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Ed.S. / Ed.D. Ladder Program

The Specialist in Education degree (Ed.S.)/Doctor of Education degree (Ed.D.) ladder Program is recommended for K-12 school leaders.

  • Candidates accepted into this program first earn a Specialist in Education degree with a concentration in Administrative Leadership K-12.
  • They immediately continue on to complete their Doctor of Education degree.

Program format:

  • The Ed.S. degree is 33 credit hours and includes a capstone project
  • The Ed.D. is an additional 36 credit hours and includes qualifying exams and a dissertation
  • The program is taught face-to-face at selected CMU Off-Campus Centers
  • Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or Graduate Records Examination (GRE) scores are required

Designed for upper-level administrators at the K-12 level including:

  • Principals
  • Curriculum Directors
  • Assistant Principals
  • School Business Officers
  • Assistant Superintendents
  • Superintendents

This degree is currently offered at our Clinton Township, MI Center.

Admission Requirements

  • An earned master’s degree from an accredited university with a minimum GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale
  • Three years of professional educational experience

A completed application packet for the Ed.S./Ed.D. ladder program must include:

  1. A completed CMU Off-Campus graduate application
  2. Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate
  3. $50.00 application fee
  4. A completed Portfolio containing:
    1. A current résumé detailing professional educational experience.
    2. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Miller Analogy Test (MAT) scores no more than 5 years old.
    3. A short essay describing the relationship between the applicant’s professional goals and the ladder program.
    4. A description of a professional problem the applicant has encountered and an analysis of the resolution of that problem.
    5. Three letters of recommendation (dated and on letterhead) that attest to the applicant’s ability to succeed in the program.

An interview may also be required of applicants in the Ed.S./Ed.D. ladder program.

Program Requirements

Progress through the program is based on obtaining satisfactory grades ( a 3.25 GPA overall), passing written and oral comprehensive exams, and completing a doctoral dissertation.

Specialist in Education Degree (Ed.S.)

This 33-credit-hour program can open doors for positions in school leadership. This program also meets Michigan State Certification Requirements for the Central Office Endorsement.

Required Courses (15 credit hours)

  • EDL 651 Program Review and Evaluation
  • EDL 700 Advanced Administrative Research
  • EDL 760 Leadership Theory and Practice
  • EDL 765 Organizational Change in Educational Institutions
  • EDL 775 Educational Policy Analysis

Concentration Courses (12 credit hours)

Capstone Project (6 credit hours)

Select either Plan A or Plan B:

  • Plan A: Thesis (EDL 798) – includes 6 credit hours of student designed research study which will include data collection, analysis, thesis, and oral defense.
  • Plan B: Field-based Project (EDL 699 & EDL 797) – includes 3 credit hours of a leadership internship and 3 credit hours of an action research project completed in the field.

Doctor of Education Degree (Ed.D.)

Twenty-seven of the credits earned from the Ed.S. degree transfer to the Ed.D. degree. The Ed.D. program is an additional 36 credit hours and encompasses 6 hours of research requirements, 15 hours of academic core courses, qualifying exams, and a dissertation.

Research Requirements (6 credit hours)

  • EDL 800 Qualitative Analysis in Educational Leadership
  • EDL 801 Quantitative Analysis in Educational Leadership

Academic Core (15 credit hours)

  • EDL 815 Ethical Leadership
  • EDL 855 Organizational Culture and Change in Educational Institutions
  • EDL 860 Organizational Theory in Educational Institutions
  • EDL 899 Doctoral Seminar (6 credit hours)

Dissertation (15 credit hours)

  • EDL 897 Dissertation Proposal Writing
  • EDL 898 Dissertation (12 credit hours)

Qualifying Exams

Students will be expected to take written qualifying exams upon the completion of their academic core courses. Comprehensive review of all program materials is completed with the successful defense of the student’s dissertation proposal. At this point, students are advanced to candidacy.


The student will complete three steps in the dissertation process:

  1. The proposal review in which there is a formal defense of the dissertation proposal;
  2. Conduct the research, analyze the results, and write the final document;
  3. An oral defense of the dissertation.


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