May 19, 2024  
National University Vol 2 Addendum D (formerly NCU) 
National University Vol 2 Addendum D (formerly NCU) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Education, School Safety, Security, and Emergency Management Specialization, PhD

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Sanford College of Education

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Description of Program

The Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD) program prepares you for significant contributions to the body of knowledge in the broad field of education as well as a more narrowed area of specialization within the field. You will start with an understanding of theoretical frameworks, as theory is the foundation of the PhD program. You will build knowledge, skills, and dispositions in the content of your specialization as well as research more generally, culminating in your dissertation research. Along the way, you will examine ethical principles, professional standards, and opportunities for sharing your research through presentations and publications.

Please be advised that this program is NOT accredited in Kentucky by the Education Professional Standards Board and is NOT recognized for initial, additional, or renewal of certification or salary enhancement (rank change) for P-12 educators in Kentucky. For more information, please visit the Education Professional Standards Board’s website at

Click here for potential career opportunities within the PhD-Ed.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop deep knowledge of educational systems, theories, and research in an area of expertise
  • Interpret theories, research, and ideas for different audiences through multiple methods of communication
  • Integrate ethical principles and professional standards for a specific discipline within the field
  • Conduct autonomous or collaborative research using high-level analytical skills
  • Contribute to the body of knowledge specific to a discipline within the field

Basis for Admissions

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in Education requires a conferred post-baccalaureate master’s degree and/or doctoral degree from a regionally or nationally accredited academic institution or an international institution determined to be equivalent through an approved evaluation.

Degree Requirements

The PhD Program may be completed in 60 semester credit hours. Additional credit hours may be allowed as needed to complete dissertation research in alignment with the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and Academic Maximum Time Frame policies. Students who do not complete their program within these requirements may be dismissed.

The University may accept a maximum of 12 semester credit hours in transfer toward the doctoral degree for graduate coursework completed toward a doctoral degree at an accredited college or university with a grade of “B” or better. Transfer credit is only awarded for course work that is evaluated to be substantially equivalent in content with the required course work for the PhD program.

Note: Students who complete the University’s EdS program may be eligible to apply up to 30 credits from the EdS program to the Sanford College of Education’s Doctoral programs. School Dean (or their designee) approval is required to determine number of applicable credit hours from EdS to the selected doctoral program.

Dissertation Completion Pathway

The University’s mission is dedicated to assisting students in achieving their academic aspirations and helping them become valuable contributors to their community and profession. To support our mission, the University now offers a dissertation completion pathway for students who have successfully completed their doctoral coursework and achieved doctoral candidacy at a previous institution but were unable to complete their dissertation. The University’s Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) offers a unique opportunity for students to complete their doctorate in one of the doctoral programs offered at the University (excluding the PhD in MFT, DMFT, DNP, and DHA). Students successfully meeting the entrance and application requirements will complete a minimum of 23 credit hours to earn their doctorate.

Click below for more information on the


Time to Completion

The University allows 7 years to complete all doctoral programs of 60 credits or less.

The median time to completion for this program is 45 months.

Time to completion varies depending upon the pace in which a student completes courses and the number of transfer credits accepted. As most students are working adults, balancing educational, professional, and personal commitments, our academic and finance advisors will work with you to develop a program schedule that works best for your needs.

Students following the preferred schedule designed by the Dean for this program, and applying no transfer credits, can expect to finish in as little as 37 months.

Certification and Licensing

The Sanford College of Education serves educational leaders by providing online graduate studies in education to reach worldwide populations. The PhD program is designed to reach national and international markets and does not purport to provide licensure or certification in any particular state or country.

Research and Dissertation

The University has developed a logical step-by-step process that assists in completing the dissertation. The University provides a detailed Dissertation Handbook that explains the process and the University’s dissertation support structure.

The PhD doctoral research courses, the PhD comprehensive course and the PhD dissertation courses are specifically designed as a guide through the process in an orderly and meaningful fashion and lead to the oral defense.

The dissertation is the capstone academic achievement of the PhD. The PhD dissertation is a scholarly documentation of the research. To earn the PhD the student must demonstrate the ability, motivation, and commitment and the University will provide the faculty, the academic support and process to assist with the attainment of high academic goals. There is an oral dissertation defense.

The PhD research is aimed at contributing to the body of research knowledge - either new research or adding to research already studied in the field. PhD students take EDR-8201 - Statistics I  and EDR-8202 - Statistics II  as part of their program of study. 

Dissertation Process

Faculty assists each Doctoral student to reach this high goal through a systematic process leading to a high-quality completed dissertation. A PhD dissertation is a scholarly documentation of research that makes an original contribution to the field of study. This process requires care in choosing a topic, documenting its importance, planning the methodology, and conducting the research. These activities lead smoothly into the writing and oral presentation of the dissertation.

A doctoral candidate must be continuously enrolled throughout the series of dissertation courses. Dissertation courses are automatically scheduled and accepted without a break in scheduling to ensure that students remain in continuous enrollment throughout the dissertation course sequence. If additional time is required to complete any of the dissertation courses, students must re-enroll and pay the tuition for that course. Continuous enrollment will only be permitted when students demonstrate progress toward completing dissertation requirements. The Dissertation Committee determines progress.

Course Sequence

The PhD degree in Education focuses on enhancing the body of knowledge of education. The PhD is intended for the student who wishes to primarily teach in higher education, conduct educational research or work in the area of educational research (full time faculty dedicated to teaching AND research, institutional researchers, etc.) The PhD research is aimed at contributing to the body of research knowledge - either new research or adding to research already completed in the field.

*The elective course can be satisfied with any doctoral level Sanford College of Education course. The course listed in the degree plan can be changed upon request. Students should contact their Academic and Finance Advisor for assistance.

This program can be completed with a minimum of 60 credit hours, but may require additional credit hours, depending on the time required to complete the dissertation research. If needed, additional courses will be added to the student degree program in alignment with the SAP and Academic Maximum Time to Completion policies. Students who do not complete their program in accordance with these policies may be dismissed.

School Safety, Security and Emergency Management (SEM) Specialization

The school safety, security, and emergency management specialization is designed to allow learners to focus on the three areas unique to the specialization title. Students who feel safe and secure at school are better able to learn by engaging with the curriculum, their teachers, and their peers. This specialization offers K-12 professionals and other related emergency management or district management personnel the opportunity to learn about diverse topics such as technologies to manage safety, security, and emergencies; threat assessments of people and facilities; restorative justice, and other alternatives to student discipline; and how to contribute, implement and improve school safety plans. Further, a theoretical underpinning of these issues and the needed response will be examined. Learners will demonstrate their proficiency through a capstone project in the final specialization course.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Sanford College of Education