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Toby Schmidt



Doctor of Philosophy

Are you an enthusiastic educator eager to elevate your career? The Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership at NNU offers a distinctive avenue for advancing your expertise and conducting research in the realm of education. Immerse yourself in a supportive community of dedicated professionals committed to impacting students’ lives while delving into areas such as academic administration, educational policy and organizational management. Acquire the indispensable skills and insights necessary for effective leadership, unlocking a myriad of opportunities in the field.

Crasha Townsend, Ph.D. working on a laptop in the Leah Peterson Learning Commons
  • Flexible scheduling and course delivery in an online/distance format for continued employment
  • Program length of approximately 26 months
  • Full accreditation with doctorally-prepared faculty who have extensive experience

Know Your True Potential with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership

Unlock your potential as an educator and leader with NNU’s Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program. Benefit from online learning in this 26-month accredited program from esteemed faculty experienced in K-12 education, higher education and research. Engage in a supportive cohort model with a two-week on-campus summer session to enhance research capabilities. Customize your focus while digging into impactful practices and policies within K-12 education. Admission accepts holders of an educational specialist degree or equivalent, or those with prior doctoral-level coursework. Don’t miss the opportunity to invest in your leadership journey.

degree details

Doctor of Philosophy

Offered Online

$625 per credit, $150 per semester technology fee

The Benefits of a Doctor of Education Degree at NNU

  • Access courses conveniently with our flexible online format
  • Benefit from an accelerated program length of 26 months and maximize your educational goals
  • Learn from experienced educators with doctoral qualifications in K-12, higher education and educational research
  • Join a supportive community of peers in a cohort, fostering collaboration and networking opportunities
  • Participate in a two-week intensive on-campus summer session to enhance dissertation and research skills
  • Customize a specific focus within educational leadership, aligning your studies with your career aspirations
  • Explore research on policies and practices affecting state or regional school systems, preparing you for real-world impact
  • Educational Specialist degree holders or students with prior doctoral-level coursework can apply, ensuring accessibility for diverse backgrounds
  • Elevate your career prospects and make a meaningful difference in K-12 education through advanced study and research
  • Receive an advanced and comprehensive education in educational leadership for greater job prospects and career opportunities
  • Become part of NNU’s alumni community
  • NNU’s College of Education is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)


Our Ph.D. in Educational Leadership Program Goals and Outcomes

  • Cultivate the expertise needed to excel in leadership roles within educational settings
  • Learn to conduct rigorous and meaningful research on educational practices and policies, contributing to the advancement of the field
  • Apply research findings to address challenges and drive positive change in K-12 education
  • Lead with ethical integrity and embrace ethical principles and values while navigating complex educational environments
  • Advance your career and prepare for leadership positions in K-12 schools, higher education institutions or educational research organizations

Additional Information About NNU’s Ph.D. in Educational Leadership

Program Information

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program is designed to provide advanced study and research for educators interested in educational leadership.

The Ph.D. is concentrated on the area of educational leadership; however, you can declare a specific focus. The Ph.D. focuses on research on particular practices or policies that affect state or regional schools or school systems; this degree is concerned with application to professional practice in K-12 education.

The Ph.D. requires the completion of an educational specialist degree or equivalent OR students with prior doctoral-level coursework can be admitted.

Application Requirements

The following requirements are online, mailed, by phone or emailed as indicated. Recommendation forms are available online within the application portal.

For mail:

Northwest Nazarene University
Attention Graduate Admissions
623 University Boulevard
Nampa, ID 83686

For email: gps@nnu.edu
Note: Application deadline is October 1 for a January start.

  • Online: Application and $50 non-refundable application fee
  • Mail or email from a digital service such as Parchment or the National Student Clearinghouse: Official transcripts from a regionally accredited institution(s) where the candidate received one of the following: an Ed.S. degree OR a master’s degree and post-master’s educational leadership credits; Professional Development credits are not accepted
  • Phone: An interview for most students with the Doctoral Program Director and designated faculty from the Department of Graduate Education
  • Online: Two online recommendation forms completed by professional colleagues that provide evidence of scholarly abilities, aptitude for administration, and potential for successful completion of a doctoral program
  • Online: One Supervisor Recommendation Form completed by the applicant’s current district superintendent (or designee) or by the applicant’s lead supervisor
  • Online: A 10-20 page paper that is representative of academic writing (i.e. thesis, journal article and/or academic paper; the sample should provide evidence of research-based writing and include citations from outside sources; the writing sample should follow APA formatting (double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, margins, etc.).
  • Online: A personal Statement of Purpose. The statement should be focused, informative and convey the following in 3-5 pages:
    • Applicant’s academic and professional interests
    • The reasons behind selecting this particular program and Northwest Nazarene University
    • How this degree will impact the applicant’s role in the educational community
Admission Requirements
After October 1 each year, the Graduate Education Admissions Committee will consider each candidate for admission to the doctoral program for the following January. Each candidate must have the following:

  • A recognized specialist degree (Ed.S.) or its equivalent with a minimum of 30 semester graduate credits from an academic institution that is accredited by an official regional accreditation agency. Credits must have been earned within five (5) years preceding the date of admission. The completed Ed.S. program must meet with the approval of the doctoral program director. Additional courses may be required based upon recommendations from the program director.
  • Applicants who have not earned an Ed.S. degree or its equivalent should apply to the Ed.S. program before applying to the doctoral program in Educational Leadership.
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.5 in the student’s Ed.S. program as indicated on official transcripts. The student must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 to continue in the doctoral program.
  • Competency in the use of computer and Internet technology, and either access to or ownership of appropriate computer equipment. High-speed Internet access is required.
  • Approval by the Graduate Education Admissions Committee.
Cohort Start Dates

New cohorts begin in the spring of each year. The application deadline is October 1 of the previous fall.

Required Courses

EDUC9150 Introduction to Educational Research (3)
EDUC9160 Qualitative and Quantitative Methods for Educational Research (3)
EDUC9165 PHD Research Seminar (2)
EDUC9170 Advanced Qualitative Research (3)
EDUC9180 Advanced Quantitative Research: Analysis & Methods (3)
EDUC9200 Policy Influence and Development (3)
EDUC9300 Effective Leadership for Change Management (3)
EDUC9400 Advanced Data Analysis (3)
EDUC9410 Advanced Data Analysis & Research II (3)
EDUC9910 Dissertation Research I (3)
EDUC9920 Dissertation Research II (3)
EDUC9990 Dissertation Writing and Defense (3)

The following courses are taken during a 2-week on-campus residency:

EDUC9500 Professional and Ethical Leadership (3)
EDUC9901 PHD Dissertation Proposal (3)

Total Credits: 41 semester credits are required.


Since this is a program that leads to professional licensure, prospective students should review important information about NNU’s participation in the National Council of State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and Professional Licensure about this program. Individual states often have different expectations for professional licensure, so it is in a prospective student’s best interest to investigate whether NNU’s degree program will help them achieve licensure in their home state.

NC SARA Seal 2021


Northwest Nazarene University’s College of Education meets the requirements for accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).



Northwest Nazarene University received the 2023-2024 Colleges of Distinction Award in Education.

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Metropolitan and nonmetropolitan area occupational employment and wage estimates for the Boise area are sourced from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School

Meet Our Faculty

A passion for leadership and a commitment to excellence made the Ph.D. program at Northwest Nazarene University the obvious choice for me. The NNU experience is both professionally and personally rewarding, providing an alignment of vision, values, personal courage, faith and community.
Dr. Robert Sanchez

Graduate of the NNU Doctoral Program

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Ph.D. in Educational Leadership Program

Below are frequently asked questions we receive about our graduate educational leadership (Ph.D.) program at Northwest Nazarene University.

What sets the NNU doctorate in educational leadership program apart from other graduate programs?

The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program at NNU distinguishes itself through a unique synthesis of academic excellence, Christian values and a dedication to fostering compassionate, effective leaders and educators. At the College of Education, we cultivate individuals committed to service, adaptability, inclusivity and success within the global community.

Our program’s consistent regional and national acclaim underscores our commitment to excellence. Recognized for delivering exceptional value and exemplary educator preparation, we pride ourselves on providing top-tier education that empowers our students to thrive in their professional roles.

As a college of distinction, NNU boasts a rigorous curriculum, esteemed faculty and a focus on experiential learning, nurturing personal and professional growth. Moreover, our Christian ethos infuses our curriculum with ethical principles, compassion and a focus on servant leadership, reflecting our commitment to holistic development.

Choosing NNU for your Ph.D. in Educational Leadership means joining a community that prioritizes excellence, integrity and compassion. Through our supportive network of faculty, peers and alumni, you’ll engage in transformative education, shaping lives, schools and communities for the better.

How long does the program take to complete?

Northwest Nazarene University’s Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program is designed to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals. Spanning approximately 26 months, this program offers flexibility without compromising academic rigor.

Through a blend of online and distance learning formats, you can engage with course materials and discussions at your convenience, fitting your studies around your existing commitments. Benefit from the expertise of our faculty, who bring extensive experience in K-12 education, higher education and educational research to the table.

Our cohort model fosters a sense of community and collaboration among students. During the program, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a two-week on-campus summer session, enriching your dissertation and research activities.

Rest assured, our Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership program is fully accredited, reflecting our commitment to maintaining high educational standards. Join us at NNU and embark on a transformative journey that will equip you to lead and inspire others in the field of education.

What kind of job opportunities are available for graduates of this program?

Enrolling in NNU’s Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program opens doors to diverse and impactful career opportunities within the field of education. Upon graduation, you’ll be equipped to pursue roles such as school principal, district administrator, policy analyst, curriculum specialist or instructional coordinator. These positions empower you to drive innovation, shape policies and positively influence students’ lives.

Your expertise in leadership, administration, curriculum development and policy analysis will make you a valuable asset to both public and private educational institutions, as well as nonprofit organizations. NNU’s program is meticulously crafted to prepare you for the challenges and opportunities in the field, with faculty who are seasoned professionals in K-12 education, higher education and educational research providing mentorship and guidance.

Moreover, NNU offers graduates access to various employment opportunities, including executive, faculty, staff and adjunct positions. Our Office of Human Resources is dedicated to facilitating connections between graduates and career prospects aligned with their passions and expertise.

Choosing NNU for your educational leadership journey ensures you receive the knowledge, skills and support necessary for a fulfilling and impactful career in academia. Join our dynamic community of educators and leaders, and together, let’s shape the future of education and transform lives.

What other benefits come with a doctoral degree in educational leadership from NNU?

Starting the transformative journey of obtaining a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from NNU brings forth a myriad of benefits, enriching your professional development and unlocking exciting opportunities.

A significant advantage of our program lies in its flexible course delivery format, blending online and distance learning. This format accommodates your busy schedule, allowing you to access course materials and engage in discussions conveniently. With a duration of approximately 26 months, our program offers an efficient pathway to earning your degree while fulfilling your professional obligations.

NNU takes pride in its full accreditation and the expertise of our doctorally-prepared faculty, who boast extensive experience in K-12 education, higher education and educational research. Their guidance ensures you receive exceptional mentorship throughout your academic journey.

Our program adopts a cohort model, fostering a collaborative community among students. This model includes a two-week on-campus summer session, offering invaluable opportunities for dissertation and research activities and facilitating connections with peers and faculty members.

Moreover, the Ph.D. program at NNU offers a focused study area in instructional leadership, allowing you to tailor your studies to align with your interests and professional goals. Emphasizing research on practices or policies impacting schools or school systems at the state or regional level, this degree equips you with practical insights applicable in the K-12 education sector.

To qualify for the program, candidates must hold an educational specialist degree or equivalent. However, admission may also be granted to students with prior doctoral-level coursework.

By pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from NNU, you attain a prestigious qualification and acquire the knowledge, skills and connections essential for leadership excellence in education. Join our community of passionate educators and begin a transformative journey that will elevate both your professional trajectory and personal growth.