Inspired to lead and transform education.

As an educator, you’re a lifelong learner. You’ve dedicated your life to enhancing student learning and improving student achievement. At Marian, we share your passion for education and inspiring bright young minds. Leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, the curriculum and instruction leadership program will help you reach your full professional potential as an effective educator.

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The Program

At Marian, we aim to develop leaders who make a positive impact in their fields.Designed under the scholar-leader model, the Ph.D. program’s interdisciplinary nature promotes research and scholarship, increases leadership capacity and develops reflective practitioners with a deepened commitment to service. The Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Leadership offers students a choice of concentrations.

By choosing the concentration in Curriculum and Instruction Leadership, you’ll be prepared to take an informed, reflective and active leadership role in studying and transforming learning and education in the broadest sense. You’ll investigate the relationship between theory and educational practice, as well as the relationship between education and the contours of society and cultures in which schools are located. You’ll discuss issues that transcend the various areas of educational inquiry and their impact on the design, implementation and evaluation of a broad range of educational programs. As a graduate, you’ll be prepared for roles requiring advanced knowledge of curriculum leadership in PK-12 schools, colleges, and universities.

For more details regarding this program, view Marian’s Academic Bulletin.

Sample Course Plan:
Download Sample Course Plan

Leadership core, 15 credits:

Course explores the historical exercise of leadership. Through many contents in history and through the midst of conflicting forces that arise within organizational systems, leaders are faced with adaptive challenges. The course distinguishes between authority and knowledge, provides a diagnostic framework for assessing the typical mechanisms in which social systems avoid work on critical issues, and explores strategies and tactics of intervention to mobilize adaptive work.

This course emphasizes ethics, morality, and values as it explores their relationship to leadership in a variety of health care, business, and education organizations. Ethical dilemmas will be analyzed. Personal ethics, business ethics, leadership ethics, and ethical decision-making will be explored.

Explore the historical and contemporary research studies by surveying the literature developing the theory of leadership. Consider phenomenology of leadership from various disciplinary perspectives. Beliefs, values, political, spiritual dimensions of leadership juxtaposed vs. stereotypical political, anthropological, historical, psychological, and sociological understandings of leadership. Students assess and reflect on their own leader behaviors based on many of the theories. Students engage in developing a leadership development plan for both professional and personal life.

This course provides a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics between the critical elements of culture in organizations and the leadership behaviors that are most effective in managing and changing that culture. Particular emphasis is placed on how the purposes, traditions, norms and values that form the basic assumptions of the organization can be identified, analyzed, and then managed to affect needed reform.

The course will focus on the discipline of strategic program planning and processes of assessing effectiveness by which an organization recreates itself to achieve extraordinary purpose. Systems and structures of organization which are designed to meet changing student organization and community needs will be emphasized. The goal of the course will be the production of a strategic plan characterized by vision, originality, and realism.

Research methods, 12 credits:

An examination of the conceptual and theoretical foundations of social research methods with particular emphasis on empirical, interpretive, and critical orientations.

Course explores the purposes and characteristics of the research process including exploring ideas for research, critical review and analysis of published research, literature review skills, research ethics and institutional review. In addition, the course provides an overview of common research methodologies and essential descriptive statistics.

Students will build on their prior familiarity with the techniques of emergent-theme transcript analysis to branch out into a range of qualitative techniques including ethnography, unobtrusive measures, historiography, and case studies. The focus will be on student’s gaining experience with the implementation of the techniques, and the development of perspectives validated by their application of the techniques. Survey design and implementation, and the design, conduct and analysis of a focus group experience are key learning experiences.

Students will build on their understanding of the basic parametric and non-parametric tests and how these are implemented in SPSS to move on to consider the analysis of variance concept. From this background, the major emphasis will be the application of multivariate statistics, with factor analysis, path analysis, and latent variable modeling being among other current techniques to be discussed. Students will search the literature related to their fields of expertise to become aware of instances where some of these techniques have proved useful, and will deconstruct these instances. The focus of this course will be on the implementation of the techniques, and the interpretation of the output rather focusing intensively on the statistical underpinnings of the techniques. Students will develop the skill to devise and test their own hypotheses on their own data set.

Dissertation, 15 credits minimum:

A seminar to guide and facilitate the development of the dissertation research proposal with supervision of the dissertation chair and committee. Students must maintain continuous enrollment in subsequent seminars until they have successfully completed and defended their dissertation proposal.

Original research concluding in written dissertation and oral defense as directed by dissertation chair and committee. Minimum of 12 credits to complete dissertation with continuous enrollment of 3 credits until completed.

Curriculum and instruction leadership courses, 18 credits:

History of the field of curriculum, as well as curriculum theory. Study of curricular paradigms that give form and shape to school practice.

This course will examine the theoretical bases underlying historical and current curricular practices. The concepts and principles underlying curriculum theory and curriculum design will be explored. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the various approaches to curriculum theorizing and analyzing the social and political aspects of curriculum.

This course examines pedagogical theories and practices, the links between teaching and learning and teaching, the theoretical and pedagogical grounding of learning experiences used in classrooms or over the Internet, and the of assessment. With the current emphasis on accountability for student learning it is imperative that educational leaders at all levels are knowledgeable about ways to help students develop intellectual tools and learning strategies needed to become self-sustaining life-long learners.

This course will examine historical foundations, reform movements, and current issues in the initial education of teachers; as well as in their continued education and development. Research in the education of teacher provides direction for program development and accreditation, and continuing professional growth and development.

Analysis of equity issues in contemporary schools. Concerns relative to access, participation, and benefit are addressed in relation to education for culturally pluralistic student populations.

Examination and analysis of philosophical issues in education with particular reference to noted traditional and contemporary philosophers. Importance of developing a consistent personal philosophy of education.

Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Leadership Program (concentration in Curriculum and Instruction Leadership)

Mission: to prepare candidates for leadership positions in public and private settings by providing opportunities to study and apply theories, standards, and practices in leadership.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate substantive knowledge of the field
2. Critically apply theories, methodologies, and knowledge to address fundamental questions in their primary area of leadership study
3. Demonstrate the ability to apply ethical principles to their personal and professional lives.
4. Demonstrates capacity to articulate research as socially situated.
5. Design and conduct research on a significant leadership problem.
6. Collect and analyze data.
7. Communicate and defend results of research to peers and the broader community.

The Education Programs offered by the Marian University School of Education are approved by the:

wi-dept-public-instruction-logo         aacte-logo          caep-logo

Marian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


All candidates who are reviewed for admission must have a complete application on file with Leadership Studies Department. The Leadership Studies Admissions Committee thoroughly assesses each complete application to determine which candidates are recommended for the interview portion of the admissions process. Upon completion of the interview, the Leadership Studies Admissions Committee recommends admission to the faculty

Application Procedure

  • Completed Doctor of Philosophy Admission Application;
  • Official transcripts sent directly from each college/university attended;
  • Official Millers Analogy Test (MAT) scores within the last 5 years;
  • Official TOEFL scores (international students only);
  • Letter of application;
  • Current résumé or curriculum vitae;
  • Three letters of recommendation from professionals familiar with the applicant’s academic or work experience; and One sample of scholarly or professional writing.

Admission with Full Standing

To be considered for admission into the doctoral program, the applicant

Must hold a master’s degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) from a regionally or nationally accredited institution.

To be admitted in full standing to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program, in addition to the criteria above, the degree-seeking applicants must have the following:

  • A completed application (all required materials), which meet the minimum criteria as stated on the application.
  • Demonstrated readiness through interview and writing sample.
  • Demonstrated performance through successful completion of first six (6) credits of coursework, as approved in provisional admittance.
  • For a superintendent licensure-seeking student, a Wisconsin principal’s license or eligibility to hold such a license.

Admission of International Students

International students are encouraged to apply for admission to the doctoral program; however, additional criteria are required. Refer to the Ph.D. program or University Admissions for details.

Provisional Status

Candidates may be admitted in full standing or allowed to enroll provisionally. Provisional status allows students to demonstrate performance through successful completion of the first six (6) credits of doctoral studies.

Probationary Admission

An applicant with a cumulative master’s GPA below 3.0 or scores on the MAT that do not indicate ability to do satisfactory graduate work may be admitted on probation when performance on the majority of the remaining criteria is acceptable. To be considered for full admission those students are required to take six semester credits of graduate-level coursework specified by the Leadership Studies Department Chairperson or program director and achieve a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Admission Requirements for Superintendent Licensure-only Program

  1. Hold a master’s degree in educational administration or a master’s degree in education or related area, from a regionally or nationally accredited institution.
  2. Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater (4.0 scale) in previous master’s degree
  3. Wisconsin principal’s license or eligibility to hold such a license
  4. Two professional recommendations


Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in all academic coursework and complete the requirements of the degree within eight years after being admitted to the program. If a student drops below the cumulative GPA of 3.0, the student will be placed on Academic Probation and a program of action will be developed in consultation with the academic adviser and the Chair of Leadership Studies Department.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. program requires the following:

  • Minimum of 60 credits, including at least 45 credits of coursework above the master’s level and 15 credits of dissertation research; and
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 *
  • Completion of the degree requirements within eight years after admission to the program.
  • Acceptance of a dissertation by Graduate Studies by the posted submission deadlines.

*Grades below “C” are not counted towards degree requirements.

Dr. David Boers
1-800-262-7426 ext. 7179

Dr. Donna Innes, C.S.A.
1-800-262-7426 ext. 7633

Dr. Heather Price
800.262.7426 ext. 8629

Dr. Patrick Saunders
1-800-262-7426 ext. 8556

Dr. Bradd Stucky
1-800-262-7426 ext. 7636


Apply Now

Associate V.P. Academic Affairs & Graduate Studies
Dr. Kelly Chaney
1-800-262-7426 ext. 8100