School of Education - George Mason University

The PhD in Education, Education Leadership specialization focuses on how leadership, policy, and research influence and directly impact education at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The Education Leadership doctorate specialization allows for flexible academic planning and research according to participants' interests, career goals, and learning format. PhD participants have five years to complete all course work and an additional four years to complete the dissertation. The total time to degree should be no more than nine years.

PhD students are required to complete three portfolios at different stages in their program. Each student must demonstrate competence in oral and written English, mastery of knowledge and skills in the area of professional expertise, and the ability to apply general and specific knowledge and skills to significant educational problems.

Core Requirements

All students pursuing the PhD in education take the following core courses, and dissertation:

General Culture (3 credits)

  • EDUC 800: Ways of Knowing (3 credits) ( OR EFHP860. EFHP 860 is for Kinesiology concentration students only. Other students should select EDUC 800. Course should be taken 1st semester.)

Research Methods (15 credits)

Specialization Required Courses (24 credits)

One of the following:

Research Electives

Choose at least 3 additional credits from the following

Dissertation Proposal and Research (12 credits)


Students complete an educational portfolio as part of the requirement of the PhD in Education Program. The portfolio is an organized, selective collection of documents designed to facilitate a student's academic and professional development, and to provide a basis for evaluation degree progress. The portfolio represents the scope and depth of a student's goals, plans, and accomplishments in coursework, independent study, research, internships, and other advanced learning activities. The portfolio thus provides both a vehicle for self-reflection and a comprehensive record of a doctoral student's experiences and ongoing progress toward academic and professional goals.

Administrative Licensure

Students whose primary specialization is Education Leadership may take courses to fulfill Virginia requirements for licensure in Administration and Supervision PK-12.

Reduction of Credit

The PhD in Education requires 75 credits; however, students must have a master's degree before being admitted to the PhD in Education to receive an initial 9-credit reduction. Admitted students may receive an additional reduction of 9 credits, bringing the minimum coursework requirement total (including dissertation proposal and research) to 57 credits. This reduction needs to be approved by the program advisory committee. For Education Leadership students, the program as listed includes the 18-credit reduction. For information about reduction of credit, see the program requirements in the George Mason University catalog.

Time to Degree

For both full-time and part-time students enrolled in doctoral programs, whether entry is post-baccalaureate or post-master's, the total time to degree will not exceed nine (9) calendar years from the time of first enrollment in the program as a doctoral student. Doctoral students are expected to progress steadily toward their degree and to advance to candidacy within no more than six (6) years.

Students who do not meet published time limits because of compelling circumstances beyond their control may request an exception to this policy by petitioning their dean for a single extension of one calendar year prior to the expiration of the time limit.

Licensure Disclosure

This program has been identified by George Mason University as one that may lead to a career requiring professional licensure/certification. Federal regulations require Mason to disclose information as to whether this program meets/does not meet the educational requirements for licensure/certification in your state, or whether such a determination has not been made. Please consult our Licensure Disclosure Tool for the disclosure statement specific to your desired state/program combination.

George Mason University will verify completion of the requirements of a Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) state-approved preparation program at the graduate or undergraduate level. Such verification does not guarantee the issuance of a Virginia Collegiate Professional, Postgraduate Professional, or Pupil Personnel license from the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is solely the student's responsibility to comply with all requirements for licensure by the Commonwealth. Under Virginia law, a social security number is required for licensure.

Contact the PhD Program for additional information.