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School of Education

Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations

Program Overview

Student in class

The Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations is designed to prepare graduates who will be equipped to provide instructional leadership for linguistically and culturally nonmainstream learners and whose research will contribute to knowledge in the field. The driving purpose of the program is to bring the best of relevant contemporary scholarship to bear on creating learning environments that improve the academic performance of all students and to meet the particular needs of these new learners. The program requires a knowledge core, a research core, comprehensive examinations and a formal dissertation.

The course content includes study in the following areas:

  • study of language, learning and instruction
  • historical, global and philosophical perspectives
  • change theory
  • consideration of cultural diversity in meeting the needs of learners

Our students conduct original research on a wide range of topics.  Some past dissertations include:

  • Little Boys Lost: An Ethnographic Study of At-Risk African American Youth
  • Muslim Mothers: Pioneers of Islamic Education in America
  • Teaching Teamwork to College Students through Cooperative Learning: Faculty Attitudes and Instructional Best Practices
  • An Investigation of Black, Hispanic, Asian, and White, Non-Hispanic Students' Mathematics Achievement
  • Personality Traits of Young Characters in Caldecott Award-winning Picture Books from Three Time Periods: 1950's, 1980's and 2000's.

The Notre Dame Difference:

  • Our focus on Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations addresses the needs of today's diverse schools.
  • Small class sizes lead to more personal interaction with faculty and faculty support.
  • Our Ph.D. program is geared toward working professionals with evening classes to fit your schedule.
  • We prepare students to take a leadership role in education, developing the next generation of school leaders.


Admissions Requirements

We recommend that you view our full application packet online.  

Please include the following documents with your application:

1. Ph.D. program application form

2. Official transcript(s) sent directly to the School of Education office

(Please provide all official transcripts from undergraduate, graduate and/or community college course work. Official electronic transcripts may be sent to Dr. Jeanette Quinn at jquinn@ndm.edu.  Students with degrees from universities outside of the United States should submit an official translated transcript. For information about a World Education Services (WES) course by course evaluation, please visit www.wes.org.)

3. Two Letters of Recommendation 

4. Personal Statement

5. GRE or Miller Analogy Test Scores

Application materials must be submitted to:

Doctoral Admissions Review Committee
Notre Dame of Maryland University
School of Education
4701 North Charles St.
Baltimore, Maryland 21210



Depending on the prior graduate work of the student, 45 to 60 credits will be required to complete the degree.

Introductory Research Course (3 Credits)

EDU-543 Reading, Analyzing and Interpreting Educational Research (3)

Language and Learning (12 credits)

EDU-647     Learning, Language and the Brain (3)
EDU-676     Educational Applications of Multimedia (3) or
EDU-665     Digital Game Based Learning and Design (3)
EDU-697     Language and Intercultural Communication for Changing Populations (3)
EDU-698     Linguistic and Cultural Diversity (3)

Philosophical Perspectives (12 credits)

EDU-672     Changing School Populations in Historical Perspectives (3)
EDU-674     Global and International Perspectives in Education (3)
EDU-675     Democracy and Education: Philosophical Perspectives (3)
IDS-500       The Human Spirit and the Liberal Arts (3)

Changing Populations (9 credits)

EDU-615     Educator as a Change Leader (3)
EDU-622     Education and Policy Analysis for Changing Schools (3)
EDU-660     Legislative and Legal Decisions Affecting Changing School Populations (3)

Research Core (9 credits)

EDU-695     Research Design (3)
EDU-701     Methods of Quantitative Research (3)
EDU-703     Methods of Qualitative Research (3)

Special Interest Area (6 credits)

Students select two courses related to an area of special interest within the broad domain of instructional leadership and improving learning for changing student populations.

Program Requirements

Students receiving a grade less than a B in the Ph.D. program must repeat the class.  If they do not receive a grade of B or better the second time they take the class, they will be withdrawn from the Ph.D. program. Students receiving more than one grade less than a B will be withdrawn from the Ph.D. program. Students are required to be registered in classes fall, spring and summer or request a leave of absence.

Comprehensive Examinations

Students take written and oral comprehensive examinations demonstrating knowledge of the broad conceptual and procedural aspects of instruction for changing populations. The written portion of the exam requires students to write essay answers demonstrating proficiency in writing, critical thinking, and holistic perspectives, and to demonstrate their ability to articulate their perceived roles as agents of change in education.

Written and oral examinations must be passed in the following areas:

  • Language and learning
  • Philosophical perspectives
  • Changing populations

Students must complete the comprehensive exam requirement within two years of completing course work.


The dissertation is the culmination of the student's doctoral studies. In this scholarly work of original and independent research, the student addresses a problem or issue relevant to education, conducts research that is quantitative, qualitative, or historical/philosophical (depending on the chosen subject), and develops a dissertation that adds to knowledge in the field.

For more information about the dissertation, see the dissertation handbook


Dean Sr. Sharon Slear

Frequently Asked Questions

1)      What is the tuition and how much does the program cost?

Tuition costs are $631 per credit for the 2015-2016 school year. There is a $130 registration fee each fall and spring semester of registration.  

2)     Is financial aid available?

Yes, financial aid is available for the Ph.D. program.  Financial aid for graduate students is largely in the form of low interest student loans.  To receive student loans, a graduate student would need to take at least 6 credits per semester and complete the FAFSA form.  Many working teachers also receive tuition reimbursement from their districts.  Please contact your HR office for the policies and procedures for tuition reimbursement in your district.

For more information, please read Financial Aid for Graduate Students

3)     What prerequisites are required before starting the program?

Students must have a master's degree in education or a related field.

4)     Can I transfer in previous education coursework?

If appropriate coursework was taken at the graduate level, up to 6 credits may transfer into the graduate program at Notre Dame upon approval from the dean.

6)     How long does the program take?

The program length will vary based on a student’s personalized program plan.  Coursework takes on average four years to complete, followed by the comprehensive examinations, dissertation seminar classes and dissertation. Our program is designed for working professionals who take classes in the evenings while also working full time.

7)     When can I start the program?

We offer rolling admission to the Ph.D. program.  Candidates may begin the program during any enrollment term: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.  We have the following recommended application deadlines:  July 5 for fall semester, November 5 for winter semester, December 5 for spring semester, April 5 for summer semester.  By meeting the recommended deadlines, students are ensured of the best selection of classes.  Applicants are accepted past the recommended deadline as long as space remains open in classes.

8)     What days and times are classes offered?

Classes during the fall and spring semesters are offered on Monday through Thursday evenings, with most courses beginning at 6pm and meeting one evening per week.  During the winterim semester, classes are offered for a full day on the four Saturdays in January, and students may take one course.  Courses during the summer semester will have different schedules based on the course, with some offered in an accelerated format.

9)      Where are classes offered?

We offer the program at our main campus in Baltimore and the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center.  Selected courses may be available in other locations.  For additional information about the Southern Maryland location, please contact Dr. Karen Wooten at 301-737-2500 ext 305 or kwooten@ndm.edu.

10)    Do you have information sessions for this program?

Information sessions are held periodically at our main campus in Baltimore. Info sessions are a great opportunity to meet with admissions staff and advisors and get specific information about the program and application process.  Everyone who attends the information session will receive a waiver for the application fee.  Register at www.ndm.edu/essentialcredential.

11)   I have more questions! Who should I call?

For admissions information:
Chris Rhodovi
Admissions Manager, School of Education


For advising:
Sr. Sharon Slear

Dean of the School of Education

For Southern Maryland:
Dr. Karen Wooten

Assistant Dean
301-737-2500 ext 305