Graduate Program HeadRayne Sperling
Program CodeEDUC
Campus(es)World Campus (D.Ed.)
Degrees ConferredDoctor of Education (D.Ed.)
The Graduate Faculty


The College-wide online Doctor of Education degree (D.Ed.) program is an inquiry-intensive, and practically oriented interdisciplinary degree program for professions in the education, counseling, and human services sectors. The program is designed to meet the needs of professional educators, counselors, leaders, and designers. The D.Ed. program offers a flexible degree option for students to engage in advanced research-oriented professional learning and practical application beyond the master’s degree in an asynchronous format. It is ideal for students whose ability to enroll in existing residentially-based doctoral programs is limited. The program is designed to enroll professionals who seek to address problems of practice within their specific career contexts and offers students the freedom to build an appropriate doctoral
degree program that centers on developing knowledge pertinent to problems of practice, while developing the inquiry skills and interdisciplinary practices necessary to develop, understand, and apply research to new problems and situations.

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Applicants are expected to hold a master’s degree in education or closely related and relevant field (30 credits minimum) and to have completed at least three years of professional practice. Applicants are required to submit an application through the Graduate School that includes a program-specific essay describing the student’s interest in the program, three letters of academic and/or professional reference, and TOEFL/IELTS scores per Policy GCAC-305. Applicants are required to have demonstrated strong performance in their previous graduate programs based on their master’s transcripts. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or other standardized test scores are not required for admission. Admitted students may be required to take additional course work as recommended at the time of admission. Students will provide a brief essay (up to 1,500 words) describing how their professional trajectory informs their academic goals.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. See GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies.

A minimum of 36 credits (post-master’s prerequisite) is required to complete the D.Ed. Students will be required to complete common core classes (18 credits), disciplinary specialization courses (minimum 12 credits), the residency requirement, and the Doctoral Capstone Project (minimum 6 credits, repeatable).

A. Common Core (18 credits). Completion of a set of common core courses designed specifically for the online D.Ed. students.

Required Courses
EDUC 815Foundations of Education Research3
EDUC 801Global Trends in Education Culture3
EDUC 802Educational Research Design3
EDUC 804Program Evaluation3
EDUC 810Quantitative Data Analysis Workshop3
EDUC 811Qualitative Data Analysis and Design3

B. Content Specialization (minimum 12 credits). Content Specialization courses are intended to expand the student’s knowledge base to an area beyond the focus of their existing master’s degree. This requirement is intentional. To address problems of practice in contemporary society, practitioners are increasingly required to bring an interdisciplinary focus to identify, develop, and implement appropriate and practicable solutions.

Students will enroll in 12 or more credits of Content Specialization courses, dependent upon previous educational and professional certificates, degrees, and experiences. Selection of the Content Specialization courses will be determined in
consultation with their program and faculty advisers and will coalesce with the focus of the student’s ensuing Doctoral Capstone Project (see below). Students will be required to take the majority of this category of course work (9 credits) within a single thematic subspeciality.

The College of Education and other closely related M.Ed. degree programs delivered through World Campus currently offers a wind range of courses in which students may enroll. Given this extensive portfolio, it is not practical to list typical electives for all interested students.

C. Summer Summit Students will meet in person for a five-day summer summit at the University Park Campus to fulfill the residency requirement for online professional doctoral degree programs (see Policy GCAC-213). Each student will complete a minimum of one summit for the year(s) they attend. Students may complete the Residency at any time during their D.Ed. experience, with the strong recommendation that this be completed prior to their last year of their program (i.e., before enrollment in the majority of their credits for the capstone experience). The summer summit will engage students from all cohorts and include a series of workshops and professional development opportunities. In addition to addressing the residency requirement, the summer summit achieves two additional goals. First, the summit will enhance students’ understanding of issues in educational research by extending competencies developed in course work. Second, the summit will build community among students and faculty through academic engagement and social activities on campus.

D. Qualifying Examination For the qualifying examination, you will complete a portfolio that will be used to evaluate your past performance and potential for successfully completing the program. This exam is typically completed after the
student has completed 9 credits but must be completed before the candidate completes 18 credits. According to graduate school policy (GCAC 704) you must:

  • have a grade-point average of 3.00 or greater for work done at the University while a graduate student;
  • have no incomplete or deferred grades;
  • be in good academic standing and must be registered as a full-time or part-time graduate degree student for the semester (excluding summer session) in which the qualifying examination is taken.

E. Comprehensive Examination The comprehensive examination (See GCAC 706) will take place after successfully passing the qualifying exam and the completion of the majority of course work but before you enroll in the Capstone Project course. The comprehensive examination must be scheduled within a year of completion of all required course work and no later than five years after passing the qualifying exam. To be eligible for the comprehensive examination you are required to have a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 for work completed at the University as a graduate student and may not have deferred or missing grades. Working with the Culminating Experience Adviser, students will submit a written project proposal (15-20 pages) to the adviser, identify the Professional Doctoral Committee (following) and present an oral presentation of the project proposal at an in-person intensive session. The project proposal will build on the area of interest paper submitted for the qualifying exam and will expand the literature reviewed and propose a concrete project, including research activities to be undertaken for the Capstone Project (GCAC-702). An online oral presentation given synchronously in an interactive format is also required. The project proposal will build on the area of interest paper submitted for the qualifying exam and will expand the literature reviewed and propose a concrete project, including research activities to be undertaken for the Capstone Project. The committee will evaluate the quality of the
proposed project.

F. Doctoral Capstone Project (minimum 6 credits, repeatable). Completion of a research capstone experience is required for the D.Ed. The research capstone project is expected to address problems of practice and engage students, practitioners, or leaders in an educational setting, as relevant and appropriate to the student’s interests. This capstone experience should be an independent effort by the student that extends beyond their course work and will result in a formal written document. It is intended to support the student in gaining a better understanding of, and possibly provide solutions to, a local problem of practice in the student’s professional setting. Students will complete their capstone projects through the Research Practicum course (EDUC 894), which may be repeated for credit: EDUC 894 Doctoral level research practicum (initial 6 credits required and additional 1 credit required in all ensuing semesters until a successful defense of the project has been achieved). This experience will include support modules to benefit students as they complete their
projects and degrees.

The final oral exam will be evaluated by the student’s doctoral committee and consists of an oral presentation of the praxis research project by the candidate and a period of questions and responses. Questions will relate in large part to the praxis research project, but may cover the candidate's entire program of study, because a major purpose of the examination is also to assess the general scholarly attainments of the candidate. The portion of the examination in which the praxis is presented is open to the public and will be publicized and members of the academic community will be encouraged to attend.


A graduate minor is available in any approved graduate major or dual-title program. The default requirements for a graduate minor are stated in Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies and GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies, depending on the type of degree the student is pursuing:

Student Aid

World Campus students in graduate degree programs may be eligible for financial aid. Refer to the Tuition and Financial Aid section of the World Campus website for more information.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Education (EDUC) Course List

Learning Objectives

  1. Demonstrate appropriate breadth and depth of knowledge related to education and learning, and comprehension of the major issues facing educational systems.
  2. Use the disciplinary knowledge, methods and techniques of education to advance educational policy or practice.
  3. Demonstrate effective teaching and communication skills for dissemination of educational findings and best practice to appropriate stakeholders.
  4. Become a transformational educational leader who can improve or advocate for equitable learning outcomes for children, youths, families, and adults.
  5. Participate and advance a culture of educational excellence through supporting lifelong learning within and across educational sectors.


Campus World Campus
Graduate Program Head Rayne Audrey Sperling
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) JOSEPH A. POLIZZI
Program Contact

Erica L Smith

Program Website View