Doctoral Degree & Certification

K-12 Educational Leadership (EdD)

Our K–12 educational leadership doctorate puts you on the fast track to a career in educational administration and leadership through a blended program, with working adults in mind.

Program Overview

Build your professional reputation and skills while earning your degree at your own pace through online coursework that balances your professional and personal lifestyle with your career goals.

While enrolled in the doctoral program, you can also work toward certification as a superintendent and/or pursue a business concentration that will prepare you for positions such as superintendent or head of school, or central office administrator such as curriculum director, chief financial officer, or director of operation, in both private and public schools.

If you are seeking superintendent certification only, once you are finished, you can consider enrolling in the doctoral program, transferring the majority of your courses to apply toward the doctoral degree.

Program Options

Our curriculum includes online coursework that is challenging and rewarding for both skilled and novice educators. View the academic catalog for Loading...

Our courses are flexible and hybrid—perfect for you as a busy professional. You can complete the master’s program full or part-time, enabling you to earn your degree on your own timetable.

If your career goal is to become a school superintendent or work in district central office, you can become eligible for the appropriate Pennsylvania professional certification as part of your doctoral program.

View the academic catalog for Loading... for the superintendent (letter of eligibility) certification.

Educational leaders are increasingly required to be curriculum and instruction experts as well as skilled business-minded professionals who can design cost-effective processes and make data-driven decisions to lead their schools and districts in innovative and results-oriented ways. 

Widener’s Center for Education, in partnership with the School of Business Administration, offers students a value-added business concentration within their doctorate in K-12 educational leadership. This concentration will prepare you for positions such as head of school, chief financial officer, or director of operation, in both private and public schools.

Earn your EdD in K-12 Educational Leadership with a focus on International and Independent Schools Leadership through our partnership with American Community Schools of Athens. You can finish your degree in as few as three years while working full-time.

In year one, you’ll travel to Athens for a 3-week summer residency. In year two, you’ll travel to the United States for a 3-week summer residency that includes educational experiences in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C.

During the school year, you’ll complete your coursework online.

Interested in bringing your children and family to your residency in Athens? A discounted summer camp program will enable them to experience one of the world’s most historic cities while you work toward your doctorate.

Each state/jurisdiction has requirements that candidates must meet in order to obtain licensure and/or certification to teach. It is the student’s responsibility to seek appropriate guidance before beginning any academic program. If you intend to seek certification outside of Pennsylvania, the University recommends that you contact the appropriate state licensing agency to obtain specific licensure/certification requirements per state and the most up-to-date information.
To view Widener’s licensure eligibility by state/jurisdiction, please visit the Center for Education: Program Licensure page.

Widener's dissertation completion option is for students who have completed—or nearly completed—their doctoral coursework in K12 Education Leadership with only the dissertation remaining. 

Our faculty mentors will personally review your transcript to determine any doctoral requirements needed to put you on track for successful completion of the dissertation and success after graduation. For some, this will mean their 12 dissertation credits, which can be completed in as little as 4 semesters, while others will be guided to take additional coursework or research classes. 

  • Application Deadline: June 15 
  • Semester Start: Cohort begins fall semester
  • Tuition: 12-credit minimum at the graduate tuition rate

Admissions Requirements

  • Complete online application
  • Resume or CV
  • Two letters of reference
    • At least one letter must be from a faculty member in the student's former program, preferably from the dissertation chair or academic advisor. Letter must indicate that the student was in good academic standing when they left the program.
    • Letters must address the student's writing ability, academic ability, and work ethic
  • Official transcripts, including transcripts with master's degree conferral
  • Students must have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their former doctoral programs
  • Academic writing sample, such as a current draft of the student's dissertation or a paper
    • Writing sample must be at least 10 pages long
  • Personal statement indicating the following:
    • The student's research interests
    • The current status of the student's dissertation
    • Widener faculty the student is interested in working with as Dissertation Chair

View the Loading... for more information. All questions can be directed to the graduate program director.

Admissions Information

  • Complete the application form.
  • Have an official transcript sent from all previous graduate and undergraduate programs.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation from colleagues, supervisors, or college professors.
  • Submit a personal statement addressing the following prompt: Please describe your experiences as an educational leader, what you hope to gain from advanced studies, and a brief description of your current dissertation research interests.

You will have an admissions interview with a faculty advisor. 

Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis.

Program Highlights

Our doctoral program gives you the skills and preparation to become an exemplary K–12 educational leader.

Personalized Learning

We give you a customized approach to earning your degree, working with you to achieve your goal of becoming a school administrator or principal, supervisor/director, or superintendent.

A Professional Learning Community

At Widener, you’ll join a professional learning community where you and your fellow students share and learn from each other’s knowledge and work experience. That puts you on the fast-track to developing leadership, consultative, and collaborative skills.

Mentoring Relationships & Individualized Attention

Choosing Widener is an investment in you—your education, your career, and your future. Both full-time and part-time faculty members teach in the programs and all have earned doctoral degrees and have extensive administrative, leadership, and teaching experience in education. You'll benefit from individualized mentoring relationships with your professors and advisors.


Our faculty have many years of knowledge and experience in the K–12 educational leadership field. These engaging instructors will mentor you and work to help you attain your goals.

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

With a doctoral degree in K–12 educational leadership, you will have the inside track to a rewarding career at the helm of school districts and education institutions. You will lead the way for the education and growth of future generations.

Outlook & Outcomes

Recent Employers

  • School districts
  • Charter schools
  • Private schools
  • State and federal education agencies
  • Universities and colleges

Job Prospects

There may be good opportunities for teachers to advance into principal jobs as large numbers of baby boomers retire.

Student Stories

Jeanne McCarthy working at a computer

"Whether presenting results or making recommendations, with my experience at Widener, I can speak the language. I don't think I would be as effective at what I do now without that experience."

Jeanne McCarthy

Class of 2020

Take the Next Steps


We’re glad you made the decision to apply. All applications and supplemental materials are submitted through the online application system. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Widener.

Center for Education