Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Ph.D. and an Ed.D.?

The Ph.D. tends to be more research-oriented and is often designed for individuals who wish to become faculty.  The Ed.D. focuses on the application of theory and research to problems of practice in education and is designed for working professionals and educational leaders.

For what types of positions will the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program prepare me?

The program is designed to prepare graduates for a variety of executive-level leadership responsibilities in academia as well as in the public and private sector. Graduates have successfully applied their skills to positions as instructional leaders, administrators, policy analysts, curriculum designers, faculty, and student affairs leaders.

When does the program start? How long does the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program take to complete?

Each cohort begins the program in late August and a new cohort is selected once per year. The program is structured for degree requirements (including the dissertation) to be completed in three years, including summer terms.

How often do classes meet?

During the fall and spring semesters, students meet once a week with one additional meeting per month for the research support seminar class.  During the eight-week summer, students meet twice per week with additional meetings per month for the research support seminar class.  P-12 students meet on Mondays or Wednesdays during the school year and on Mondays and Wednesdays during the summer.  Community college students meet on Tuesdays or Thursdays during the school year and on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer.  Students meet in small groups (5-7 students) for the research seminar classes and schedule monthly meeting times with their instructor and the members of their group.

What benefits can I expect from the dissertation process?

The quality, nature, and purpose of dissertations can vary significantly across different types of doctoral programs.  At Cal State Fullerton, the dissertation is designed as a means to prepare students to be more effective educational leaders.  Your dissertation will consist of original research you conduct on a specific problem of educational practice. This is your opportunity to professionally contribute to the body of knowledge in educational leadership.  Faculty members are provided the most generous dissertation load compensation in the region. This means that you receive more of their time, support, and attention during your dissertation process. These experienced educational leaders will challenge you, encourage you, and help you transition to independent scholarship. The dissertation will help you fully develop a number of key competencies including leadership for change, the application of theory and research to practice, and advocacy for social justice, equity, and inclusion.

When should I apply?

The doctoral program at California State University, Fullerton uses a priority application followed by rolling admissions.

  • Priority Application:  Students who apply  before February 1 will receive an admissions decision within three weeks.  This allows students to make informed decisions when considering the Cal State Fullerton program and other doctoral programs that begin at the beginning of the summer.
  • Rolling Admission:  Because Cal State Fullerton’s program does not begin until the fall, rolling admissions are offered to students who apply after February 1 until June 30th. For students who apply during this period, decisions are typically provided within two weeks of the final interview.

What are the costs?

The cost of the Doctor of Educational Leadership program is below the national average for public universities and well below the cost of private institutions. Click here for more information about our fees.  Tuition and campus-based fees are set by the CSU System and are billed per semester. Additional fees will include books and parking. For an overview of the most current academic year tuition and fees, please go online to

Can I get financial aid?

The doctoral program provides approximately $180,000 in need-based grant aid to students each year.  Students who have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and who are enrolled as students in good standing are automatically eligible.

Additional Financial aid to complete your doctoral program may consist of loans, fellowships, external grants, and scholarships. Most graduate students receive a combination of grants and federal student loans. Private educational loans are also available to students who require additional financial assistance.  The Financial Aid office has a designated counselor for doctoral students. To learn more, go online to

Where can i receive additional information about the ED.D. program?

Please contact our front desk at 657-278-4023, or via email to We also highly encourage you to submit our online Interest Form.


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Page updated: June 20, 2016