Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


PhD student Courtney Matthews talks about her experience getting her degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program is designed for candidates who seek to pursue careers in institutional assessment, policy analysis, institutional leadership, higher education administration, student affairs, or the professoriate. The program challenges the conventional wisdom that K-12 and postsecondary education are different worlds by bringing together scholars and students from all levels of education to work and study together. Working from the premise that all people can learn at high levels, the program explores the systemic barriers that prevent so many individuals from achieving their fullest potential. Students receive a broad foundation in the study of educational leadership and policy development through a wide range of course offerings focused on both K-12 leadership and higher education.

Candidates in the Ph.D. program will be part of a cohort throughout their required coursework, leading to the dissertation. Research has demonstrated that cohort models can be very effective in fostering deep learning and increasing the likelihood of students moving towards program completion. Because most of the students in the program work full-time, they are required to take only six graduate credit hours per semester.

Early admission deadline for Fall 2021 UTA cohort is March 8, 2021. 
Final deadline: May 1, 2021

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Course of Study


1. Research Methods Core (15 hours)

EDAD 6304 K-16 Quantitative Research Design & Methodology 3
EDAD 6310 Statistical Methods 3
EDAD 6315 Advanced Statistical Methods 3
EDAD 6318 Advanced Qualitative Methods 3
EDAD 6308
Qualitative Research Design & Methodology

2. Core Content Courses (15 hours)

EDAD 6301 Introduction to K-16 Doctoral Studies 3
EDAD 6325 K-16 Philosophy & History Policy Research 3
EDAD 6330 K-16 Policy & Law Analysis Research 3
EDAD 6342 K-16 Organizational & Leadership Theory Research 3
EDAD 6343 History, Social & Cultural Contexts of Education 3

3. Elective Courses (18 Hours)

EDAD 6391
Independent Research
EDAD 6392 Selected Topics K-16 Educational Policy Research

4. Dissertation (18 hours minimum) selected from:

EDAD 6399 Dissertation 3
EDAD 6699 Dissertation 6

* Students will continue enrolling in dissertation hours until the dissertation is completed and approved by their committee.

5. Final Dissertation Defense

EDAD 7399 Doctoral Degree Completion 3

* Students must be enrolled in in EDAD 7399 the term in which they plan to defend the final dissertation.

***Please refer to your Cohort Handbook for additional requirements. ***

For further information about the Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership, contact the at

View degree program in catalog

Program Director

Dr. Barbara Tobolowsky

Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Research interests: Dual credit, transfer, media representations of college, sophomores and first-generation students


Phone #: 817-272-7269

Office: 104B Trimble Hall

Bio: Dr. Barbara Tobolowsky  is an associate professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies department and the ELPS PhD program director. After earning her PhD in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA in 2001, she served as the associate director of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina-Columbia. Since joining the UT Arlington faculty in 2009, her research has focused on students’ college transitions (e.g., transfer, dual credit, and first-year college students) and popular media representations of higher education. Most recently, she co-wrote articles about the college experiences of foster alumni, “Former foster youth experiences with higher education: Opportunities and Challenges” (2019) and the college choice process for transfer students, “Stops, starts, and detours: Transfer students’ college choice process,” and co-edited a book, Anti-Intellectual Representations of American Colleges and Universities: Fictional Higher Education (Palgrave MacMillan) (2017)  as well as On the Fast Track: Understanding the Opportunities and Challenges of Dual Credit (2016).  In addition, she has been published in The Journal of Higher Education and College Student Affairs Journal among others. 

Graduate Advisor

Courtney Jones

Graduate Academic Advisor II


Phone #: 817-272-2956

Office: 504 Carlisle Hall

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ELPS Ph.D. alumni have gone on to serve as:

- Administrators in institutions of higher education

- Administrators and superintendents in K-12 education

- Professors of educational leadership