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.

The LEAD Department PhD Admissions Committee evaluates an applicant’s potential to succeed in the doctoral program, including academic writing and analysis, theory and conceptual processing, and overall program readiness. This evaluation of an applicant is conducted through a holistic review of an applicant’s fully submitted application materials. These materials include the following:

  • Graduate Application
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae
  • Letters of Recommendation: 2 required letters of recommendation (academic references preferred, but required for all applicants whose undergraduate work was completed within the last five years)
  • English Language Exam: TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test required* for applicants for whom English is not their primary language
  • Transcripts: all official transcripts from any courses or degree programs taken at previous postsecondary institutions (other than dual credit)
  • Personal Statement
  • Analysis Essay

In addition, an applicant may also submit or participate in any of the following additional opportunities that are optional but not required for admission:

  1. Personal interview at the discretion of the committee
  2. GRE Scores
  3. Any academic or published works/ creative artifacts you have been a part of or produced

Additional information on each required and optional application materials can be found in the following sections:

Application Deadline

The ELOD PhD program admits students once each year for an August start date. The priority admission deadline for fellowships and scholarships is October 1st. The final deadline for admission consideration is February 1st. Students typically are notified of final admission decisions by early April.

Required Application Materials

  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 completed here: Questions regarding the application process should be directed to:

    University of Louisville
    Graduate School
    2211 S Brook St, Houchens Bldg, Rm 105
    Louisville, Kentucky 40292
    The United States of America
    Email Address:
    Phone Number: (502) 852-6495

  2. Resume or Curriculum Vitae. 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. Letters of Recommendation. Using the Graduate School on-line application choose two individuals familiar with your background to provide a Letter of Recommendation. Academic references preferred but required for all applicants whose undergraduate work was completed within the last five years.
  4. English Language Exam. Students for whom English is not their primary language must show English language proficiency by successfully completing one of the following:
  5. Transcripts—undergraduate and graduate (All official, non-UofL).
    • Send official transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate coursework from any courses or degree programs taken at previous postsecondary institutions (other than dual credit) to the address indicated below.
    • Do not provide UofL 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 graduate degree from the U.S., this requirement is waived.
  6. Personal Statement. Your Personal Statement is an opportunity for you to offer the admissions committee insights about your background, interests, future contributions to the academic community at the University of Louisville, and academic potential with your field of study.
    • As you author your Personal Statement, consider how your background and life experiences – including educational, cultural, financial, geographical, and/or other opportunities or barriers – motivated your decision to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Louisville.
    • In your statement, share your research interests and career goals, as well as how you see this doctoral program helping you achieve those future goals as well as why you have chosen to pursue doctoral study at this time.
    • Tell us about what you have done, what is unique about you, what you have learned and achieved (including evidence of progress) to support and recognize your accomplishments to date and how that has prepared you for doctoral study in this program.
  7. Analysis Essay. For this essay, please identify a contemporary issue, challenge, or opportunity in your specialty area (e.g., human resource development, higher/postsecondary education, education administration, program evaluation, sports administration).

    Your essay should intertwine several messages that: (a) provide a background to your chosen topic; (b) inform your reader why your chosen topic is important and what is known about the topic; (c) articulate at least two approaches you could address your topic using research articles; (d) recommend an avenue or perspective in which to take along with supported rationale; and, (e) provide a summary with concluding remarks that bring your essay to a logical conclusion.

    • Your essay should demonstrate a level of analysis and be between 2,500 and 3,000 words (approximately 8- 10 double-spaced pages) not including a title page, references or citations, tables, figures, or graphs.
    • Include any references to literature and empirical research sources that you use to help shape your analytic essay. As applicable, please use the latest American Psychological Association (APA) citation style for citations and references in your essay.
    • Your analysis essay does not need to be on a topic related to your doctoral studies, but it can be. Ultimately, we are interested in learning more about how you present a topic, offer competing perspectives, and your analysis associated with that discussion.

Optional Application Materials

  1. Personal Interview. Using a holistic process, the LEAD PhD Admissions Committee will evaluate your application packet. They may, at their discretion, invite you for a brief interview with faculty in your chosen area of concentration to learn more about your interests. The interview is optional, but often can be helpful in finding fit within an academic program of study.
  2. GRE Scores. The GRE test can help committees evaluate students, especially those from unfamiliar colleges or universities. LEAD PhD Admissions Committee recognizes that tests have their limitations and may pose a financial burden for some students. To ensure that we support equity, inclusion, and a holistic review process, GRE scores are optional for admission to the PhD Program.
    • Applicants who do not submit GRE scores will be given full consideration to the program.
    • If you have taken the GRE, and wish to submit your scores as an option, have the 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 already at the University Graduate School, attach a note indicating so with your Graduate Application.
    • Scores, whether a new applicant or a former UofL student, should be no more than 5-years old
  3. Academic Published Works/ Creative Artifacts. If you have published any academic research or been a part of some form of creative artifact that adds to your application packet, please feel free to include those works as a .pdf within your packet as optional material. All academic published works/ creative artifacts can be included in your graduate application packet. For any questions, please contact the Graduate Student Success Office at

Originality Statement

By applying for admission to the LEAD doctoral program, a prospective student affirms that the contents of the application, including the research proposal, analysis essay, and accompanying documents, etc. are the product of their own intellectual efforts. It is perfectly acceptable to use outside resources and materials as a part of the application. However, throughout the application materials, where appropriate, we expect that an applicant acknowledges those sources of inspiration, whether they be from published works, collaborations, or AI-based programs, through appropriate citations and references using the latest APA-style guidelines.

By submitting application materials, applicants acknowledge they understand that plagiarism, fabrication, or any form of academic misconduct is unacceptable and undermines the values of intellectual rigor and integrity. At the University of Louisville, we are committed to upholding the highest standards of academic honesty and ethical conduct throughout our Ph.D. application process, and we expect students who join our academic community to value and uphold the same standards and rigor.

Any intentional misrepresentation or breach of academic integrity could have serious consequences, including the potential denial or revocation of admission, or dismissal from 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. Mary Brydon-Miller at 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. Chris Greenwell

Human Resources and Organizational Development - Dr. Brad Shuck

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.