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Doctorate in Educational Leadership Handbook

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Graduate Education at Miami University

Miami University, located in southwestern Ohio, is a public university founded in 1809.  Miami enjoys a reputation of outstanding academic quality and is distinguished by nearly two centuries of teaching accomplishments and scholarly activity.  Our faculty recognizes the inseparability of teaching and scholarship and strives to encourage that relationship in their students.  Miami's 12 doctoral programs and more than 50 master's programs support this goal.

This handbook is to be used in conjunction with A Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty, published by the Graduate School, found here. All MU policies, deadlines, and information related to graduate school registration, financial aid, degree requirements, and student life can be found in the Graduate School’s Handbook.

Department of Educational Leadership


Our purpose is to advance a socially just society through our educational and leadership work.

We aspire for a more democratic, socially just world through intentional conversations, curriculum, and activism that reflects an attention to diversity, a focus on social identities, equitable practices, and how power, oppression, and privilege impact education.

We believe that educators co-construct academic programs which meaningfully connect with the lived experiences of their students.

We believe in constructing education as an integrated human experience through generating knowledge, educating, serving, and promoting holistic well-being in our classrooms, institutions, and broader communities.

Our academic department is rooted in these core values that inform our principles. These principles allow for multiple interpretations and mul­tiple voices and yet communicate our belief in advancing the causes of democracy and social justice.


  1. Leadership is an intellectual, moral, and craft practice situated in the cultural, political, and social contexts of institutions and societies.
  2. Educational leadership is both positional and non-positional in form; it is a process of power-sharing rather than power-imposing which works toward collaboration, emancipation, and empowerment.
  3. Educators make a commitment to community. The building and development of diverse, inclusive communities is never assumed, and should be continuously nurtured, interrogated, and supported.
  4. Educational leaders understand and navigate the present environment in order to work towards transforming organizations and the individuals within them to become more democratic and socially just.

Ph.D. Program in Educational Leadership

The Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership has at its core an emphasis on Leadership, Culture, and Curriculum.  All courses are guided by the belief that educational leaders must work together to create socially just educational systems.  We believe that educational leadership encompasses knowledge of administration, curriculum, and the social, historical, and philosophical foundations of education.  We also believe that educational leaders must be able to integrate knowledge across educational fields and that they must be able to both understand and execute educational research, policy, and practice across educational institutions, families, and communities.

The nature of education today defies the neat borders and boundaries that have historically characterized many doctoral programs in education.  Educational policy and politics are centered on changing the status quo as schools increasingly work collaboratively with families, non-profits, and civil society organizations.  Activism and entrepreneurship are taking on new forms in the ever-shifting world of education.  Thus, we offer an integrated approach that embraces these new worlds of education so that leaders are prepared to meet the needs of diverse student populations and communities through an array of educational institutions and programs.

The guiding mission of our doctoral program is to prepare educational leaders and scholars who are attuned to culture-based leadership and who are critically aware, as well as politically and ethically discerning.

Our Ph.D. program’s emphasis on Leadership, Culture, and Curriculum integrates the fields of educational administration, leadership, and curriculum with an emphasis on educational equity.  The program is flexible enough to allow room for students to build expertise in their areas of interest and/or to complete the requirements for an administrative license.

We approach leadership from a cultural perspective that seeks to prepare leaders for various educational institutions.  Our core classes employ culture-based theories to examine the interplay and struggles of various groups within societies.   We help students to understand both how schools as organizations are presently constructed, as well as to deeply understand how education for the purpose of social justice might require fundamental shifts in thinking about students, families, neighborhoods, and nation.

We believe that a doctoral program in educational leadership that starts with questions of culture is far better equipped to help its graduates work for more socially just educational institutions and spaces.  Grounding our efforts in cultural theories helps to explain the differentials of wealth and status that strongly shape educational outcomes in our society.  Moreover, it enables educational leaders to more easily frame questions of democratic purpose and moral value within the educational contexts in which they are working.  The seven principles orienting our department’s work help root the Leadership, Culture, and Curriculum emphasis in the curriculum within a substantive ethical vision of schooling appropriate for a diverse democratic society.  

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Program at a Glance

Required Core Courses (15 credits)  

EDL 761 Introduction to Doctoral Studies
EDL 762 Culture and Leadership in Education
EDL 764 Education & Democratic Society
EDL 765 Curriculum, Pedagogy and Diversity
EDL 771 Educational Administration, Policy and Politics

Preliminary Exam

(taken directly after completion of core courses) 


(15 credits; at least 6 credits must be 700 level)*  

Primary Doctoral Electives

EDL 706 Educational Leadership and Organizational Development
EDL 781 Youth, Culture and Education
EDL 782 Social Justice and Transformation
EDL 783 Curriculum Politics and Policy
EDL 784 Power, Knowledge and Difference
EDL 785 Theorizing Gender, Sexuality, and Education
EDL 786 Race, Ethnicity, and Education
EDL 787 Leadership for Public Good
EDL 796 Practicum in Curriculum and Supervision

Electives Related to Higher Education

EDL 731 Learning Partnerships
EDL 685 Leadership and Spirituality
EDL 751 Social and Political Engagement in Higher Education

Electives from Master’s and Licensure Courses

EDL 606 Curriculum Innovation
EDL 614 Family-School-Community Partnerships
EDL 621 Foundations of Multicultural Education
EDL 623 Ethics in Education
EDL 625 Social Foundations of Education
EDL 629 History of American Education
EDL 639 Curriculum Theory
EDL 645 Supervision
EDL 648 Data-Based Decision-Making
EDL 607 School Law
EDL 609 Politics in Education
EDL 723 School Finance
EDL 780S Staff Development
EDL 710/711 Internships

*or choose from special topics courses, and courses from other departments, approved by Academic Advisor and Director of Graduate Studies  

Required Research Courses (18 credits)

EDL 772 Advance Research Design (Introduction to Quantitative)
EDL 683 Introduction to Qualitative Research
EHS 667/EDL 661 Statistics (or equivalent course)
EDL 775 Research Capstone (taken at end of program)

Choose two advanced research classes from possibilities such as:

EHS 668 Behavioral Statistics
EDL 780W Advanced Cultural Studies
EDL 790.G Program Evaluation
EDL 773 Advanced Data Analysis
EDP 688 SPSS Series I or II

Residency may be fulfilled by full time students with 2 consecutive semesters on campus in a graduate assistantship, or with an alternative Residency Plan for part-time students.

Residency Enrichment Experience

(typically taken after the Preliminary Examination)

Comprehensive Exam

(taken when all coursework is completed)


(16 hours)  

Total Credits = 64

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Assignment of Advisors

After the student is accepted into the program, the Director of Graduate Studies assigns a temporary advisor. The temporary advisor assists the student in planning a course of study for the first semesters. As early as possible, the student selects a permanent faculty advisor based on the student’s scholarly interests. The faculty advisor assists the student with the Preliminary Examination, Comprehensive Exam, and Dissertation processes and in the selection of the various committees.

Changing Advisors

At any point during the program, it is perfectly acceptable for a student to change his/her advisor. Sometimes students develop a research interest that better aligns with another faculty member’s expertise. Other times students may wish to work with a different faculty member. This change must be made official by notifying all faculty members involved as well as the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Role of an Academic Advisor

An advisor in a doctoral program provides a very important resource for students. An advisor communicates program requirements, helps a student develop a program that fits with the student’s needs and aspirations, and ensures that department and university regulations are used as guides to navigate the degree program requirements. The advisor also provides important mentoring to the world of scholarship and knowledge generation, guiding the student toward the professional networks of conferences and scholarly associations.

Because the advisor is the student’s contact person in navigating the organization of the University, it is essential that advisors be knowledgeable about available resources and be able to refer students to appropriate offices to deal with issues related to such matters as course registration, assistantships, writing assistance, or securing travel money to attend professional conferences or do research. A well-informed advisor is able to assist students in realistically understanding their academic programs and goals.

Ideally, the advisor is someone who is concerned about the student as an individual--a unique person with unique interests and goals. On that basis, a relationship can be built with the student, which is friendly, open, and trusting.

Advisors play an important role in the life of the Department. The mission of the Department of Educational Leadership at Miami is to “encourage the development of leaders who assume responsibility for shaping education to make students’ lives more meaningful.” The advising relationship supports this mission as advisors closely work with students to help them reach their goals as educational leaders. Good advising is a means of ensuring student retention, growth, and successful completion of the degree.

The Role of the Student as an Advisee

Academic advising in a doctoral program takes the advisor and the advisee working together to achieve optimal success for the student. Because a doctoral program is a complicated endeavor, the advising relationship is one important key to building a good program in line with a student’s interests and goals. Advisees share information with their advisor about interests, goals, and educational and career plans. Advisees should also share personal information that has a bearing on their academic careers: number of hours spent at work, responsibilities to family, financial aid status, and any limitations.

The advising relationship is equally important for both part-time and full-time doctoral students, but different approaches may be taken by different types of students. Working full time, often off campus, part-time students may have to schedule advising meetings after typical office hours, taking place in person, on the phone, or via an online video chat room (i.e., Skype, Google+ Hangout). While it may be easier to schedule an advising meeting for full-time students who are on campus more often, it is imperative that part-time students take the initiative to set up advising appointments. These meetings allow part-time students to stay connected to the department while building positive relationships with advisors. Such meetings will also be critical when deciding on a residency option and when choosing committee members for the Preliminary Exam, Comprehensive Exam, and the dissertation.

Students should become familiar with this handbook as well as the Miami’s Graduate School Handbook. These are vital sources of information. Students should also keep a record of graduation requirements, be familiar with deadlines, and be willing to contact the appropriate student support services (see pg. 38) available on campus.

Students should be an active participant in their advising sessions! Advisees should initiate and come prepared to meetings with their advisor, particularly when registering for the next semester. Students should review which courses (i.e., core classes, required research classes, and electives) are still necessary to complete the program. Students should also have an idea of which courses they would like to take based on their stated concentration. If a concentration area is undecided, conversations with the advisor may help provide clarity and direction. 

Advisees should alert their advisor immediately if they begin to have difficulties that are affecting class work or continued enrollment. Doctoral students have busy lives, and sometimes complicating factors come up that will have a negative impact on a student’s academic work plan or progress. Communicating clearly and honestly with one’s advisor during these difficult times is essential.

Components of Advising for Faculty Advisors


Advisors should…

  • Be familiar with the Ph.D. in EDL Handbook (this document) and Miami’s Graduate School Handbook
  • Review the degree requirements (i.e., core and research courses) and assessment requirements (i.e., Preliminary and Comprehensive Exam processes).
  • Review their advisees’ Plan of Study (green sheet). Communicate with advisees to schedule meetings.

The Advising Appointments

Advisors should...

  • Review advisee’s academic record and progress toward fulfilling EDL’s five major requirements: courses, Preliminary Exam, residency, Comprehensive Exam, and dissertation. Check the advisee’s hours earned, and take into account any inapplicable hours. Review progress toward graduation.
  • Discuss courses for the upcoming semester. Listen carefully to an advisee’s plans. Make recommendations, point out prerequisites, and offer alternatives.
  • Ask advisee about any academic problems that may be occurring. Know how to refer students to the Howe Center for Writing Excellence, Rinella Learning Center, etc.
  • Discuss how to plan for/take electives that tailor to the advisee’s interests and scholarly/professional goals.
  • Discuss advisee’s plans for submitting papers to conferences and publishing. 
  • Discuss advisee’s plans for beginning a career. 
  • Be sure that the advisee understands how to use Niihka and register for classes.
  • Keep a copy of the student’s Plan of Study sheet in electronic or paper form (whatever is preferred).


Advisors should...

  • Create a folder on each advisee to keep copies of all forms and records such as a schedule of current classes and the Plan of Study sheet that should be updated at the end of each semester.
  •  Allow some time during the registration period and after for advisees to talk with advisors if they have had difficulty registering for the classes or alternates that the advisor has recommended.
  • Make sure their advisees know their regularly scheduled office hours if students need to contact advisors outside the advising and registration periods. For instance, advisees may need to add or drop a course or may have an academic or personal problem.
  • Keep a record of contacts with the advisee indicating information exchanged or a summary of the discussion. 

If advisors are unsure of an answer to a question regarding an academic policy or graduation requirement, they should feel free to call the Registrar’s Office at (513)-529-8703.

Components of Advising for Doctoral Students


Advisees should...

  • Know their advisor’s name, contact information, and office hours.
  • Check their Miami e-mail often.
  • Review the program requirements in the Ph.D. in EDL Handbook, specifically the Plan of Study sheet. Review Miami’s registration schedule to know when one is able to register for classes.
  • Schedule an advising appointment prior to when registration begins.
  • Develop a written list of questions or topics to cover with their advisor.
  • Make an appointment with their advisor to discuss registration.
  • Plan their course schedule, considering other responsibilities such as work.

The Advising Appointments

Advisees should…

  • Help their advisor help them. If a student is having trouble with a specific course or all of them, then the student should be prepared to discuss this and be open to his/her advisor’s suggestions for using the Rinella Learning Center, Howe Writing Center, etc.
  • Discuss courses for the upcoming semester, and listen carefully to their advisor’s recommendations. Check all prerequisites for the courses they want to take.
  • Ask questions about their progress toward meeting EDL’s five major requirements: courses, Preliminary Exam, residency, Comprehensive Exam, and dissertation. Review progress toward graduation.
  • Consider carefully the balance between work and family responsibilities and their academic course load. Students should be ambitious, but also be realistic about how much academic work they can handle in a term or semester.
  • Discuss plans for conference presentations, publications, and/or beginning a career.
  • Be sure that they understand how to register.


Advisees should...

  • Register for as many courses as possible via the Web.
  • Let their advisor know if they are unable to register for any of the courses or alternates suggested.
  • Verify their schedule through the Web before the semester begins. Check to see if registered classes have been canceled. This sometimes happens due to a lack in enrollment.

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Planning Your Program

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is formalized in a document frequently referred to as the "green sheet" and should be drafted around the time the Preliminary Exam is taken.

The Plan of Study consists of a proposed schedule for completing the five major steps of the doctoral program:

I. Courses

  • Required core courses
  • Electives (based around self-designed concentrations)
  • Concentrations (based on licensure requirements, if applicable – see license section later in this document)

II. Residency

III. Preliminary Exam

IV. Comprehensive Exam

V. Dissertation

Each part of the doctoral program is fully described in this handbook, but additional questions can always be directed to the department chair, director of graduate studies, or one’s advisor.


Required Core Courses

EDL 761 Introduction to Doctoral Studies

This course is designed to orient students to the culture and procedures of EDL, to develop scholarly skills, to assist in professional planning, and to create a cohort of learners.

EDL 762 Culture and Leadership in Education

This introductory doctoral seminar is designed to explore various social theories that are useful for considering the relationship between culture and educational leadership. The course will focus on a few theories that seem to provide for new ways of constructing a culture-based leadership.

EDL 764 Education & Democratic Society

This doctoral seminar explores educational questions of democracy, justice, and cultural difference through disciplinary lenses of the social foundations of education, primarily philosophy and history of education. Students will study, compare, contrast, and critique several different conceptual frameworks for understanding democratic theory and educational practice.

EDL 765 Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Diversity  

This core doctoral seminar provides students with a foundational understanding of the historical and contemporary issues, theories, and practices that make up the curriculum field. 

EDL 771 Educational Administration, Policy, and Politics

The purpose of this course is to explore the intersection of educational policy and educational politics and how they impact and work toward social justice at the local, state, and federal levels.


Choose a minimum of 15 hours; at least 6 hours must be 700 level.

EDL 706 Educational Leadership and Organizational Development

This course examines conceptual foundations of educational administration with the aim of using theory and research to solve the problems of practice. The focus of the course is on various models of theory (i.e., Classical, Scientific, Human Relations, Modern Era, etc.), the elements and purpose of theory, and the school as a social system with special emphasis on structure, politics, decision-making, and leadership.

EDL 781 Youth, Culture, and Education

This course explores youth subcultures with implications for how educators develop a culturally relevant, engaging curriculum and pedagogy. This course applies a cultural studies and youth studies research lens for considering how representations of youth that circulate in U.S. culture impact the way educators imagine, engage, and regulate youth in and through educational ideology, policy, and practice.

EDL 782 Social Justice and Transformation

This course introduces major theories of social justice and links these to the practice of social justice education in schools and communities through active school-community engagement in a field-based project.

EDL 783 Curriculum Politics and Policy

This course explores how curriculum is conceived in educational policy. Students engage in critical analysis of the politics and policies of formal and informal curriculum.

EDL 784 Power, Knowledge, and Difference

This course examines relationships between power, knowledge, and difference by introducing the philosophical foundations of Western epistemology (i.e., Enlightenment Reason, Scientific Rationality, etc.) and the challenges posed to it by a diverse body of standpoint epistemologies. The class provides students with the opportunity to reflect on how issues of power, knowledge, and difference shape the representation of and response to key educational issues.

EDL 785 Theorizing Gender, Sexuality, and Education

This course examines the multiple, changing meanings and political effects of gender and sexuality in various socio-cultural and educational contexts. It foregrounds an analysis of how social institutions (i.e., education, the law, family, and economy) and cultural representations (i.e., literary and popular media) shape competing concepts of gender and sexuality. The course readings and collective dialogue place particular attention on feminist scholarship on women, girls, and sexual minorities.

EDL 786 Race, Ethnicity, and Education

This course introduces key theories, concepts, and epistemologies in critical race studies and considers how they frame and address educational injustice.

EDL 787 Leadership for Public Good

This course provides an examination of emerging models of leadership, organizational change, and leadership strategies for linking schools, families, and communities. The course focuses on theoretical frameworks related to leadership and social and organizational improvement in schools and communities.

EDL 796 Practicum in Curriculum and Supervision

This course provides an opportunity to apply leadership skills in field-based settings. It focuses on solving practical problems of group leadership and/or curriculum development. The majority of time is spent working in schools or community organizations. Periodic seminars are held to discuss project development and progress.

EDL 731 Learning Partnerships

This course provides an introduction to learning as personal transformation for social change and social justice. It examines interdisciplinary perspectives on learning in higher education: role of college student development, diversity, and culture in learning; role of higher education organizations and structures in learning; historical perspective on higher education learning; and global implications for college learning.

EDL 685 Leadership and Spirituality

This course examines key literature and pertinent issues related to spirituality and educational leadership such as character development, servant and ethical-moral leadership, and culturally relevant faith traditions across multiple higher education contexts. These issues, among others, are closely linked to values-based personal development and are critical elements in learning about and promoting holistic leadership development. Students in this course examine literature in this growing field of study, discuss the effect and significance of various key concepts, and mutually construct ways to connect theory to practice.

EDL 751 Social and Political Leadership in Higher Education

This course is the fourth and final core course of the Ph.D. program in Student Affairs in Higher Education, and is intended to serve as a capstone experience for learners in the program. The aim of the course is to bring philosophical theories and discourses to bear on moral and political questions regarding the ultimate aims of post-secondary education, focusing primarily on the United States 2- and 4-year college and university system.

Electives at the Master’s Level

EDL 606 Curriculum Innovation
EDL 614 Family-School-Community Partnerships
EDL 621 Foundations of Multicultural Education
EDL 623 Ethics in Education
EDL 625 Social Foundations of Education
EDL 629 History of American Education
EDL 639 Curriculum Theory
EDL 645 Supervision
EDL 648 Data-Based Decision-Making
EDL 607 School Law
EDL 609 Politics in Education

Electives Contributing Toward a License, Endorsement, or Certificate

EDL offers an Ohio licensure program (School Principal and Superintendent), the Graduate Certificate in Family, School, and Community Connections. Moreover, Miami University offers graduate certificates in programs around campus that can complement one’s doctoral study in EDL. Students can use these courses to count as electives in their doctoral program. See the next section for more details.

Licensure, Endorsement, and Certificate Programs

Our National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accredited licensure and endorsement programs prepare school administrators to address fundamental questions central to school reform. The emphasis is on the teaching and learning process, the cultural and political context of schools, and the moral and ethical dimensions of schooling as well as a clinical dimension of professional practice. Our goal is to educate critical, self-reflective leaders who can focus on creating schools capable of producing conditions conducive to learning for all students. 

Students may incorporate their licensure coursework into their Ph.D. program upon consultation with their advisor and the Licensure Coordinator in the Department.

Our two endorsement/licensure programs include:

EDL also offers a Graduate Certificate in Family, School, and Community Partnerships. The goal of this program is to promote family engagement as a means to achieve strategic goals in schools and community organizations. Courses in this Certificate program may be used as electives in the Ph.D. program. For more information on this program:

Students may also be interested in other Certificate programs at Miami University:

Return to Planning Program


An integrated doctoral program is more than a set of courses; it is an immersion into intense scholarly engagement. Residency is an essential part of the EDL doctoral program and requires the student to think about her/his unique history and plan the best strategy for her/his development as a scholar. We require that all students work with their advisor to develop a residency enrichment strategy to achieve the following purposes:

  1. Integrate theoretical perspectives with research, teaching, and practice interests
  2. Integrate research methodology and research interests to craft a sustainable research agenda
  3. Commit concentrated effort and sustained interaction with faculty and peers

To ensure that all students have this important opportunity, EDL as a department is committed to having all students complete a residency requirement, which can be fulfilled by completing either Residency A or Residency B. Residency A allows for full-time study on campus, usually with support of a Graduate Assistantship. Residency B allows students to engage in residency activities while still maintaining a job or other activities off campus. The goal and expectation of both models are the same, and students should work with their advisor and consult with other students about the most appropriate and fulfilling way for them to complete their residency.

Residency A: A period of two consecutive semesters of full-time, post-master’s registration on the Oxford Campus (this can be fall-Spring semester, when an assistantship may be available, or spring-summer or summer-fall)

  1. This residency requirement may be completed in an academic year (with support of a Graduate Assistantship) or by completing one academic semester as a full-time student preceded or followed by full-time enrollment in two five-week summer terms. According to Graduate School rules, these residency students cannot be employed full-time.
  2. Residency students with or without graduate appointments must register for a minimum of 9 graduate hours per semester, for two consecutive semesters (not counting summer).
  3. Students whose residency plans involve leaves from their school district must have their residency plans approved by the department chair well in advance of the residency period. These plans may involve written statements from school boards with approval by the Department Chair.

Residency B: Allows students to engage in a concentrated way with residency activities while still maintaining a full time job or other activities off campus. Under these circumstances, the student is expected to work closely with his/her advisor to devise a plan to complete two (2) of the following over the course of one academic year. Residency B is achieved with a combination of credit and non-credit bearing activities while enrolled in at least 3 graduate credits (coursework or dissertation hours). By focusing residency on engagement in university activities rather than credit hour enrollment, students are able to engage in a variety of university experiences. Options for completing Residency B are outlined below.

One of the following:

  1. Teaching one undergraduate class, with full engagement in the professional development of that class (EDL 318, EDL 100 or other) or co-teaching a master’s class.
  2. Engagement in a specifically defined research or field-based project under the supervision of a faculty member.
  3. Registration and participation in the Graduate Teaching Certificate program offered by of the Graduate School.


One of the following:

  1. Service on a University or Departmental Committee (e.g. Graduate Conference or Race/Class/Gender/Sexuality Conference Committee, Graduate Student Council)
  2. Attendance at 2 academic conferences or research forums OR present at 1 (can include EDL Graduate student conference or other Miami University academic conference).

How to Declare Residency

In the case of Residency A, the student declares and completes the Residency by completing a full year in an assistantship. In the case of Residency B, the student should outline his/her activities for completion of Residency B with the advisor. Timing of residency should coincide with specific professional and intellectual goals. 

Residency Completion

Students will submit evidence of the completion of Residency B (if applicable) at the Green Sheet Meeting of the Comprehensive Exam Committee.

Return to Planning Program

Preliminary Exam

 (for students admitted spring 2012 and after)


The purpose of the Preliminary Exam is to understand and evaluate how successfully the graduate candidate is integrating conceptual knowledge across core classes and to what degree the student is prepared to successfully complete the program. It assesses the student’s (1) capacity for critical and analytical thinking, (2) ability to integrate conceptual ideas about the field of education, and (3) ability to write clearly in one’s own emerging scholarly voice. It is the point in the doctoral program at which a student is invited to look across the core classes, reflect on the intellectual journey thus far in the program, and take stock of progress and challenges to this point. It is thus both a summative and a formative assessment of the student’s progress and potential in the doctoral program. Students must pass the Preliminary Exam before going on to complete the remaining course work, Comprehensive Exam, and dissertation.

The Preliminary Exam is also a good “check-point” in scaffolding the program for the student. After the Preliminary Exam is passed, a student should make plans for the rest of his or her program through the Comprehensive Exam process. Which courses, independent studies, and experiences does the student need to be planning to prepare for the Comprehensive Exam and dissertation processes? Does the student need to change advisors at this point, or is the current advisor the best person to advise the potential dissertation topic? These questions should be addressed after the Preliminary Exam has been passed.

When to Take the Exam

The Preliminary Examination should be taken directly after the student has completed the core coursework (EDL 761, 762, 764, 765, & 771) in the doctoral program. For full-time students, this will mean the exam is usually taken after the first year of classes. For part-time students, this will mean after the first four or five semesters of coursework.

How to Schedule the Exam

Students should take the exam between terms (January or August). To schedule an exam outside of these time periods, a student and his/her advisor can petition the EDL Director of Graduate Studies. The exam should be scheduled at least two months prior with the student’s advisor. This is a take-home exam; the student will have twenty-eight working days (about a month) to complete the task.

The Exam Process

Students choose a text from the following list derived from the fields within the Department of Educational Leadership, read, it, analyze it, and develop a 20-25 page paper on one question or topic drawn from their analysis.

  1. Anderson, Gary. Advocacy Leadership: Toward an Authentic Post-Reform Agenda in Education (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2009).
  2. Dewey, John. Experience and Education (Indianapolis: Kappa Delta Pi, 1998).
  3. Delpit, Lisa. Multiplication is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children (New York: The New Press, 2012).
  4. Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998).
  5. Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education (New York: Basic Books, 2011).

Students are welcome to discuss the books with their advisors and with one another, but should refrain from consulting faculty about the details of actual drafts of the exam itself.

How the Exam is Evaluated

The exam is read and evaluated by EDL faculty members: the student’s advisor and two more faculty members assigned by the department. These readers use the criteria listed below. If any of the readers has concerns about the writing component, the advisor meets with the student to discuss revision.

Criteria for a passing exam:

  1. The exam shows the ability to make and support an argument.
  2. The exam has a good literature base relevant to the argument or topic, drawing from but not limited to literature encountered in the core doctoral courses.
  3. The exam integrates and synthesizes ideas; shows the ability to talk about ideas conceptually rather than just paraphrasing important thinkers or theorists.
  4. The exam is grammatically correct and clearly written.
  5. The exam accurately uses a citation style commonly used in educational scholarship (APA or Chicago styles).

Tips for Successfully Writing the Exam

  • Students should pick a book to use for the exam in the semester before writing the actual exam. This gives them time to work through the book’s arguments and ideas, and begin to formulate thoughts about a thesis.
  • Students will benefit from sitting down with their faculty advisor, after deciding upon and carefully reading the book of choice, to talk through ideas for the paper. This consultation will help students whittle down and refine their thesis.
  • Students who have struggled with their writing in their core classes are encouraged to seek assistance prior to the writing of the Preliminary Exam. There are sources for writing assistance on campus that can support students with this process. A student’s advisor or other faculty can direct him/her to these sources.
  • Students will benefit from working collaboratively with other students taking the exam by reading and discussing their books of choice. The writing presented in the Preliminary Exam should be one’s own work, but reading/discussion groups are encouraged to help prepare students for the writing process.
  • Students are welcome to pursue and extend themes similar to those they’ve begun to explore and research in their core classes, if the text they’ve chosen allows for that. There should be no duplication of papers already submitted in the core classes, but research sources and ideas from those courses will likely be useful in writing the Preliminary Exam paper.

Procedure for Retaking the Exam

If students have failed to pass the Preliminary Exam upon first try, then a conference between the student and advisor should be held to discuss next steps.

Procedure for an Appeal of the Decision

If students believe they have been treated unfairly or improperly in the Preliminary Exam process, they are entitled to file an academic grievance. Details about this process are found in the Miami University Graduate Handbook in section 1.7.B, “Graduate Academic Grievance Procedure at Miami University,” beginning on page 35.

Return to Planning Program

The Comprehensive Examination

Ph.D. students in Educational Leadership take two significant examinations during their program. The first, the Preliminary Exam, is designed to understand and evaluate how successfully the graduate candidate is integrating conceptual knowledge across core classes and to what degree the student is prepared to successfully complete the program in full. The second, the Comprehensive Exam, is taken after all course work in the program is completed and moves students into the dissertation phase of their doctoral degree.

The Miami University Graduate School defines the doctoral Comprehensive Exam as a means to “evaluate students’ work and qualifications for further work and research.” Successfully completing the Comprehensive Exam qualifies students for doctoral candidacy and enables them to register for dissertation credit hours. The EDL Comprehensive Exam is designed to assess the student’s preparation to begin working on and successfully complete their dissertation.


The Comprehensive Exam should be taken only after:

  1. The student has completed the required 48 hours of coursework
  2. Has completed any Incompletes in coursework
  3. Has identified a Comprehensive Exam Committee (see description below)
  4. Has approval and support of the academic advisor

The Committee for Comprehensive Exams

Students work with their advisor to choose individuals to make up the Comprehensive Exam Committee. This advisor may be the advisor a student was assigned when starting the program, or the advisor may be the person who is working in the area/specialty that the student is researching. The Comprehensive Examination Committee consists of at least five (5) Graduate Faculty with Level A or B standing (see section 5.1 in Miami’s Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty for faculty level info). The chair of the committee and the outside-the-department member who participates in the oral part of the Comprehensive Exam must hold Level A Graduate Faculty Standing. The committee member who represents the graduate school and is a non-EDL faculty member may be the same person for the dissertation committee, or a different dissertation committee member may be chosen as the non-EDL faculty member. The committee is designated by the Department Chair and approved by the Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School. The Committee works with the student to develop a plan for preparing, writing, and defending the Comprehensive Exam. This plan is placed in the student’s file. Using this plan and the exam rubric (see below), the Comprehensive Exam Committee evaluates the student’s exam and how s/he has met the goals for the exam.

Goals and Nature of the Exam

The Comprehensive Exam evaluates the “comprehensive knowledge of a particular field of study” through a student's developed plans for a proposed dissertation project. It is the Department’s vision that the Comprehensive Exam is constructed in relation to the dissertation proposal, and that the final proposal development and defense will occur only after successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam. The Comprehensive Exam provides evidence that the student is able to do the following:

  • Critically read, understand, and evaluate relevant literature in the discipline(s), field(s), and sources of knowledge relevant to the problem or question;
  • Integrate and synthesize ideas within the field;
  • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the literature in the field;
  • Critically evaluate genre or field-specific forms of evidence and arguments; and
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of inquiry techniques critical to scholarship in the field.

The written portion of the Comprehensive Exam is a non-timed, take-home exam consisting of one large paper or a set of smaller papers. The exam entails the preparation of three key pieces of a dissertation proposal, including:

  • A comprehensive review of academic literature and theories relevant to the intended dissertation focus, drawing from the core courses as well as the student’s area of specialization
  • A rationale and discussion of the nature and relevance of the intended questions that will be the focus of the dissertation inquiry
  • A clear articulation of the research paradigm, methodology, and methods that the student is considering using in the dissertation research.

The oral portion of the exam consists of a conversation between the student and the Comprehensive Exam Committee about the written exam. This should be scheduled for no more than six weeks after the written portion is submitted to the committee. Committee members ask questions of the student about the work, helping to bring greater clarity to the student’s thinking and work. Committee members use this forum to make final evaluations about the quality of the student’s overall thinking and knowledge relative to the exam goals.

Four of the five members must approve the examination (written and oral) for the student to pass. If the committee exceeds five members, there may be no more than one dissenting vote in order to pass. If the student does not pass the examination, the Comprehensive Examination Committee may permit reexamination under conditions stipulated by the committee. The re- examination may not be given earlier than the following semester or summer session.

Paperwork Checklist for the Comprehensive Exam

Forms are available through the Graduate School website under Graduate School Doctoral Forms.

  1. FORM D-1: Request for Appointment of Doctoral Comprehensive Examination Committee. When the Comprehensive Exam Committee is formed, the student should work with the EDL Administrative Assistant to complete the “Request for Appointment of Doctoral Comprehensive Examination Committee” form. This completed form should be sent to the Graduate School for approval at least 10 working days before the date of the oral examination.
  2. FORM D-2: Results of the Comprehensive Examination for the Doctoral Degree and Application for Candidacy. When a student passes the Comprehensive Exam, faculty sign the Graduate School form D-2 and deliver it to the EDL Administrative Assistant to send to the Graduate School.

Other Information

  • The Comprehensive Examination may be repeated if taken unsuccessfully, but students should note the time constraints on the awarding of financial aid and on the completion of degree requirements.
  • After successfully completing the Comprehensive Exam, the student can sign up for dissertation hours (EDL 850). Students must complete at least 16 dissertation hours in candidacy status before graduation.
  • Students need to be registered at the University during the time of the Comprehensive Exam.
  • Written and oral Comprehensive Examinations in the student's major field of concentration should be taken within one year of completion of course work.
  • After passing the Comprehensive Exam, students are said to be ABD (All But Dissertation), which means that they only need to successfully complete, defend, and file the dissertation in order to complete the Ph.D. degree.

Return to Planning Program

The Doctoral Dissertation (Final Examination) for the Ph.D.

Since the Ph.D. is a research degree, the candidate must write and defend a dissertation demonstrating her/his ability for independent research by writing an original dissertation on a topic within the area of Educational Leadership. A dissertation is original research or scholarship addressing a problem, concept, or question in the field. The dissertation is the most extensive research project in the doctoral program and shows the student’s ability to understand and create scholarship around ideas or questions that are significant in the field of study. Executed with the help and support of a dissertation advisor and committee, the student’s dissertation is the culminating work of the doctoral degree.

A minimum of 16 hours (maximum 60 hrs.) is required for dissertation research.

Policy on Registration for EDL 850 Dissertation Research

The faculty of the department is committed to candidates successfully completing the doctoral dissertation. Through years of experience the faculty has learned that successful dissertation writers make continuous progress through systematic and meaningful contacts with their dissertation advisors and committee members. To ensure a continuous and close relationship between student and dissertation chair, and to recognize the work of the chair, the department approved the following registration guidelines for dissertation work by doctoral candidates.

Normally, candidates may not register for EDL 850 until they have passed the Comprehensive Examination, although they may register for EDL 850 during the term the Comprehensive Examination is taken if writing a dissertation prospectus. Candidates must be registered for EDL 850 each semester and during the summer following the successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination. Candidates may take a semester or summer off from their dissertation work because of unusual circumstances, which must be approved in advance by their dissertation chair. The number of semester hours of registration will be determined by the dissertation chair and will range from 1 to 16 credit hours.

All students must be registered during the term in which they expect to defend their dissertation.

The Doctoral Dissertation Committee

The student should select a dissertation topic and dissertation chair, which is a process that should flow easily from the Comprehensive Exam. The dissertation advisor (chair) will assist the student in selecting a dissertation committee. The committee consists of at least four (4) Graduate Faculty (at least 3 members of EDL) with Level A or B Standing (see section 5.1 in Miami’s Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty for information about faculty levels). The director of the dissertation must hold Level A Graduate Faculty Standing. One (1) member must be from outside of the Department of Educational Leadership and must also hold Level A Graduate Faculty Standing. The comps committee member who represents the graduate school and is a non-EDL faculty member may be the same person for the dissertation committee, or a different dissertation committee member may be chosen as the non-EDL faculty member.

The Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School must give approval for the student’s dissertation committee. The student should complete the form, “Request for Appointment of Doctoral Final Examination Committee” and give it to the dissertation chair, who will send it to the Graduate School for Approval. The form is available online from the Graduate School website.  

The Dissertation Prospectus or Proposal

The dissertation is the final and most important step in a program for the doctoral degree. It should be a work of independent research that makes an original contribution to knowledge in the student's academic discipline and should be of sufficient depth and quality to be published. The content and style of the dissertation is at the discretion of the student's degree program and dissertation committee.

The dissertation proposal creates a blueprint for the dissertation project. This allows for the student to gain more clarity about the aims and scope of their project, their contribution to their areas of specialization, and communicate their competence to a specialist audience of their readiness to pursue independent, original research. It is not uncommon for a student to write multiple drafts of a proposal before successful completion.

There are two general models of a dissertation proposal at Miami University. The first is to complete the first three chapters of a dissertation. The second model is to write a shorter overview of the aims, purposes, background/context and specific plan for the dissertation project. The more common model in EDL is the second model, but an advisor may opt for the first. Typically, a dissertation proposal should be approximately 25-35 double spaced pages in length including a bibliography of works cited. The proposal should achieve the following:

  • Elucidates the candidate's research project: What questions will s/he pose and what materials will s/he using to answer his/her questions?
  • Gives an overview of the extant literature, indicating why the study to be undertaken moves beyond what has been written to date.
  • Delineates and justifies the methodologies, theories and critical approaches the candidate will be using to complete her/his project.
  • Justifies the project: Why this topic? Why now? Who is the audience?

The dissertation proposal should include a chapter-by-chapter outline of the dissertation. The proposal is supposed to provide the committee members with a good idea of how the student intends to put the whole dissertation together. It is therefore best that the proposal include an outline of each chapter in as much detail as the student can provide.

A successful dissertation proposal is one that demonstrates the student’s ability to enter into productive dialogue with the conversations and debates occurring in their fields by responding to the examiners’ questions in a manner that makes evident their familiarity with the central debates and texts of the fields, as determined by their reading list, and their ability to put this scholarship into dialogue with their own project.

A successful oral defense of the dissertation proposal is one in which the student is able to respond productively to questions, concerns, and suggestions their examiners may have about both the written portion of the exam and the dissertation proposal.

Given the varied kinds of dissertation projects undertaken by students, there is no single blueprint for every dissertation proposal. In general, though, the dissertation proposal should accomplish the following important tasks:

  • Identify the goals and scope of the dissertation, the themes and issues it considers, and the anticipated organization of the research and presentation of research findings.
  • Elucidate the chosen research methods for the project or the primary source materials for the study.
  • Explain why the project is timely and important and how it seeks to advance the more specialized scholarship to which it contributes.
  • Place the project and its themes more broadly within the wider contexts of relevant scholarly debate.

Students are expected to prepare their dissertation proposal in consultation with the dissertation committee chair. The final versions of these written materials need to be distributed to the members of the exam committee at least two weeks before the examination date.  The oral component of the exam needs to occur within four weeks of the distribution of the written proposal.

Important Procedures for Human Subjects Research

If the dissertation research involves human subjects, the student must follow all procedures outlined by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Human Subjects Research. Students must complete a required educational program on human subjects in research and must have IRB approval of their research procedures before undertaking data collection.

The student should read the Guide for Preparing Theses and Dissertations before s/he begins writing. The candidate and the committee should agree on the appropriate format and style. The candidate should check the format with the Graduate School early in the writing. A final format check and approval by the Graduate School are required before the dissertation is accepted and deposited in the library. The electronic version of the dissertation and the abstract must be deposited in the University library at the time required by Graduate School deadlines. EDL doctoral students are also required to furnish the department with a professionally bound copy of the dissertation on 100% cotton rag paper. Students must plan carefully with their dissertation chair and committee to allow sufficient time for the committee to prepare for the defense of the dissertation.

Return to Planning Program

The Final Examination (The Dissertation Defense)

The student must pass the final dissertation examination within 5 calendar years after admission to candidacy.

Four (4) of the five (5) members of the dissertation committee must vote to approve in order for the dissertation to pass. If the committee is larger than five, there can be no more than one dissenting vote on the examination.

Paperwork Checklist for the Final Examination

Forms are available through the Graduate School website under Graduate School Doctoral Forms.

I. FORM D-3: Request for Appointment of Doctoral Final Examination (Dissertation) Committee. This form is used for nominating faculty, both departmental and the outside member, for service on the Final Examination Committee. The Department Chair completes this form and sends it to the Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School.

II. FORM D-4: Results of Final Examination and Certificate for Awarding the Doctoral Degree. This form certifies faculty approval for awarding the doctoral degree. The examining committee completes this certificate, which is then forwarded to the Graduate School. The certificate must be received by the Graduate School at least ten (10) working days before the appropriate Commencement date.  

Department Checklist for Awarding Graduate Degrees

  • Departments should complete each of the following items before submitting the Results of Final Examination and Certificate for Awarding the Doctoral Degree (Form D-4).
  • Before a student begins work on his/her dissertation, check to make sure all committee members have the appropriate graduate faculty level.
  • Review the student’s DAR and identify all S, U, & N grades that need to be changed to a P or F and list on the form.
  • Certify that all course and hour requirements have been met (no N or IG grades).
  • Certify that the student has passed all required courses.
  • Confirm that the student has applied for graduation (this is indicated on the DAR).
  • Confirm that the major and degree listed on the DAR is correct and indicated on the form.
  • For students completing a thesis or dissertation, type the title on the form (it will appear on the transcript as typed so please check for accuracy). For students completing a non- thesis degree, type “non-thesis” in place of the title (which will appear on the transcript). Do not provide the title of a non-thesis project.
  • Prepare the form BEFORE the student’s oral exam/defense. Obtain committee signatures as soon as possible after the exam/defense.
  • If student is completing a thesis or dissertation, confirm that the student has contacted the Graduate School regarding the required upload to OhioLINK.
  • Print the DAR and attach to the completed form.
  • Submit to the Graduate School

Return to Planning Program

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Important Graduate School Degree Requirements

Transfer Credits from Outside Miami University

A maximum of 12 graduate credit hours in which the student received an "A" or "B" may be transferred from another accredited institution.  Courses cannot be older than 7 years at the time of the Comprehensive Exam.

Students wishing to transfer in graduate credit hours from another institution should, with their advisor, prepare a short memo stating which courses are to be transferred and that the department would like said credits to be applied to the student’s record.  This memo must be signed by the Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies and must be accompanied by an original (not copy) transcript from the institution from which the credits are being transferred. The student and advisor must submit the documents along with a petition to the director of graduate studies.

Transfer Credits from Miami University

(Earned prior to admission to the Ph.D. program)

Up to 12 graduate credit hours taken as “graduate non-degree seeking” status (CGS) can be transferred into a graduate degree program.   Transfer hours my not have been used for degree completion in any prior program, such as a master's degree.  No more than 12 of the most recent graduate hours earned with non-degree status can be applied toward a graduate degree, and then only with the approval of the student’s department. All 12 hours are subject to normal time limitations for credit toward a degree.

Time Limits for Degree Completion

Students must complete their Comprehensive Examination within five years of registration for the first course in the doctoral program.  After passing the Comprehensive Exam, students are considered “candidates” for the degree.

Students must complete their dissertation and graduate within five years of admission to candidacy.

Credit Hour, Work Hour Requirements, and Limitations

Graduate Assistants must register for a minimum of 9 hours per semester; the maximum number permitted is 15.  Full-time students not receiving financial aid may register for a minimum of 9 hours per semester; the maximum number permitted is 15.  Students holding the dissertation scholarship must register for 9-15 credit hours in each of the two regular semesters.  It is suggested that students working full time not register for more than six credit hours per semester.

For all graduate awards (assistantships and scholarships) a graduate award holder cannot hold any other employment at Miami University.

Grade Standard for Ph.D.

Students must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.


Students earning the doctorate are honored at graduation ceremonies during which they are given special recognition by the university community.  A highlight of the event is the hooding of the doctoral student by their dissertation advisor when the university president presents the graduate with their diploma.  Regardless of whether students intend to participate in Commencement, they must apply to graduate in order to receive their degree.  The schedule of application deadlines and the appropriate form can be accessed here.

Registration Procedures and Problem Solving 

Students may register for graduate classes online through BannerWeb via, except for special classes such as individualized or independent studies and internships.   Students may pick up an Independent Study Permit in the EDL office.  The student and the professor of the course must fill out the paper and have it signed by the Chair of the Department.  Once completed, the form should be taken to the Office of the Registrar.  In addition, registration for workshops offered through Global Initiatives Continuing Education takes place through its website

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Financial Aid

A limited amount of financial assistance is available to EDL graduate students.


  • TEAM Scholarships provide a tuition and fee discount scholarship to professional educators for graduate course work. This discount applies to the instructional fee, general fee, technology fee, and Miami Metro fee.
  • EDL Fellows Scholarships is available thanks to the generosity of a number of EDL graduates and former faculty. The Department has a number of small support scholarships for graduate students. Contact the EDL Chair for more information. 
  • Principals’ Academy Scholarship is awarded to one or more part-time students enrolled in graduate programs in the Department of Educational Leadership. Recipients must demonstrate academic merit and intent to pursue a career as an elementary school principal. Students complete an application for this award (average award $1,000).
  • EDL Dissertation Scholarships are a service-free award that provides a stipend plus remission of tuition for two semesters and the subsequent summer session. Dissertation scholars must register for 9-15 graduate credit hours in each of the two regular semesters. If their degree is not awarded at the May commencement, students must register for a total of 9-15 graduate credit hours during the summer terms; remission of the Instructional Fee and the out-of-state tuition surcharge (if applicable) also applies to the summer terms, but not to winter term. Dissertation scholars do not need to register during winter term. One full year scholarship or two semester-long scholarships a year are awarded to an EDL student or students who have completed the prerequisites for the dissertation. The application process occurs each spring.
  • The John W. Shreve Scholarship in School Administration is awarded to an incoming doctoral student in Educational Leadership for the year in residency. Selections are made by the faculty of the department.
  • The Morrison Scholarship Award is awarded to a doctoral student for exhibiting significant potential for success as an educational leader. Selection is made annually by the EDL faculty.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships provide full-time doctoral students with a stipend of approximately $16,000 for two semesters. Graduate Assistants (GAs) receive remission of up to 93% of the Instructional Fee and out-of-state tuition surcharge (if applicable) for the period of their appointment, excluding winter term. The waivers also apply for up to sixteen (16) credit hours in the preceding or succeeding summer terms of their appointment.

Graduate assistants must pay the General fee (reduced), the Network service fee, and the Metro fee (reduced) at each registration. They have two options for paying these fees: fully pay at the start of each semester or use the payroll deduction program.

Graduate assistants (GAs) work 18-20 hours per week during fall and spring semesters. GAs usually have one or a combination of three duties related to their degree: instructional, administrative, or research. GAs must be full-time students and cannot hold any other full-time employment. By February 1st BEFORE the academic year in which a student wishes to hold a GA position, s/he should notify the EDL Department Chair of his/her interest.

GA Duties:

  • Instructional. GAs with instructional duties carry between 9 and 12 hours of graduate courses and teach either EDL 204: Sociocultural Foundations of Education or EDL 318: Teacher Leadership.
  • Administrative. GAs with administrative duties carry between 9 and 15 hours of graduate courses and perform administrative tasks in EDL or the Dean’s office equivalent to 18 hours per week. Such duties must be related to one’s degree.
  • Research. GAs with research duties carry between 9 and 15 hours of graduate courses and assist with professional research equivalent to 18 hours per week.

Appointment to a Graduate Assistantship is competitive and is determined by the Department Chair in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and faculty every spring. The process is initiated by the Chair early in the spring semester. GA appointments are not guaranteed every year, and students are reappointed each year based on the following:

1) Evaluation of their work as a GA the previous year

2) Departmental needs

3) Requirement for the student to be in residency or full time enrollment

4) Length of time that a student has held a GA.

University Regulations on Assistantship Time Limits

(Graduate Student Handbook: 3.3.B)

Regardless of the source of support, students enrolled in a doctoral program may receive financial support from graduate assistantships and dissertation scholarships for a total of four years beyond receipt of a master’s degree.

Note: An appointment will not be made for a student whose enrollment is not eligible for state subsidy; i.e., the student has earned in excess of 173 credit hours. Students whose funding will come from non-University sources are exempt from this regulation.

For questions about loans or other financial aid assistance, contact the University Financial Aid Office at 513-529-8734 or at

Please Note: Although the University allows students to be supported for a total of four years on an assistantship, due to a limited amount of GA funding, the EDL department cannot guarantee four years of funding for all students (indeed, 4 years of funding is a rare occurrence). Students should be sure to check with the Department Chair early about funding availability and to submit their requests for funding by February for the following academic year.

For more information about Graduate Assistantships, please refer to Miami’s Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty: 2.1.B and Part 3 “Information for Graduate Award Holders”.

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Opportunities and Programs for Graduate Students

Note that some of these opportunities are time-sensitive and require application materials; please read carefully and plan accordingly.

Certificate in College Teaching

The purpose of offering a Center for Teaching Excellence is to provide graduate students with the opportunity to develop their pedagogical knowledge and skill in an interdisciplinary manner that facilitates the development of teacher-scholars. Offered through Miami’s Graduate School and the Center for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and University Assessment, this certificate consists of a variety of coursework and experiences guided by a student's mentor. Students will select a mentor and develop a plan of study that addresses three major components: discipline-specific teaching experience/study, interdisciplinary pedagogy, and instructional/learning theory.

Howe Center for Writing Excellence

The Howe Center for Writing Excellence is located on the main floor of King Library on the Oxford campus. The mission of the Howe Center for Writing Excellence is to assure that Miami fully prepares all of its graduates to excel in the writing they will do after college in their careers, roles as community and civic leaders, and personal lives. You may also call 529-6100 for more infromation.

Office of Learning Disabilities Services in the Bernard B. Rinella, Jr. Learning Center

The mission of the Office of Student Disability Services is to ensure full and equal participation for persons with learning disabilities by empowering individuals; promoting equal access; encouraging self-advocacy; reducing attitudinal, physical, and communication barriers; and providing appropriate accommodations.

Funding to Assist with Research and Teaching

Graduate Achievement Award

The Graduate Achievement Award is designed to recognize significant completed achievement in any external research or creative activity by full and part-time graduate students. The Graduate Achievement Award fund is supported by gifts from Alumni and Friends of Miami University. The normal award is $300. Application forms are available in the Graduate School, 102 Roudebush Hall. Deadlines are early November and early April. Check with the Graduate School for more details go to 102 Roudebush Hall or contact (513) 529-3734 or

Marjorie Post Farrington Scholarship

This $1,000 scholarship is for full-time graduate students in any area of study. This $1,000 scholarship is for full-time graduate students in any area of study. The award is made primarily on merit and secondarily on financial need. Financial need must be established and the student must be eligible to file the FAFSA. The student who is selected may also be appointed to a graduate assistantship. Selection of the recipients is made by the Graduate Council, Student Financial Aid Committee. Further information may be obtained by contacting the Graduate School, 102 Roudebush Hall, (513) 529-3734, or at

Thesis and Dissertation Research Financial Support

This fund, available through the Graduate School, covers unusual expenses associated with a student’s research for a thesis or doctoral dissertation. There is no application form, but students must briefly describe their research project and explain why these expenses are necessary and offer a tentative budget. Students also must have the endorsement of their advisor or Department Chair. Awards will not exceed $300 for master’s students or $600 for doctoral students. Requests for this special funding must be made by early November and early April. Check with the Graduate School for more details at 102 Roudebush Hall or call (513) 529-3734 or e-mail

*Students should become familiar with the Graduate School’s Deadlines for Applications.

Grants for Graduate Award Holders to Improve Teaching

Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) awards grants of up to $300 to individuals, faculty supervisors, coordinators of departmental teaching seminars, and departments to develop individual teaching skills and to supplement departmental support for TA seminars on teaching. These grants can fund modest projects by graduate students designed to increase their teaching effectiveness and their students’ learning.

Graduate Student Association (G.S.A.) and Graduate School Travel Assistance Fund

The G.S.A. Travel Assistance Fund is designed to reimburse graduate students for travel to meetings, conventions, conferences, and workshops sponsored by professional organizations. The fund is administered by G.S.A. deadlines for each round of funding is listed on the application. There is a round of funding during each semester (fall, spring, and summer). Application forms and guidelines are available on our departmental Ph.D. student canvas site, in the Graduate School Office, or online here.

Funding Sources within the Department

Graduate students in EDL have access to a small budget of professional development funds.  Students can use these funds to cover any expenses for academic related travel to conferences at which they are presenting for the academic year and/or for expenses related to academic research (travel, books, software, etc.).  Students must plan ahead, however, to utilize these funds.  Following the protocols for accessing the funds, and planning well ahead of your travel dates, is required.

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Academic Policies

Academic Integrity

At Miami University, we aspire to create a community where all members exhibit the highest standards of personal and social responsibility. We call this integrity. Integrity includes our actions in our studies as well as the rest of our activities at Miami.

Of particular concern is academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty is defined as any activity that compromises the academic integrity of the institution or subverts the educational process. Students are expected to behave honestly in their learning and in their behavior outside the classroom. Cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty undermine the value of a Miami education for everyone, and especially for the person who cheats.

The rights and responsibilities that accompany academic freedom are at the heart of the intellectual integrity of the University. Graduate students are therefore held to an even higher standard of academic honesty. Thus, it is imperative that graduate students understand Miami's Graduate standards, procedures, and penalties regarding academic dishonesty. As emerging scholars, graduate students have a special obligation to uphold standards for academic integrity, with particular attention paid to issues of plagiarism and the appropriate citation of others’ scholarly work. For graduate students who are instructors in Miami classrooms, it is even more critical to familiarize oneself with violations and procedures associated with academic dishonestly on campus.

If a student is found guilty of academic dishonesty in a class and withdraws from the class, the student will receive the grade of F for the class, and a notation of academic dishonesty will be posted directly beneath the class on the student’s academic record.

University policies and guidelines on Academic Integrity, plagiarism, and other issues.

Class Attendance

Students are expected to attend regularly every class for which they are registered and to have acceptable reasons for absences.


With the exception of regulations that apply specifically to undergraduates, doctoral students are subject to the student conduct regulations of Miami University, outlined in the Student Handbook.

Grievance Procedure

"A Statement of Effective Learning and Teaching and an Academic Grievance Procedure for Graduate Students at Miami University" is found in A Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty and is available in the Graduate Office and on the Graduate School webpage.


A doctoral student may petition for an exception to any academic regulation on forms available in the Graduate Office. The student must initiate the petition and submit it with recommendations by his/her advisor to the department. Petitions are acted upon by the department; the College of Education, Health, and Society Graduate Committee; and the Graduate Council.


A student may be dismissed from the Ph.D. Program in Educational Leadership for the following reasons:

  • Failure to pass the Preliminary Examination.
  • Failure to pass the Comprehensive Examination.
  • Failure to maintain a 3.0 grade point average.
  • Academic dishonesty.
  • Violation of stipulated time limits. (Students must pass the Comprehensive Examination within seven years after completing their first doctoral level course. The final examination (dissertation defense) must be passed, and the dissertation must be deposited in King Library no later than five calendar years after admission to candidacy.)

Diversity, Discrimination, and Harassment

Miami University is committed to providing equal opportunities and an educational and work environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, pregnancy, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, or veteran status. The Department of Educational Leadership supports that commitment and upholds it through curriculum, policies, and a departmental climate that strives to be a welcoming, open place for inclusive conversations and work around diversity issues

Miami is committed to providing equal opportunities for people with disabilities and, as such, is proactive in its efforts to comply with federal laws such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and the ADA Amendments of 2009. As confirmation of this commitment, the Office of Disability Resources (ODR) provides support services, accommodations, and resources to ensure equal access to education, employment, and University life. Furthermore, it is the mission of the Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity (OEEO) and ODR to advance and sustain an environment of internal equity, diversity, and inclusiveness for all members of the University community. Students and employees with disabilities may contact the Office of Disability Resources, 19 Campus Avenue Building, 529-1541 (V/TTY) and 529-8595 (fax).

Students or employees who have experienced harassment or discrimination of any kind should consult The Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity (OEEO). This office can investigate and resolve issues through either formal or informal resolution procedures. Reports of harassment or discrimination must be made within 300 calendar days of the most recent occurrence of the incident.

To view Miami's policies on harassment and discrimination, you may obtain a copy of 3.6 of Miami University Policy and Information Manual from the Office of the University Secretary, the Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity (OEEO) or Publications and Policies.

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Important Phone Numbers

Academic Support/Tutoring/Learning Disabilities Services

Bernard B. Rinella, Jr. Learning Center
Campus Activities Building, Room 14
301 S. Campus Avenue

Dissertation Research Financial Support

Graduate School
102 Roudebush Hall

Financial Aid

Office of Student Financial Assistance
Campus Avenue Building, Room 121
301 S. Campus Ave

Graduation application, requirements, ceremony

Office of the University Registrar
Campus Avenue Building, Room 102
301 S. Campus Ave

Registration/Course adds & drops

Office of the University Registrar
Campus Avenue Building, Room 102
301 S. Campus Ave

Travel funding

Graduate School
102 Roudebush Hall


Department of Educational Leadership
304 McGuffey Hall


Office of the University Registrar
Campus Avenue Building, Room 102
301 S. Campus Ave

Writing support

Roger and Joyce Howe Writing Center
King Library

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