Graduate programs

The Graduate School of Education offers a Doctor of Education, Master of Education, Master of Arts, and Master of Science degree in education.

Admission requirements

Degree requirements

Education M.Ed.

Education M.A./M.S.

Educational Leadership Ed.D.

Educational Leadership Ed.D.

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, offered by the Graduate School of Education, is the school’s highest professional degree. It is designed to prepare scholarly practitioners and to help formal and informal educational leaders develop their capacity to provide leadership that makes a positive and significant difference in the professional fields and diverse communities they serve. Emphasis is on the development of excellent professional performance as leaders in education in: public and private schools; community and four-year colleges and universities; community, state, and federal educational agencies; and nonschool settings, where appropriate.

Four specializations are available to students: administration (PreK-12 ); curriculum and instruction; postsecondary education; special and counselor education. Each student is admitted to one of the three specializations.

General requirements

The program is a post-master’s degree program. Students must have earned a master’s degree or the equivalent prior to enrollment in the program. Students must either satisfy degree requirements in place at the time of admission or, at the student’s option, may elect to apply requirements adopted after admission. Continuous enrollment is required.

A minimum of 72 credits must be completed at Portland State University after admission to the doctoral program, to include the leadership core, specialization, and dissertation. Early in the program the student and adviser jointly develop an individual program of study, approved by the doctoral program coordinator. Courses numbered 800 or above are not allowed.

Leadership core

Ed 620Doctoral Studies Proseminar


Ed 630Principles and Practices of Learning


Ed 640Organizational and Leadership Theory and Research in Education


Ed 650Educational Policy and Politics


Ed 660Foundations of Research Paradigms and Methods


Ed 661Qualitative Research Methods in Education


Ed 662Quantitative Research Methods in Education


Specialization (26-36 credits)

Students will complete a minimum of 26 hours of coursework in the following specializations:

  • Administration (PreK-12)
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Postsecondary Education
  • Special and Counselor Education
Courses selected in the specialization must be approved by the student's advisor.

Courses selected in the specialization must be approved by the student's advisor.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination covers the leadership core and is taken when the student has completed the first year of the leadership core (ED 620, ED 630, ED 640, and ED 650). The core examination is designed to assess a student’s ability to analyze, synthesize, and apply frameworks from the leadership core to an educational topic of significance. Students write an academic paper for the examination. The paper is evaluated by a faculty committee. Specializations may require that the student present and defend the paper to a faculty committee in a public meeting.


The doctoral dissertation represents original and independent inquiry that is a contribution to knowledge or is of value for educational practice. Students may elect to employ one of several different approved inquiry strategies, including—but not limited to—traditional research designs and methods, ethnographic and descriptive case studies, policy analyses, product development and field testing, and program evaluation. A minimum of 18 credits is directed toward the dissertation project.


As is required for all doctoral degrees at PSU, candidates for the Ed.D. degree fulfill the residency requirement after admission to the doctoral program. Candidates must register for a minimum of three consecutive terms of full-time approved graduate study at PSU (at least 9 credits per term) through coursework, the study of practice (i.e., field-based work), credits by arrangement, and/or dissertation credits. Foreign language competency is not required for the Ed.D. degree.