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Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Education Sciences - Educational Leadership Option

Do you aspire to work in academia or research with a focus on leadership in educational contexts? Our online Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) is a scholarly doctorate leading to roles as university faculty, postdoctoral scholars, social research scientists, or educational professionals outside traditional settings.

Students enjoy the flexibility of completing their studies online. Exams and defense are all completed remotely. Students will be required to participate in synchronous online program activities 5-6 times per semester.

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At a Glance

Fall 2025

Application Due Date:
Start Date:

Credits and Tuition Cost (2024-2025)

Credits Required: 46
Cost Per Credit: $753.00


Online in Real-time

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Doctorate in Education Sciences - Educational Leadership Option overview

Program format
Online in Real-time
Total credits
Total Credits
Degree awarded
Degree Awarded

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What You'll Learn


Designed for the working educational professional who wants to gain expertise for a research-intensive career, this rigorous, online program can be completed in as little as four years. Coursework covers three major areas: leadership (5 courses), research design and methods (5 courses), and a specialization area of your choice (4 courses).

Course Examples

  • EDL 700 Knowledge Base
  • EDL 701 Leadership in Educational Organizations I
  • EDL 703 Leading Organizational Change
  • EDL 702 Leadership for Organizational Learning
  • EDL 704 Politics of Educational Leadership
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Connect with a Program Representative

Schedule time to meet with a program representative one-on-one.

How to Apply

Application Requirements

On the UK Graduate School application, select the degree: Doctoral, Program: Education Sciences, Option: Educational Leadership 

Standard graduate application requirements apply.

  • Professional Resume: This should provide your name, contact information, postsecondary education (all degrees, years awarded, institution names, emphasis area), work experiences, professional certifications, professional memberships, publications, research experiences, and Honors/Awards.
  • Personal Statement: Submit an up to 2-page personal statement addressing the following prompts. The paper should be double-spaced, in Times New Roman 12-point font.
       Why do you want to complete a Ph.D. in educational leadership studies?
       Why have you chosen to apply to this particular program?
       What are your interests as it relates to research in the area of educational leadership?
       How does this program align with your career goal as an academician or researcher?
  • Academic Recommendation (Only email address required. Our system will ask them to upload their letter.): A recommendation from someone who has earned a doctoral degree and serves in an academic institution is preferred. This recommender should be able to speak to your ability to successfully navigate doctoral-level coursework and complete independent research.
  • Professional Recommendation (Only email address required. Our system will ask them to upload their letter.): Recommender should be able to speak to your creativity, ability to navigate systems, and critical thinking skills.
  • On-Demand Writing Assessment: Each applicant participates in an on-demand writing task as part of the application process. The assessment session is offered via Zoom on the following dates and times:
    • September 12, 2024, 5:00 PM Eastern
    • October 17, 2024, 5:00 PM Eastern
    • November 14, 2024, 5:00 PM Eastern
    • Prospective applicants must register in advance for the sessions via this link. 

Admissions Criteria

Standard graduate admission requirements apply.

  • A graduate degree (M.A. or equivalent) from an accredited college or university, with a minimum GPA of 3.5
  • Completed a graduate-level basic statistics course with a grade of B or higher. 
    • Applicants are required to show they have passed a statistics course that covers basic descriptive statistics, correlation, normal distributions and hypothesis testing (including correlation and regression). To meet the requirement, you will be asked to provide documentation by August 15 of the semester you start classes. You can meet this requirement in one of three ways. 
      • Provide documentation of a previous course that covered the required content describe above. -OR- 
      • Complete EPE 558/EDP 558 before August 15th of the year of admission. -OR-
      • Show proof of completion of the “Statistical Reasoning,” course offered through the Open Learning Initiative entitled: It’s self-paced and free for independent learners.


Program Contact

Beth Rous
Program Chair


Fall 2025

Application Due Date:
Start Date:

Distance Learning

Licensure & Authorization

Where you live matters when completing distance education activities. If you will live outside of Kentucky while completing your program, please check the Distance Learning Authorization & Licensure page to confirm that the program can be offered in your state or country, and if relevant, that it meets professional licensure requirements in your state. Please note: Admission and enrollment in a fully-online program can NOT lead to the issuance of a J-1 or F-1 student visa. 

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University of Kentucky has been approved to participate in State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

Student Support

Once you become a student, you will have access to a wide variety of academic support services to maximize your success. These services are available completely online to meet the needs of our online students.

Why UK Online


No test scores required.

One tuition rate

Pay the same online tuition rate, no matter where you live.

UK degree

Degrees are conferred by the University of Kentucky, an accredited university.

Grad tuition cap

Save money by paying for only 9 standard credit hours per semester, even if you take more.


The program is a community of people who engage deeply on both theory and practice of leadership in a variety of contexts. The skills obtained in this program have been foundational in leading and fostering innovation among my teams.
Chithra Adams
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