Western Education's
EdD | Field of Educational Leadership

You’re a leader. You’re an influencer. You get things done. Now, take your leadership to the next level with our Doctor of Education in the Field of Educational Leadership.

The EdD allows you to create and use professional knowledge, which you can combine with academic knowledge, to solve complex problems that your team or organization face. You will also be equipped to lead significant change within your workplace.

The degree is offered in a cohort setting, which means you will study with the same group of students during the three years. This gives you the opportunity to develop a professional networking group where you can learn from each other.

Leadership focus

Leadership focus

Real-world application

Real-world application

Study online

Study online

Finish in three years

Finish in three years

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Program information


Applicants will be considered for 1 of 3 program cohorts for a September 2020 start date:

K-12 (Two cohorts available for September 2020 admissions)
A critical focus on theories of educational leadership and K-12 organizations in both research and practice. The program places specific emphasis on the Canadian context, drawing from local and international literatures.

Community Leadership
A focus on interrogating and critically engaging with theories of leadership and organizations in both research and practice, as they relate to public, private and non-governmental sectors.

Higher Education
A focus on interrogating and critically engaging with theories of leadership and organizations in both research and practice, as they relate to leading higher education institutions.


The EdD is suited for educators whose primary career goal is advancing leadership effectiveness within K-12, higher education, or other organizations in which learning takes place.

This program attracts a range of formal and informal leaders, including educators and administrators in schools and higher education. Our students are also leaders in non-profit agencies, police services, medical services, and other community organizations.

Please note that the EdD degree alone does not qualify you to teach in the K-12 school system in Canada. Contact the Teacher Education Office for information about our Bachelor of Education program.

There is no original research as part of the program, so may not qualify graduates for research-focused careers.


The EdD program is composed of 30 credits of sequential, fully online courses and a final research project (Organizational Improvement Plan major paper). Course and program work take place year-round, normally allowing students to complete the program in three years. (Exceptions include parental leave, etc.) Students do not conduct original research as part of the program.

This program values the professional knowledge that students bring to this course-based program, and actively seeks to apply what students learn in coursework to their professional practice. As such, it is normal for applicants to be employed and providing formal and/or informal leadership within their organization. Regular employment in a leadership capacity is normally a condition of entry into the program.

To promote effective adult and online learning, and to enhance leadership in practice, the EdD program prioritizes teamwork, collaboration, and networking within and beyond the program. Students in this program may expect regular group activities, peer-to-peer learning, and synchronous (live remote) instructional sessions.

This program of study is a cohort model. Approximately 20 students will form each cohort. This cohort structure will provide ongoing support within the course work, enabling students to develop a professional community of practice. To ensure the integrity of the cohort model, continuous enrollment is required, and will necessitate that students complete all the required courses within the timeframe stipulated.

Faculty Fellows

Faculty Fellows are educational leaders who enjoy an international reputation within their field. They play crucial and valued roles as expert mentors, advisors, and “critical friends” in both the education of students and the work of staff and faculty. Please Click Here To Learn More.


The primary objective of the program is to prepare thoughtful, reflective, and capable professional leaders who identify and solve complex problems in education. The program aspires to advance the habits of mind, hand, and heart in leaders in practice who strive to ensure excellence, equity, and social justice in education.

Following the CPED Consortium, of which Western University is an active member, Doctor of Education programs that:

  • Promote equity, social justice, and values-based education;
  • Prepare scholars of the profession who can construct and apply knowledge;
  • Develop and demonstrate collaboration and communication skills;
  • Prepare students to analyze problems of practice and uses multiple frames to develop meaningful solutions;
  • Develop a professional knowledge base that integrates both practical and research knowledge and links theory with systemic and systematic inquiry;
  • Emphasize the generation, transformation, and use of professional knowledge and practice.


The EdD is designated as a full-time program. Full-time status requires that students complete four half-courses in one year. Students complete the equivalent of 10 half courses during the three-year program.  Continuous enrollment is a requirement until all program requirements are met.  Full-time students have access to all student services. See SGPS (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies) for details.

Course progression for students admitted 2015 and later:

Year 1 - Students complete one half course (0.5) in Fall term (12 weeks in length), one half Course (0.5) in Winter term (12 weeks) and 2 half courses (0.5) in the Summer term (eight weeks sequentially).  

Year 2 - Students complete one course in Fall (12 weeks in length), one course in Winter (12 weeks) and one full course (1.0) in the Summer term (16 weeks). 

Year 3 - Students complete the final course (1.0) in the Fall and Winter term. The Organizational Improvement Plan is submitted and evaluated in the final summer term. Continuous enrollment is required during completion of project work.

This program of study is a cohort model. Approximately 20 students will be admitted to each cohort. This cohort structure will provide ongoing support within the course work, enabling students to develop a professional community of practice. To ensure the integrity of the cohort model, continuous enrollment is required, and will necessitate that students complete all the required courses within the timeframe stipulated.

The program's concentration on educational leadership exposes students via their coursework to cutting edge research and emphasizes the application of theory to practice. Students are encouraged to apply their research and theoretical knowledge in their emergent roles as leadership and professionals within their own workplaces.


As their final major research paper in the EdD program, students will complete an in-depth Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP). This major research project is aligned to the program’s focus on authentic, relevant, and meaningful professional learning for students. By focusing on a problem of practice in the student’s own workplace, Organizational Improvement Plan, which will generally draw from secondary data sets, will be highly relevant to leaders in practice in schools, higher education, and other organizations.

The Organizational Improvement Plan will provide our students with the advanced knowledge, skills, values, and dispositions necessary for leading significant change within professional environments. As a function of developing the Organizational Improvement Plan, our students will prepare individually as well as collaborate across many boundaries to identify and understand real problems of practice; design and develop solutions to those problems; establish and grow intra- and inter-institutional capacity for continuous evidence-based improvement of organizations; and, advocate effectively for and drive efforts to achieve organizational equity, excellence, and social justice purposes (Skrla et al., 2004).

Students who bring to completion an Organizational Improvement Plan will:

  • Engage in significant learning that goes beyond simply incorporating new information into previously existing schemata (e.g., challenges students’ beliefs and assumptions to such an extent that he/she commits to arguments not previously considered);
  • Share in learning that can make a productive and positive impact on practice (i.e., driven by an authentic problem of practice and used by practicing professionals) through various forms of systematic review; and,
  • Manage a variety of forms of information and diverse venues of research communication (e.g., publications, other forums for communication).

As a final research project and major paper emerging from the program, the Organizational Improvement plan will offer the following foci:

  • Leadership effectiveness
  • Equity, ethics, and social justice
  • Complex systems
  • Use of extant data
  • Rigorous and systematic investigation of problems of practice
  • Understanding of how research is generated and applied
  • Organizational change through measuring organizational improvement

The Organizational Improvement Plan starts with defining an authentic problem of practice (i.e., a persistent, contextualized, and specific issue) embedded in the work or workplace of a professional practitioner. Within this Organizational Improvement Plan, the student must provide evidence of their ability to address a complex problem of practice by implementing systematic and scholarly approaches. A thorough review of the literature and available data must be collected and analyzed to inform problem-solving and decision-making. As leadership for organizational improvement must influence multiple audiences and stakeholders, in-depth knowledge sharing plans are necessary for effective outcomes. Findings and recommendations in the Organizational Improvement Plan related to organizational change are subsequently reported in a manner that elicits understanding and support from all stakeholders.

To promote the development of the Organizational Improvement Plan, you will complete courses that focus on leadership and organizational change, organizational improvement,  data synthesis, and critical analysis for organizational development.


Skrla, L., Scheurich, J.J., Garcia, J., & Nolly, G. (2004). Equity audits: A practical leadership tool for developing equitable and excellent schools. Educational Administration Quarterly, 40, 133–161.


EdD Course PDF

Program distinctiveness

There are many reasons why Western Education’s Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership is distinctive among doctoral programs in Canada. Here are our top reasons!

  1. Practice-focused for the good of children, and society – At the highest level, our program focuses on promoting effective leadership that makes an indirect but positive change in education for the goal of achieving a more just and equitable society.
  2. Work improvement and career advancement– Graduates will be qualified for a variety of formal and informal leadership roles in various public or private contexts. Most of our doctoral students work in settings related to their specializations as education leaders. For instance, our students find employment as leaders in school districts, curriculum development, teacher education, and other leadership positions.
  3. Best in value– Current fees make this program among the least expensive fully online EdD programs in Canada, especially among Tier I Canadian universities.
  4. Personalized learningopportunities – Enjoy highly-tailored learning, researching, and problematizing that focuses on a professional problem of practice currently affecting YOUR professional practice. See our areas of specialization.
  5. Fully online coursework, yet highly collaborative program– Our online delivery offers highly engaging distance learning opportunities, including regular synchronous meetings. Collaboration and networking are key to the success of students in our program, and our cohort model guarantees plenty of opportunities for interaction with peers and other leaders in education. We use technology in thoughtful ways to improve student learning, while developing your technology skills as well! Learn more about being an online student.
  6. Engaged faculty– Learn from a diverse range of faculty members with considerable research and practice experience in many leadership areas. Learn more.
  7. Comprehensive student support– Expert resources are available to support students with their research, writing, and other learning needs, all at a distance.
  8. High levels of student retention– Since 2013, our program has 90% student retention rate.
  9. Opportunities through consortium membership with the Carnegie Project for the Education Doctorate,a knowledge forum on the EdD designed to increase rigorous as well as program applicability for working professionals in leadership. We are one of two Canadian members of CPED, and can guarantee a distinctive degree that is deeply influenced by evidence-based design principles.


Program Manager

Phillipa Myers

Faculty Members

Pam Bishop 

Rita Gardiner 

Jun Li 

Katina Pollock

Augusto Riveros 

Melody Viczko

Cheryl Bauman-Buffone  

Instructional Faculty

Peter Edwards

Marybeth Fortune

Erin Keith

Scott Lowrey

Ken MacKinnon 

Beate Planche 

Grace Kelly

The professors really understand that we are all professionals with more happening in our lives. They are very understanding of busy times and work, school, as well as life balance.

My program helped guide me towards better understanding all of the intricacies of the program I'm creating in my current role. It has helped me better understand how to interact with those around me, and find further resources to be successful professionally.

- Grace Kelly, Graduated 2020

Beyond the program details


Applications will be reviewed as they are received until the program is full. As the EdD Program is highly competitive, applicants are encouraged to apply early as spaces are limited. See application deadlines page for updates on cohorts with space availability.

Applicants are required to submit a Statement of Intent, 3 letters of recommendation (from academic and/or professional supervisors, or equivalent), transcripts, a Writing Sample, and a current resume. Please review the links to additional information about the Statement of Intent and the Writing Sample before submitting an application to the EdD Program.

For admission to the EdD Program, normally applicants must have 5 or more years of full-time work experience and a Master's degree*. Master's degrees in Educational Leadership or Educational Administration are preferred however other Master's degrees will be considered. Applicants should use their Statement of Intent and Resume to highlight how their education and leadership experience as an educator have led and prepared them to study Educational Leadership at the Doctoral level.

Applicants whose first language is not English must furnish evidence of their proficiency in the use of the English language. For more information go to English Proficiency Requirements.

*Please note: If your Master’s Degree was your Program of Initial Teacher Education which certified you to teach in the K-12 system, it is considered equivalent to a Bachelor of Education, rather than a graduate degree. This type of Master’s is not eligible for consideration to the EdD Program.


Program information is subject to change. Full-time tuition amounts are set each year by Senate and then published on the Office of the Registrar's Fees Schedules web page. Full-time fees are paid per term (Fall, Winter, Summer) not by course.

For questions about fees, including how to pay fees and the methods of payment that are accepted, students should go to the Student Financial Services pages of the Office of the Registrar's web site or contact Student Financial Services (Office of the Registrar) at 519-661-2100.


The Faculty of Education recognizes the financial commitment required to pursue professional graduate studies.

As the majority of our programs are fully online, we offer students flexible learning that allows them to fund their education by remaining in their current employment.  Some employers offer subsidization or time release opportunities for the professional learning of their employees. As a result, internal funding is not available for these programs.

There are also many external funding opportunities for competitive candidates in our professional programs. Download this PDF file for an additional list of over 30 external awards (see more information below). Also, visit online sites that contain numerous award opportunities.

Please note that students must apply for these awards individually. Read the qualifications carefully, and contact the award provider for more criteria and award information. Some application support is available from the Research Office for research-based awards only.

Many private financial institutions offer financing options (with particular rates and payment plans) to full-time students. Please contact a representative of your preferred financial institution for more information.

Provincial governments offer a variety of loan programs to help students finance their studies. Ontario residents may be eligible to apply for OSAP.

The Government of Canada's CanLearn website provides a listing of contact information for the offices of all government student financial assistance programs. Please visit CanLearn to find your province or territory listing. The Government of Canada implemented the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) to encourage higher education and training. The LLP allows you to withdraw up to $10,000 a year from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance training or education for you or your spouse or common-law partner. For further information on this plan, visit the government's website at www.ccra.gc.ca.


Fully online and hybrid professional programs will provide students with asynchronous and synchronous learning opportunities.

Online and onsite courses are available via the Sakai OWL platform, although instructors of onsite courses use this tool to varying degrees as well. Access to a course in Sakai OWL is typically opened the first business day of each term. Please note that although your own access may be granted prior to the first business day, course content may not be posted until closer to the scheduled term start. Your Western University login and password is required to access the course (your Western email without the @uwo.ca and its accompanying password). Access to Sakai OWL is found here: https://owl.uwo.ca/portal.

For online courses, students are required to have access to the following:

  • High speed Internet access
  • Access to a computer that enables connection to outside websites (flexible firewall restrictions)
  • Multimedia playback capabilities (video/audio)
  • WebCam
  • Computer capable of running a recent version of Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox; and/or Cisco MOVI client for PC or Mac
  • Audio headset and microphone for computer