The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree is designed for advanced professional practice directed mainly toward the application or transmission of existing knowledge. The program of study focuses on the utilization of current research knowledge, rather than on the production of new research knowledge.

The Ed.D. program consists of a cohesive program of study in a specialty area and related fields specifically tailored to the needs and career goals of individual students. This includes sequences of appropriate field placements, including supervisory internships, administrative practica, and college teaching experiences as well as coursework in research and evaluation methodologies. Upon completion of the Ed.D., you should have (a) a broad understanding of the impact of social and cultural factors on education, (b) the ability to effectively communicate in written and oral form in a variety of settings, (c) advanced special expertise — a body of knowledge and skills — that prepares you for a position of educational leadership, and (d) the ability to plan, develop, conduct, interpret, and apply research for specific purposes.

The following summarizes the stages, requirements, and processes leading to the Ed.D. degree. Remember, you should also review the Graduate School’s doctoral degree requirements.

Enrolling in First & Second Year Courses

Upon admission to the Ed.D. program, you are assigned a temporary adviser whose interests are compatible with yours. Prior to completing 18 credits of coursework, you and your adviser will select a permanent faculty adviser. Working together, you and the faculty adviser will prepare a tentative program of study that will meet your goals and the requirements of the program, the College of Education, and the UW. Although the role of faculty adviser is designed to assist you in completing the Ed.D. degree, it is your responsibility to follow all procedures of the Graduate School and College of Education.

Advancing to Prospective Candidacy

The advancement to Prospective Candidacy process--including the materials and discussions involved in it--is an opportunity for students, advisers, and the broader faculty to evaluate the student’s progress up to that point and to plan for future course taking, committee member selection, and dissertation interests.

You may be considered for advancement to Prospective Candidacy after completing 24 credits of study, as well as at least one internship. Individual programs may require additional coursework, and your adviser will inform you of any additional requirements early in your first quarter of study.  

Once you meet the minimum requirements, your adviser will help you prepare documents for presentation to the faculty. Those documents include (1) a course of study form (including grades received in each course), and (2) a revised goal statement.  You will revisit and revise the goal statement you wrote when you applied for your program to reflect your current thinking and goals.  Your adviser may require other materials, such as a curriculum vita or a paper from a course.  Check with your adviser to see if additional materials are necessary.  Together, the student and the adviser are required to meet to discuss the materials and to make any appropriate changes before the adviser presents the student’s case to the larger faculty for consideration.  

The faculty in your program will review your work, judge the adequacy of your progress, offer suggestions about future course taking, and make a recommendation on Advancement to Prospective Candidacy to the Graduate Program Coordinator (the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs).  While we encourage as much faculty input as possible, a minimum of one faculty member besides your advisor will take part in this review. Advisers are then required to meet with the student to provide a summary of the collective input gathered from the larger program faculty meeting. 

Once you have advanced, you should initiate the Prospective Candidacy Form to notify the Office of Student Services about completing this milestone.

A summary of the process is below:
1. Meet minimum requirements for advance to prospective candidacy.
2. Prepare course of study, revised goal statement, and whatever materials your advisor or program requires.
3. Meet with advisor to go over documents and revise as needed.
4. Advisor meets with program faculty and presents the student’s case for consideration.
5. Faculty in program review work, judge adequacy of progress, offer feedback, and make recommendation on advancement.
6. Advisor meets with student to give feedback and decision of the faculty.
7. Student initiates the Prospective Candidacy Form online. Once signed by the faculty advior, the completed form is then automatically submitted to the Office of Student Services.


Probationary language:
If, after reviewing the student’s case, the program faculty decides that the student will not be Advanced to Prospective Candidacy, the student will be warned or placed on probationary status per the Graduate School's policy on Unsatisfactory Performance and Progress. At that time, the advisor must call a meeting with the student, one other faculty member, and the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs.  This group may require additional materials (i.e. course papers), and the student may offer additional materials as well.  The meeting should take place no later than the second week of the following academic quarter.  At this meeting, the faculty members and student will discuss what is necessary to lift probationary status. Examples might include: improving grades, revising the goal statement further, and requiring certain courses.

Forming the Supervisory Committee

Upon advancement to Prospective Candidacy, you should explore with your faculty adviser and other graduate faculty members their willingness to serve on your Supervisory Committee. Once you identify a chairperson and others who are willing to serve, their names should be submitted to the Office of Student Services using the appropriate form. You should form a Supervisory Committee as soon as possible after advancement to Prospective Candidacy. Supervisory Committee formation must be accomplished (a) within one calendar year following advancement, and (b) no later than four months prior to your General Exam.

Supervisory Committees will be formed in accordance with the Graduate School policy.

  • A minimum of four voting faculty (at least three with graduate faculty appointments) must be members, including (a) two faculty from your area of specialization (typically the program of study), and (b) one from either elsewhere in the College of Education or the UW who is knowledgeable in your related fields of study.

  • A maximum of seven committee members in total.

  • An additional graduate faculty member, the Graduate School Representative (GSR), must also serve on the committee. GSRs must be members of the graduate faculty with an endorsement to chair doctoral committees, and must have no conflict of interest (such as budgetary relationships or adjunct appointments) with the College of Education. Members of Supervisory Committees representing students’ specializations outside of the College of Education may also serve as GSRs, provided they are qualified to serve in both roles

  • For any dissertation project that may include human or animal subjects, the GPC or GPA must advise the student of the need to comply with the University of Washington Human Subjects Division and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee’s requirements, as appropriate, and the student and committee chair must complete the Use Of Human And Animal Subjects For UW Graduate Student Theses And Dissertations form.


General Exams

Once formed, the Supervisory Committee will meet with you to refine your program of study and field-based activities, prepare for the General Exam, and design your dissertation. You and your Supervisory Committee will decide the format of the General Exam, and the committee prepares and evaluates the exam. The Supervisory Committee serves as a resource group for the design and content of your dissertation. Between Supervisory Committee meetings, it will be the chairperson's responsibility to serve as your adviser.

The Supervisory Committee may recommend against continuation in the program if your progress toward the degree is unsatisfactory. This may include, but is not limited to, an excessive number of course withdrawals or incompletes, a grade point average of less than 3.0, unsatisfactory performance in field placements, or unsatisfactory performance on the General Exam.

The General Exam is given in two parts. The first part is written and examines content area in your broad areas, specialty areas, and cognates. Upon satisfactory completion of the written portion of the General Exam, the oral portion may be scheduled.

Completing the Written General Exam

When both you and your Supervisory Committee concur that you are prepared and have completed all course requirements (except the dissertation) — including the completion at least 60 credit hours of coursework, per Graduate School requirements (or 30 hours if you already completed a master’s degree that will be less than 10 years old at the time of graduation from the UW) — there will be a Written and Oral General Exam covering the program of study, your Course of Study, and research activities. You should meet with your committee to discuss the content, scheduling, and format of the exams. The committee will prepare the written portion of the General Exam. The chairperson will then forward a copy of the exam plan to the Office of Student Services.

Completing the Oral General Exam

You are responsible for scheduling the oral portion of the General Exam (locating an adequate room, determining a date and time that is acceptable to all members of the Supervisory Committee, etc.), as well as submitting a Request for General Exam to the Graduate School. You should submit the request after forming your Supervisory Committee and at least three weeks prior to the date of the General Exam by using the Graduate School’s online process. Also note that you must be enrolled for credit hours during the quarter of your General Exam. If a General Exam occurs during a period between academic quarters, then it will be considered to have taken place the following quarter, and you must register for that quarter.

During the Oral Exam, members of the graduate faculty may ask any questions they choose. By majority vote, the Supervisory Committee will rule on whether you pass.

Preparing the Dissertation Proposal

The Ed.D. dissertation is designed to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. This synthesis may be demonstrated by rigorous study of an educational problem such as curriculum evaluation, development and evaluation of administrative models, development and field testing of a diagnostic tool or curricular material, or development and evaluation of in-service, teacher training models. It may also take the traditional form of a research study. Throughout the dissertation period, you should maintain close contact with Supervisory Committee members.

Within one calendar year of successfully completing the oral portion of the General Exam, you need to submit a dissertation proposal for Supervisory Committee approval. The purpose of the dissertation proposal is to provide you with constructive criticism from the entire Supervisory Committee prior to the execution of dissertation work. The written dissertation proposal should be approved unanimously by the Supervisory Committee members; approval will be indicated by submitting a Dissertation Proposal Form, signed by each member of the committee, to the Office of Student Services. Approval of the proposal does not guarantee that the Supervisory Committee will approve the dissertation at the Final Oral Exam, but it does guarantee that the committee may not later disapprove the dissertation on the grounds that the research was poorly conceived. The approved proposal becomes the working paper for conducting dissertation research.

Once the proposal receives Supervisory Committee approval, you need to submit an application for review and approval by the Human Subjects Division. On its website, the College of Education has summarized some of the most important aspects of the Human Subjects Review Process. You should also the consult the website of the UW’s Human Subjects Division.

For additional information about the process, the type of review suitable for a given project, application forms, and general assistance, contact Louise Clauss at or 206-616-8291.

Forming the Reading Committee

The Reading Committee will be composed of a minimum of 3 members of your Supervisory Committee members, including the chairperson. It is also advisable to include a member who is knowledgeable in the chosen research methodology. The Reading Committee will read and review your dissertation in detail and make a recommendation to the larger Supervisory Committee about readiness to schedule the Final Exam. Once you identify appropriate graduate faculty who are willing to serve on your Reading Committee, their names should be submitted to the Office of Student Services using the appropriate form.

Conforming to Stylistic Standards

It is your responsibility to ensure that your dissertation meets current Graduate School formatting requirements.

Completing the Final Exam (Dissertation Defense)

You are expected to pass the Final Exam. The final defense of your dissertation is intended as an opportunity for all involved to celebrate the good results of their work during your career in the College of Education.

You should schedule the Final Exam after submitting your dissertation to the Supervisory Committee. You are responsible for scheduling the Final Exam (locating an adequate room, determining a date and time that is acceptable to all members of the Supervisory Committee, etc.), as well as submitting a Request for Final Exam to the Graduate School. You should submit the request after forming your Reading Committee and at least three weeks prior to the date of the Final Exam by using the Graduate School’s online process. You should also note that you must be enrolled for credit hours during the quarter of your Final Exam. If the Final Exam occurs during a period between academic quarters, then it will be considered to have taken place the following quarter, and you must register for that quarter.

The Final Exam will cover your dissertation and related topics, and it may also cover other areas deemed appropriate by the Supervisory Committee. While the committee alone votes on acceptance of the dissertation, any member of the graduate faculty may participate in the Final Exam.

Submitting Your Dissertation to the Graduate School

Once you pass your Final Exam and complete any revisions requested by the Supervisory Committee, the remaining step is to submit your dissertation to the Graduate School.

In preparation for submitting your dissertation, you should keep the following Graduate School policies in mind:

  • If you wish to submit your dissertation in the same quarter as your Final Exam, make note of the submission deadlines established by the Graduate School.

  • You may submit your dissertation up to two weeks after the end of a quarter without having to register for the following quarter by using the Registration Waiver Fee. The Registration Waiver Fee option is available to a student who has completed all other degree requirements except submission of the dissertation. You will then be permitted to graduate the following quarter by paying a $250 fee in lieu of registering for credit hours.

  • Submission of the dissertation is done electronically and involves several steps. You should carefully review the degree completion information available from the Graduate School. All Reading Committee members must approve the dissertation online and you must also complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates.

Specific questions about the electronic submission of dissertations should be directed to Graduate Enrollment Management Services (GEMS) at 206-685-2630.

Maximum Allowable Time

In planning your program of study and timeline, keep in mind that all requirements for the Ed.D. must be completed within a 10-year time limit.