Ph.D. in Educational Leadership

Online Degree Program

The Trident online Ph.D. in Educational Leadership degree program is research-based and helps graduates to prepare to excel as educational leaders at K-12 and higher levels. Applicants who choose this path will have the opportunity to develop deep knowledge, elevate their capacity for innovation, and learn the practical skills necessary for improving school districts and all types of educational institutions.

Are you ready to make an impact in the lives of K-12 and postsecondary students with Trident’s online Ph.D. in Educational Leadership degree program? In our 100% online degree program, you will:

  • Prepare for leadership roles in teaching, school administration, or consulting in your professional field.
  • Work to develop in-depth subject matter expertise.
  • Practice innovative research methods.
  • Contribute to an online learning community in the Trident Learning Community (TLC).
  • Collaborate with dedicated faculty who guide you through coursework, qualifying exam, and dissertation study.
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The Trident Difference

EdActive™ Learning Approach

Students are presented with a question or issue. They do their own research, apply their own experience and present their solution. Feedback and suggestions are received and the student applies the learning to their next task.


With flexible, 100% online classes you can manage your own time to deliver on deadline, with milestones to keep you on track. Faculty is responsive to student needs without daily micro-management.

Transfer Credit

Total required credits may be reduced based on potential transfer credits from other accredited institutions*; we may also consider awarding potential credits for prior learning.


Trident University International is a member of the American InterContinental University System. The System is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

*Transfer credit is evaluated on an individual basis. Not all credits are eligible to transfer. See the University Catalog for transfer credit policies.

Meet your Doctoral Faculty

Doctoral Faculty teach content courses in the online degree program and serve as committee members for doctoral research projects to support and guide students

Dr. Heidi Linn Smith


College of Education

Dr. Heidi A. Schmidt

Department Chair

College of Education

Dr. Nicole Frederick

Full-Time Faculty

College of Education

Dr. Kennedy Maranga

Program Chair

College of Education

A Doctoral Study Committee will be assembled when students begin their research. Each committee consists of three faculty members, one of whom serves as chair of the committee. The chairperson and the committee members will be responsible for guiding the student during the research process.

View all faculty

Ph.D. Educational Leadership Online Degree Program Milestones

There are several milestones in the development of your doctoral study. Here is a brief overview of milestones.

  • 1
    Complete Core, Research, and Concentration Coursework
  • 2
    Develop Prospectus
  • 3
    Draft a Doctoral Dissertation Proposal
  • 4
    Obtain IRB Approval
  • 5
    Defend the Doctoral Dissertation Project

Online Degree Program Overview

Theory and research intersect in our online Ph.D. EL program where you will study how to meet the constantly evolving and growing demands of diverse learners. Your coursework and dissertation study are designed to support engagement in scholarship and academic research to help equip you to serve as an educational leader who can positively impact the future of education.

Upon successful completion of their respective program specialization, the graduate should be able to:

  • Synthesize a broad, integrative knowledge of educational history, theories, research, and practice to inform educational practice
  • Lead collaborative scholarly activity or research to construct knowledge that advances educational theory or practice
  • Formulate and conduct theoretically grounded and methodologically-sound educational research that contributes to the scientific, educational, or professional knowledge base.
  • Integrate relevant technology to conduct and analyze educational research
  • Synthesize assessment data, scientific research, or assessment metrics to inform practice in the field of education
  • Analyze challenges with diversity and equity in educational research and theory to advance equitable practice
  • Apply ethical behavior, standards, and decision-making to research and practice in accordance with the ethical and legal standards of the profession

See the Trident University Catalog for full descriptions of all program course offerings.

Total degree requirement includes 52 semester hours of coursework to successfully complete the degree program.

Up to 8 credits may be waived for students entering the Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership with a completed Master of Arts in Education from Trident University International. Students with a completed Master of Education degree from another institution are eligible for up to 8 transfer-in credits, subject to approval.

See the Trident University Catalog for full descriptions of all program course offerings.

Ph.D. EL students may choose to complete the degree program with no concentration or choose a program concentration option.

With a concentration, the student will complete 4 semester hours of specialized coursework in an area of the student’s choice in place of the program elective. The Ph.D. EL offers the below concentrations:

  • Educational Technology
    - Examine existing or new theories to address issues in the field of educational technology.
  • Health Education
    - Examine health behavior and change theory to address issues in health promotion program planning.
  • Higher Educational Leadership
    - Examine adult learning theory to improve curriculum and student achievement in the field of higher education.
  • Teaching, Learning and Development
    - Examine learning and development theory to advance teaching practices and instructional design in educational settings.

Tuition cost for the Ph.D. program:

Tuition Type Per Credit Cost Total Tuition Cost*
Standard $990 $51,480
Retired Military / Veteran / And Their Immediate Family Members** $885 $46,020
Military & Immediate Family Members / Department of Defense Federal Civilian Employees** $800 $41,600

*Total Tuition Cost displayed is based on the total number of credits required for the program and may very based on transfer credit applied. Does not include cost of dissertation continuation courses, the number of which vary based on dissertation completion date.

**Tuition per credit represented with applicable military grant applied Other fees may apply and are subject to change without advance notice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Trident's Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Leadership degree program is designed to help our students prepare to become researchers, scholars, and professors. This program is intended for students who desire to examine issues and trends with designing and implementing educational strategies across private and public sectors of PK-12, higher education, the military, and corporate learning organizations. Students will work to acquire skills to ethically address the complex problems within educational practice using data-driven decision-making and other theoretical frames linking systematic inquiry with innovative, research-based solutions.

Students in this program will study educational theories and best practices as well as how to resolve critical problems from diverse perspectives. Students will explore how to apply data to draw evidence-based conclusions and demonstrate an ability to serve as scholar practitioners

The Ph.D. in Educational Leadership degree program offers the following concentrations: Educational Technology, Health Education, Higher Educational Leadership, and Teaching, Learning, and Development. A concentration is not required for students to complete the program.

Trident’s Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Leadership degree program requires a total of 44-52 semester credits. Up to 8 credits may be waived for students entering the Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership with a completed Master of Arts in Education from Trident. Students with a completed Master of Education degree from another institution are eligible for up to 8 transfer credits, subject to approval.*

*Transfer credit is evaluated on an individual basis. Not all credits are eligible to transfer. See the Trident University Catalog for transfer credit policies.

You can begin your education at Trident now. Classes at Trident begin monthly. Completion of the applications and admissions processes will depend on how quickly you begin.

Speak to an Admissions Advisor over the phone (1-800-579-3197) or request information online.

Once you have completed the online request, you may hear from an advisor within 24 hours to discuss the next steps toward starting your degree program.

Trident offers flexible courses in a curriculum tailored to skills and training utilized in the field of education today. In addition, it was developed for working adults. Trident goes the extra mile to evaluate military training and traditional academic credit to maximize potential credit transfer. We also offer several non-traditional ways to earn academic credits that can accelerate your ability to meet graduation requirements. Degree candidates can pursue an education degree online, allowing the flexibility to study on their own schedules.

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Dr. Petitt

Doctor of Education in Leadership, 2022

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