About the Program


Program Design

The Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program is designed to produce exemplary educational leaders for schools, community colleges, and related areas within education. Graduates of this program will be prepared to lead in educational environments that promote learning, equity, and achievement for all students. Armed with real-world, problem-based learning, program graduates will be ready to manage the complexities of educational organizations, affect school change processes, and shape the educational policies that bear on the practice of education in the public setting.

Sacramento State is a participant in the prestigious Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate, which is a study on how to enhance education doctorates to be more focused on professional practice.

Why Choose Sacramento State for your Education Doctorate?CPED 2007 member

  • Camaraderie with the same cohort of students throughout the program
  • Every-other-weekend schedule designed for working professionals
  • Renowned faculty who are steeped in regional and national education issues
  • Support to help you succeed throughout the dissertation process
  • Face-to-face interaction and networks with students and faculty
  • Accelerated 3-year program


Three major core curricular elements form the basis of the California State University, Sacramento Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy program: Leadership, Research Methods, and Field-based Study. In addition, three key curricular themes provide the focus for all coursework in the program:

  1. Transformational Leadership
  2. Critical Policy Analysis and Action
  3. Informed Decision-Making

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders understand, implement, and evaluate strategic equitable leadership practices based on various theories, models, and approaches for achieving organizational transformation, especially in educational settings. Students will become skilled facilitators of the organizational transformation process by initiating, implementing, sustaining, and evaluating transformation efforts. Students will build a solid foundation by integrating theory and practice in order to implement a planned change process in K-12 and community college environments.

Critical Policy Analysis and Action

Students will engage in critical analyses of policy at the local, state, national, and international levels. Specific California and federal policy environment structures and processes will be examined, particularly those impacting education. Students will learn about how public policy is generated, potential consequences, ethical dilemmas, social justice, and equity issues. The program develops in students the skills for informed analysis of educational policy in order to positively influence educational policy in the K-12 or community college setting.

Informed Decision-Making

The ability to make effective decisions is vital to the successful performance of visionary transformational leaders. Effective and strategic decision-making needs to consider a multitude of constraints and obstacles, raw data, stakeholder perspectives, and potential consequences of decision choices. Students will learn skillful decision-making strategies in the context of multiple competing interests, problem situations, change, and influences of power and control.


The Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program offered by the California State University is offered through partnerships through which California public elementary and secondary schools and community colleges participate substantively in program design, candidate recruitment and admissions, teaching, and program assessment and evaluation. This program enables professionals to earn the degree while working full time.

A collaboration between two departments — Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Public Policy and Administration — makes the California State University, Sacramento doctorate an interdisciplinary program of study. Public schools and community colleges in the area also partner with the program to develop a meaningful course of study and graduate experience.

Designed for Working Professionals

The program, while rigorous, is organized to meet the needs of working education professionals. A variety of innovative measures encourage students to use their job-related problems as topics for research assignments, thus increasing relevance and facilitating learning.

During the three-year program, courses are undertaken year-round. During the first two years, students typically take classes on Friday evenings and all day Saturday, every other week. During the third year, students work independently on a doctoral dissertation under the guidance of a faculty committee. Students should also expect to do extensive reading and research outside of class meeting times.

The majority of the program classes will be held on the Sacramento State campus. However, there may be sessions held with partner institutions in public schools and community colleges as appropriate.

Program History

California legislation (Senate Bill 724) authored by Senator Jack Scott and signed into law in 2005 authorized the California State University to offer the Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership. The Doctor of Education degree is focused on preparing administrative and executive leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to be effective leaders in California's public schools and community colleges.

"Having had the honor of lobbying in support of SB 724 and later becoming a member and graduate of the first cohort of Sac State’s Ed Doctorate, I am humbled by the contributions of electeds, administrators, directors, instructors, staff and students who implemented and participated/and continue to participate in this fine program. I would recommend it to the ever increasing number of Californians interested in higher education success.”  — Angelo Williams, Ed.D., Cohort 1