2021-2022 Academic Catalog 
    Jun 20, 2024  
2021-2022 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVE]

Educational Leadership, PhD

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The College of Education’s Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program is designed to meet the professional development needs of educational leaders. Ph.D. graduates complete a concentration in Educational Leadership. Birthed from Columbia International University’s long-standing commitment to Christian schools and Christian higher education, the Ph.D. program aims to develop educators to lead, model, think, communicate, and research with biblical excellence. Students will grow in their ability to articulate Christ-centered perspectives in educational institutions and to represent education from a biblical perspective in the broader society. Courses are provided 100% online. Students must be accepted into the Ph.D. program to enroll in courses. CIU Education Programs are endorsed by the Higher Education Approval Program (HEAP) of the Association for Christian Schools International (ACSI). Program graduates who meet specific requirements are eligible to apply without fee for appropriate ACSI teacher or administrator certificates.


The Ph.D. program strives to produce leaders who have a biblical perspective and mentor educational communities while addressing needs through learning.


Students will demonstrate learning in specified areas of educational leadership. The program competencies that students must satisfactorily demonstrate for completion of the degree are supported by program courses, qualifying exams taken near the conclusion of coursework, and a doctoral dissertation.

All students must demonstrate satisfactory competence in all required outcomes; no competencies will be waived. Students who do not take a program course that is associated with a specified competency must still prepare to demonstrate that outcome through qualifying exams.

Candidates will understand, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate:

  • High-quality educational leadership from a biblical perspective, theoretical approaches, research findings, and alternative models of effective leadership and functioning of organizations, groups, and individuals within organizations.
  • The components and process of quantitative and qualitative research which produce new theory, knowledge of effective practices, and solutions to educational questions and problems within an educational institution.

Admission Requirements

  • Online application
  • Application fee
  • Official transcript for highest earned degree and any master’s level credits earned
    • A minimum 3.2 GPA for the most recent degree obtained
    • A master’s degree from an accredited institution that provides a relevant foundation for postgraduate studies in educational leadership. (An education or education-related field is the strongly preferred focus of the master’s degree.)
  • Two general references
  • Letter of evaluation (Graduate professor verifying ability to do doctoral level work)
  • Academic writing sample (Published article or graduate research paper)
  • Resume or curriculum vitae 
  • An interview with the Ph.D./Ed.S. Committee

Residency and Transfer Policies

A maximum of fifteen credit hours of appropriate graduate coursework in education may be applied toward the Ph.D. program, as determined by the program director. An additional six hours may be transferred if more than one master’s or an Ed.S. has been completed. Transfer credit must be from an accredited institution with a grade of “B-” or above. Students who have completed the Ed.S. degree at CIU within the previous five years may transfer the 30 hours of the Ed.S. based upon acceptance into the Ph.D. program.

CIU graduate students who meet the requirements to be accepted into the Ph.D. program may transfer 15 hours from the CIU Master of Education program. Students will transfer EDU 7300 Foundations of Education (for EDU 9300), EDU 6231 History of Christian Education (for EDU 9200), and EDU 6425 Supervision of Instruction (for EDU 9520).   If a student completed the M.Ed. Educational Administration concentration, EDU 5525 Law and Personnel (for EDU 9550) and EDU 5515 Institutional Advancement (for EDU 9555) will also transfer.  If the student completed the M.Ed. Instruction and Learning concentration, EDU 7410 Instructional Models (for EDU 9350) and EDU 5330 Authentic Assessment will transfer (for EDU 9330).

Time Limitation

The time limit for completing the program is six years, measured from the date a student begins coursework in the Ph.D. program. In extenuating circumstances, a student may petition for additional time to complete the dissertation.

Completion Requirements

Although advisors assist students in planning their courses of study, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all requirements for graduation have been met.

  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale), with no grade below “B-” applicable to the degree. (Transfer grades are not calculated in the cumulative GPA.)
  • Demonstrate competency on each of the program’s outcomes through satisfactory completion of courses and the qualifying examinations.
  • Complete and present a successful oral defense of an approved dissertation that exhibits the student’s ability to do competent research, think critically, and communicate effectively.

Course of Study (Foundation + Concentration) (60)

Suggested Program of Study

The total minimum number of semester hours to graduate is 60. The following program of study outlines a schedule for fulfilling all of the requirements for the program within four years, reflecting a fall program entry. Program completion may be compressed with transfer hours or expanded up to 6 years. 

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