Application Requirements

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

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Next on campus program start date: August 26, 2019

Application Deadlines

Deadline Notification by
Round 1 December 1, 2017 February 1, 2018
Round 2 January 12, 2018 March 15, 2018
Round 3 February 26, 2018 April 16, 2018
Round 4* June 30, 2018 Every two weeks

*We will continue to accept applications on a rolling basis first-come, first-served and space-available basis unitl the indicated date.

Applicants who submit a complete application early will receive primary consideration for USC Rossier Scholarships.

Application Requirements

 A complete application includes all of the following:

  • Online application and $90 non-refundable application fee
  • Official transcripts from all postsecondary institutions (see instructions below)
  • Résumé/CV (Three to five years of full-time work experience required)
  • Online video interview AND 30-Minute timed writing assessment (instructions on how to complete this portion of the application will be emailed after the submission of the online application)
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Two letters of recommendation (preferably one academic and one professional)
  • International applicants only: TOEFL or IELTS scores

Application Checklist


Admissions Criteria

Admission to the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EDL) program is competitive and selective. The admissions team seeks candidates whose academic background, work experience, leadership abilities and communication skills meet the demands of the program and show promise for a successful career as an educational leader that is committed to addressing issues that perpetuate inequities in educational settings.

Academic Background

An advanced degree such as a master’s degree or JD from an accredited institution is required without exception. If your prior study was outside the United States, you must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. There are no set prerequisite courses or majors and prior coursework in education is not required. The admissions team reviews performance in all prior postsecondary coursework.

Work Experience

To meet the requirements of this program, you must have worked for at least three to five years on a full-time basis, including meaningful and progressive experience in education or a related profession. The admissions team looks closely at employment history, weighing skills, aptitude for leadership, and knowledge of the education profession.

Leadership Abilities

As a competitive applicant, you should have a record of involvement and leadership personally and professionally, including campus organizations, civic endeavors, community groups and/or professional associations. Candidate must demonstrate a commitment to and a passion for minoritized students in K-12 and higher education settings.

Application Instructions

Follow the instructions below to complete your application. For printable summary of application instructions, download and print the application checklist.

Please note the following:

  • ALL application materials must be submitted by the round deadline in order to receive notification of your admission decision by the corresponding notification date. Incomplete applications may be delayed to the next application review round, if applicable.
  • Applicants who submit a complete application early will receive primary consideration for USC Rossier Scholarships.

1. Complete the online application

You may save your information and continue to complete your application at a later date. If you are applying to multiple programs, please indicate this in your application.

  • Enter your name as it appears on your government issued ID. Indicate any alternate or previous names in the “other name” field (i.e. maiden name)
  • Enter the email address USC Rossier should use to communicate with you throughout the application process.

2. Request college or university-issued official transcripts

College or university-issued transcripts must be received from all post-secondary institutions you attended, regardless of whether credit or degree was earned.

Transcript submission is a two-step process:

Step One:

  • Request that official transcripts from each college or university you attended be mailed to your residence (print-outs from portals are not acceptable).
  • Scan and upload these official transcripts into the application system online. College or university-issued transcripts must be received from all institutions attended (regardless of whether credit or a degree was earned).

Step Two:

  • After you submit your application and receive your 10-digit USC ID number, request that a second copy of all official transcripts be sent from all institutions directly to USC. You can use one of the following two methods to send USC your official transcripts:

Electronic transcripts
Official electronic transcripts are preferred as long as they are from a U.S. institution. Transcripts must be emailed directly from the college or university to the USC Office of Graduate Admission at

Hard copy transcripts
Hard copies of official transcripts from all post-secondary schools you have attended should be sent to the addresses provided below:

University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower Street, Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

Transcripts must arrive at USC in a sealed envelope from the institution. You may not send transcripts that have been previously opened.

3. Upload a Résumé/CV

Your résumé should be detailed enough to help the Admissions committee understand the various experiences – extracurricular, leadership, or volunteer – that have shaped your interest in the program.

  • Make sure your résumé clearly outlines your role(s) and responsibilities within each organization and highlight any special achievements or accomplishments

4. Complete your online video interview AND the timed, 30-minute writing assessment

Once you submit your online application, you will be sent an email invitation to record your online video interview consisting of three questions and your timed, 30-minute writing assessment consisting of one question. The invitation to complete these portions of the application is typically sent 3-5 days after your online application has been successfully submitted. We recommend that you submit your application at least one week before the deadline to ensure that you receive and complete the video interview prior to the application deadline. Both the online video interview and the writing assessment become part of your application and is evaluated in conjunction with the rest of the application materials.

Please note: you will not be provided with an opportunity to re-record your interview responses nor are you allowed to retake your written assessment once you’ve completed these parts of the application.

Online video interview
The video interview helps the admissions team get to know you beyond your online application. This is an opportunity for you to share your motivation to pursue a doctorate’s degree, your capacity for leadership and how you’ve demonstrated a commitment to addressing inequities in education for minoritized student populations. Record your responses using an internet-connected computer with a webcam. Practice questions will be provided. For assistance with the video interview, email

Writing Assessment
The writing assessment is a timed online essay exercise that measures your ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills in written form. Once you begin the writing assessment, you will have 30 minutes to compose a concise, well-reasoned response that addresses a problem of practice relevant to educational leadership.

5. Upload your Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose will be used to evaluate your personal, professional and educational experiences, path to a degree in student affairs and ability to effectively communicate ideas and organize written thoughts.

  • Upload the required essay in the online application. Remain within assigned character limits for each question.

6. Input contact information for recommenders

Ideally, your recommendations should come from current and former supervisors who can comment on the value you have added to your workplaces, or former instructors who can describe your ability to perform well in graduate-level courses.

  • Provide the name and email address for each reference who will electronically submit a letter of recommendation.
  • References will receive an email with a password and directions for writing a letter and completing a cover sheet.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure all recommendations are submitted by the deadline.

7. Submit $90 application fee or obtain fee waiver

  • Application fees must be paid via credit or debit card
  • An application fee waiver is available to applicants who meet certain eligibility criteria. If you choose to apply for a fee waiver you must:
    1. Start your online application – do not submit until fee waiver is approved.
    2. Provide supporting documents to demonstrate qualification.
    3. Have your fee waiver request approved.
    4. Complete and submit your online application.

    Eligibility criteria and instructions for obtaining a fee waiver can be found at the USC Graduate Admission website.


USC Rossier welcomes international applicants. If you are a citizen of a country other than the United States, please be aware that you are subject to U.S. government regulations regarding entry into the United States and enrollment in programs. Please follow these additional instructions to complete your application:

Request official copy of TOEFL & IELTS
International students whose native language is not English and who completed their undergraduate work outside of the U.S. are required to submit an official TOEFL IBT or IELTS score as part of their application. You must have taken the test within the past two years. In order to be a competitive applicant, you must receive a score at or above 100 iBT.  Official test scores should be sent from the testing agency directly to USC. Only scores received directly from the testing service are considered official. USC does not accept self-reported test scores.

  • TOEFL: To send scores, use USC’s ETS code 4852
  • IELTS: Select “University of Southern California” at the time of registration. Alternatively, provide this information to your testing center after taking the test. Scores are valid if earned within two years of the intended first term at USC
  • No department code is required to send TOEFL and IELTS scores

Financial Statement
If you are not a U.S. citizen or resident, you may also be asked to submit a Financial Statement/Verification of Funds document.

For more information, visit the international student application’s page.


  • After your application is submitted, the Admissions team will provide you with timely and accurate updates on your application status (including missing items).
  • If your application is complete by the round application deadline, you can expect to receive notification of your admission decision by the corresponding notification date.

Additional Resources

Review the Application FAQs

Contact Us

If you have any questions, please contact:

Dominique Lightsey
Senior Assistant Director, Office of Admissions and Scholarships
(213) 740-0224