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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (Ph.D.)

(Ph.D. in Educational Leadership)

Campus: Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus

Instructions: Residential/On Campus 

We strive to meet the preparation needs of educational leaders in all regions of the Commonwealth.

Funding through Assistantships


Postmaster's Credits for the Ph.D.

Intensive Research Opportunities


Faculty Commitment

Our Educational Leadership Program

In Educational Leadership program, we develop the skills of students ready to take on the challenges of educational leadership. The PhD option is available on the Blacksburg campus to students who wish to pursue university teaching or careers in policy related work. Only a few students are admitted into the Ph.D. option each year. The number of admissions is limited so that faculty may offer students the support and guidance they need.

Why Study Educational Leadership Here?

The VT Educational Leadership Program is approved by the Virginia Board of Education. It is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Educational Leadership Constituent Council. Since 2015, the program has been a member of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), a consortium of higher education institutions committed to the advancement of educational leadership.

What You’ll Study

Doctoral students complete a minimum of 69 (for the Ph.D., 78) hours of research and coursework on a mostly part-time basis. Courses are conducted in the evening to fit the schedules of full-time educators, and the majority of courses are taught in-person or via blended learning.

Students complete all core coursework within six semesters, and graduate after a minimum of eight semesters, or approximately three years. Some students require additional semesters to complete their dissertation research, but most still graduate within three to four years of starting the program.

Course topics include advanced school law, advanced school finance, instructional leadership, governance and policy, facilities planning, theories of administration, and quantitative research methods. Each course touches upon relevant, contemporary issues in K-12 education, such as standardized testing, school safety, special education, school accreditation, diversity, educational politics, and educational reform.

Career and Professional Development

Many of our graduates go on to work as local, state, national, or international educational administrators; university faculty; or educational researchers.

In keeping with the university’s land grant mission, we strive to meet the preparation needs of educational leaders in all regions of the Commonwealth. As the result of our efforts, between one-forth and one-third of all Virginia school superintendents are Virginia Tech Educational Leadership graduates. Alumni of our program also serve as school principals, central office administrators, university presidents, state department of education officials, members of state boards of education, researchers, university faculty, and administrators of various colleges and universities including Virginia Tech itself.

Through our partnership with local P-12 schools, the Educational Leadership Program contributes substantially to the quality of education in Virginia. Under Section 23-38.88.B.9 of the Code of Virginia, the University commits itself to “work actively and cooperatively with elementary and secondary school administrators, teachers, and students in public schools and school divisions to improve student achievement, upgrade the knowledge and skills of school administrators.”

Assistantships, Awards, and Fellowships

Some students in the doctoral program receive financial support including a stipend and tuition. Assignments may be for full or half-time and be with the Program or with other programs in the School or University.

Learn more about other available funding opportunities

Our Faculty 

Research Interests:

  • School Built Facilities And Achievement
  • School Design For 21st Century
  • Renovations and Student Outcomes

Research Interests:

  • School law
  • School finance
  • School board policy

M. David Alexander, Professor

M. David Alexander, Professor

Research Interests:

  • School Desegregation
  • School Finance
  • Student Rights

Research Interests:

  • Mentoring in Education and Innovations in Learning
  • Educational Leadership and Administration
  • Social Justice Education and Leadership
  • Education Policy and Governance
  • Qualitative Research and Field Studies

Carol Mullen, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, CLAHS.

Carol Mullen, Professor

Research Interests:

  • K-12 school leadership and administration 
  • Creating Conditions for Success for New Teachers
  • Board of Education and Superintendent Relationships
  • Time Management for School Leaders
  • Strategies to Improve Students’ Attendance

John Gratto, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Education/Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. CLAHS.

John Gratto, Clinical Assistant Professor

Educational Leadership Research Highlights

Alexander, M. D., & Sughrue, J.A. (2017), Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. In Janet Decker, et al. (eds.), The Principal and the Law, Education Law Association, Cleveland, OH.

Sughrue, J.M., Lewis, M., & Alexander, M.D., (2017) Addressing Discriminatory and Exclusionary Discipline Practices.In Janet Decker, et al. (eds.), The Principal and the Law, Education Law Association, Cleveland, OH. 

Mullen, C. A. (2017). Creativity in Chinese schools: Perspectival frames of paradox and possibility. International Journal of Chinese Education, 6(1), 27-56.

Mullen, C. A. (2017). What are corporate education networks? Why ask questions? Kappa Delta Pi Record, 53(3), 100-106.

Mullen, C. A. (2016). Alternative mentoring types. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 52(3), 132-136.

Bolles, E. & Patrizio, K. (2016). Leadership tenets of military veterans working as school administrators. Journal of Leadership Education.

Students interested in applying to the Educational should contact Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (Ph.D.) should contact Dr. Carol Cash, by email at

Visit our office at the Public Safety Building Suite 201 (0313), 330 Sterrett Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061
Domestic Application
*Fall:  August 1
International Application
*Fall: April 1
*Deadline for early decision admission with full funding consideration for Fall: February 1


Carol Cash
Program Leader
VT Richmond Center
2810 Parham Road, Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23294
(804) 662-7288

Wanda McAlexander
Program Support Technician
2004 VT CRC(0302)
1750 Kraft Drive, Rm 2100
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Susan Li
Graduate Academic Program Assistant
Northern Virginia Center
7054 Haycock Rd.
Falls Church, VA 22043

School of Education
Public Safety Building
Suite 201 (0313)
330 Sterrett Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061