NYU Steinhardt’s EdD in Leadership and Innovation is unique and collaborative by design. The model brings together a cohort of professionals working together with faculty and distinguished leaders, all from a range of disciplines and industries, to address persistent organizational challenges.

Through an intensive admissions process, EdD faculty select candidates from Pre-K-12 education, higher education, healthcare, the corporate/private sector, nonprofits, and government to intentionally create a diverse set of experiences and perspectives.

This cohort model is paramount to individuals’ success in the EdD. We asked our students to describe the cohort experience and how it has shaped their doctoral journey.

A professional learning community

Each cohort forms a professional learning community that complements the doctorate. These professional learning communities often support students through workplace challenges outside the program.

Lindsay Peelman, Cohort: August 2019

“A cohort is the only way to progress through a program like this. When you hit a wall, there is always someone to help you move forward. We take turns helping each other, reaching out, offering support, and staying on top of important assignments. It also helps out the instructors so there is less correspondence. When we want to ask something, we all come together first and make sure the answer isn’t already there. That frees up the instructor’s time to support us in a strategic and higher-level capacity, making the program even more valuable. It creates a bonded network of professionals who will be lifelong partners in career and life.”

Joseph Durney, Cohort: January 2020

“The support and encouragement of the cohort is a critical factor in the learning process in this program. It is clear the program is designed with a deliberate intention to ensure a collaborative professional learning community adds value to the course work. The camaraderie, communication, and cooperation between cohort members supports learning and is inspirational.”

Jamie Remmers, Cohort: August 2019

“I was always told how isolating a doctoral program can be, and that you are really in it on your own. This is certainly not true in the Leadership and Innovation program. The unique cohort model truly bonds you with your classmates academically, professionally, and socially. In this cross-sectoral degree, your cohort is a way to look into various fields and learn differently, which just supplements the academic material. They are your trusted confidants when it comes to research, they are a professional network that you are building throughout the world, and they are your support system.”

A support system

For many students, the program’s professional learning community transforms into a complete support system. They build deep trust with one another in remarkably impactful ways.

Licella Arboleda, Cohort: August 2019

“We now share special moments such as weddings, birthdays, pictures of our kids, and our personal accomplishments. We even share our struggles and hardships. We are there for each other through family losses, adjusting to life with COVID-19, and through the current racial tensions in our nation. We have an honest and open space where those of us who are people of color are comfortable enough to share our thoughts and feelings and where the rest of our cohort is there to support us and learn from us. There have been times where many of us feel defeated, that maybe it was our time to walk away from the program, but because of the cohort model and the relationships that we’ve built, we’ve created a no woman/man left behind philosophy, and we’ve all lived up to it and have pulled each other through. There is no other way to describe my experience with my cohort other than saying that they were colleagues who became friends who then became family.”

Rahesha Amon, Cohort: January 2020

“Beginning in January 2020, 30 strangers spanning the globe joined together on a journey toward earning a doctoral degree. We did not realize that our shared goal and the intentional program design would forge a bond carrying us through the best and challenging times.   

“Shortly into the first semester, the world paused, and we were amid a global pandemic. Our exchanges increased as we shared articles, personal antidotes, and words of inspiration. We reaffirmed our commitment, resulting in us completing the first semester strong while living though a pandemic! That has been the prevailing theme of this cohort experience. In good and challenging times, we are there for one another. I am unsure if I would have remained consistent through a pandemic if I did not have [my cohort].”

TJ Pegg, Cohort: August 2019

“I came into this program with the idea that the cohort would just be a group of people that I take the same classes with throughout the program. But in a surprise to me, it has been a critical support system in this journey, where we celebrate accomplishments, comfort one another when things get tough, and support each other as we learn in different parts of the world. I have developed relationships in this program that are stronger than I have ever imagined. We are truly all in this together and will cross the finish line at the end of the program running, walking, or being pulled by our peers – we are a family!”

A range of perspectives

The EdD is interdisciplinary by design. Students use various social, economic, cultural, and professional lenses to consider intractable challenges within their organizations. With the online modality, the program is unbound by geography, resulting in an even wider range of perspectives.

Tom Kardish, Cohort: January 2020

“The diversity is wonderful – the person whose institution is most like mine (or more accurately, what I aspire mine to be) is in San Diego. My most recent group project was completed by four people of different races, institution types, time zones, and nationalities. And I loved every minute of it.

“I have learned so much from others’ perspectives as we have faced the COVID-19 crisis, the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, and the general polarization of today’s American society. As the leader of my school, my response was much more thoughtful and much better received based on the sharing and the input of my cohort mates. I even have a call next week with a classmate so I can be better educated about the concept of annexation regarding Israel and their neighbors. Sharing like that doesn’t happen unless there already has developed an atmosphere of sharing and mutual respect and trust.”

Holly Seidenfeld, Cohort: January 2020

“While I love my classes and am enjoying the readings and assignments, it is really the cohort that makes my educational journey so meaningful. I have developed friendships with people that have continued beyond just a semester because we move through the sequence together. We also are able to draw parallels because we have a shared experience and are not just living in our own educational silos.”

Bernie Savarese, Cohort: January 2020

“The cohort experience has completely exceeded my expectation and has become one of the most important aspects of this program. In fact, when people ask me about the program, I find myself focusing almost immediately on the cohort, our strong bonds, and how our cross-sector backgrounds have added so much value and deepened all aspects of learning. When I start sharing all of this, it usually doesn’t take but a few minutes for people to stop me and say, “Wait. I thought you said this was an online program. It sounds like you actually know each other.” I go on to share how the program faculty were very intentional, I talk about the role of the residency, and also how our program is structured so that assignments and in-class experience continually push us to lean on, support, and challenge each other.”

Edras De Jesús Jimenez , Cohort: January 2020

“My cohort experience was the cornerstone of this entire journey. Having the time to get to know and connect with other members contributed in a positive manner to how connectedness was a value that was not only underlying but espoused. The weeklong in-person residency sets this program apart from other doctoral programs that are executed on an online platform that do not include in-person components.  This is because after you walked away from the weeklong experience, you made 29 other friends and cohort-mates that would later check in with you, encourage you, give you resources when you needed them, and in addition, you rely on them when you need support.”

A meaningful experience, personally and professionally

The EdD prepares students through a rigorous curriculum to create change as senior leaders across all sectors. The cohort design supports people through the challenges of the program, and in doing so, it often brings them a profound sense of pride and energy to enact future change.

Herminio Perez, Cohort: January 2020

“The cohort experience has been meaningful. As a member, it provides me with an opportunity to expand my leadership network. Getting to know the professional journeys of cohort members has been inspiring and relatable. Through their support, they remind me not only of the reasons why we are together in the program, but also the potential that we all have going forward.”

Michael Miller, Cohort: August 2019

“We support one another in so many ways, and it is key to my success in the program. All doctoral programs are rigorous and oftentimes stressful, but I can say that the cohort model makes those moments so much easier and often joyful. The care and thought that has gone into this particular program cannot be justly described in a short paragraph, but I am so grateful every day for my opportunity to study and work with these amazing humans and gifted faculty. In addition, the varied backgrounds and experiences of my cohort members regularly challenge my views; expand the way I see the world; and remind me of the important work that I do – that we all do –  is vital to innovation, positive change, and forward movement to better the lives of our students, community members, and colleagues.”

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