About the Program


The Leadership for Learning (L4L) doctoral program (Ed.D.) at the University of Washington is an intensive three-year program designed for individuals who serve in leadership roles in schools, district central offices and organizations that support school system improvement. Candidates in the program engage in intellectually challenging coursework and field-based experiences that deepen their ability to lead for real results in and with K-12 school systems. Through an interdisciplinary, social justice-oriented curriculum, candidates develop both the practical skills and conceptual knowledge needed for effective systems leadership.

After successful completion of the L4L program, candidates earn a Doctorate in Education from the UW. Graduates may also be qualified to apply for a Washington State Initial Superintendent Certificate. Those seeking certification must complete a 360-hour internship under the supervision of a practicing certificated superintendent. This internship focuses on developing competencies that are aligned with the Washington State Initial-level Superintendent benchmarks.

Those who plan to seek certification are required to also hold a state teaching certificate or educational staff associate certificate. 

Program Format

Leadership for Learning is a cohort-based program, and students move through the program with their core cohort group. The program features:

  • Intensive seminars that meet one weekend a month (Friday and Saturday) during the school year and for 3–5 days during the summer.
  • Instruction by expert UW College of Education faculty as well as accomplished leaders from the field.
  • Extensive field-based internships designed to stretch students’ leadership abilities under the mentorship of experienced systems leaders. Students can complete their 360 internship hours in settings such as superintendent offices (required for those seeking superintendent certification), educational service districts, institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations.
  • Innovative annual capstone portfolios that demonstrate the students’ growth as leaders.

Who Should Apply

The Leadership for Learning program is designed for experienced professionals currently working in or with K-12 school systems who want to take the next step in their careers. This includes those who wish to become school system superintendents or other district central office leaders, as well as individuals committed to leading schools and other organizations in ways that support high-quality teaching and learning at scale. Candidates for this highly competitive program should be able to demonstrate their strong potential for innovative, equity-focused leadership.