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School Improvement


Recognized by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) as a national model for creating equity-oriented leaders, the program emphasizes the improvement of PK–12 teaching and learning through the development of systems-level processes and structures and prioritizes educational leadership as a practice integrating school and community contexts.

This program prepares educational leaders, policymakers, and researchers to facilitate educational improvement in local, state, national, and international contexts.

 Contact The Graduate College for general questions about getting started with your application, funding your degree, and more.
If you have program-specific questions after reviewing the program details, we encourage you to contact the following:

Doctoral Program Director
Dr. James Koschoreck
Academic Services Building South (ASBS), Room 306

Advisor Support
Jacqueline Todd
Academic Services Building South (ASBS), Room 306

“The school improvement program was a life-changing experience. The professors’ genuine mentorship provided me with the resources and networks to navigate academia and be successful as an assistant professor.”

— Juan Nino, Ph.D. ’12, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at San Antonio

Course Work

The program takes an interdisciplinary approach to educating equity-oriented scholar-practitioners who view education through a variety of lenses. Students have the opportunity to incorporate international research into course work.

Students are admitted as a cohort that begins in the fall semester of each year. All classes are offered in the evenings or on weekends for the convenience of working professionals. The program consists of 51 hours of course work and 12 hours of dissertation for a total of 63 hours.

  • core (foundational) courses
  • major (school improvement) courses
  • doctoral electives
  • dissertation proposal development
  • research courses
  • dissertation courses
Degree Course Work Dissertation Total Hours
Ph.D. 51 hours 12 hours 63 hours
Academic Services Building South

The program brings together students with diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and professional goals to study with nationally recognized faculty who collaborate with students on research projects, publications and conference presentations.

Program Mission

The school improvement doctoral program is designed for professionals in a variety of educational roles who wish to develop and enhance their capacity for facilitating ongoing educational improvement. The program offers the opportunity to conduct research to inform practice and to prepare educational practitioners.

The program develops skills in the following areas:

  • transformational school leadership
  • culturally responsive leadership
  • professional development
  • curriculum development 
  • instructional improvement
  • improvement of student assessment
  • educational philosophies and educational research with both qualitative and quantitative methodologies

Visit program website ›

Related Programs

Program Faculty

Faculty members are experienced P-12 teachers, administrators, and researchers. This practical background enables the professors to demonstrate to students the manner by which ideas, techniques, and policy studies may be applied in a school setting. The faculty is actively engaged in professional organizations at state and national levels. They also serve as consultants to numerous school districts in personnel searches, facility studies, curriculum projects, staff development, and professional organization accreditation studies.

Meet our faculty ›

Career Options

Doctoral students in this program may be preparing for roles including:

  • superintendent
  • principal
  • assistant principal
  • university professor
  • department chair or team leader
  • instructional supervisor
  • curriculum coordinator
  • educational researcher
  • school district administrator
  • staff developer
  • government agency administrator
  • educational nonprofit administrator
  • educational consultant

Application Process

Step 1

Review Requirements

Application Deadlines

Deadlines U.S. Citizen International
Fall February 1 February 1
Spring No Admission No Admission
Summer I No Admission No Admission
Summer II No Admission No Admission


Application Deadline
This program has a firm deadline.

Funding Information
For scholarship, fellowship or assistantship consideration, applications must be completed by the deadline above. Read additional information about departmental funding opportunities below.

Decision Timeline
This program reviews applications on a firm basis.

Application Requirements

The items required for admission consideration are listed below. Additional information for applicants with international credentials can be found on our international web pages.


  Review important information about the online application.

Application Fee

  • $55 nonrefundable application fee
  • $90 nonrefundable application fee for applications with international credentials

  Review important information about application fees.

Transcripts & GPA

  • baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university
  • master's degree in a field related to the proposed studies from a regionally accredited university
  • a copy of an official transcript from each institution where course credit was granted
  • minimum 3.5 GPA in all completed graduate course work

  Review important information about transcripts. Official transcripts, sent directly from your institution, will be required if admission is granted.

GRE Scores

  • GRE not required

Documents & Other Requirements

  • resume/CV
  • statement of purpose (approximately 500 words) describing background and professional goals, including your rationale for pursuing a doctoral degree
  • three recommendation forms addressing your professional and academic background. References are required to use the program's Professional Reference Evaluation form and are also strongly encouraged to attach a recommendation letter to the form.
  • possible interview with program faculty
  • possible academic writing sample

  Review important information about documents.


Applicants are required to submit TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS scores that meet the minimum program requirements below unless they have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or the equivalent from a country on our exempt countries list.

  • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 78 overall
  • official PTE scores required with a 52 overall
  • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 6.5 overall and
    • minimum individual module scores of 6.0

  This program does not offer admission if the scores above are not met.

  Review important information about official test scores.

Additional Information

  Funding Information 
Applications for doctoral assistantships should be submitted by February 1.