Doctor of Education with a Major in School Improvement
Credit Hours: 60
The online Ed.D. program in School Improvement offers a unique opportunity for educators looking for an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based doctoral program that prepares graduates to become the next generation of change agents. Our mission is to develop educational professionals who initiate systemic and sustainable improvement in schools. Graduates will strategically and collaboratively plan, design, implement, and document the impact of educational improvements that promote and increase the academic achievement and social development of all students.
For more information, please see the Academic Catalog.
The Doctor of Education in School Improvement Program offers a unique opportunity for educators looking for an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based doctoral program that prepares graduates to become change agents in the PK - 12 schools they serve. Coursework is offered 100% online.
There are several unique features of the Doctor of Education in School Improvement. These include the following:
- All coursework is delivered through an asynchronous online environment, using a wide variety of instructional technologies.
- Students are required to complete an online orientation.
- The program may be completed in three years; however, many students take four years or more to complete.
- Faculty are nationally recognized, committed to school improvement, and understand the needs of adult learners.
It is extremely important that prospective students review the department's accompanying website where many additional Frequently Asked Questions are answered: https://www.westga.edu/academics/education/lrsi/eddsi/faq.php
Method of Delivery
Fully Online Only
The University of West Georgia is accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Credit and transfer
Total semester hours required: 60
This program is offered entirely online. Though a student may choose to sign-up for a face-to-face elective or core course, one can earn this degree completely online.
UWG is often ranked as one of the most affordable accredited university of its kind, regardless of the method of delivery chosen. In addition, online courses and programs can mean a huge cost-savings in many non-evident ways: No more high gas charges. No childcare needed. The flexibility can allow one to maintain a job while attending school. Regardless of state residency, out-of-state non-resident students are not charged non-resident tuition for online course credit hours.
- Total tuition costs and fees may vary, depending on the instructional method of the courses in which the student chooses to enroll.
- The more courses a student takes in a single term, the more they will typically save in fees and total cost.
- Face-to-Face or partially online courses are charged at the general tuition rate and all mandatory campus fees, based on the student's residency (non-residents are charged at a higher rate).
- Fully or entirely online course tuition rates and fees my vary depending on the program. Students enrolled in exclusively online courses do not pay non-Resident rates.
- Together this means that GA residents pay about the same if they take all face-to-face or partially online courses as they do if they take only fully online courses exclusively; while non-residents save money by taking fully online courses.
- One word of caution: If a student takes a combination of face-to-face and online courses in a single term, they will pay both all mandatory campus fees and the higher eTuition rate.
- For the cost information, as well as payment deadlines, see the Student Accounts and Billing Services website
There are a variety of financial assistance options for students, including scholarships and work study programs. Visit the Office of Financial Aid's website for more information.
Through a unique synergy of dissertation classes, workshops, and faculty mentoring, students will complete their dissertations simultaneously with coursework.
This program is designed to take three years to complete.
The Areas of Concentration (or AoC) in the School Improvement program are 15 credit hours of electives that comprise a student's focus within the program. Specific AoC's are developed in conjunction with various departments within the College of Education at the University of West Georgia. Currently, the available AoC's include:
- School Counseling
- Educational Leadership
- K-12 Online Learning
- Instructional Technology
- Media Specialist
- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL's)
- Special Education
- Early Childhood Education
Another option available to students is to develop a customized AoC. At a minimum, an individualized AoC must meet the following criteria:
- It must have a thematic, cohesive foundation.
- It must consist of a minimum of 15 semester hours of credit.
- The coursework must be post-Masters level.
- It must be approved by the Director of the Ed.D. Program in School Improvement.
- It must have been completed within seven years of the date of admission to the Ed.D. degree program.
- A grade of B or higher must have been earned in the coursework.
A customized AoC does not have to be taken only at our University. If you want a specialized, unique Area of Concentration, you can "assemble" one from another institution (either online or face-to-face), provided it meets the minimum criteria listed above AND that the hours were completed at an accredited institution. These hours could then be transferred into the program.
Please note that any customized AoC must be pre-approved by the Program Director upon admission to the program.
Sample Advisement Sheet [PDF, 29kb]
This course focuses on the theories, concepts, and processes involved in planning and managing evaluations. Students will engage in evaluations in specific education situations (individual, group, organizational) using focus groups, key stakeholder interviews, survey design, data gathering, analysis and/or other methods as appropriate and analyze outcomes to make recommendations for development and/or remediation.
Students will evaluate scholarly research and completed dissertations for appropriate 1) research alignment, 2) organizational theoretical/conceptual frameworks, 3) program supported methodologies, 4) academic writing for doctoral-level work, and 5) APA Style.
This course is designed to provide educators with the opportunity to explore the theory and practical application of school reform efforts through a social justice lens with a focus on equitable outcomes for students. The structure of the course will include a survey of relevant literature from multicultural and social justice thinkers and leaders with approaches that create more inclusive classrooms and schools and equitable outcomes. Issues will be considered at multiple levels including overarching questions of multiculturalism, equity, the role of schooling, educational reform, and culturally relevant teaching and educational practices. In addition, students will examine their own attitudes as well as the impact of policy and practice decisions on the students and communities they serve.
This course is an advanced study of educational policy; the intersection of policy, law, and ethics; and the impact of these on education broadly and school improvement specifically. It is designed to enable educators to become knowledgeable, effective, and responsible actors within the political context of schooling.
This course addresses the theories and processes of change in societies, cultures, and organizations with particular emphasis on change within the educational systems. Completion of this course will enable students to effectively use theories and processes in their role as change agents within their own educational environments. Change strategies that lead to school improvement are emphasized.
Students build a conceptual understanding of the knowledge base that shapes organizations, human behavior in organizations, and school improvement. Students learn current theories of administration, contributions of behavioral science research to solving administrative problems, and the implication of theoretical orientations to school improvement. Organizational climate and culture, socialization and human behavior, and decision making are key themes. A course focus includes learning the dimensions of organizational qualities that contribute to school improvement as well as strategies to recognize and address any dysfunction that inhibits organizational functions.
Students learn to improve curriculum and instruction in K-12 schools by examining the relationship between curriculum, instructional improvement, and teacher development. Students discover the changing role of an instructional leader as it relates to the instructional program and its impact on school improvement. Students will investigate pertinent research and best practices in instructional leadership, learning theory, climate and culture, effective teaching methods, and professional development.
Students will investigate pedagogies, structures, organizational models, curricular approaches, and the research that supports authentic school improvement. Attention is given to implementation processes and how to systematically extend improvements to scale. Students will examine these concepts in the context of school turnarounds, innovative practices, school reform, and high-performing schools.
This course provides an overview of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research designs. Students will learn the fundamental components of research design including developing research questions, reviewing scholarly literature, exploring theory and theoretical frameworks, and the role of ethics in educational research.
This course introduces the graduate student to basic methods of empirical inquiry used in education, nursing, and related social sciences. Quantitative research designs commonly used in these disciplines are emphasized. Students will learn how to select samples, identify appropriate measurement instruments, analyze data descriptively, and apply a variety of inferential statistical tests to answer research questions.
This course focuses on the use of qualitative methods of research, including theoretical perspectives and methods of collection and analysis of qualitative data sources in educational studies. It emphasizes analysis of work samples, observations, inquiry data, artifacts, and other sources of data. Students become skilled at using methods of qualitative research to evaluate school improvement issues. In addition, students examine strategies for thematic and other forms of analysis of observational and inquiry data. Throughout the course students collect and analyze school improvement data.
Jennifer K. Allen, Ph.D.
Logan Arrington, Ph.D.
Interim Associate Department Chair
Stacey Britton, Ph.D.
Ryan Bronkema, Ph.D.
Morris Council, III
Director of Graduate Programs Coordination for Special Education / Associate Professor
Adriana D'Alba, Ph.D.
Georgia Evans, Ed.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator
Lama Farran, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Michelle Frazier Trotman Scott, Ph.D.
Director Of Graduate Affairs and Professor of Special Education
Phillip D. Grant, Jr., Ph.D.
Katy Green, Ph.D.
Interim Department Chair
Robert A. Griffin, Ed.D.
Literacy Programs Coordinator / Assistant Professor
Kim C. Huett, Ed.D.
Melissa Johnston, Ph.D.
Laurie Kimbrel, Ed.D.
Dena Kniess, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Higher Education Administration and College Student Affairs
Diana Mindrila, Ph.D.
Andy Nixon, Ed. D.
Tamra W Ogletree, Ph.D.
Abbot Packard, Ph.D.
John Ponder, Ph.D.
Department Chair, Associate Professor
Elizabeth Pope, Ph.D.
Bethany L. Scullin, Ph.D.
Marsha Simon, Ph.D.
Janet Strickland, Ph.D.
Mary Alice Varga, Ph.D.
Department Chair & Professor
Yan Yang, Ph.D.
Guidelines for Admittance
- All graduate applicants must complete the online Grad Application. A one-time application fee of $40 is required.
- International applicants are subject to additional requirements and application deadlines. See Procedures for International Students.
- Earned Masters degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution.
Program Specific Admittance Guidelines
Thank you for your interest in the University of West Georgia. Admission to the Doctor of School Improvement Degree is competitive; consequently students are urged to submit the strongest possible application materials. All applicants, including previous UWG students, must complete all steps of the application process as outlined below. Only applications completed by the deadline will be considered. The department will begin reviewing applications after the deadline, and will contact those applicants selected for interviews within 6-8 weeks.
*Please Note: Admission to the Doctor of Education in School Improvement is competitive and completion of required coursework is highly challenging. In analyzing variables correlating to candidate success, both successful candidates and faculty members emphasize the importance of candidates being in leadership positions allowing them to fulfill the program's mission and expectations of initiating and leading systematic and sustainable school improvement. If an applicant is not in a leadership position, the faculty may recommend she or he delay application until he or she is in a leadership position, significantly increasing the likelihood of her or his success.
Step 1–Online Application, GPA, and International Students
(A) Complete the online application for graduate studies. The online application requires a $40.00 non-refundable application fee.
(B) A cumulative minimum graduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required for all graduate course work.
(C) International applicants must follow additional procedures of the UWG International Office.
Step 2- Submit supplemental items
What is to be submitted?
(A) Writing Sample: Submit previously written work (5-10 pages in length) that you feel demonstrates your writing abilities. Written work can include papers from graduate degree work or work reports.
(B) Vitae: A vitae listing education and employment history, experience with school improvement, and awards and recognitions. The C.V. should demonstrate progressive K-12 leadership experience, and include contact information for 3 references. Provide your current and complete contact information, including an active e-mail address.
(C) Official Transcripts: Request official transcripts from all degree-granting institutions (Bachelor's, Master's, etc.) to be sent to Graduate Admissions. Electronic official transcripts may be sent to email@example.com directly from the sending institution. All applicants must have earned a Master's degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution.
(D) Essay: Complete a 750-1,000 word essay that discusses your personal goals related to school improvement. In your essay, include any literature (e.g., research article) that has informed your professional practice or otherwise influenced you. (Include appropriate APA citations.)
If you are mailing any items, the address is:
UWG Graduate Admissions
1601 Maple Street
Carrollton, GA 30118
Incomplete applications will not be considered.
Finalists will be selected for a telephone or virtual interview.
Thanks again for your interest and best of luck!
Graduate Application Deadlines: Click Here
College of Education, School Improvement
The Doctorate In School Improvement Program Website includes a directory of instructors and their credentials, as well as other vital information.
Please visit the Graduate School Deadlines page here.
It is the goal of our program and its faculty that our graduates:
- Develop a strong knowledge base on theories and practices in PK - 12 educational leadership, instruction, and applied research.
- Effectively engage and influence stakeholders with a common purpose towards PK - 12 school improvement.
- Conduct research that can be applied to initiate and sustain PK - 12 school improvement.
- Lead evidence-based research efforts to promote and increase equitable student learning and development for all students.