Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Human Development, Leadership for Educational Organizations

School of Education & Human Development


Degree: PhD

Classroom Type: Online and on campus classes

Prepares candidates for research and teaching positions in higher education or research-based organizations. Candidates contribute to the growing evidence that school leadership makes a difference in how schools succeed in improving learning outcomes.

Application​ deadlines

December 16, 2024

Program Details

Interest Categories: Education & Counseling

Campus: CU Denver

What Students Learn

This program prepares candidates to contribute to the understanding of education leadership in-depth. Research and scholarship on school leadership are beginning to understand when leadership is successful, what the relationship is between effective leadership and effective teaching, and how best to lead the collective impact of leadership on organizational and student-learning outcomes at all levels.

Students in this concentration will:

  • Learn how to navigate existing research and literature that supports effective leadership for educational organizations.
  • Understand the theories that underpin this research. Students delve into the rationale for the application of this work in understanding how organizations operate.
  • Develop a working knowledge of the interrelatedness of people, systems, culture and organizational outcomes.
  • Build on past research and design new research efforts. These efforts should lead to more equitable outcomes and new understandings of complex organizational problems of practice.
  • Engage with student colleagues, faculty, and organizational partners in collaborative research studies. Studies investigate promising strategies for resolving vexing organizational issues.
  • Become data savvy in using research findings to produce equitable and productive results from these investigations.
  • Culminate the program with a dissertation that contributes to the knowledge base in the field of leadership for educational organizations.

Choose CU Denver's School of Education & Human Development

Students trust CU Denver to provide an education that will prepare them for excellence in their career as faculty members or researchers. The program prepares leaders who value educational excellence and social justice. Additionally, the School of Education and Human Development is counted among U.S. News & World Report's “Best Graduate Schools,” making CU Denver one of the top education schools in the country.


The 75-credit program begins each fall.

The curriculum includes a combination of on-campus, hybrid, remote, and online courses each semester.

Every student must be available to attend on-campus courses each semester.

Helpful Links & Documents

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Program Courses

Course Catalog

Recommended Completion Time:4 to 8 years

Required Credits for Completion:75

Admission Requirements

The core course rotation begins every fall. We encourage students to review the concentration area choices on our website and contact one or more of the faculty associated with that concentration area for an appointment prior to submitting their application. This ensures the students have an opportunity to discuss their research area of interest, as well as introduce themselves to the faculty. Also, the financial support we provide our PhD students is often tied to federal and state funding decisions, so meeting with a faculty member will let you know if any funding opportunities will be available in the upcoming year.

As part of gaining admission to the PhD program, students are paired with a doctoral faculty advisor/mentor. The doctoral faculty may request a personal interview to complement the information provided in the application materials.

Application Dates

Application Opens: July 1, 2024
Application Deadline: December 16, 2024

Application Requirements

  • Minimum requirements:
    • Master's degree or equivalent
    • 3.5 GPA in graduate-level course work recommended
  • 3 recommendation letters: two letters should come from faculty in a university program in which you were previously enrolled
  • Official Transcripts from all institutions attended
  • If applying for a license, a copy of your teaching license is required
  • Resume/CV: Applicants must have and show evidence of relevant professional and/or academic experience.
  • Written Statement: In 2-4 pages (double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font or larger). This should be a brief biographical description of your educational experiences and preparedness for doctoral studies and your research goals or a problem of practical or theoretical importance that could lead to a research study. Be sure to address how your career goals would fit into the concentration area.
  • Recommended: Master's thesis and/or published materials — Examples of published materials include articles, book chapters, newsletters and technical reports.
  • $50.00 application fee
  • Admissions Interview: An interview may be required as part of the admissions process. If so, applicants will be contacted with more details.
  • International Applicants only: Proof of English Language Proficiency (International applicants should review the following information regarding English language proficiency)
For more information, email or call 303.315.6300.

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