THECB approves Doctor of Education degree program for WTAMU


By Rana McDonald

Limited resources and changing demographics of rural communities present unique challenges and opportunities in smaller school districts across the country. West Texas A&M University will begin preparing doctoral candidates to meet those unique challenges and maximize opportunities with a new Doctor of Education (Ed.D) degree program in educational leadership designed especially for rural communities.

The new Ed.D in educational leadership was approved today (July 26) by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board after receiving the green light in August 2017 by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is pending.

The new doctoral program is set to begin in spring 2019. A cohort of 15 students will be admitted to the program each year through a competitive selection process. The Ed.D. marks the second doctoral program at WTAMU. The University offered its first doctoral program in 2003 with a Ph.D. in agriculture.

The Ed.D. will be housed in the College of Education and Social Sciences as a cohort-designed online program that doesn’t require a traditional doctoral dissertation but puts a sharp focus on research and writing. The degree program will prepare career professionals for executive leadership positions to recognize and serve the needs and challenges of rural school districts. Educational leaders who complete the program will understand the unique cultural, sociopolitical and economic and emergency management circumstances of areas with limited resources and access.

“Texas is home to more schools in rural areas than any other state,” Dr. Walter V. Wendler, University president, said. “That makes this one-of-a-kind Ed.D. program even more important as we put a direct focus on the needs of these smaller school systems. Whether it’s Texas, Kansas or New York, we want to prepare our students with the skill set educational leaders of rural school districts need to overcome their unique challenges for rewarding academic experiences in the classroom.”

The online program will extend opportunities to candidates across a broad, geographic area. Online instruction also will allow those working full-time jobs the opportunity to pursue a terminal degree on a schedule that meshes well with current job duties. Degree requirements include 21 semester credit hours of courses in educational leadership, 15 semester credit hours in rural specialization courses and 24 semester credit hours of research and scholarly delivery. The program will provide opportunities for seminars, conferences, guest lectures and special learning engagements on the WTAMU campus along with hands-on research.

“The curriculum is interdisciplinary in nature and focuses on solving real problems in practice in rural communities through applied research and the effective dissemination of research findings back to rural schools,” Dr. Eddie Henderson, dean of the College of Education and Social Sciences, said.

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