The PhD in Education is designed for graduate students seeking faculty or research positions in higher education or positions within research organizations that require educational research in highly specialized disciplines. Progress through the degree provides students with opportunities to develop specialized disciplinary content and research knowledge along with scholarly experiences that will provide the foundational knowledge and skills required for success as faculty in higher education and in research organizations.

The PhD in Education with emphasis in Educational Leadership will prepare students to develop knowledge and conduct research related to six major areas of strength among our existing faculty including: (1) Leadership and Policy Analysis, (2) Leader Identity and Authenticity, (3) Leadership for Social Justice and in Indigenous Contexts, (4) Leader Self-Efficacy/School Collective Efficacy, (5) Instructional Leadership in Rural Contexts, and (6) Education Evaluation, Assessment, Research Design and Analysis. Special emphasis in these major research areas will address topics specific to Montana including working with rural communities and Native Americans on state and other educational issues. Graduates of this PhD program in education will be well-positioned to directly and positively affect the data driven culture related to improving the educational systems of Montana and beyond.

Course Offerings

The doctoral course of study features a combination of face-to-face and online courses. As such, it is considered an on-campus program which blends both formats of instruction. 

Students enter the doctoral program each fall semester as a full-time or a part-time student.

Courses are offered in a regular, predictable rotation as much as possible. Core courses are offered at least once each year. At a minimum, all other courses are offered every other year. During the summer, courses are offered based on student needs.

The Graduate Course Rotation depicts a working schedule of course offerings and delivery methods.

Program Flow

After being admitted to the PhD program, the student will be assigned a temporary adviser and should then meet with his/her assigned adviser. Actual courses taken during the initial stage will be based on the student's previous academic work and adviser/committee approval.

The program is designed to be specifically tailored to each doctoral student's related research interest while providing cutting edge knowledge and skills in research and theory. The program is structured to be completed in 4 to 5 years with full-time tuition support for qualified students provided by the Department of Education.

Program of Study

Course Number Course Title Course Credits
Core Content - choose 9 credits 9
Higher Education History and Philosophy  
Advanced Educational Psychology  
College Teaching  
Ldrshp and Organizational Thry  
Leading Social Justice  
Required Core Content Courses - 6 credits 6
Dissertation Seminar  
Doctoral Seminar  
Educational Leadership Concentration - 15 credits 15
Electives appropriate to area of specialization & approved by Graduate Advisor. Examples of General Curriculum courses to choose from should be discussed with advisor.
Required Research Courses - 9 credits 9
Educational Statistics II  
Qualitative Educational Research  
Quantitative Educational Research  
EDCI 506, EDCI 501 or equivalent are prerequisite courses and do not satisfy research component of the degree.
Advanced Research Electives - choose 9 credits 9
Program Evaluation  
Mixed Methods Research Design in Education  
Critical Race Theory  
Institutional Research and Assessment  
Mixed Methods Research Design in Education  
Advanced Quantitative Research  
Advanced Qualitative Research - Course under development  
Indigenous Methodologies in Educational Research  
Electives also may be taken that are appropriate to the research area of specialization and approved by the graduate advisor.
Dissertation - 18 credits 18
Doctoral Thesis  
Total Credits 66
View the Graduate Research Methods 3-year rotation for both required and elective research offerings.   

Residency Requirement

The PhD requires one year of on campus full-time residency. The residency requirement consists of two consecutive semesters (fall and spring) of full-time enrollment (6-9 credits per semester) in PhD coursework.

The 1-year of residency affords the opportunity to participate in faculty meetings, participate in shared governance and work on a variety of research and outreach projects.  It also provides an opportunity for one to work closely with their chair and committee on their doctoral work.


Each doctoral student's committee must consist of at least four approved members. The majority of the committee should be made up of faculty from the degree-granting department.  The chair and one other approved member must be from the Educational Leadership faculty. Two other approved members will be selected based upon their ability to contribute to the student's studies leading up to and through the dissertation research. These two committee members must have academic credentials in the area of the student's program of study and be approved by the Head of the Department of Education and Dean of The Graduate School.  For information regarding graduate representatives, please refer to the Graduate School policy.

The student should carefully select his/her chair after thorough conversations with those Educational Leadership faculty members that he/she believes might have an interest in their doctoral research agenda and/or the ability to work with them toward generating a defensible dissertation. The chair will give leadership and approval regarding the balance of the committee's potential membership. The committee, as a whole, is subject to the approval of the Head of the Department of Education. The chair will facilitate program approval, comprehensive exam planning and clarification, proposal hearing, and dissertation defense. Chairs and members of a student's committee are subject to change. Revision to the program of study can be made during the course of study with the chair's approval.

Comprehensive Examinations

As PhD students in Educational Leadership approach the end of their coursework (46 credits completed), and prior to the Dissertation proposal meeting, they will contact their committee chair to discuss the content and format of the required written and oral comprehensive examinations.  The comprehensive exams must be completed by the posted Graduate School deadlines.

Additional Requirements

The Doctor of Education degree must meet the minimum requirements in the For Doctoral Students section of the Graduate School's website. Additional requirements for the PhD degree beyond these minimums are available through the Department of Education. All PhD degree candidates are expected to be familiar with both The Graduate School's degree requirements listed here: http://www.montana.edu/gradschool/current-grad.html and Department of Education degree requirements listed on the department website.

Contact Information

Dr. Tena Versland, Program Leader
406-994-6799 Email: [email protected]

Dr. Bill Ruff
406-994-4182 Email: [email protected]