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Doctor of Education: Leadership

Transform as a leader. Create real change the world has been waiting for.

Because of you, that time is now. Saint Mary’s doctoral degree in education leadership program is designed for professionals who have a master’s degree and want to integrate leadership and scholarship by pursuing a doctorate degree. Our program’s innovative, practitioner-focused curriculum has inspired leaders from diverse areas like education, business, healthcare, and nonprofits. No matter what field — or where in the world you want to make an impact — Saint Mary’s will empower you to lead with character and integrity.

Our full-time faculty are renowned scholar-practitioners eager to help you in developing your own research, adding to hundreds of our graduates’ research contributions.

The cohort model allows you to advance through the doctoral program with a small group of peers from various careers and backgrounds, including K-12 and higher education, law enforcement, philanthropy, and religious leaders.

Courses are offered either in-person or in a hybrid format, allowing you to balance your career and family as you earn your doctorate degree.

In-person learning offers evening and weekend courses on the Minneapolis or Rochester campuses.

Hybrid learning offers the majority of coursework online and is enriched with three annual weekend residencies on the Minneapolis Campus.

You’ll find the support and resources you need at Saint Mary’s to help you grow into a bold, confident leader. The School of Education nurtures you in a welcoming, inclusive environment, empowering you to achieve your goals and grow professionally and personally.

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Virtual Information Session

Please join us on Thursday, April 6th from 12-12:45pm to learn more about our doctoral programs. Register below!

Program Highlights

Become a leader in any field, from education to business, healthcare, law, and philanthropy. Our convenient, flexible program and practitioner-led faculty will have you saying, “This is my time.” This transformative experience will be what the world needs — and vice-versa.




per credit

Start Dates

Minneapolis – August
Online – April

Online On-Campus




per credit

Start Dates

Minneapolis – August
Online – April

Online On-Campus

Program Features

What Makes it Special

  • Complete this program in as little as four years
  • Network with over 500 program alumni

What You'll Learn

What You’ll Learn

  • Engage in complex critical thinking
  • Engage others with justice, empathy, compassion, and cultural competence
  • Create and nurture learning organizations
  • Lead appropriate organizational change
  • Operate in a complex, global environment
  • Demonstrate leadership competencies

Annual Doctoral Research Symposium

On your scholarly journey, the symposium is an opportunity for you to share and develop your research ideas. Build relationships with peers and faculty, network with alumni, and strengthen your presentation skills. Are you thinking about pursuing a doctorate? Join us to learn more about our programs and see how Saint Mary’s education is put into practice.

Course Catalog

Career Outlook

The Ed.D. program at Saint Mary's prepares you to pursue leadership opportunities across every industry, sector, and field. There are no boundaries. Our graduates have gone on to become university presidents and vice presidents, development foundation vice presidents, senior management, school superintendents, professors, teachers, and principals.

Chief Academic Officer

$96,910 per year*


$96,910 per year*

Survey researcher

$59,740 per year*
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Frequently Asked Questions

The Ed.D. degree is a practitioner-focused program designed to allow you to transition into a leadership position within your professional area of expertise, or expand your professional profile and opportunities 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.

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.

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.

Applicants for the in-person model are encouraged to apply throughout the year and, if accepted, begin with the next available in-person cohort at the Minneapolis Campus or Rochester Campus, typically in the fall semester each year. Applicants for the online model begin the program once per year in the spring. Program orientation is offered at the end of April. In May, you begin online coursework and have your first residency weekend in July.

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

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.

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

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

The particular day of the week and start time may differ with each course in the program. Each course will meet in-person 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). In-person sessions are offered at the Minneapolis Campus or at the Rochester Campus.

The online model follows the same curricular path as the in-person model, however, the majority of the coursework is completed online. You’ll complete most coursework during the year via fully online course delivery (spring and fall semesters), and you’ll participate in three annual weekend residencies plus online coursework (summer semester). During the spring and fall semesters, you’ll 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 at the Minneapolis Campus in mid-July. 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 network professionally with faculty and peers during course activities, meals, and formal and informal gatherings.

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

Tuition and fees for the program are outlined here. In addition to the cost per credit, you’ll 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.

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

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’ll 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.