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School of Education - George Mason University

The PhD in Education with a specialization in education leadership (EDLE) is individualized, interdisciplinary, and experiential.  Students plan their own programs to meet self-defined goals with the guidance and support of faculty advisors. EDLE courses can be applied to primary or secondary specialization areas.

If you have questions about this specialization, please contact the specialization representative, Seth Hunter.

About the Specialization

The Education Leadership Specialization focuses on how leadership, policy, and research influence and directly impact education at the local, state, national, and international levels. This specialization allows for flexible academic planning and research according to participants' interests, career goals, and learning format.

What Will You Learn?

The specialization 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

How Will You Learn?

Your advisor will guide your doctoral experience by supplementing coursework with professional experiences, including:

  • Attending and/or presenting at professional conferences
  • Independent study
  • Teaching and/or co-teaching
  • Writing, editing, and reviewing for scholarly journals

Where Can This Specialization Take You?

Graduates of this specialization hold professional positions such as:

  • Academic faculty at post-secondary institutions
  • Consultants with private companies, education and research think tanks, and non-government organizations
  • Leaders in major K-12 school districts

What Are Our Students 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

Specialization Courses

Each student prepares an individual program of study in consultation with their Program Advisory Committee. The following courses can be taken as part of a student’s primary or secondary specialization coursework:

See additional coursework required as part of the PhD in Education degree.

Our Graduates

Adam Mcgeehan, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: Putting Fit Together: How School Leaders Conceptualize “Fit” and Operationalize the Hiring Process to Attain It
  • Dissertation Chair: 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

Michael Humphreys, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: Elementary School Leaders' Perspectives on Providing Movement Opportunities to the Students They Serve
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Robert Smith & Dr. Dominique Banville
  • Employment on Graduation: Central Office

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 Chair: Dr. Seth Hunter & Dr. Robert Smith
  • Employment on Graduation: Embassy of Kingdom of Bahrain

Keith Anthony, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: Mastering Conditions in Education through Hip-Hop and Spoken Words
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Robert Smith & Dr. Regina Biggs

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick Mitchell, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Should I Stay or Should I Go: Teacher Working Conditions and Commitment
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Roberto Pamas

Student Accomplishments

Mason was well-represented at the 2022 Association for Education Finance and Policy’s annual meeting, the nation’s preeminent conference focused on education policy research. Drs. Sam Viano and Seth Hunter and two of their Ph.D. students, Natalie Truong and Katherine Bowser, presented original research concerning student safety, teacher working conditions, and teacher evaluation measurement and implementation. (pictured: Katherine Bowser)