting. Leadership skills for fiscal management and fiscal integrity are addressed.

Course Description

In this course, learners explore the basic components of GCU qualitative core research designs including descriptive, case study, and phenomenology. The nature of epistemological foundations and the structure of problem statements, purpose statements, research questions, data sources, collection and analysis approaches are discussed in the context of each design.

Course Description

In this course, learners differentiate the epistemological foundations and explore the data trustworthiness, research ethics, and potential for bias in descriptive, case study, and phenomenology research designs. The process of building a rationale for design choice and aligning the research questions, interview questions, problem statement, and purpose statement is addressed. Sources of qualitative data are introduced for each design, and ethical aspects of research are discussed. Prerequisite: RES-841.

Course Description

This course explores the opportunities and challenges facing leaders in the global environment. The course topics focus on aspects of leading global and diverse workforces, and on theories of leadership and leadership development in diverse and global cultures.

Course Description

In this residency, learners orally present and defend an expanded design of their preliminary dissertation research from RSD-851. Emphasis is placed on developing the qualitative dissertation. Prerequisite: RES-843.

Course Description

This course addresses the establishment of a shared mission, vision, and goals among both internal and external stakeholders as the foundation for long-range strategic planning in higher education. Professional and facilities development is addressed in the context of higher education master planning.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: RES-871, RES-885, RSD-883, or RSD-884.

Course Description

In this course, learners explore qualitative data collection techniques and sources of qualitative data in the context of answering the research questions posed by a study. Consideration is given to the recognition of data saturation and the management of data. Learners continue to work with their respective dissertation chairs to prepare a written statement of data collection, and management activities. Prerequisite: RES-843.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design and/or conduct independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: DIS-955.

Course Description

In this course, learners focus on the interpretation of qualitative data to produce written research findings, results, and implications. Learners continue to work with their respective dissertation chairs and apply information from this course to move ahead in the dissertation process. Prerequisite: RES-873.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design and/or conduct independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: DIS-960.

Continuation Courses

The course identified above represent the minimum academic course requirements only. Most students will also need to take one or more of the following Research Continuation Courses to complete a dissertation. Research Continuation Courses are 3-credit courses charged at the standard doctoral per credit rate.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: DIS-965.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: DIS-966 or DIS-966E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: DIS-967 or DIS-967E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: DIS-968 or DIS-968E; RSD-951.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: DIS-969 or DIS-969E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: DIS-970 or DIS-970E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: DIS-971E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: DIS-972E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: DIS-973E.

GCU Online Student


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* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.