Shippensburg University today (Jan. 22) received approval from the Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education for its first doctoral program. The Doctor of Educational Leadership (Ed.D.), slated for summer 2015, was approved by the board at its meeting today.

“It is fitting that Shippensburg University’s first doctoral program is in educational leadership, given our institutional origins in preparing educators for the region,” said Dr. George F. “Jody” Harpster Jr., university president. “What is even more compelling is the depth of innovation that this program embodies.”

The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership will be offered in partnership with Millersville University and will focus on poverty and digital learning. It addresses the growing need for school administrators, such as principals and district superintendents, who have the skills to lead their schools in a continually evolving educational environment.

A key component of the doctoral program is Shippensburg’s Leadership in Residency Program. Dr. Barbara Lyman, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said, “Our doctorate is distinctly different from others because of this highly regarded, innovatively designed series of field-situated learning experiences.”

Dr. James Johnson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, said the doctorate has been in the works for several years. “It is an important niche program that will offer prospective school leaders a mix of deep field experiences and state-of-the-art executive theory.”

One of the program developers, Dr. Jerry Fowler, associate professor of educational leadership and special education, said, “It’s rare to have the opportunity to develop a new program from the ground up.  As a result we were able to zero in on the best thinking from across the country regarding issues and challenges in the field of educational leadership.

“Child poverty, in particular, is among the most challenging obstacles school districts face today. We believe that we have designed a program that will equip rising school district leaders in our region with the tools to help these children as well as all others to reach their potential as learners.”

Dr. Tracy Schoolcraft, associate provost and dean of graduate studies, noted, “Collaboration between Shippensburg and Millersville is not new; we have a well-established and fully accredited partnership for our master of social work degree.” Both schools are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and are recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for teacher preparation and administrator training programs.

The Ed.D. program, which can be completed in approximately four years, will be delivered using a cohort model with an accessible blend of traditional, hybrid, fully online and field-embedded formats. Most classes will be held at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg. Admission to the program requires a master’s degree and advanced administrative experience.