Jul 15, 2024  
National University Volume 86B-2 Catalog - April 2024 
National University Volume 86B-2 Catalog - April 2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Education, PhD

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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 http://www.epsb.ky.gov/mod/page/view.php?id=12.

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, and DNP). Students successfully meeting the entrance and application requirements will complete a minimum of 23 credit hours to earn their doctorate.

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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 Doctoral Student Experience (DSE) Manual 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.

Curriculum and Teaching (CT) Specialization

The nature and purpose of the Curriculum and Teaching specialization within the PhD program is to provide teacher -learners the knowledge, skills, and professional competencies that will enhance their contributions to the theoretical knowledge of the field. You will have the opportunity to explore, examine, and evaluate contemporary teaching and instructional practices, including the evaluation of broader curriculum programs.

E-Learning (EL) Specialization

This specialization integrates curriculum development, instructional design and course delivery using technology and online learning management systems. The specialization focuses on providing a knowledge base through current research and analysis of the planning and implementation of teaching and delivery modalities. Coursework focuses on instructional design methodologies incorporating educational media.

Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialization

In this specialization, you will build on the foundational principles of early childhood education as you focus on research and theory. This focus will include curriculum, assessment, and program administration that aligns with theories about the growth and development of young children. You will also investigate early childhood literacy and literature along with the roles of families, caregivers, schools, and communities. This specialization supports your future work as a researcher contributing to the broader body of knowledge around early childhood education.

English Language Learning (ELL) Specialization

The English Language Learning (ELL) specialization within the PhD program contributes to your preparation as a research scholar in the field. You will build on your existing knowledge and skills in preparation for continued research around teaching, assessing, and developing curriculum for English language learners. The final course offers you the opportunity to consider significant issues in ELL education, and one of these issues might inspire your dissertation topic and your future research agenda. Please note that, if you are seeking ELL/ESL certification, you should verify with appropriate state officials that this specialization meets applicable certification requirements.

General Education Specialization

The General Education specialization allows students to select courses from a broad range of electives to fit their personal and professional goals.

Students must complete a minimum of six specialization courses and one elective course. Students may take education courses at the 7000 or 9000 level including up to two courses from other fields (Psychology, Technology and/or Business) to fulfill their specialization requirements. Additional courses (i. e., more than two courses) from other disciplines may be considered to fill this requirement, with Dean approval.

Instructional Leadership (IL) Specialization

The program provides knowledge in educational leadership research, theory, and practices applicable to higher education. Research and analysis are conducted to identify future directions of national and global higher education focused on educational change through policy development and educational reform.

International Education and Globalization (IEG) Specialization

The International Education and Globalization specialization focuses on educational phenomena, practices, institutions, and organizations within different societies and cultures. This specialization includes an exploration of international organizations, policies, initiatives, and challenges faced by international and global practitioners. Further, this specialization prepares individuals to apply the concepts of organizational training, development, and ethical leadership to the design, management, and evaluation of programs, institutions, and organizations. Additionally, this specialization will examine issues, challenges, and opportunities related to culture and society; as well as conflict, mediation, and resolution. Finally, this specialization explores the concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in international and global contexts. For the Ph.D. student, this includes an exploration of policy and related theories of leadership.

Leadership in Higher Education (LHE) Specialization

This specialization prepares you to lead in a variety of higher education institutions. You will examine leadership across different functions, such as student services, strategic planning, and academic program and curriculum development, as well as different types of institutions, such as public, private, for profit, and non-profit. You will also explore the leader’s role in other institutional operations related to legal and financial considerations.

Organizational Leadership (OL) Specialization

Designed for professionals aspiring towards leadership roles in education, corporate, government, or community organizations, this specialization equips students with the tools necessary to make things happen in any organization. This specialization concentrates on the strategies to forge alliances, build confidence, and inspire a shared vision. This curriculum is based in applied research, providing exploration of issues and resolutions in contemporary organizations and the opportunity to contribute new knowledge in the field.

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.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Specialization

The Social Emotional Learning (SEL) specialization is focused on mid-career or advanced classroom teachers, school counselors or psychologists, and school/district administrators who desire a more intensive examination of the five core competencies identified by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness. From a practitioner’s perspective, you will examine how these competencies are applied across classrooms, schools, homes, and communities. While individuals outside of the K-12 school context would benefit from the specialization, the courses do use a K-12 lens.

Special Education (SE) Specialization

The program is designed for students who work with gifted and disabled students in a variety of settings. The course offerings in this specialization cover a wide spectrum of issues related to individuals with disabilities, including the development and characteristics of students, learning differences, and instructional strategies to address the needs of these students. Additionally, the specialization will provide the skills to plan, assess, and deliver instruction to students with mental, physical, behavioral, learning disabilities, and the gifted student, using analysis of contemporary research.

Sport and Athletic Management (SM) Specialization

The Doctor of Philosophy in Sport and Athletic Management is a rigorous, research-based degree program requiring students to apply educational concepts and management principles in the planning, organizing, leading, and directing of sports and athletics. Emphasis is placed on the production, facilitation, promotion, and organization of sport products and services. Because this growing field requires scholar-practitioners with proficiency across a wide range of skills, the curriculum allows for a multifaceted exploration aligned with industry standards. In this program, students will further their knowledge of competencies in athletic administration and coaching; explore working problems within the profession to discern solutions; and build an understanding of educational theories related to this field.

Trauma-Informed Educational Practices (TRA) Specialization

The PhD degree is a theoretically-driven degree, which asks students to explore and integrate components of theoretical, fundamental knowledge related to teaching and learning with a focus on specific trauma-informed educational practices. This exploration will extend across various educational settings and populations and will examine the theoretical fundamentals of a trauma-informed approach to education, how trauma manifests in different populations and communities, specific trauma-informed strategies for the classroom, and theory which supports strengthening resilience among both students and educators.

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