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The PhD in Education Program is individualized, interdisciplinary, and experiential. The specific coursework in the education leadership (EDLE) concentration prepares graduates for careers in leadership at the local, state, national, and international levels. Students may also incorporate EDLE coursework within a self-defined interdisciplinary program of study.

Have questions? Attend an information session or contact the specialization representative, Seth Hunter.

About the Specialization

The Education Leadership Concentration focuses on how leadership, policy, and research influence and directly impact education at the local, state, national, and international levels. The concentration allows academic learning and research experiences according to participants' interests, career goals, and learning format.

What Will You Learn?

The concentration features coursework and applied internships that enable you to learn:

  • Theory and research in education leadership
  • Foundational knowledge about education leadership
  • Research methodologies to address a variety of education leadership topics
  • Specialized knowledge in education leadership related to your area of interest

What Our Students Are Saying

"Being a student at Mason with such a diverse community has enriched my experiences and prepared me to be a reflective leader in education. The faculty here has always fostered my commitment to personal development and motivation to make change."
~ Moonhee Doan, current student
“My experience at Mason instilled an appreciation for critical inquiry and empirical research that I’ve found to be useful both professionally and personally.”
~ Adam McGeehan, 2020 graduate
"My experience at Mason has allowed me to learn from great education leaders and educators in the field. My passion for education has been cultivated into concrete goals that I can see myself accomplishing as an education scholar. I am able to identify and assess the lens with which I view the world and be propelled forward as a learner and future scholar."
~ Fardousa Wardere, current student

Our Graduates

Julia Renberg, PhD 2022 

  • Dissertation Title: District Implementation of Instructional Coaching and Its Impact on Academic Achievement of Students with Disabilities in Reading and Mathematics 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Peggy King-Sears 
  • Employment on Graduation: Supervisor of Science and Family Life Education, Prince William County Public Schools 

Jared Stanley, PhD 2022 

  • Dissertation Title: Merging the Silos to Support Students: Education Leadership, Special Education, and Applied Behavior Analysis  
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Regina Biggs 
  • Employment on Graduation: Administrator, Hope Horizon Center (FL) 

Adam Mcgeehan, PhD 2020 

  • Dissertation Title: Putting Fit Together: How School Leaders Conceptualize “Fit” and Operationalize the Hiring Process to Attain It  
  • Dissertation Chairs: Dr. Seth Hunter & Dr. Samantha Viano  
  • Employment on Graduation: Central Office, Fairfax County Public Schools 

Jennifer Rowan, PhD 2020 

  • Dissertation Title: Attitudes and Perceptions of Principals in Ubiquitous Learning Environments Using a Mixed Method Approach  
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Roberto Pamas  
  • Employment on Graduation: Director of Technology, Jefferson County Schools (WV) 

Michael Humphreys, PhD 2020 

  • Dissertation Title: Elementary School Leaders' Perspectives on Providing Movement Opportunities to the Students They Serve 
  • Dissertation Chairs: Dr. Robert Smith & Dr. Dominique Banville 
  • Employment on Graduation: District-wide Curriculum Planner for Alexandria City Public Schools 

Buti Mubarak, PhD 2019 

  • Dissertation Title: The Perceptions of Elementary School Principals in Bahrain on the Principal Evaluation System and Its Impact on Instructional Behaviors 
  • Dissertation Chairs: Dr. Seth Hunter & Dr. Robert Smith 
  • Employment on Graduation: Cultural and Educational Counselor, Embassy of Kingdom of Bahrain 

Anthony Keith, PhD 2019 

  • Dissertation Title: Mastering Conditions in Education through Hip-Hop and Spoken Words 
  • Dissertation Chairs: Dr. Robert Smith & Dr. Regina Biggs 
  • Employment on Graduation: Chief Executive Officer, Ed Emcee Academy 

Amanda Wagner, PhD 2019 

  • Dissertation Title: The Contributing Factors to Teacher Retention and Attrition and the Impact of Principals on Those Decisions 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Robert Smith 
  • Employment on Graduation: Director, K-12 Research & Professional Services at Hanover Research 

Tharon Washington, PhD 2019 

  • Dissertation Title: The Impact of African-American Male Principals on African-American Male Students in Two All-Male Urban Schools 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Alvin Crawley 
  • Employment on Graduation: Educational Program Assistant, US Department of Education 

Steven Nagy, PhD 2019 

  • Dissertation Title: Sense of Belonging, School Climate, and Teacher-Student Relationships through Sustainable Leadership: An International Case Study  
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Robert Smith  
  • Employment on Graduation: Principal, Barranquilla, Columbia 

Nick Humbert, PhD 2018 

  • Dissertation Title: Adequacy of Decision-Making for Virginia Public High School Assistant Principals and an Examination of Job Satisfaction and Job Efficacy 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Robert Smith 
  • Employment on Graduation: Education Specialist, Food and Drug Administration 

David Landeryou II, PhD 2018  

  • Dissertation Title: Value Added Model of Teacher Evaluation: An Examination of Administrators’ Leadership 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Robert Smith 
  • Employment on Graduation: Principal, Francis Scott Key Elementary School, Washington D.C. 

Meredith Mitchell, PhD 2018 

  • Dissertation Title: Instructional Leadership for a 21st Century Learning Initiative: How Principals and Teacher Leaders Facilitate Organizational Learning 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Robert Smith 
  • Employment on Graduation: Assistant Principal, Fairfax County Public Schools 

Patrick Mitchell, PhD 2018 

  • Dissertation Title: Should I Stay or Should I Go: Teacher Working Conditions and Commitment 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Roberto Pamas 
  • Employment on Graduation: Theater Arts Teacher, Fairfax County Public Schools 


Each student in the PhD in Education Program is mentored by faculty in the development of their own personalized program of study that fosters their ability to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of significant theories, developments, and practices in one's chosen area of study
  • Understand, utilize, and interpret basic principles, ethical practice, and methodologies of educational research design and data analysis
  • Effectively communicate both orally and in writing to a variety of professional audiences

Supported professional experiences and internships beyond required coursework support mastery of these competencies, including:

  • Attending and/or presenting your scholarly work at professional conferences to researchers, policymakers, and practitioners
  • University teaching and/or co-teaching experiences in professional areas of expertise
  • Supervising pre-service teachers
  • Writing, editing, and reviewing for scholarly journals
  • Research apprenticeships and assistantships
  • Supported independent research in an area of professional interest
  • Internships unique to the individual’s area of study
  • Building a professional portfolio

The PhD in Education is awarded after the successful completion of:

  • Coursework
  • A comprehensive portfolio assessment
  • A written dissertation
  • An oral dissertation defense

Why This Program?

Are you ready to expand your impact in the field of education?

A PhD in Education from GMU can help you reach that goal! Our accomplished faculty can help you leverage your existing expertise in the field of education and deepen your toolkit of professional knowledge and skills that will take your career to the next level of influence. 
Our graduates have attained consequential professional positions such as:

  • Academic faculty at post-secondary institutions
  • Leadership and research positions in federal and state government, post-secondary institutions, research organizations, and non-government agencies
  • Analysts and consultants with private companies, political advocacy groups, education or research think tanks, and professional associations
  • School, district, and statewide leadership positions in major preK-12 school districts, technical assistance centers, and other informal educational agencies
  • Curriculum and instructional materials developers

Our flexible student-centered program structure allows each student to design a personalized, interdisciplinary program of study that helps them to become outstanding educational researchers, practitioners, and leaders in their respective fields. Our faculty have strengths in:

Theoretical & Applied Research

  • Choose from a wide range of advanced quantitative and qualitative research methods coursework options
  • Have the opportunity to gain research experience on projects funded by federal agencies, including the Institute for Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation 

Advanced Teacher Preparation

  • Choose from a wide range of teaching and teacher preparation coursework and internship options, including opportunities to co-teach university courses with faculty and supervise teacher internships
  • Receive advanced training in online teaching and learning

Education Leadership & Policy

  • Choose from a wide range of coursework and internship opportunities in leadership and policy fields, both national and international
  • Have unique opportunities for experiential learning due to proximity to Washington DC and several of the largest school systems in the country

Movement & Sport Sciences

  • Choose an intensive Kinesiology program with opportunities for experiential learning in state-of-the-art movement labs.
  • Or, create a custom program of study in fields related to movement and sport sciences, including teaching in physical education and sport management

How Can I Learn More?

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions and Answer Page

Frequently Asked Questions

Attend an Information Session

The PhD in Education Program periodically conducts information sessions to acquaint applicants with our program and the admissions process. Information sessions include an overview of the PhD in Education Program followed by breakout sessions with faculty who can answer questions about professional specialization areas. Scheduled sessions are listed at the top of this page.