Students admitted into our program don’t simply hope for change, they are driven to make it happen. In fact, many of them are already leaders in their fields.

"I believe that if you stay only in your silo, it is harder to find a solution. To truly make change, you have to seek and build experiences outward." Dr. Lisette Nieves, Founding Faculty

We want every student to come to the program with ideas they believe can make a difference and have a lasting impact in their current and future organizations. The idea could address an issue they’ve struggled with for years — like how to reimagine a special-education program for an entire school district, or scale a boutique program sustainably, or design an institute for first-generation and transfer students at a university.

We use an academic lens that challenges students to think of innovative ways to approach their problem and find new applications in their work and lives.

The key objective of this program is to support school, nonprofit, higher education, philanthropic, and corporate leaders focused on education and learning to leverage their experience and skills to drive solutions and impact in their organizations. Using academic scholarship, research, and cross-sectoral exposure, students study all dimensions of schools and other educational institutions and initiatives: conceptual, organizational, political, social, managerial, interpersonal, and technical. The EdD curriculum is grounded in research, experiential practice, and problem-based learning.

The difference with our program is that your [capstone] project is a unifier. What is a challenge in your organization that you'd like to address? The goal is to help each student frame this challenge through an academic lens, then map a way to confront it.

Dr. Noel Anderson
Founding Faculty
A Problem of Practice (POP) Replaces a Dissertation

The EdD in Leadership and Innovation prepares students for senior educational and learning leadership positions across all sectors. This program offers a rigorous academic curriculum, with courses – grounded in research – that examine existing problems encountered in an organization. Students develop research and analytical skills needed to make more informed data-based decisions. At the completion of this program, students will possess a thoroughly researched and designed praxis-based Problem of Practice (POP) and portfolio of work. Our EdD is designed to have an impact well beyond its academic relevance for graduates to practice what they learn and increase their value to their organization.

There are three capstone seminars and four signature assignments that prepare students for the POP culminating project. In the POP, faculty work with students to develop research protocols that combine theory and practice to explore critical issues facing educational leaders and policymakers today.

Problem of Practice Examples:

  • District: How do I create the culture that supports teacher learning and growth?
  • District/Researcher/Philanthropy: What are the best examples and metrics that can inform a successful and fair teacher evaluation system?
  • Pre-K-12: How do I implement strong employer and education partnerships that create meaningful pathways for high school students into careers?
  • Pre-K-12/Charter Management: What does it mean to be a truly parent-centric school?
  • Pre-K-12: How do we integrate and support new immigrant youth or young men of color?
  • Higher Ed: What would a statewide policy look like to increase opportunities for historically underserved students?
  • Higher Ed: Should we offer discounts on tuition? How much? For whom?
  • Corporate/Private: How do I develop talent pipelines for new and emerging occupations?
  • Corporate/Private: What is the best delivery method for educating, retraining, and/or credentialing my industry's workforce?
  • Philanthropy: How do I use data to measure and analyze neutrality, efficiency, and effectiveness of funding from private foundations, philanthropy, and grants?
Students’ culminating project is made up of four signature assignments that tie into the coursework:
Leadership I: Examines the student’s educational and leadership development – all milestones the student has achieved as a professional. Designed to set the foundation for professional goals, helping students draw links between their professional journey and goals over the course of the academic program.
Research Methods
Students are required to conduct a self-selected POP from their organization. Students assess their organization for strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats in its culture and overall functioning as related to their POP.
Capstone I and II
Students are asked to shape a research question; develop an Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) proposal; develop a bibliography; conduct an action research project; and demonstrate the solution or impact of the proposed plan on their organization.
Capstone III
Students present their POP culminating project to their faculty committee and cohort classmates in the final semester of their program.