Instructional Leadership

Doctor of Philosophy in Education
  • Overview
  • Course Information
  • Tuition
  • Benefits

The field of instructional leadership is expected to enjoy job growth in the next decade. In NCU’s PhD in Instructional Leadership specialization, you will develop your knowledge in instructional leadership research, theory and practice with an emphasis on change through policy development and educational reform. Within NCU’s unique one-to-one mentoring approach, you will conduct research and analysis as you examine supervision of instruction, curriculum, diversity and the instructional capacity of K-12 schools. Our graduates go on to teach, work with organizations interested in education on a global scale, or pursue research in this field.

General Degree Requirements

The PhD Program may be completed in 60 semester credit hours. However, up to an additional 15 credit hours will be allowed as needed to complete the dissertation research. If the program is not completed in 75 credit hours, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Completion Period for Doctoral Degrees

Northcentral University allows 7 years to complete all doctoral programs of 60 credits or less. Normal time to complete varies depending upon course take rate and credits transferred.

Certification and Licensing

The School of Education serves educational leaders by providing online graduate studies in education to reach worldwide populations. The PhD program is designed to reach national and international markets and does not purport to provide licensure or certification in any particular state or country.

PhD Degree Requirements

Admission to the doctorate programs at NCU requires a master's degree from an accredited institution. PhD students are also required to demonstrate competency in specific subject areas prior to enrolling in any of the specialization or elective courses.

Foundational Competencies for PhD Program

  • Graduate Level Statistics Competency - PhD students are required to complete a Statistics in Education Research Course, EDU8003, and also EDU8006, Advanced Educational Statistics.
  • Competency in Research Writing Skills - PhD students are required to show competency in writing skills for research purposes through their Northcentral University graduate coursework before being assigned to any dissertation courses. Students will be required to take EDU8001, Advanced Scholarly Writing, to improve APA formatting skills and to address advanced writing and research skills as necessary.
  • Computer Competency - PhD students are required to use appropriate computer skills that are necessary in writing a dissertation. Students must be able to prepare documents using advanced word processing skills (e.g., creation of tables and figures, headers and footers, page breaks, tables of contents, hanging indents, etc.). In addition, students need to use computer programs for the statistical analysis and presentation of data (e.g., Excel, SPSS). The oral defense normally requires a computer-based presentation by the candidate (e.g., a PowerPoint presentation).

Course Length

All new students enrolling in the PhD in Education program are automatically enrolled in courses that are eight weeks in length. All eight-week courses are indicated by a "-8" (dash eight) at the end of the course code.

See below for specialization courses specific to this program. To learn more, fill out the request information form below or view the course catalog.

Course Code


Course Description


The Culture of Learning

In this course, doctoral students will explore ways of creating a culture of learning while engaging in instructional leadership tasks. Through course activities, students will explore topics including technology integration, philosophically sound curriculum decision-making, visionary leadership traits, and curriculum management.


Leader as Advocate and Decision Maker

In this course, doctoral students will engage the complex decision-making concepts and processes while reflecting on staff development and instructional supervision. Topics include: teacher perceptions, instructional leadership, supervisory behaviors, instructional support and strategies, collaborative characteristics and presentation technology.


Leader as Community Advocate

Instructional leaders must forge relationships with stakeholders in the community to build effective learning organizations. In this doctoral course, students will evaluate the skills necessary to engage stakeholders in partnerships that enhance educational operations at all levels. Students will discuss methods to develop professional learning communities and evaluate the theories and research related to learning communities and instructional leadership.


Developing Instructional Strategies and Curriculum

In Developing Instructional Strategies and Curriculum, students will contrast and analyze instructional strategies based on a framework of architectural principles. Students will integrate and implement curriculum theories and models that can include differentiated instruction and the infusion of technology. Curriculum standards, requirements, issues, and trends will be evaluated for the production and promotion of recommendations for effective change.


Leadership for Student Achievement

Leadership for Student Achievement provides doctoral students with learning opportunities to maximize student achievement. Major instructional models are compared and evaluated to enable a positive, supportive classroom environment. The diverse needs of students and their learning styles are assessed and possible pro-active changes are suggested using reflective practices and the insights of differentiated instruction. Student discipline patterns and discipline management techniques are analyzed and evaluated to minimize disruptive behavior and increase learning. Doctoral students will examine and appraise research-based instructional strategies for effective classroom management. Action research plans that will explore class room self-selected management topics will be expected.


Practices in School Organization

In this course, students will examine the organizational structure of schools and school systems, their relationships to and effects on school programs, teaching strategies, testing and measurement, and the evaluation of programs in schools. The student will consider the way schools are organized around time, space, and other resources. Organizational dynamics will be explored and there will be an opportunity to engage operational factors that influence the school climate including human resources, organizational outreach, and capacity. Finally, students will explore stakeholder participation in organizational practice.


Supervision and Leadership in Schools

In this course, students will explore real world experiences, and common challenges encountered by school leaders. During this course, students study the organizational behavior in schools, which emphasizes the practical relevance of educational leadership in this new era of accountability and high-stakes testing. Topics include: development theories and collaborative planning models for enhanced professional practice which includes; distributed leadership, professional learning communities, parental involvement, and sustainable leadership to impact student growth.


Curriculum Supervision

In this course, doctoral students will explore classic and contemporary approaches to organizational development. Students will explore preferred communication styles, cultivate relationships, develop strategies, and evaluate optimal strategies for organizational growth. Finally, students will be introduced to the doctrines of organizational development, theory, and techniques.


Development of Organizational Leadership

In this course, doctoral students will explore classic and contemporary approaches to organizational development. Students will explore preferred communication styles, cultivate relationships, develop strategies, and evaluate optimal strategies for organizational growth. Finally, students will be introduced to the doctrines of organizational development, theory, and techniques.


Innovation for Change

In this course, students will employ creative skills, manage innovation, and hone techniques to promote imaginative and flexible change strategies. Change involves knowledge, understanding, and commitment from administrators and cannot be construed as an event, but rather a process. Further, change involves working with a diverse group of people and striving to motivate others to muscle through change as it is needed. Leaders must work with a community and use change to implement desirable changes. This course will prepare doctoral students to negotiate the world of education innovation and change.

At Northcentral University, we pride ourselves in being completely transparent when it comes to tuition and fees. If a cost is not included in our Cost Per Course Tuition Rate, we let you know up front. Currently, the only additional cost above your program rate* is books. Learn more about the NCU’s PhD in Education costs below:

  • Per credit cost: $1,129
  • Per 3 credit course cost: $3,387
  • Program cost: $68,090
  • Average book cost per course: $110
  • Application Fee: $0
  • Learning Management Fee (one-time per program): $350
  • Registration Fee: $0

Click here to learn more about payment and financing options.

*Program rates are subject to change and generally increase at the start of each calendar year.

Total program costs reflected are calculated based on standard degree program credits exclusive of the program’s potential evaluation track. The actual cost of a program is determined based upon the program and track the student enters, transfer credits if any, and other unique student factors.For more information: please contact Admissions or refer to the catalog.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about our students, it’s that they are motivated and ambitious—but they are also busy! At Northcentral University, we’ve designed our education experience to work with you, not against you, so you can achieve your academic goals without sacrificing the quality, flexibility and support you need to be successful.

To learn more, request information or call 1-866-776-0331 to speak with an enrollment advisor today. We offer new courses every Monday of the year so you can get started when it’s best for you.