Academic Programs Catalog

College of Education

Graduate Study

Doctor of Education

The program is designed for educators and other practitioners who have aspirations for improving their own leadership practice, for developing leadership capacity within their organizations and communities, and for making significant contributions to their local communities and to the future of Michigan. Most graduates with this degree will take up system level leadership in various education agencies, including local and regional school districts, state educational agencies, professional educational associations, and colleges and universities. Graduates will also be prepared to teach in community colleges and regional universities, or to hold adjunct or clinical positions in research universities, as well as hold other types of educational leadership positions. Graduates of the K-12 program with appropriate prior credential and experience qualify for the Michigan Central Office Administrator endorsement.


Applicants to the Doctor of Education generally have leadership experience in a school and hold a master’s degree in education or its equivalent. Students who wish to qualify for the Michigan Central Office Administrator endorsement by completing the Doctor of Education should already hold the School Administrator credential before applying to the program.

Applicants must have a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 in previous graduate work, submit a goal statement, submit three letters of recommendation from persons who are acquainted with the applicant’s academic and professional experience, performance, and potential.

Faculty members review applications for program admission and look for indications of a high probability of success if admitted. Such indications include a high level of academic performance in prior degrees, levels of reference supporting academic and clinical proficiency, past leadership experiences and evidence of effectiveness, quality of written expression and a statement of professional goals that is consistent with the objectives of the program.

Applicants may be required to participate in an interview and to submit a sample of scholarly or professional writing.

Requirements for the Degree

The Doctor of Education program consists of a minimum of 45 credits of graduate study beyond the master’s degree. The program is a three year, summer intensive program. The first year focuses on core knowledge required by educational leaders, policy makers, and researchers and follows a calendar that differs from the regular MSU academic calendar. The second year deepens students core knowledge of leadership and systems operations on the regular MSU semester course schedule. Year three is dedicated to completion of the capstone projects. At least 6 credits that are required for the degree must be earned on the East Lansing campus within a single semester.

Guidance Committee

Each student admitted to the Doctor of Education program will form a guidance committee with the approval and the assistance of the department. The guidance committee will consist of at least four Michigan State University regular faculty at least three of whom, including the committee chairperson, possess an earned doctoral degree.

Academic Standards

Candidates for the Doctor of Education degree must achieve a grade–point average of 3.0. Attainment of the minimum grade–point average is in itself an insufficient indicator of potential for success in other aspects of the program and in the field. The guidance committee and academic unit are jointly responsible for evaluating the student’s competency (as indicated by, e.g., grades in core and other courses, research performance, and development of professional skills) and rate of progress (as indicated by, e.g., the number of courses for which grades have been assigned or deferred). Written evaluations shall be communicated to the student at least once a year, and a copy of such evaluations shall be placed in the student’s file. A student whose performance does not meet the standards of quality will not be permitted to continue to enroll in the degree program, and appropriate action will be taken by the college or department.

Comprehensive Examinations

When the prescribed course work is substantially complete as defined by the guidance committee, the Doctor of Education student will present a portfolio of leadership performance assessments completed during required course work as the comprehensive examination, to be evaluated by members of the guidance committee. The examination portfolio will be maintained in the department for three years.  Students must be registered during the semester(s) in which they present the comprehensive examination portfolio. This requirement may be waived by the Dean of The Graduate School upon request of the chair of the academic unit, if the examination is administered during the summer session immediately following a spring semester during which the student was registered and/or prior to a fall semester in which the student will be registered.

Scheduling, composing, and evaluating the comprehensive examinations is done in accordance with college and department policy. The department or college shall make available to doctoral students upon matriculation a written explanation of comprehensive examination procedures. The comprehensive examination portfolio must be completed and approved before the student is permitted to participate in a group capstone project.

Transfer Credits

Graduate credits may be transferred from other accredited institutions or international institutions of similar quality if they are appropriate to the student’s program and provided they were completed within the time limits approved for the earning of the degree desired at Michigan State University. The department chairperson and dean must grant approval. Only graduate–level courses in which at least a 3.0 (B) grade was received will be considered for transfer.

Time Limit

All components of the comprehensive examination portfolio must be approved within four years and all remaining requirements for the degree must be completed within six years from the time when a student begins the first class at Michigan State University that appears on his or her doctoral program of study. Application for extensions of the six-year period of time toward degree must be submitted by the department for approval by the dean of the college and the Dean of The Graduate School. Upon approval of the extension, the Doctor of Education comprehensive examination portfolio must be prepared anew and submitted for evaluation.