Education Doctoral Studies

College of Education
Dean: Jacob E. Perea

Educational Leadership
BH 521
Director: Robert Gabriner
Graduate Coordinator: Patricia Irvine

Special Education
BH 156
Chair: Nicholas Certo, Ph.D.
Co-Directors: Marci Hanson (SFSU) and Anne Cunningham (UC Berkeley)
Advisers: Certo, Courey, Filippini, Hanson, Hong, Hsia, Hunt, LePage, Lueck, Paillard, Prinz, Robinson, Rosen, Soto, Wolfberg


Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
Ph.D. in Education: Concentration in Special Education


The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is an intensive multidisciplinary three-year program implemented at SFSU to accommodate the needs of working professionals and maximize the use of multidisciplinary faculty expertise in the San Francisco Metropolitan Bay Area. The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership immerses its students in an exploration of critical challenges that high-level P-12 school district and community college educational leaders must grapple with, while providing enriching educational opportunities that are available only in dynamic urban and transitioning communities. The aim of the program is to prepare outstanding educational leaders who will create transformational change and promote equity and scholastic achievement in both the P-12 school districts and community colleges located in the 14 counties that constitute the San Francisco Metropolitan Bay Area.

The innovative curriculum for the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership addresses five major categories (leadership and systemic reform; learning, curriculum and assessment; equity, diversity, and structural inequality; educational program administration; research activities), supported by four cross-cutting professional development themes (education in urban and transitioning communities; real world applications and residency experiences; evidence-based decision-making, use of research, and analysis of data; accelerating learning to close the learning gap and equalize access to lifelong learning).

The distinctive structural features of the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership may be summarized as follows:

Admission Requirements

The program encourages individuals to apply who have a background and experience in educational leadership who seek a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in Educational Leadership with a specialization in P-12 or community college leadership.

The program requires the following of applicants for admission:

Students are expected to be admitted with a Tier I Credential when they plan to earn a Tier II Credential (Professional Clear Administrative Services). Meeting the minimum requirements qualifies an individual for consideration, but does not guarantee admission to the program. Admission will be granted on a competitive basis. The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership will not include a foreign language requirement.

Program Requirements

Criteria for Continuation in the Program

Unit Requirements
The program expects the following of students in completing unit requirements:

Summary of Ed.D. Courses by Curriculum Category Units
Category 1: Leadership and Systemic Reform (total 3 classes) 9
EDDL 910 Transformational Leadership and Coalition Building  
EDDL 911 Organizational Behavior, Change, and Systemic Reform
EDDL 912 Communication Techniques and Strategies
Category 2: Learning, Curriculum, and Assessment (total 4 classes) 12
EDDL 920 Developing Academic Skills of English Language Learners  
EDDL 921 Mathematics, Science, and Literacy
EDDL 922 Advanced Pedagogical Strategies for Achieving Equity
EDDL 923 Mixed Methods Analysis of Instruction and Learning
Category 3: Equity, Diversity, and Structural Inequality (total 3 classes) 12
EDDL 930 Qualitative Analysis of Race, Class, and Gender in Society and Education  
EDDL 931 Quantitative Analysis of Structural Inequality in Education
EDDL 932 Transformational Strategies to Address Inequality in Education and Society
Category 4: Educational Program Administration (total 5 classes) 15
EDDL 940 Policy, Law, and the Political Economy of Education  
EDDL 941 Organizational Accountability and Strategic Planning
EDDL 942 Budgeting and Financial Management
EDDL 943 Application of Budgeting, Financial Management, and School Law
EDDL 944 Human Resources Management
Category 5: Research Activities (total 4 classes—12 units minimum) 12
EDDL 950 Dissertation Literature Review  
EDDL 951 Dissertation Research Design
EDDL 952 Field-Based Residency
EDDL 998 Dissertation Seminar (3 units, repeatable for credit)


Major Examinations
The program requires all students to complete the following three major examinations:

  1. The qualifying examination includes a rigorous written assessment of student knowledge;
  2. During Year 2, passage of the dissertation proposal examination constitutes formal approval for the candidate to proceed with the dissertation research as proposed, subject to approval as necessary of the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS); and
  3. At the end of Year 3, the final examination is an oral defense of the candidate’s dissertation.

During Years 2 and 3, the dissertation research will normally focus on a significant professional problem or issue and have the potential to contribute—generally or in the context of a particular educational institution—to improvement of public P-12 or community college/postsecondary education. Work in support of the dissertation is embedded throughout the Ed.D. curriculum. However, formal dissertation research is subject to passage of the dissertation proposal examination and human subjects approval by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS). The dissertation must demonstrate a strong scholarly and professional foundation of knowledge on the part of the student and the ability to apply this knowledge to rigorous study of P-12 or community college/postsecondary education.

Contact Information
For application details, please visit the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership web site:

Robert Gabriner, Director,
Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue, BH 521
San Francisco, CA  94132
Phone: 415-405-4103
Fax:    415-338-7019

For further information, please view the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership website:


The Ph.D. in Special Education is a joint doctoral program within the College of Education, San Francisco State University and the Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley. The doctoral committee is co-directed by a faculty member from each campus who functions in consultation with the Executive Committee composed of faculty members from both campuses. Student performance and competencies are required to meet the scholarly requirements of the Graduate Studies Divisions of both institutions.

Members of the faculty from SFSU are primarily from the Department of Special Education, which represents multiple areas relating to people with disabilities. Faculty from departments such as Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, Ethnic Studies, and English are also available to work with doctoral students. The majority of the Berkeley faculty come from the Graduate School of Education and includes faculty from each of the major divisions: education, language, literacy, and culture; cognition and development; policy, organization, measurement, and evaluation; and social and cultural studies. In addition, faculty from several associated fields such as psychology, linguistics, public health, optometry, anthropology, public policy, social welfare, and social and behavioral sciences also participate in the program. Students are assigned a primary adviser from each campus.

Admission Requirements

The program encourages individuals to apply who have a background and experience in special education-as well as those from related disciplines in the social, behavioral, and health sciences-who seek leadership and research training. In addition to the academic criteria for admission, consideration is given to successful experience working with individuals with disabilities or in programs serving this population. Students without sufficient preparation and experience in special education will be considered for admission and required to enroll in prerequisite foundation course work.

Selection Criteria

The major factors used in selection of candidates are: (1) undergraduate grade point average; (2) graduate grade point average; (3) verbal and quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Examination, taken within the last five years (the GRE must be taken no later than the October test date preceding the admission deadline for fellowship applicants and no later than the December test date for applicants not applying for fellowships); (4) letters of recommendation; (5) statement of purpose which describes interests and research questions motivating the candidate to apply to the program; (6) writing sample (i.e., research paper, publication, etc.); (7) academic training and related professional experience in special education; and (8) personal interview.

Application Procedures

Applications must be submitted to both campuses (SFSU and UCB). For SFSU, applicants must submit only copies of all parts of the UCB application, including one set of official transcripts, a goal statement, a writing sample, GRE scores within the last five years, and a resume. Applicants do not apply to SFSU Graduate Admissions until admission decisions are completed at the department level. For UCB, follow instructions outlined in the Graduate School of Education application and the Graduate Application for Admission and Fellowships. Contact SFSU campus for the annual December application deadline:, (415) 338-1161.

Applications are available from:
Department of Special Education, Joint Doctoral Program, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132; telephone: (415) 338-1161;; and Student Academic Services Office, Graduate School of Education, 4307 Tolman Hall, #1670, University of California, Berkeley, CA  94720-1670; telephone: (510) 643-6871; UCB applications are available after August 1.

Areas of Specialization

In conjunction with the primary advisers, students will select a course of study which is congruent with their professional development goals and previous course work and experience. Students select three areas of specialization in consultation with the primary advisers. These three areas are to represent three distinct areas of study and represent substantial and different bodies of relevant literature. A minimum of three courses or nine units is required in each area of specialization, not including directed or independent study. At least one of the three areas of study must be completed at the opposite campus.

Students select an area of academic specialization in both special and general education. Faculty and program resources on the two campuses are used to develop advanced knowledge of theory and research in an area of exceptionality. Specializations include: human development; language and literacy; bilingualism; technology; educational policy and administration; early childhood; mild to moderate disabilities; moderate to severe disabilities; autism; vision impairments; and other areas selected by students in consultation with faculty advisers. Students develop three areas of emphasis or specialization within their program.

Students who are accepted into the program and who have minimal or no academic course work in special education will be required to enroll in prerequisite foundation courses. These courses are taken primarily at the SFSU campus.

Normative Time for Program. The normative time for completion of the doctoral degree is six years. Two years of full-time residence is required.

Enrollment. Enrollment is required on a year-to-year basis between the two campuses. Payment of fees on one campus permits the student to take work and utilize the facilities of the other campus at no additional charge. Students may elect courses from any department or college on either campus each semester. Core courses are completed within the first two years in the program.

Pre-qualifying Review. The prequalifying review for the doctoral degree consists of the approval of two position papers, one of which is an empirical paper, a research internship, and a dissertation prospectus. The position papers cover the areas of specialization and should demonstrate theoretical competence in the field of academic preparation as applied to problems of educational significance and competence in research methods.

Qualifying Examination. The qualifying examination is an oral examination of two to three hours duration. The examination committee is comprised of at least three members representing each campus. From UC, Berkeley, one member is from the Graduate School of Education and one member from outside the school. From SFSU, at least one member is from the Department of Special Education. The student, in consultation with the primary adviser, selects members of the oral examination committee. The chairperson of the committee may be a member from either campus. The passing of the oral examination is prerequisite to advancement to candidacy.

Advancement to Candidacy. Following successful completion of the qualifying examination, the student advances to candidacy and submits a dissertation proposal. Advancement to candidacy occurs by the end of the semester following the completion of the qualifying examination. A Dissertation Committee, comprised of faculty members representing both campuses, is formed. One member must be outside the UCB School of Graduate Education. The student selects the committee and requests a faculty member from each campus to serve as co-chair. The approval of the dissertation proposal and completion of the dissertation results in the award of a doctoral degree.

Program Requirements

SFSU Core Courses
SPED 902 Seminar in Program Development
SPED 903 Research in Special Education: Program Design and Analysis
SPED 907 Learning and Development: Influence on Disabilities
SPED 909 Current Issues in Special Education
UCB Core Courses
EDUC 200A Cognitive Development or
EDUC 205 Instruction and Development or
EDUC 291C Cognition, Learning, and Instruction: Childhood and Adolescence or
An approved alternative
EDUC 293A Data Analysis in Educational Research
EDUC 293L Educational Data Analysis Laboratory

The total number of units required for the doctoral program ranges from 45-53 units.

During participation in the doctoral program, students need to enroll in a minimum of 3 units at SFSU and 8 units at U.C. Berkeley each semester. Additional course work at SFSU includes the following doctoral level courses, as well as additional graduate level courses in special education under advisement.

SPED 905 University-level Teaching Internship 3
SPED 906 University-level Research Internship 3
SPED 908 Directed Studies: Special Topics 3
SPED 910 Current Research Issues in Special Education 3

SFSU Home   Search   Need Help?  

1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (415) 338-1111

Last modified July 06, 2012 by