Doctorate in Leadership, Ed.D.

Dr. Scott Hamm, Program Director

The Doctorate in Leadership (Ed.D) offers a 57-hour online program that prepares individuals to fill leadership roles in a variety of fields. It develops enlightened, ethical leaders through academic and practical experiences. Through study in a faith-based environment, graduates will embody skills, knowledge, and dispositions to bridge theories with research-based practices and become visionary leaders. This program is delivered fully online.


Students must hold a bachelor’s and master’s degree in any field of study from an accredited university. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the degree, the major focus of the master’s degree need not be in the field of education. It is recommended that the student have at least one course in graduate level research and statistics.

Admission Criteria

Applicants for the Doctorate in Leadership degree must hold a master’s degree from a regionally accredited university. Admission to the program requires the program director’s endorsement, which will be based on the following requirements:

  • A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale at completion of a master’s program. A GPA of 3.0 will be considered for admission and admission will be offered on a probationary status.
  • International students are required to demonstrate a score of 250 on the computer version of TOEFL, a score of 5 on the TWE, and a score of 50 on the TSE. Official copies from the national testing center must be sent directly to HSU Office of Admission.
  • Recommendation forms from three persons qualified to assess the applicant’s professional abilities, academic potential, and personal character. The recommendations must include the following individuals: one who holds a doctoral degree, one who served or is serving as the applicant’s employer/supervisor, and one who is a professional colleague. Each person must submit the completed form directly to HSU Office of Admission.
  • A completed application packet, following the guidelines on the Doctorate in Leadership website, which includes the following:
    • Application form
    • Resume or curriculum vita
    • A 500-600 word personal statement
    • Signed ethics statement
    • Letter of Employer Support Form (if applicable)
    • Release for conducting criminal background check
    • Following a review of the application, applicants may be contacted to schedule a personal interview.

Admission Procedures and Checklist

Students must submit the application packet through the online application site. All materials (including application fee, application packet, official transcripts, test scores for International Students, and reference forms), must be mailed to the Admissions office. Specific admission procedures can be found at Qualified applicants will not be considered for admission until their file is complete. Following a review of the application, applicants may be contacted to schedule a personal interview.

Transfer Credit

For consideration of transfer credit, the student must submit work that was completed prior to admission to the Doctorate in Leadership program to the program director. The director will review the work to determine equivalency to the courses required in the program. For transfer work to be considered, it must meet the following criteria: 1) the courses are doctoral level work from a regionally accredited university; 2) an official transcript of the work is on file in the Office of Admission; and 3) the work was completed during the last 10 years. If approved by the program director, a maximum of 36 hours may be transferred provided the students did not complete the previous degree. A maximum of 6 hours may be transferred from a previously completed doctoral degree.

University Financial Aid Policies

Students in the Doctorate in Leadership Program are considered full-time for federal financial aid purposes when enrolled in six hours for a long-term; three hours qualifies for half-time in a fall or spring semester. Students who take a minimum of three hours during Summer I and/or Summer II are eligible for federal financial assistance. Contact Mrs. Monica Smart at (325) 670-1595; HSU Box 16050, Abilene, Texas 79698; or



By action of the Graduate Council and graduate faculty, all students must have a minimum of 50% of their curriculum in 6000 level courses.


Leadership Core

LDSP 7310Leadership Models


LDSP 7315Strategic Planning


LDSP 7325Leadership Through the Ages


LDSP 7330Servant Leadership


LDSP 7340Ethical Decision-Making in Leadership


LDSP 7350Strategic Communication


LDSP 7355Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education


               15 hours

Summer Leadership Core-Required

LDSP 7320Organizational Leadership - State


LDSP 7335Trends in National Leadership


LDSP 7345Leadership in a Global/Cultural Context


9 hours

Research Courses

EDUC 7330Introduction to Research and Design


EDUC 7334Quant. Design, Statistics, Analysis


EDUC 7338Qualitative Design and Analysis


EDUC 8310Dissertation/Professional Project I


EDUC 8320Dissertation/Professional Project II


EDUC 8225Cont. Enrollment for Diss/Prof Projects


COMP 7000Comprehensive Exam


15 hours

EDUC 8225: taken and repeated as needed to complete dissertation/professional project


Higher Education Leadership Courses—18 credit hours

EDHE 7320Pedagogy/Program Design in Higher Ed


EDHE 7325Assessment in Higher Education


EDHE 7330Business Management/Finance in Higher Ed


EDHE 7335Legal Aspects of Higher Education


EDHE 7340Student Services in Higher Education


EDHE 7345Critical Issues in Education


Total Credit Hours: 57

Graduation Requirements

Qualifying Exam

Upon completion of the 24-hour common leadership core, the 18-hour concentration and the first 9 hours of research courses, students will take a qualifying oral exam (COMP 7000). The oral qualifying exam is conducted in Zoom and consists of selected learning artifacts demonstrating program learning objectives.  Students must pass the qualifying exam (COMP 7000) to advance to the dissertation phase of the doctorate.

Dissertation Defense

At the culmination of the doctoral degree, students will conduct and defend an independent dissertation under the guidance of a professor in their field of study. The defense will be evaluated by a committee comprised of at least one professor from the core leadership courses, one professor from the concentration field, and one other professor, along with the director of the doctoral program. If the student does not pass the first defense, he/she will be allowed a second attempt. If the student does not pass on a second attempt, his/her case must be reviewed by the program director and the Doctoral Program Advisory Committee to determine if he/she will be allowed a third attempt in the defense process. The students must pass the dissertation defense to advance to graduation. For international students in the Doctorate in Leadership program who are in the dissertation stage, University policy is that 3 credit hours of dissertation will be considered full time.

Academic Standards

Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. They must earn at least a C in a course to receive credit.

Time Limit

All work for the Doctorate in Leadership must be completed within ten years of the first enrollment.