Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development

The Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development encompasses five specialties: Evaluation, Human Resource Development, P-12 Educational Administration, Postsecondary Educational Administration, and Sport Administration. Each prepares graduates to understand and perform basic and applied research in their specialty area. To learn more, just click on the area of specialization.

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Alumni Profiles

Dr. E. Kobena Osam
I chose to study at U of L because of the faculty, many of whom are renowned researchers in human resource development. I was constantly impressed with the level of dedication and time that faculty invest in their students; not only to guide them towards to degree completion, but to prepare them for careers afterwards. I came into this program looking to learn more about human resource development and continue working as a practitioner, but fell in love with research and teaching, and now am a faculty member myself. My experiences in the doctoral program were positive and truly rewarding and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in human resource development.
Dr. E. Kobena Osam, Assistant Professor, Northern Kentucky University
Ph.D., Educational Leadership & Organizational Development (Human Resource Development), 2018
Dr. Robb Smith
I thoroughly enjoyed my doctoral journey at the University of Louisville. From start to finish, there was a consistent message of unlocking new truths through innovative research practices. I am especially thankful for the collaborative spirit and the critical feedback given by my dissertation committee. I am proud to be a U of L alumnus and draw regularly upon the skills that were honed in my doctoral studies to inform my work as an educational leader.
Dr. Robb Smith, Superintendent, Bellevue Independent School District
Ph.D., Educational Leadership & Organizational Development (P-12 Administration), 2019
Dr. Cara DiMattina-Ryan
The ELEOD doctoral experience was transformative. I was taught how to look deeply at data relevant to my interests and given the opportunity for challenging ideas and debate. The experience has guided me as a professional and contributed significantly to who I am today.
Dr. Cara DiMattina-Ryan, Chief Strategy Officer, Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, Austin, Texas
Ph.D., Educational Leadership & Organizational Development (Higher Education Administration), 2018
Dr. Nels Popp
My experience in U of L’s Educational Leadership and Organizational Development Ph.D. program was outstanding, particularly working with the faculty members in the Sport Administration track. They took a very hands-on approach to teaching me what it takes to be an effective faculty member. Not only did I learn to be an effective researcher, writer, and teacher, but I also experienced first-hand what great mentorship is. To this day, I still remain close to the faculty at Louisville, collaborating with them on research, connecting with them at academic conferences, and even guest speaking to current doctoral students in the program. Great people make great academic programs and Louisville has some of the best in our field.
Dr. Nels Popp, Assistant Professor of Sport Administration, Co-Director, Center of Research and Intercollegiate Athletics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Ph.D., Educational Leadership & Organizational Development (Sports Administration), 2007
Dr. Nadine Petty
My time in the Educational Leadership and Organizational Development Ph.D. program at the University of Louisville prepared me to be a strong leader in higher education. Specifically, the lessons I gained through the program’s coursework were practical, enhanced my knowledge and skillsets exponentially, and provided me with necessary application tools to be a successful practitioner. What I am most appreciative of is the support of the faculty in the ELOD program, my dissertation committee, and the many transformative conversations I engaged in with faculty and other students throughout my journey. The ELOD program is certainly a community of excellence of which I am proud to have been a part.
Dr. Nadine Petty, Executive Director of the Center for Diversity & Enrichment, University of Iowa
Ph.D., Educational Leadership & Organizational Development (Higher Education Administration), 2017
Dr. Amanda Bowers
I am really grateful for my time at Louisville. I learned so much about different methodologies, practices, and critical thinking. The program forces you to analyze what information is important and how to discern a scope of study, which in my case, has applied to both research and work settings. There are so many faculty at U of L that are content experts in different areas, so for anyone interested in those, finding a U of L faculty member that can oversee your research and help support your personal and professional goals is key. As a graduate, I’m happy to talk with anyone thinking of joining the Louisville family to discuss how it might work for you.
Dr. Amanda Bowers, Director of Institutional Effectiveness & Assessment, Motlow State Community College
Ph.D., Educational Leadership & Organizational Development (Higher Education Administration), 2018
Dr. Matt Berry
I am so glad that I chose to pursue my doctoral education at the University of Louisville. I really believe that the training and rigor I received stacks up against any other program in the country. The rigor throughout the classwork and dissertation process gave me the skills to be a productive researcher, but it was the expertise and commitment of the faculty that set me up to use those skills to make an impact in my field. As challenged as I felt in the program I felt even more supported and that is why I continue to work with so many of the colleagues, mentors, and friends I gained while at U of L. I can’t recommend the program strongly enough. It has been a big part of my success and I am confident it always will be.
Dr. Matt Berry, Scholarship and Policy Director, Evolve502, Louisville, Kentucky
Ph.D., Educational Leadership & Organizational Development (Higher Education Administration), 2014
Dr. Per Svensson
The Educational Leadership and Organizational Development doctoral program at the University of Louisville served an instrumental role in helping me develop the foundational skills to succeed as a faculty member at a research-intensive institution. I continue to draw upon the theoretical and practical knowledge I gained during my doctoral studies at U of L to help organizational leaders find better ways for achieving their respective goals, while also advancing scholarly knowledge through my research.
Dr. Per Svensson, Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University
Ph.D., Educational Leadership & Organizational Development (Sports Administration), 2015
Dr. Adam Stieglitz
Adam Stieglitz is the Director of Operations and co-founder of the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development. He received his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Miami and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. His research interests include exploring effective ways of bridging academia with community development in order to promote social change. Adam is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Organization Development with an emphasis in Evaluation at the University of Louisville.
Dr. Adam Stieglitz
Ph.D., Educational Leadership & Organizational Development 2022


Planning of Program

The advisor and members of the Program Committee help the individual design a program of study. Normally this should be done almost immediately after admission. The student has no "official contract" until the program is signed by the three members of Program Committee.

The program requires a minimum of 90 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree. Courses from previous graduate work may be counted toward the 90 hours. At least 45 of the 90 hours must be earned at UofL. These 45 hours will include the 18 hours fulfilling residency and the 12 hours required for dissertation credit.

Professional Specialization (42 hours). Each student will choose one of five specializations. The particular coursework in any student's program will vary according to specific specialization requirements, program Committee decisions, and individual background and interests.


Knowledge Development and Utilization (27 hours). Each student will carry out a substantial, creative project of scholarly quality. In developing dissertation topics, students are required to select topics that enable them to demonstrate the ability to conduct inquiry into processes and problems of educational institutions or community organizations. This component includes:

  • Development of research competencies (15 hours). These courses develop basic understanding of research design and methodology and demonstrate competence in the critical analysis of research. All student must take ELFH 601 Applied Statistics (3) and it is a prerequisite for most research and statistics courses. Other courses may include:
    • ELFH 602 Survey Research & Attitude Measurement
    • ELFH 606 Evaluation of Educational Processes
    • ELFH 701 Intermediate Statistics
    • ELFH 703 Multivariate Analysis
    • ELFH 704 Qualitative Field Research Methods
    • ELFH 705 Qualitative Data Analysis and Representation
  • Dissertation research (ELFH 795 Dissertation Research-12 hours). The student completes an independent study with the dissertation chair.

Electives (21 hours). This component allows considerable flexibility in planning a program.

Meeting Course and Program Requirements and Residency. Students should meet with their advisor to plan the scheduling of courses for several semesters at a time. Students must be enrolled (= registered) at the University of Louisville for a minimum of 18 hours within a 12-month period to meet the residency requirement. These hours must be completed during or after formal admission to the doctoral program.

There are two time limits for completion of the doctoral program: (1) Within five years after admission into the doctoral program students must complete all coursework and pass the comprehensive exams; and (2) the student must complete all other requirements for the degree within four years after passing the comprehensive examination and being admitted to candidacy. A doctoral degree student must have been admitted to candidacy not later than the end of the ninth month prior to the awarding of the degree, that is:

  • August graduation: November 30 of preceding year
  • December graduation: March 31 of the same year
  • May graduation: August 31 of preceding year

The PhD in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development has five specialties as described under Specialties.

Admission Documents and Pages

Holistic Review of Applications

The Educational Leadership and Organizational Development (ELEOD) Doctoral Committee takes a holistic approach to the evaluation of applications. While GRE scores are one part of the application package, they do not determine admission (i.e., very high scores do not guarantee admission, and low scores do not preclude admission). The holistic approach takes into account all aspects of a student's application (written statement, letters of recommendation, transcripts, test scores), and faculty evaluate those pieces of evidence against two broad concerns: (a) is the student prepared for doctoral study, and (b) is the student likely to successfully complete the doctoral program in Postsecondary Education?
Please note: when submitting GRE scores through ETS, have scores sent to the general University of Louisville code, 1838.

Admission Review Dates (All paperwork due)

  • The ELOD PhD has two admission cycles per academic year. October 1st (priority deadline for University Fellowship and funding consideration) and February 1st. Deadlines are firm. Applications received after deadlines will automatically roll to the next admission cycle. Applications received February 1st will not be considered for University Fellowship funding but may be eligible for other funding opportunities.
  • Newly admitted students are required to start in the Fall term of each cycle year (i.e., Oct 1 and Feb 1 deadlines are for the immediate next Fall term start cycle). In exceptional circumstances students may be permitted to start in the Spring term with permission for the ELOD PhD Admissions Committee

Required Application Materials

The following must be completed before your application will be considered.

  1. Graduate Application (even if currently enrolled in a University of Louisville program). All other application materials, except GRE Scores and online recommendation letters should be sent to the address at the bottom of this page.
  2. Resume or Curriculum Vita. It is expected that applicants have prior academic and professional experience in their field of interest. The PhD program is intended for experienced professionals, holding relevant academic degrees and who are qualified to undertake advanced study at the doctoral level. It is important that the academic and professional experience of applicants match the educational focus of the program curriculum and the educational and professional orientation of the program faculty.
  3. Using the Graduate School on-line application choose three individuals familiar with your background to provide a Letter of Evaluation. It is recommended that at least one of the individual's be a former faculty member who is able to speak to your academic background.
  4. Test scores. Graduate Record Examination (Verbal & Quantitative). If you have taken the GRE, have Education Testing Service forward scores to UofL (UofL's code for sending GRE scores is 1838). If you are a former UofL student and believe you scores are here already, attach a note indicating so with your Graduate Application. Scores, whether a new applicant or a former UofL student, must be no more than 5-years old. Applicants with scores older than 5-years old are strongly encouraged to re-take the GRE to obtain more accurate scores. Applicants are encouraged to have minimum GRE score at or above the 40th percentile in each of the (quantitative and verbal) area (please note that to be eligible for a University Fellowship, you must have GRE scores in the 60th percentile or above). The TOEFL Examination is required of foreign students from countries where English is not the native language. The minimum scores are as follows: 213 or higher on the computer-based test, 550 or higher on the paper-based test, 79 or higher on the Internet-based test.Need help preparing for the GRE? Sign up for a GRE Information Session.

  5. Transcripts—undergraduate and graduate (All official, non-UofL). Send original transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate coursework to the address indicated below. Do not provide UofL transcripts and transcripts previously submitted to the College of Education and Human Development. If you have records at UofL, but outside the CEHD, attach a note so indicating and we will secure them. It is expected that applicants would have GPAs of at least 3.5 for prior undergraduate and graduate degrees. Applicants submitting foreign transcripts must submit such transcript to analysis by either of the following two agencies and have the agency submit their report to the address below for inclusion in the application packet: World Education Evaluation Service or Education Credentials Evaluators. The applicant must send the official transcript to the transcript evaluation agency. The agency will do an evaluation according to US guidelines and mail an official copy of the evaluation to UofL. We do not need the transcript if we have the official evaluation from ECE or WES. The agency also validates that the transcript is official and legitimate. In some cases the applicant may only have one official copy of the transcript. In that situation, WES or ECE will mail the official transcript back to the student after the evaluation has been completed. If you have a Masters degree from the U.S., this requirement is waived.
  6. Formal Statement of Goals. Prepare a formal statement that describes (1) your detailed rationale for pursuing doctoral degree and (2) your research interest(s). State which track of the PhD program for which you are applying. Discuss your interest in doctoral study, indicating how your personal and professional goals, professional experiences, and commitment to education, learning, and research are congruent with a doctoral program in educational leadership and organization development. More specifically, relate your goals to a particular specialization(s). Include a clear statement about your research interest(s) and goals, and how this doctoral program will help you achieve those goals. Members will expect a statement of at least 1,500 words. Please keep in mind that the statement of goals also serves as a sample of your writing ability and the Admissions Committee will review it in this light.

Send ALL materials to:
University of Louisville
Office of Graduate Admissions
105 Houchens
Louisville, KY 40292

What happens next?

Given the submission of all required materials, Admission Committee members review all materials during the two posted cycles. Once application materials have been reviewed, the Admission Committee meets to select some applicants for face-to-face interviews. Upon completing interviews with selected prospective students, the Admission Committee decides either to recommend or not accept the applicant for admission and advises applicants in writing of this decision. Accepted applicants will receive a letter that informs them of their appointed academic adviser with whom they will discuss the next steps to start the program.


Department of Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development
College of Education and Human Development
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292

Those interested in general information about the ELEOD PhD program should contact Dr. Brad Shuck at 502-852-7396 or For specific program track information, please contact the following faculty for detailed information:

Evaluation - Dr. Jason Immekus

P-12 Educational Leadership - Dr. Kyle Ingle

Sports Administration - Dr. Meg Hancock

Human Resources and Organizational Development - Dr. Denise Cumberland

Higher Education Administration - Dr. Jessica B Buckley

Opportunities for Graduates

Advanced positions in the fields of education, training and development. Positions as a university professor in the field of education and human resource education. Positions in the fields of educational research and policy.