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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies




The Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Ph.D. program is available at 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.

Ph.D. students are subject to residential requirements as set forth by the Virginia Tech Graduate School. 

Research and teaching assistantships are available for our doctoral students. 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/scholarship opportunities.


As a leading provider of graduate education for students who are committed to diversity and equity, reflective practice, and research-based practices, we will work with you to ensure that you met your goals.

The Ph.D. Program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Virginia Tech offers a practically-focused dissertation research process, and our graduates usually pursue careers in higher-level educational administration. Successful candidates will complete a minimum of 78 post-master’s credits for the Ph.D.

Designed for working professionals, the program offers its courses in the evening to fit the schedules of full-time educators, both in-person and online.


Ph.D. students complete a minimum of 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.

  • An appropriate masters-level degree from an accredited institution
  • At least a 3.3 GPA on applicant's most recent two years of university coursework
  • Experience serving in a school leadership position
  • We require GRE scores only from Ph.D. applicants. 
  • Doctoral applicants are expected to have already earned the Virginia school administration and supervision endorsement or equivalent licensure and to already have some experience in P-12 administration. 

Learn more 

There is a discount for in-state K-12 teachers; use this application form in order to receive the reduced costs.

As with on-campus students, we refer you to the VT Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid for information on financial assistance. Generally, distance learners may qualify for federal loans if they take 5 or more credit hours per semester.

Find out what loans are available as a graduate student and other opportunities.

As full-time Virginia K-12 school employees, our students qualify for a 25% reduced tuition rate.  Use this application form in order to receive the reduced costs.

Tuition & Fee Rates

Domestic Application
*Fall:  August 1
International Application
*Fall: April 1
*Deadline for early decision admission for Fall: February 1

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

Kathy Tickle
Enrollment Services Specialist
Starting Term Campus Applications

Kathy Tickle
Enrollment Services Specialist
Starting Term Campus Applications

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. 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.


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

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