Curriculum and Dissertation

Consistent with the USC Rossier mission to prepare leaders to achieve education equity, the purpose of the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EDL) program is to build critically conscious leaders who can take actions to eliminate inequities that affect educational and learning opportunities and outcomes for children and adults.

The program is designed to prepare you with knowledge and skills in six core competencies:

  • Accountability
  • Critical Reflection
  • Diversity and Equity
  • Ethics
  • Learning Organizations
  • Research and Data


The Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EDL) program coursework consists of four components: core courses, courses within a designated concentration, research methods courses and the dissertation in practice.

In the first year of the program, you will complete core courses that reflect USC Rossier’s mission and the program purpose. These courses focus on developing or deepening your understanding of the way power and privilege play out in education in urban settings, leadership and learning to perpetuate inequities in learning opportunities. Subsequent coursework will build on this foundation and align with your career objectives. Each concentration will expose you to context-specific best practices and research, while emphasizing the application of theory to practice. In the third year, you will work collaboratively with faculty and other classmates in your concentration to complete a dissertation in practice.

Component Classes Purpose
Core Courses 6 Acquire broad knowledge on the USC Rossier mission, program purpose and program competencies.
Concentration Courses 4 Gain in-depth understanding specific to your career goals and develop inquiry skills to be used in the dissertation in practice.
Research Methods Courses 2 Understand how quantitative and qualitative research tools are used in educational research and learn to critique and design research studies.
Dissertation in Practice 3 Conduct action-oriented research to solve a problem of practice.

Dissertation in Practice

The dissertation in practice is a doctoral dissertation with a more practical focus than a traditional dissertation. Under the guidance of faculty in your concentration, you will apply relevant research methods to tackle a problem of practice that impedes access to equitable educational opportunities and outcomes. The purpose of the dissertation in practice is to equip you with the knowledge and skills you will use to address existing problems in your workplace well beyond your completion of the program. Format options for the dissertation in practice vary by concentration.