Graduate Catalog 2018-2019 
    Oct 02, 2022  
Graduate Catalog 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

School Improvement, Ed.D.

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Program Overview

The mission of the Doctor of School Improvement Program is to develop, support, and encourage educational leaders as scholarly practitioners prepared to initiate and lead systematic and sustainable improvement in PK - 12 schools.

It is the goal of our program and its faculty that our graduates:

  • Develop a strong knowledge base on theories and practices in PK - 12 educational leadership, instruction, and applied research.
  • Effectively engage and influence stakeholders with a common purpose towards PK - 12 school improvement.
  • Conduct research that can be applied to initiate and sustain PK - 12 school improvement.
  • Lead evidence-based research efforts to promote and increase equitable student learning and development for all students.

Core Coursework

The program requires 60 credit hours. The program may be completed in three years; however, many students require four years or more to complete the program of study. The required core coursework in the School Improvement program falls within three curricular strands:

Teaching and Learning (9 hours)

  • Courses include Models of School Improvement and Reform, Instructional Leadership that Facilitates School Improvement, and Models of Professional Development.

Leadership for School Improvement (9 hours)

  • Courses include Leadership for Diversity in the 21st Century, Policy Analysis for School Improvement and Leadership for Change.

Research and the Effective Use of Data (15 hours)

  • Courses include Research Design, Quantitative Research Methods, Qualitative Research Methods, Advanced Research Seminar and Program Evaluation.

The Core also includes the following:

  • AoC (Area of Concentration) (12 credit hours)
  • Dissertation (9 credit hours)
  • Dissertation Mentoring I, II, and III (2 credit hours each)
  • The School Improvement Orientation (no credit)
  • The Dissertation Prep Summer Institute (no credit).

Application Process

Admission to the Doctor of School Improvement Program is highly competitive. Each spring, all timely and complete applications meeting the minimum recommended requirements are thoroughly reviewed by several faculty members. All applicants, including previous UWG students, must complete all steps of the application process as outlined below. Only completed applications received by the deadline will be considered.

  1. Complete the online application for graduate admissions.  You must identify your Area of Concentration on the application.  The online application requires a $40.00 non-refundable application fee.
  2. Official GRE scores (Quantitative,Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing) must be sent from ETS to UWG. Scores must be no more than 5 years old.  Minimum expected scores are Verbal Reasoning 151, Quantitative Reasoning 145, and Analytical Writing 4.0.  Due to the high number of competitive applications received, applicants with scores below the recommended minimum are often not admitted.  GRE scores are required–there are no exceptions or allowable substitutions.
  3. All applicants must have earned a Master’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution.
  4. A cumulative minimum graduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required for all graduate course work.
  5. Three letters of Recommendation:  At least one letter must be from a current or past supervisor. (these forms are available, once you apply online)
  6. Vitae:  A vitae listing education and employment history, experience with school improvement, and awards and recognitions.  Provide your current and complete contact information, including an active e-mail address.                                  
  7. Official Transcripts: Request official transcripts from institutions that you have attended (must include undergraduate and graduate) even if only for transfer credit.  Place the transcripts in this packet in their original, sealed envelopes (it cannot be treated as official if it has been opened). Or the university may send e-scripts to
  8. Essay: Complete a 750-1,000 word essay that discusses your professional goals related to school improvement.  In your essay, include any literature (e.g., research article) that has informed your professional practice or otherwise influenced you.  (Include appropriate APA citations)
  9. International applicants must follow procedures and timelines of the UWG International Student Admissions and Programs Office.

Finalists will be selected for a telephone or virtual interview.


Transfer of Credits

In this 60 credit-hour program, the core 48 credit-hours must be taken at UWG as per the student’s program of study. A maximum of 12 semester hours of graduate credit for area of concentration courses may be transferred from another accredited institution or applied from previous coursework at the University of West Georgia, subject to the following conditions:

  • work must have been completed within seven years of the date of admission to the Ed.D. degree program;
  • work must have been applicable toward a graduate degree at the institution where the credit was earned;
  • the coursework must be approved by the Ed.D. Director.
  • courses must have been taken post Master’s degree; (normally 7000 level courses or above)
  • the courses must meet the thematic requirements for the AoC; and
  • a grade of B or higher must have been earned in the coursework.

AoC (Area of Concentration)

The Area of Concentration (or AoC) in the School Improvement program provides a specialized, thematic concentration to the student’s studies. Made up of 12 credit hours of electives and the student’s dissertation, the AoC comprises a student’s focus within the program. Specific AoC’s are developed in conjunction with various departments within the College of Education at the University of West Georgia. Currently, the available AoC’s include:

  • English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Instructional Technology
  • K-12 Online Learning
  • Media Specialist
  • Reading
  • School Counseling
  • Special Education (General Curriculum)

For Georgia Students only

The Doctor of School Improvement Degree is approved by the Georgia PSC for a certificate upgrade for students who enter the program with Georgia certification in Educational Leadership, English to Speakers of Other Languages, Early Childhood Education, Instructional Technology, K-12 Online Learning, Media Specialist, Reading, School Counseling, and/or Special Education General Curriculum.

The following conditions/restrictions apply:

  1. The student must enter the program with the qualifying certification area already on their Georgia certificate as a clear renewable field,
  2. The student must select the applicable, qualifying certification area as their minimum 12-hour Area of Concentration. In order to receive a certification upgrade as a part of the Ed.D. in School Improvement, the hours must be taken at UWG as a part of this degree program,
  3. Educational Leadership students must meet the specific position requirements, and
  4. The program does not lead to initial certification.

It is the responsibility of the applicant/student to check the upgrade possibilities at the GAPSC Certificate Upgrade Advisor.

General Academic Standards

Graduate students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher to remain in Good Academic Standing. Students must be in Good Academic Standing to be eligible to graduate and admission to candidacy.  Student’s must also maintain good standing on major program assessments, or will face intervention and consequences.

A student will be dismissed from the program if he or she earns two C’s, one F or two U’s in dissertation hours.

Academic Standing

In addition to the University of West Georgia academic requirements, the Doctor of School Improvement Program uses a student review process to monitor student progress within the Ed.D. program.

Each student is reviewed regularly regarding the following:

  1. Academic progress and standards,
  2. Ethical, legal, and professional standards and performance in the program, and
  3. Progress on major program assessments.

Students not performing at the required level, not making significant progress toward completion of the dissertation, or judged to be in noncompliance with the ethical, legal, and professional standards of the program will be notified, and may face action which includes but is not limited to completing a Student Development Plan, placement on academic or other probation, or dismissal from the program.

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