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Specializations in:
Curriculum and Instruction
Special Education
Postsecondary Education
Updated 12/29/09

Graduate School of Education

P.O. Box 751
Portland, Oregon 97207-0751
(503) 725-4689
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Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership

The Educational Leadership Program in the Graduate School of Education (GSE) at

Portland State University (PSU) is designed for those who want to positively affect their
educational communities. In keeping with the unique mission of PSU and the GSE, the Doctor
of Education (Ed.D.) program centers on issues arising from the urban nature of the
institution’s setting. Our goal is to develop educational leaders who are able to anticipate and
respond to the changing concerns and lifelong educational needs of our community members
whether in schools, colleges, businesses, government organizations, or social service agencies.
As such, we seek candidates who are committed to creating inclusive and diverse learning

I. Program Philosophy
Our educational philosophy is to provide a learning environment where knowledge is
continually constructed through individual and collective effort. The program seeks to balance
concept acquisition, skill development, critical reflection, and the development of advocacy
within a supportive and challenging educational framework of collaboration. This perspective is
derived directly from our Graduate School of Education’s Guiding Principles and the Doctoral
Program’s Educational Beliefs Statements:

A. GSE Guiding Principles

1. We create and sustain educational environments that serve all students and
address diverse needs (Diversity & Inclusiveness).
2. We encourage and model exemplary programs and practices across the life span
3. We build our programs on the human and cultural richness of the University's urban
setting (Urban Community).
4. We challenge assumptions about our practice and accept the risks inherent in following our
convictions (Ethical Convictions).
5. We challenge assumptions about our practice and accept the risks inherent in
following our convictions (Collaboration & Professionalism).
6. We develop our programs to promote social justice, especially for groups that have
been historically disenfranchised (Democracy & Social Justice).
7. We strive to understand the relationships among culture, curriculum, and practice
and the long-term implications for ecological sustainability (Sustainability).
8. We model thoughtful inquiry as a basis for sound decision-making (Inquiry).

B. Educational Leadership Belief Statements

The Graduate School of Education (GSE) believes that effective Educational Leaders are:
1. Capable of questioning the nature of social and personal interactions and the power
relationships within them.
2. Able to initiate and sustain educational change processes in partnership with diverse
3. Knowledgeable about and can demonstrate expertise in their subjects or specialties.
4. Able to communicate effectively with people from diverse populations.
5. Able to fuse knowledge, theory, and skills in order to improve educational practice.
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6. Inquiring and reflective practitioners.

The GSE further believes that in order to prepare such Educational Leaders the Doctoral
Program should:

! Foster an active partnership between students and faculty based on a model of interaction
and dialogue in designing particular courses of study, the program at large and individual
! Exemplify collaborative and democratic processes that should characterize all educational
institutions and the society more broadly.
! Recognize that education occurs in diverse social arenas, and therefore the program
should be responsive to traditional and non-traditional contexts.
! Be an activist program that advocates equity, equality, social justice, and ecological
! Ensure that each course in the Doctoral Core, and the composition of the Doctoral Core
as a whole, is guided by these beliefs.

II. Doctoral Students

Doctoral students enter the program with a wealth of skills, abilities, and prior experiences.
The objective of the program is to build on those experiences and to facilitate new levels of
leadership capacity. The goal of the program is to help formal and informal educational leaders
develop their capacity to provide leadership that makes a positive and significant difference in
the lives of the members of the communities they serve.
Graduates have taken positions as superintendents, principals, educational and professional
development directors, college faculty, and research and assessment investigators. As indicated
above, this program is not designed for students merely wishing to obtain advanced credentials.
Instead, doctoral students are expected to be active and engaged participants as part of a
learning community that is committed to improving educational environments for all learners.

III. Program Features

The goal of the program is to help formal and informal educational leaders develop their
capacity to provide leadership that makes a positive and significant difference in the lives of the
members of the communities the serve. Students admitted to the program participate in a
cohort learning experience with a new cohort group each fall.
! Cohort learning creates an unique intellectual and social support experience.
! Students from all four specializations work together the first two years allowing for a
wide exposure to PreK-12 and postsecondary education perspectives.
! Educational leadership as a concept and developmental role is broadly construed.
! Diversity, equity, and inclusiveness are a central feature of content and process.
! Faculty from across the GSE teach and participate in the program.

IV. Program Design

The program contains three major phases: course work, comprehensive exams/papers, and
dissertation research. (Students entering without a master’s degree will have additional courses.) In
collaboration with the faculty advisor and approval of the Doctoral Coordinator, students
develop a program of study during their first academic quarter. A minimum of 72 credits must
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be completed at PSU after admission to the doctoral program, to include the leadership core,
specialization courses, and dissertation. Courses numbered 808 are not allowed. (In fact, no
800-level courses are allowed.)
1.) Coursework
a. Leadership Core (completed as a cohort)
b. Specialty courses (including independent study, field work, etc.)
c. Cognate (courses outside of Education as required by your specialization)
d. Electives (in consultation with advisor, may be completed by master’s degree)

2.) Comprehensive Exams/Papers

a. Core Comprehensive Exam/Paper (after completion of Leadership Core courses)
b. Specialization Exam/Paper (after completion of all required courses)

3). Dissertation Research

a. Dissertation Proposal (first three chapters)
b. Research and Data Collection
c. Analysis and Writing
d. Oral Presentation of Dissertation

V. Program Curriculum

A. The Leadership Core: The leadership core is a common curriculum completed by all
students as a cohort during their first two years in the doctoral program.
Fall Winter Spring
Year 1 ED 620 Doctoral Proseminar 2 credits 1 1
ED 630 Principles of Learning 4
ED 640 Organizational Leadership 4
ED 650 Politics and Policy 4

Fall Winter Spring

Year 2 ED 660 Research Paradigms & Methods 4 credits
ED 661 Qualitative Research Methods 4
ED 662 Quantitative Methods 4

Total Credits 28

Additional research courses typically are needed, depending on the student’s background,
experiences, and dissertation study methods.

B. Specialization Areas: Each student is admitted to one specialization within the Ed.D.
Educational Leadership program although coursework may be taken in other specialties based
on the student’s background and learning needs with approval of the advisor and specialty area
faculty. The four specializations are: Curriculum and Instruction (ELCI), Educational
Administration (ELEA), Special Education (ELSC), and Postsecondary Education (ELPE).
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! Curriculum and Instruction (ELCI)

This specialization is designed for individuals who are interested in issues off teaching and
learning related to academic subject matter content in Pre-K through 12 settings, as well as in
teacher education or teachers’ professional development, and those applicants with a strong
commitment to literacy and bilingual and multicultural education.

! Educational Administration (ELEA)

The specialization in Educational Administration is designed for individuals who aspire to
executive-level leadership in K-12 schools. Many graduates move on to building-level
administrative posts, district-wide positions, and posts in regional and state-wide educational
agencies. Others focus on issues of sustainability.

! Special Education (ELSC)

This specialization is designed for individuals interested in special education. Graduates
aspire to positions of leadership in a variety of settings, including public and private schools;
community colleges and universities; community, state, and federal agencies; and other
settings focusing on the special needs of children, youth, and adults. The program is
designed for professional educators committed to improving educational practices in special
education. Examples of focus areas for practice-based research include interdisciplinary
collaboration, systems, change, program, evaluation, curriculum development, assessment,
interdisciplinary collaboration, program administration, in-service education, professional
development, and instructional practices.

! Postsecondary Education (ELPE)

This specialization is designed for individuals who are either educational leaders or aspire to
be educational leaders in postsecondary settings. We strive to develop adult educational
leaders who are able to anticipate and respond to the changing developmental issues of
diverse adult learners, organizations, and communities. Graduates work in community
colleges, universities, and other business, government, and non-profit settings where they
facilitate adult learning and professional development.

C. Cognate Courses: The purpose of the cognate is to supplement studies related to the
dissertation or to supplement knowledge and skills in research methods in preparation for the
dissertation. The cognate is required in the Postsecondary Education specialization as well as
Special Education and Counselor Education. It is optional in the Educational Administration
specialization and not relevant to Curriculum and Instruction. It consists of 12-18 credits of
planned study.
The cognate coursework for the Educational Administration and Postsecondary Education
specializations must be taken in departments outside the field of education (e.g., Psychology,
Political Science, Urban Studies).
The cognate coursework for the Special Education requires 12-15 credits of coursework
outside of Special Education. The cognate coursework for Counselor education requires 12-15
credits of coursework outside of Counselor Education. This cognate coursework is identified in
collaboration with the advisor.
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D. Electives: Students include 45-57 credits as electives, depending on their specialization and
program of study. Electives might include courses taken as part of a master’s degree program or
additional work to “round out” the student’s preparation.

E. Comprehensive Exams/Papers: Before doctoral students prepare their dissertation proposal and
are advanced to candidacy, they must pass a two-part comprehensive examination: (a) one exam
focused on the Doctoral Core and (b) another exam/ focused on the student’s specialization. Both the
Core and the Dissertation Pre-Proposal Specialty exams/papers include an oral presentation and
defense of a written paper before an appointed examination committee. Many students work each
paper to help frame the dissertation topic and research design.

F. Dissertation: The dissertation represents original independent research that contributes to

knowledge or is a constructive result of significance and value for educational practice. Traditional
research methods, ethnographic and descriptive case studies, policy analyses, product development and
field-testing, and program evaluation are among the inquiry strategies permitted. A minimum of 18
credits is directed toward the dissertation project.

G. Residency: Candidates fulfill the university’s full-time residency requirement (three consecutive
terms of nine credit hours or more of approved graduate study at PSU) in one of three ways: course
work, the study of practice (i.e., field-based work), or dissertation. Most students carry less than a full-
time job assignment during the residency period. One of the consecutive terms may be summer.

VI. Admissions Information

Candidates are strongly encouraged to discuss their interests with the Doctoral Program
Coordinator and/or one of the program faculty prior to application., especially, if there is
confusion about the various specializations.

A. Application Deadline: March 1 to be considered for fall admission.

All material must be brought in or postmarked by this date. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that all
material is received and their application complete. Applicants are admitted only fall term. (Summer admission
may be possible under special circumstances.)

B. Admission Criteria: The Doctoral Program Council makes admission decisions using the following
criteria to gain a holistic picture of the applicant. No one criteria is routinely utilized to preclude

! Applicants should be able to demonstrate a level of academic ability that indicates a

high probability of successful completion of the Education Leadership doctorate.
! Applicants should have work, other professional experiences, or leadership potential
which: (a) relate to the doctoral program; (b) are likely to contribute to an enrichment
not only of the student’s activities and studies within the program, but also
enrichment of the program and its students; c) demonstrates the ability to work and
learn in a collaborative environment.
! Applicants should be able to show academic experiences appropriate to the intended
specialization, which support a prognosis of satisfactory completion of the doctoral
program. Normally this includes possession of a master’s degree from an accredited
institution and an earned graduate GPA equivalent to at least 3.4 on a 4.0 scale.
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(However, a master’s degree is not required for admission. Students without a
master’s degree should be aware that the number of credits and length of time to
complete the program will be significantly extended.)
! Applicants must possess proficiency in written and spoken English that are requisite
to completion of a doctoral program. (A minimum TOEFL score of 550 is required
of international students whose native language is not English. A score of 213 for
computer based test.)

C. Admission Procedures: Portland State University requires that the applicant send two
complete, separate application packets. The mailing address for both is PO Box 751, Portland,
OR 97207. One packet must be sent to the Office of Admissions. The other should be sent
directly to: Stefanie Randol, Doctoral Program Assistant, Graduate School of Education.
Incomplete packets will seriously delay completion of the graduate admission process. Note: It is
the applicant’s responsibility to submit all required materials prior to the application deadline. You will not be
notified if items are missing. Questions about the admission process, application materials, or status
of an individual application should be directed to the Doctoral Program Secretary at (503) 725-

1. Submit the following materials to the Office of Admissions, Portland State

University, P O Box 751, Portland OR 97207-0751:

! University application form (“Application for Graduate Admission”). This

application can be made online.

! Non-refundable $50 application fee, (check made payable to Portland State

University). DO NOT SEND CASH. Payment can be made online, as well.

! One official transcript from every college (including junior or community) or

university attended (except PSU). (Note: Official transcripts are sent from the
issuing institution directly to PSU’s Admissions Office to arrive in an unopened
envelope. Once in your file, transcripts are the property of PSU and cannot be
photocopied. It is suggested that you order copies for yourself as well.)

2. Submit the materials listed below to Stefanie Randol, Doctoral Program Assistant,
Graduate School of Education, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland,
Oregon 97207-0751:

! A copy of each transcript except PSU (or send unofficial transcripts).

! One completed copy of the Supplementary Application and the Departmental


! Three letters of recommendation (and/or recommendation form) from sources

qualified to evaluate the applicant’s academic, professional, and leadership
capabilities, preferably sent directly from the reference to the doctoral program
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secretary. (It is suggested that those who recommend students should themselves
have a Ph.D. or Ed.D. and have some association with the field or your chosen
specialization area. Also, some comment regarding your academic success is a
student would be helpful. Please alert those writing reference letters that you will
have access to them.) Note: There is a recommendation form to accompany

! At least two samples of scholarly/academic writing in the form of published articles

or monographs or unpublished papers (essays or term papers). If none of these is
available, the applicant may prepare essays or short papers. However, please do not
send portfolios or binders.

! Vita/Resume (itemizing professional training and experience).

! A written statement (about 4-5 pages) articulating how your background and
experience has prepared you for entry into and successful completion of this
doctoral program in Educational Leadership. Also address your educational
philosophy and the relationship you see with the GSE principles and beliefs listed
on pages 1 and 2. Finally, briefly discuss your research interests and a possible line
of inquiry for your dissertation.

! A proposed time schedule for completion of the doctoral degree. (This may be a
few short sentences or several paragraphs). Note: Classes are scheduled for late
afternoons and evenings. With careful planning and intense commitment,
students who are employed can proceed through the program in 4 or 5 years.

! A minimum TOEFL score of 550 (213 for computer-based test) is required of

international students whose native language is not English and whose
undergraduate degree is not from an accredited U.S. university.

After initial review of applicant files, selected candidates will be required to have individual interviews as part of
the admission process. (A phone interview may suffice for students unable to travel to PSU.) Applicants will be
notified of date and time. Admission decisions will be made beginning early April.
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VII. The Specializations: Using guidelines developed by program faculty, students work individually
with their advisor to develop the specialization, providing greater depth in an area of special interest to
the student.

(A) Curriculum and Instruction

The Curriculum and Instruction specialization (33-36 credits) is focused on teaching and learning in
PreK-12 settings and in teacher education/teacher professional development.

The Curriculum and Instruction (C & I) specialization contains one required course and an Integrative
Theme for Change:

! CI 610 Research and Resources in Curriculum and Instruction (4)

! Integrative Theme for Change (30-33 credits)

Central to the C & I specialization is the development of the Integrative Theme for Change. The
purpose is to engage in critical inquiry into teaching and learning as part of human development; it takes
into account social, cultural, and psychological aspects of the teaching-learning processes. The doctoral
student, in consultation with their advisor, will develop an Integrative Them for Change that probes an
area of special interest and leads to dissertation research. The Integrative Theme for Change also
provides an opportunity for interdisciplinary studies and can include courses from outside the
department, beyond the Graduate School of Education, and from other institutions, when appropriate.

The C & I specialization best suits individuals who are:

! Experienced PreK-12 teachers interested in providing significant leadership in, for example,
their school districts or regional and national professional organizations, either as curriculum
specialists or as continuing classroom teachers.

! Experienced PreK-12 teachers interested in pre-service and in-service teacher education. Upon
program completion, these graduates typically work as faculty in Schools of Education or as
specialists at the school district-level.

! Faculty in subject area disciplines other than Education working in two-year college settings
who wish to develop expertise and leadership in the teaching and learning of their disciplines.

! Educators from non-traditional instructional settings that may include alternative schools,
private schools, outdoor schools, adult education, assessment projects, curriculum research.
Many of these graduates work outside classroom settings, in school districts, non-profit and
community organizations, or in private enterprise.

Note: Individuals who are pursuing careers in teacher education or teachers’ professional development
at a college/university level should have PreK-12 teaching experience in order to he hired at this level.
The C & I specialization also is not suitable for individuals planning to teach in an academic department
such as mathematics, history, biology, or English, in a four-year college or university.
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(B) Education Administration

The emphasis of this specialization is leadership for change by executive-level administrators in K-12
schools or regional and state-wide agencies. In addition to completing the two required courses listed
below, students work individually with their major advisor to identify additional courses to be included
as the Integrative Theme for Change. The purpose is to provide depth in the areas of special interest
to the student, which may include leadership for change in traditional public schools as well as in
non-traditional (private and charter schools, alternative education programs, non-profits, etc.)
educational contexts. The integrative theme curriculum requirements may be met through a
combination of coursework, field-based study, and directed independent study.

Required Courses:
ELP 658 Social, Historical, Philosophical, and Cultural Foundations of Education (4)
ELP 659 Theory, Research, and Practice in Educational Administration (4)

Integrative Theme for Change..……………………………………………………………….16

An integrative theme for change may emphasize leadership for change in areas such as:
! school-level and district level administration
! school or school district improvement
! educational policy change, including curriculum leadership in ecology, culture, and learning,
educational program change and implementation, or another area of study consonant with
the department’s curriculum offerings and faculty expertise.

Students develop a program of specialized study focused in an area of emphasis elected by the
student in consultation with the advisor. Qualifying credits associated with licensure as a school
or district administrator can be included in the program of study for this specialization with the
advisor’s approval.
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The Cognate ……………………………………………………………………………. 12-18

Students in the educational administration specialization must complete 12-18 credits in field(s)
outside the Graduate School of Education that complement(s) their degree program. The cognate
typically is used to gain additional specialized knowledge in research methods or knowledge of
theories and concepts informing the area of dissertation study.

(C) Special Education

This specialization prepares students for leadership roles in the special education field. Recent
graduates include leaders in school districts, educational agencies or higher education.

Specialization Problem-Centered Studies (18 total credits to be arranged with advisor)

Doctoral students will work with faculty and community members to address problems (e.g.,
personnel development, system change) of current significance in the diverse urban
communities surrounding PSU through community-based projects. Students will develop a
portfolio of performance-based outcomes to document their problem-centered studies.
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SPED 607 (6 credits) Understanding Community-based Problems
Students will identify a community-based issue and review the literature and history. Students
will learn about process and issues of system change, community collaboration, needs
assessment, policy analysis, budget analysis and/or grant writing.

SPED 607 (6 credits) Evaluation of Community-based Projects

Students will use the information in obtained previously to conduct a small-scale research
project using qualitative and/or quantitative methods. Students will learn how to report research
and evaluation results and to transfer those results to practice.

SPED 607 (6 credits) Development of a Community-based Project Proposal

Students develop a proposal addressing recommendations from the research/evaluation
conducted previously. A pilot project may be implemented.

Specialization Internship (12 credits)

Students are required to complete at least two internships that may be taken concurrently with
the specialization study seminars. The student with the faculty member who will provide on-site
supervision will develop a written agreement of their roles and expected outcomes.

SPED 604 Internship in Supervision (3-6 credits)

Students participate in the supervision of pre-service students in field experience or university
clinic sites to gain experience in coordination and planning of field/clinic experiences.

SPED 604 Internship in Special Education: School Settings (3-6 credits)

Students experience curriculum development, professional development projects, school
counseling, or administration of programs in public schools.

SPED 604 Internship in Special Education: Community Settings (3-6 credits)

Students are supervised in community agencies, rehabilitation settings, or other public/private

SPED 604 Internship in College Teaching (3-6 credits)

Students will work with the instructor of record to plan and assist in a college-level course.

(D) Postsecondary Education (ELPE)

The Postsecondary Education (ELPE) specialization is designed to serve individuals who are either
educational leaders or aspire to be educational leaders in postsecondary settings. Students benefit
from an articulated curriculum that is flexible, inclusive, collaborative, models exemplary practices in
life-long learning, and is committed to social justice for groups that have been historically
disenfranchised. We strive to develop adult educational leaders who are able to anticipate and
respond to the changing developmental issues of diverse adult learners, organizations, and

The specialization serves those who wish to teach, develop programs, or manage programs for adult
learners in college or non-college settings, or those who already work in this field but want to
improve their practice. This includes those who work in or are interested in:

! Student and Academic Support Services

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! Training and Development
! College Teaching
! Developmental Adult Basic Education
! Professional-Technical Education
! Workplace Education
! Continuing Professional Education
! Other administrative and support services in colleges and universities and
professional continuing education

The specialization is guided by a specific set of principles and values that are
incorporated into course content and interactions:
! A commitment to social justice and equity.
! The empowerment of change agents and agency.
! The integration of theory, research, assessment and practice.
! The promotion of sound educational, social, economic, cultural, and
environmental leadership and decision-making.
! The development of reflective practitioners.
! The fostering of life-long learning within inclusive, interdependent communities.
! The utilization of appropriate and contemporary resources and technology.

Required Courses:
ELP 507/607 Advanced Postsecondary Seminar (4)
ELP 520 Developmental Perspectives on Adult Learning (4)
ELP 538 Contemporary Issues in Postsecondary Education (4)

In consultation with the advisor, the student selects a minimum of 12 additional

credits with a focus on postsecondary education that may include some independent
study. Possible themes of courses offered are: Higher Education and Organizational
Change; Adult Learning and Development; Student Services; and Training and