Ph.D. in Education: Educational Leadership

Thank you for your interest in the Ph.D./Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership!

This program is designed specifically for individuals pursuing an advanced leadership position in a K-12 or higher education setting. It is guided by the general framework found in the Doctoral Program in Education Application Manual. The Ed.D. option is available in this area of emphasis for practicing K-12 professionals.

Our alumni currently hold a variety of roles and are employed all over the country, from here in Washoe County School District to Harvard University. To learn more about careers, see Program Overview, and to hear from our alumni, see Alumni Testimonials.

We admit students twice each year: in November for Spring enrollment and in July for Fall enrollment. Please view the Admissions Section requirements for information on how to apply. We also take applications for graduate assistantships, which are due February 1.

Thank you for visiting our doctoral program page. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any of our Faculty members. We look forward to talking with you.


MaryAnn Demchak, Ph.D., BCBA-D
College of Education Doctoral Program Coordinator

Learn More:

Admissions Section
Program Overview
Graduate Assistantships
Tuition and Fees
Curricular Structure
Alumni Testimonials
Program Faculty


The Educational Leadership Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs admit students in October for Spring enrollment and in March for Fall enrollment. Materials and criteria for the the Educational Leadership area of emphasis are as follows:

  • Undergraduate or graduate GPA of 3.00 or higher
  • Master's degree
  • Graduate Record Exam score (GRE)
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Statement of Intent that includes a Philosophy of Education
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • One sample of scholarly writing
  • Program application, checklist, and signed disposition form (last 5 pages in the Application Manual)

To get started on the application process, please contact Dr. MaryAnn Demchak, program coordinator, at Your main program application, checklist, and signed disposition form must be mailed to:

College of Education Doctoral Program Coordinator
Mail Stop 278
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557-0278

All other materials must be sent through the University's application portal. Once you create your account, go back to MyNevada to log in and start your application. You must apply to both the College of Education and to the Graduate School. Please reach out to Dr. Barone if you have any questions.

If you decide to also apply for a graduate assistantship, applications are due February 1. Eligible candidates will be invited to interview.

Apply Now

Program Overview

The Ph.D. in Education: Educational Leadership area of emphasis is intended for individuals with a minimum of a master's degree in an education-related field wishing to work in a leadership role. Our goal is to prepare students to excel in their field of interest through a personalized, challenging curriculum that best suits his/her professional goals.

There are numerous research and field-based opportunities, and students will work with their advisors to determine a program of study. Examples of positions that our alumni hold include:

  • School administrator (principal, assistant principal, site administrator)
  • Central office administrator (superintendent, assessment director, ESL director, staffing coordinator)
  • University academic faculty (assistant/associate professor)
  • University administrative faculty (student government director, program director, students affairs president)

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships
are available through various departments at UNR, including the Educational Leadership department. Prospective students who indicate their interest in a graduate assistantship will be interviewed for one of multiple positions within the department in tandem with their interview for the doctoral program. Some highlights of a graduate assistantship include:

  • 20-hour work week
  • Stipend of approximately $1700/month (before taxes)
  • Tuition fee waiver (does not include fees such as room/board, textbooks, etc.)
  • Health insurance coverage through United Healthcare
  • In-state Nevada resident status
  • Funding to present at conferences through the support of the Graduate Student Association

Tuition and Fees

Please see the University tuition and fee rates.

Curricular Structure

A minimum of 93 credits are required to graduate from this Ph.D. program. The curricular structure is made up of the following four categories:

Doctoral program experiences are designed to ensure that the educational professionals who complete our program have the skills needed to locate research that is relevant to their own present and future professional roles and duties, evaluate the research of others, and design, conduct and disseminate the results of their own research studies. The research and statistics courses in the college are designed to contribute to the mastery of these skills.

Coursework in this area is determined by the Advisory/Examining Committee in close consultation with the student. The courses in Educational Leadership prepare students for leadership or teaching at the college level or for roles in policy analysis and research.

COGNATE, 24 credits
The cognate is made up of courses that provide depth and/or breadth to a student's program as approved by the student's advisory/examining committee. These courses may represent a second area of emphasis, may be interdisciplinary, or may be made of graduate credits from the master's degree that represents a related and coherent area of study.

DISSERTATION, 24 credits
The dissertation is the culminating experience for the doctoral degree. It represents an independent research project that makes a contribution to the field of study.

Alumni Testimonials

Kathleen Hill

Kathleen (Katie) Hill

My doctoral experience in Educational Leadership prepared me for a career in research and policy work.

I gained the experience of a lifetime while I was a PhD student in Educational Leadership and a graduate research assistant for the Nevada Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant's University of Nevada, Reno research team. My advisor, Dr. Janet Usinger, along with the Educational Leadership team and various College of Education professors, provided me with the tools and education I needed in order to succeed in my future career. I had stellar classes and a group of people who challenged and supported me in my education and my research in college and career readiness. Thanks to the support of my advisor, I also had an incredible internship experience in Washington, DC with the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP), where I assisted in policy work surrounding the GEAR UP program. I graduated in May 2016 with a qualitative, longitudinal dataset, experience with qualitative and quantitative data, and I continue to work on education policy and research. With the care and support of the Educational Leadership staff, and particularly my doctoral committee, I feel prepared for my future career in research and policy.

Wei Gu

Wei Gu

After completing my Ph.D., I hope to become an administrator whose focus is centered on the international recruitment of students for higher education.

I was a Chinese international doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Through my studies, I developed a commendable amount of professional knowledge with respect to learning about higher education from an administrative perspective, while advancing my skillset in the areas of leadership, research methodology, finance, scholastic policy, student services, and strategic planning. I also served as a graduate research assistant. I assisted my research professor in performing data collection and analysis. After completing my Ph.D., I hope to become an administrator whose focus is centered on the international recruitment of students for higher education. I would also like to conduct research regarding globalized comparative education; for instance -- the transformation of Chinese and American higher education. My view is that while educators may have their respective nationalities, education should not. I am interested in diversifying the educational experience by recruiting students with various cultural backgrounds and life experiences and bringing them together in the same classroom.

Program Faculty

MaryAnn Demchak, Professor and Program Coordinator


Deborah Verstegen, Professor

Deborah Verstegen

Bill Thornton, Associate Professor

Bill Thornton

Janet Usinger, Associate Professor

Janet Usinger

David R. Johnson, Assistant Professor

David R. Johnson

Jafeth Sanchez, Assistant Professor

Jafeth Sanchez

Cary Groth, Senior Lecturer

Cary Groth

Related Degrees and Programs

Contact College of Education

Phone (775) 784-4298 (Undergraduate Advisement)
(775) 784-4345 (Main)
Fax (775) 784-6298
Location William J. Raggio