Effective leadership is critical to driving change within an organization. Strong executive leaders cultivate a culture of innovation, resilience, and adaptability through effective communication, strategic thinking, and change management knowledge; their guidance propels organizations toward sustained growth and competitive advantages. Ambitious leaders looking to elevate their skills often turn to executive training opportunities that pair research and practice to help them reach their full potential.

An online Doctorate in Education (EdD) in Leadership and Innovation from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development can help seasoned leaders exercise advanced competencies and a creative problem-solving mindset to tackle real-world challenges. This article explores how NYU Steinhart’s online doctoral degree can prepare students for growth in executive leadership roles across such industries as healthcare, business, government, education, and nonprofits. 

The Evolving Landscape of Executive Leadership 

Today’s business landscape offers social, political, economic, and technological shifts and challenges. Organizations across industries need leaders who can be effective in evolving, uncertain conditions. An EdD in Leadership and Innovation teaches skills and principles applicable across industries and institutions. 

Nonprofit Sector

According to BoardEffect, nonprofit leaders face continuous uncertainty as hybrid work challenges hiring practices and tumultuous market conditions impact financial performance. Nonprofits must strengthen board engagement, improve organizational culture, and enhance financial performance; these goals require influential leadership with effective strategy development. 


Becker’s Hospital Review finds that the healthcare sector battles financial constraints, workforce disruption, and growing competition. It’s up to healthcare leaders to find ways to navigate these difficulties and create strategies that stimulate growth.


A 2023 Deloitte article suggests that government agencies must manage constantly shifting demands from employees, citizens, and oversight bodies while navigating rolling talent shortages. The sector must innovate its workforce practices to prioritize in-demand skills and support hybrid work more effectively. These changes require robust leadership with solid change management acumen. 


Forbes asserts modern business leaders struggle with interest rate uncertainty, a tight labor market, and international conflicts disrupting the global economy. Effective executive leadership is paramount to remain competitive amidst market ambiguity while cultivating staff productivity and strategically managing risk. 


American Board highlights six education trends to watch in 2024: hybrid learning, artificial intelligence (AI), soft skill development, virtual reality, lifelong learning, and micro-credentials. Education leaders need critical thinking, adaptability, and emotional intelligence to capitalize on these opportunities. 

How the Cross-Sector EdD Program Develops Leaders

The online EdD program at NYU Steinhardt can help future change makers expand their leadership skills and develop the ability to create novel solutions to systemic institutional  challenges. The program attracts a diverse range of experienced professionals passionate about education and learning. 

The program aims to support leadership development through its rigorous curriculum, Problem of Practice (POP) capstone project, and a unique cohort experience. Let’s take a closer look at each. 

The Problem of Practice: Real-World Application 

The Problem of Practice is the online EdD program cornerstone; it’s a continuous, hands-on learning experience that replaces a traditional dissertation. Each POP addresses an issue or an innovation; students define their POPs based on an idea they believe could impact their current or future organizations. Throughout the program, students examine their problems, explore research and ideas from various disciplines and industries, and ultimately develop and implement solutions. 

Examples of POP topics include:

  • Education: How do I create a culture that supports teacher learning and growth in my district?
  • Corporate/private: What is the best delivery method for educating, retraining, and/or credentialing my company’s workforce?
  • Healthcare: How can my organization tackle long-standing inequities around healthcare and develop comprehensive solutions that improve healthcare access for all people within my community?
  • Public/government: As funding of public programs changes, what new funding streams and systems can I tap into that will support community programs?

NYU Steinhardt EdD Class of ’21 alumni and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at NYU Shanghai, Dr. Diane Geng, shares the impact of their POP on their leadership development. “Broadly, my topic was the practice of philanthropic grantmaking in China, which is a relatively recent development. I focused on the role of staff in foundations and how their experiences reveal some of the contemporary challenges and realities of implementing philanthropic grantmaking in China. The program provided some interesting lenses to help propel me toward thinking about the role of specific players and people within the ecosystem of grantmaking implementation in China.”

Program Course Work: Pairing Theory and Practice

The online EdD curriculum pairs theory with practice-based thinking, with course work focused on the operational aspects of leading successful organizations. Subjects include organizational theory, policy analysis, change and innovation, and management and data ethics. NYU Steinhardt encourages students to apply what they learn to their professional lives to advance their career goals. 

During the immersive on-campus residency, residents can share their professional experiences and examine some of their organizations’ persistent challenges. At the end of the program, residents participate in seminar-style sessions with education leaders to share their capstone projects and demonstrate how they put their learnings into practice. Throughout the program, residents can interact with distinguished scholars from different departments and leading experts in various fields through the ongoing Master Speaker Series.

NYU Steinhardt EdD Class of ’21 alumni and New York Institute of Technology Dean of Students, Dr. Felipe Henao, says, “I’ve been promoted twice since starting this program—not only because of the credential but also because of my ability to connect everything I’ve learned in the past two years and translate that into the work.”

Cohort Experience: A Collaborative Community 

NYU Steinhardt’s online EdD is designed to attract students from within and outside the scope of traditional education to encourage learners to think differently, ask tough questions, and develop new perspectives. Founding faculty member Dr. Noel. S Anderson explains, “Our EdD in Leadership and Innovation creates the space where we can find a common language as we work across sectors to solve problems.” 

Former students highly rate the program’s cohort experience. NYU Steinhardt Class of ’22 alumni and Director of Visiting Student Programs at NYU Abu Dhabi, Audrey Kajumbula, observes, “We become better at what we do by hearing about the challenges in another industry, by learning about best practices and frameworks, and by rethinking theories and how they connect.”

Explore the Online EdD in Leadership and Innovation

Several characteristics set the NYU Steinhardt online EdD in Leadership and Innovation apart from other education doctorate programs: 

  • The program allows professionals to work full-time while studying. 
  • Students can complete the program in as few as 24 continuous months.
  • The curriculum includes seminars, immersive experiences, research-intensive course work, synchronous class discussions with faculty, asynchronous instruction with fellow students, and independent work for a flexible but high-touch educational experience.
  • Cohorts are designed to reflect leadership across sectors and around the globe. Students benefit from their network’s influence, as well as diversity in perspective and thought.
  • The program addresses real-world organizational challenges, with work and life at the center of learning
  • Students can interact with and learn from esteemed faculty members with extensive leadership expertise.

Pursue a Leadership Development Program Tailored to Your Growth

The online Doctorate in Education in Leadership and Innovation program at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development can provide executives across industries with critical leadership and innovation skills. Online EdD students form a diverse cohort, creating opportunities to collaborate and benefit from cross-sector perspectives. Moreover, the program emphasizes solving real-world problems; students can focus on ideas or innovations they believe will make a difference in their organizations or industries.

Future leaders who aspire to promote positive organizational change can cultivate their leadership goals with an NYU Steinhardt online EdD. Connect with an enrollment advisor today to learn more about the program and admissions requirements.