MSU offers innovative new Ed.D. for education leaders

March 22, 2012

A new educational doctorate at Michigan State University will prepare future superintendents and other top education leaders to work with policymakers, parents and other groups to affect change in their schools and communities.

The Doctor of Educational Leadership, an Ed.D. program, reflects a national trend among colleges of education to develop stronger, more relevant doctoral programs for professionals working in the field. The newly designed MSU program also provides an opportunity for current and aspiring K-12 administrators in Michigan, and is quite distinct from the educational specialist (Ed.S.) degrees or education doctorate (Ed.D.) degrees offered elsewhere in the state.

Professor Susan Printy said the program will require students to go beyond traditional coursework and internship experiences as they learn a new set of skills needed to manage the fast-changing resources and responsibilities in today’s school systems. Each summer, students will lead forums on campus with citizens, educators and elected officials. Instead of individual dissertations, they will work on group capstone projects intended to provide creative solutions for significant problems facing schools and communities, such as high school dropouts or low parental involvement.

The program begins this fall.

“One of our biggest failures is we don’t teach our leaders how to engage multiple stakeholders in solving problems,” said Printy, who coordinates the K-12 Educational Administration programs at MSU. “School leaders can be powerful agents in a community. Teaching students how do that will be an important part of our program.”

The three-year curriculum also was created with the needs of Michigan in mind. Printy said graduates, as superintendents or other system-level education leaders, will be prepared to play a more active role in local and state deliberations about the future of schools – especially in terms of the state’s economic revival.

The Ed.D. is shorter and more structured than the traditional Ph.D., which focuses more heavily on preparing future researchers. Although Ed.D. students will share some courses with Ph.D. students in K-12 administration at MSU, the new program will follow a distinct design focused on civic engagement and practical applications.

Up to 20 students will be enrolled in each cohort, with most expected to be working professionals attending part time. Graduates also will be prepared to meet standards for obtaining the Michigan Central Office Administrator endorsement.

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