Educational Leadership & Policy (Ph.D.) Program Curriculum & Admission Requirements



Students take a major concentration of 36 hours described as follows: 12 hours of departmental core and 24 hours consisting of 12-15 hours in ELPS and 9-12 hours outside of ELPS. One of the courses must be a diversity, equity, and inclusion course. Ph.D. students must take a minimum of 12 hours of research methods courses.

Comprehensive examination

Upon completion of all coursework, the student is eligible for the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination consists of both a written and oral part and test the student's knowledge of the areas of the coursework; ability to reason, evaluate and draw supportable conclusions within the context of the subject area; and knowledge of current issues and trends within the field. A portion of the exam will be devoted to the student's elective minor and research methods.


The purpose of the dissertation is to study a significant education problem in a theoretically and methodologically sophisticated way. The student is expected to generate original knowledge in a specialized field and contribute to resolving important problems of questions within the field of educational leadership and policy.

More program structure

Teaching requirement

A college teaching experience is not required but is highly recommended for students who are not GTAs but who are interested in pursuing a faculty position.

Residency requirements

Students must complete the SOEHS PhD residency requirements during which time they are engaged in full-time academic study.

Program Curriculum

The program’s curriculum reflects the needs and aspirations of each student, and prepares researchers, teachers and educational leaders for a variety of settings. The student will work closely with an advisor to determine a plan of study. The curriculum requirements outlined below are the minimum required for the degree. To be adequately prepared for an intended career, the student’s advisor may encourage additional coursework or opportunities which may include presenting and/or publishing scholarly papers.

Core Requirements


Please note, this is a potential plan of study. Please consult with your faculty advisor before enrolling.

Additional requirements

  • ELPS core courses: 12 cr. hours

  • ELPS elective courses: 12 – 15 cr. hours

  • Non-ELPS Elective courses: 9 - 12 cr. hours (one of the courses must be a diversity, equity, and inclusion course).

  • Research methods courses – a minimum of 12 cr. hours

Graduate Admission

Applicants must have a master’s degree or equivalent with at least a 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. International applicants are strongly encourage to complete the application process well in advance of the application deadlines, in order to ensure adequate time for processing of visa related paperwork. Meeting minimum admission standards does not guarantee admission to the program. Applicants are strongly advised to contact one (or more) of the faculty members in the department prior to applying for the doctoral program.

Application Deadlines

March 1
Fall semester priority application deadline

Application Checklist

Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy

Applicants are required to submit the following materials and meet the following requirements before the application deadline:


  • Online application

    Complete through the KU Office of Graduate Admissions

  • Transcripts

    One official copy of academic transcripts from each college or university attended

  • English translation of transcripts

    Official transcripts from an international university must include an English translation

  • GRE exam scores (optional)

    Official copy of scores no older than five years

  • CV or Resume

    Please include at a minimum

    • Post-high school education.
    • Relevant professional and/or scholarly experience.
    • Research experience and other pertinent experience.
    • Honors, other recognitions received.
    • Conference presentations, publications, reports.

  • Statement of purpose

    Please submit a succinct statement of purpose, no more than five pages in length. Click the link above for details.

  • Writing samples

    These can include professional works (not necessarily academic papers), formal reports, and other pertinent work. The writing sample(s) should demonstrate your ability to think critically and/or analytically about an issue or a task. We are looking for documents of substantive quality and length, tough there is no official minimum or maximum page limit.

  • Letters of recommendation

    Letters of recommendations from three individuals who can speak directly to the applicant’s academic skills and potential for rigorous, independent doctoral level work. Preferably the letters will be from current or former professors but can also include a letter from an immediate supervisor.

  • Phone or Video Conference Interview

    After initial screening, ELPS faculty may invite you for an interview to address remaining questions about your objectives and fit for the program. The interview may also involve an interactive evaluation of your scholarly skills and potential.

  • Proof of English proficiency

    Non-native English speakers must demonstrate English proficiency

  • Application fee

    $65 for U.S. residents, $85 for international applicants.

Program Faculty

Barbara Bichelmeyer
Barbara Bichelmeyer
Provost, Professor
Zak Foste
Zak Foste
Assistant Professor
Rick Ginsberg
Rick Ginsberg
Professor, Dean, School of Education
Bryan Mann
Bryan Mann
Assistant Professor
Amanda Mollet
Amanda Mollet
Assistant Professor
Gene T. Parker
Gene T. Parker III
Associate Professor
Argun Saatcioglu
Argun Saatcioglu
Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Susan B. Twombly
Susan B. Twombly
Professor, Chair, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Lisa Wolf-Wendel
Lisa Ellen Wolf-Wendel
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies
Yong Zhao
Yong Zhao
Foundation Distinguished Professor