Transforming education through exceptional leadership.

As a leader in the field of education, you’re a lifelong learner. You’ve dedicated your life to creating new and exciting opportunities for students and their families. At Marian, we share your passion for education and inspiring bright young minds. Leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, the educational administration program will help you embrace this passion and take your career to impressive new heights.

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The Program

The Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Leadership has been designed to develop leaders who make a positive impact in the field of education. Offering students a choice of concentrations, the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program is based on the scholar-leader model and promotes research and scholarship, increases leadership capacity and develops reflective practitioners with a deepened commitment to service.

The concentration in Educational Administration is specifically oriented to the superintendent license (03) requirements of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Chapter PI 34. Focusing on the problems of leadership practice, you will have the opportunity to gain substantive knowledge about the managerial, planning, leadership, and human relations roles of district leaders. (A superintendent licensure-only option is also available.)

If you already hold a superintendent’s license and desire the doctoral degree, this concentration would allow you to expand and deepen your understanding of leadership. As a graduate of this program, you would be prepared to provide leadership at the district level, based on strong values and a thorough grasp of educational, fiscal and legal principles.


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.

Educational Administration Leadership courses, 18 credits:

A study of the role and responsibility of the superintendent with emphasis on theory and research-based practice. Responses to contemporary and anticipated issues affecting public and non-public schools will be examined. The relationship between the superintendent, the board of education and other legislative authorities will be analyzed and defined, with emphasis on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are necessary to build effective superintendent school board relations.

School systems and all forms of organizations are managed by, staffed by, and dependent upon people whose effectiveness determines whether the established mission of the system will be achieved. This class will present an orientation to the foundations of the human resource function of school administration. An understanding of employment practices and employment justice, to achieve organizational mission, increase organizational commitment, and improve employee continuity, will be developed.

The purpose of this course is to study the role of technology and technological applications in schools. The study includes both curricular applications for learning and network support for district management.


EDL 850 The Superintendency, 12 credits of coursework in Educational Administration concentration

The superintendent internship is a district/agency-centered experience focused on the application of theory, research, principles of leadership and administrative concepts into practice. The foundation of the experience involves the basic leadership domains common to the position of superintendent and the accompanying functions with respect to general administration and management.

This course is designed for graduate students to provide a comprehensive view of the law that governs the public school system and structures the role of the superintendent. Law exerts an ever-increasing influence on educational policy and practice. The legal precedents established by case law, statutory law, and constitutional law that shape and structure administrative practice, policy, and procedure will be examined.

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

International Society for Technology in Education
ISTE Standards for Administrators
ISTE-A Standards
Wisconsin Administrators License
WI Admin Standards

State of Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction
Licensure Program Content Guidelines

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

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.


Darin Fahrney is a 2013 graduate of the Ph.D. program and currently serves as a deputy principal at the Singapore American School. Click here to read about how his Marian experience has impacted his perspective on life and work in the field of education.

Dr. David Boers
800.262.7426 ext. 7179

Dr. Donna Innes, C.S.A.
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


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