The Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations prepares graduates to provide instructional leadership for linguistically and culturally non-mainstream learners and conduct research that will contribute to knowledge and practice in the field. This Program of Study applies the most current, relevant, contemporary scholarship to bear on creating learning environments that improve the academic performance of all students and meets the particular needs of these learners. The Program requires a knowledge core, a research core, comprehensive examinations, and a formal dissertation. The course content includes study of language, learning, and instruction; historical, global, and philosophical perspectives; change theory; and educational policy and legal issues.
Diverse group of students sitting in class

The program requires elements common to all doctoral studies:

  • Research Methods
  • Comprehensive Examinations
  • Research Seminar
  • Dissertation

Introductory Course (must be taken in the first or second semester of the program)

EDU-702 Introduction to Scholarly Inquiry for Doctoral Students (3)

Language and Learning (9 Credits)

EDU 624 Dialects in American Schools (3)
EDU 698 Linguistic and Cultural Diversity (3)
EDU 747 Learning, Language, and the Brain

Philosophical Perspectives (9 Credits)

EDU 674 Global and International Perspectives in Education (3)
EDU 772 Changing School Populations in Historical Perspectives (3)
EDU 775 Democracy and Education: Philosophical Perspectives (3)

Changing Populations (9 Credits)

EDU 715 Educator as a Change Leader (3)
EDU 722 Education and Policy Analysis for Changing Schools (3)
EDU 760 Legislative and Legal Decisions Affecting Changing School Populations (3)

Research Core (9 Credits)

EDU 695 Research Design (3)
EDU 701 Methods of Quantitative Research (3)
EDU 703 Methods of Qualitative Research (3)

Special Interest Area (6 Credits)

Students select any two graduate level courses related to an area of special interest. 

Dissertation Courses (6 Credits plus Dissertation Continuation)

EDU 705 Dissertation Seminar (3)
EDU 706 Dissertation Methodology (3) or EDU 707 Historical Methodology (3)
EDU 800 Dissertation Continuation (1.5 credits per semester up to 6 credits)*

*Students requiring EDU 800 enrollment beyond four semesters must request extension through their advisor.


Program Outcomes

Instructional Leaders will:

  1. Demonstrate a general knowledge based in the liberal arts and in specific content appropriate for teaching.
  2. Demonstrate effective application of principles derived from the ongoing relationship between research-informed theory and practice.
  3. Exemplify the qualities of a reflective practitioner through analysis and assessment of teaching practices and behaviors, redesigning instruction to meet individual needs.
  4. Act and make decisions guided by a philosophy of teaching and learning rooted in a moral system that values the development and diversity of each individual.
  5. Create a safe and interactive environment in which students are both empowered and free to take risks, to think analytically, critically, and creatively, to make informed choices, and to act responsibility.

What to Expect Studying at Notre Dame of Maryland University

The mission of Notre Dame of Maryland University’s School of Education is to serve as a catalytic change agent by educating leaders to transform the world. To achieve this, we provide distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs that challenge women and men to strive for intellectual and professional excellence, to build inclusive and diverse communities, to engage in service to others, and to promote social responsibility. In addition to taking courses in relevant topics related to instructional leadership, candidates also engage in discussions and activities that support understanding and development of students representing the changing populations in our schools. Through the rigorous process of completing comprehensive exams and a dissertation, students are prepared to publish research related to their area of interest and present at national and international conferences.

With award-winning teacher certification programs nationally recognized by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), you can expect to benefit from small class sizes, expert faculty, and practical field experiences.


The dissertation is the culmination of your doctoral studies. Through the Dissertation Seminar(s), you will receive assistance in the process of preparing your dissertation proposal.

In this scholarly work of original and independent research, you will:

  1. Address a problem or issue relevant to education;
  2. Conduct research that is quantitative, qualitative, or historical/philosophical (depending on the chosen subject); and
  3. Develop a dissertation that adds to the knowledge in the field.


Ph.D. Program Handbook (PDF)


Students who complete the Ph.D. program in Instructional Leadership are prepared to bring a better understanding of the policies, curriculum, students’ language development, and historical and philosophical context of educational leadership to their classrooms, their schools, and their districts. After completing the degree, many choose to remain in the classroom, teaching students with a new understanding of the complexities involved in educating changing populations. Some move into administrative positions such as assistant principals or principals where they can have a broader impact on school policy, professional development for teachers, and student learning success. Others have taken administrative positions at the county level, working across many divisions to analyze individual schools’ progress in meeting the needs of diverse populations.

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