Ph.D. in Education - Administration & Supervision

If you prefer a small, personalized, top-tier Ph.D. program in education leadership, then join the highly ranked UVA School of Education and Human Development program. We are widely recognized for our rigor, collaborative learning environment, and scholarship, and we provide all PhD students with full funding (tuition and a graduate stipend) for four years.

It takes extraordinary knowledge, commitment, and skill to become an effective leader in education, and we provide a wealth of development opportunities to our graduate students. Our classes are places where educators can reflect on educational institutions as they are, and envision what they could become. The A&S program at the School of Education and Human Development is developing leaders who create positive change in school divisions and educational organizations around the country.

The Ph.D in Education-Administration and Supervision program is a research-based, full-time program that is offered in Charlottesville only. The School of Education and Human Development offers fully funded financial aid packages for this program.

Please note: The A&S Ph.D. program is not accepting applications for admission in 2023. We anticipate that the program will be accepting applications next year for Fall 2024. Please check back with us then.

“The long hours, difficult conversations, the hard decisions, the countless challenging components of this work—it’s all worth it. You have a tremendous opportunity to lead conversations, decisions, and changes to ensure that your students are successful.”

– Steve Saunders - Principal, Baker-Butler Elementary School, A&S M.Ed. 2008, Ph.D. 2013

Research Opportunities

Opportunities for Ph.D students to engage in and be mentored in research derive from the ongoing research conducted by members of the Administration and Supervision faculty. This research includes investigations related to leadership of low-performing schools, policy concerning school turnarounds, K-12 leadership for educational technology, and the preparation of educational leaders. Located in the Administration and Supervision program at the School of Education and Human Development is the University Council for Educational Administration, an international organization representing research universities offering doctoral degrees in educational leadership. Because of UCEA's affiliation with Administration and Supervision, Ph.D students enjoy a variety of opportunities to work on the front lines of innovation in the preparation of educational leaders.

More about the research opportunities

Why Charlottesville?

Charlottesville is a progressive, cultural center in Central Virginia with a thriving art, music and theater community. The juxtaposition of urban and rural creates a rich diversity that is the lifeblood of Charlottesville and Albemarle County and provides an extraordinary learning environment for any student seeking to earn their Ph.D. Charlottesville is an hour from Richmond, the state capital, and a two-hour drive or train ride from Washington, D.C. Nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville has been recognized as one of the most live-able cities in the country, with excellent restaurants, deep historical roots, and extensive recreational opportunities within an easy drive. Learn more about Charlottesville.

Program Details

  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements
    • Online application for admission;
    • Official transcript verifying baccalaureate and master’s degree from an accredited college or university;
    • Scores for the Graduate Record Examination (scores must be less than 5 years old);
    • Two references strongly endorsing applicant for doctoral work (one from an immediate supervisor and one from a college professor);
    • Evidence of strong writing ability - submission of a writing sample describing an example of applicant's leadership experience in 2000 words;
    • Current résumé;
    • Statement of professional goals and research interests which match those of the faculty (typically 1 to 2 pages); and
    • Interview in person or by phone.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Application Due Date

    The application due date is December 1st with acceptances to be determined by February 15th.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Degree Requirements

    Program Requirements
    To earn a Ph.D. degree the following minimum requirements must be met:

    • Successful completion of a program of study determined by the student's doctoral committee. The student must earn 72 credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree, including at least 54 credits for courses other than non-topical research or dissertation credit, and at least 12 dissertation credits. This includes research methodology courses and 3 credits of research apprenticeship per semester for 3 years. Students can apply up to 12 dissertation credits towards the total of 72. A maximum of 18 credits from previous graduate work may be applied to the program. A minimum of 36 credits (not including internships, independent study, practica and dissertation credit) must be earned on grounds;
    • Specifically, educational leadership students must complete coursework in educational leadership (12 credits), 12 credits in an area of specialization (distinct from prerequisites), at least 15 credits in educational research methodology, 6 semesters of research apprenticeship, and a set of elective graduate courses that complement the students’ background and goals.
    • Successful completion of a written comprehensive examination as determined by the student’s doctoral committee. Comprehensives must be completed before the dissertation committee is appointed, the doctoral seminar taken and the dissertation proposal is defended;
    • Completion of all dissertation requirements, including defending a dissertation proposal as determined by the student’s doctoral committee; gaining approval from the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the protection of human subjects; planning and carrying out a research study (dissertation) appropriate to the field of specialization; and passing an oral final examination on the dissertation. All other requirements must be completed before this defense; and
    • All additional requirements as specified by the doctoral committee and advisor.

    Record of Progress
    The student must maintain a current Record of Progress Form, which should be started upon initial registration and completed as the student progresses through the program. It is submitted for review prior to approval for graduation. The Record of Progress form can be accessed at:

    Doctoral Committees
    The Ph.D. program of study is directed by the student’s doctoral program committee. After approximately 12 credits of study, a doctoral committee is usually formed. This committee is responsible for the design of the program of study and supervises the student through all activities until the comprehensive examination is completed. The committee must consist of a minimum of four faculty members of the University, appointed to the rank of assistant professor or higher, with at least two members from the program area (one of whom must agree to be the advisor/chair), and at least one outside of the student’s major program area. Ph.D. candidates are not required to designate minors or supporting areas. However, if such a designation is made, there must be at least one representative for each supporting area. An additional committee member from outside the University may be added if approved by the chair of the student’s major area; four University faculty who have agreed to serve on the committee; and the Associate Dean for Doctoral Programs.

    When all program requirements are met, including the successful completion of the doctoral comprehensive examination, the student must form a doctoral dissertation committee of four University of Virginia faculty members and/or research scientists. This committee is responsible for the approval of a dissertation proposal after it has been presented and defended; the supervision of the dissertation; the final approval of the dissertation, based on its written form; and the student’s oral defense of the dissertation (the Ph.D. final examination). See the Dissertation Handbook on the School of Education and Human Development website for guidance on the selection of the dissertation committee and the entire dissertation process.

    Pre-dissertation Research Manuscript
    All students will complete a pre-dissertation research project that results in a manuscript submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or other scholarly publication. The manuscript must be submitted before the student undertakes dissertation work. Papers that are co-authored with an advisor are acceptable. Students are encouraged to shape the manuscript to result in publication.

    Dissertation Guidelines
    See the Dissertation Manual on the School of Education and Human Development webpage for guidance on the entire dissertation process.

    Research Requirement
    Ph.D. students must demonstrate research proficiency. All Ph.D. students take Research Foundations, an introductory course in educational research. Additionally, educational leadership students are required to take 15 more credits in educational research with some courses at an advanced level. All students are expected to take Statistics I and Qualitative Research I, unless the student has completed comparable coursework elsewhere.

    Ph.D. students participate in 6 semesters of research apprenticeship with their educational leadership mentors prior to their dissertation research. During this 15-hour per week apprenticeship, students will assist with the mentor's research and scholarship. This may include data collection, data analysis, library research, conference presentations, writing for publication, and other related activities. Students may also gain experience co-teaching educational leadership courses.

    Educational leadership faculty members will review every student’s progress each year in the program. The review will assess not only each student’s course performance, but more importantly their ability to interpret and synthesize educational leadership literature; their knowledge of organizational theory, effectiveness, and leadership; their performance in the research apprenticeship; and their scholarly writing. Students will document their progress in these areas and receive written and oral feedback on their annual progress.

    Residence Requirement
    Ph.D. candidates must complete at least three academic years (fall-spring semesters) of full-time (9 credits per semester) graduate work of post-master’s degree.

    Enrollment Requirement
    Students must be continuously enrolled at the University during the fall and spring semesters while working toward the Ph.D. degree. If students are not taking courses, they may maintain enrollment by paying a University non-resident fee through the Office of Admission of the School of Education and Human Development. Failure to maintain continuous enrollment will require students to reapply for admission which is subject to changes in faculty availability and admission requirements.

    Transfer Credit
    Up to 18 credits from previous graduate work and/or non-topical research may be applied to the Ph.D. program with the approval of the doctoral committee.

    Time Limit
    All requirements must be completed within four years after passing comprehensive examinations and within seven years of admission to the Ph.D. program. In special cases, upon approval of the doctoral committee, department chair, and Associate Dean for Doctoral Programs, out-of-date work may be revalidated by examination.

    Application for Degree and Graduation
    Application for the Ph.D. degree must be submitted by the student in accordance with the calendar deadlines. Forms may be accessed through the School of Education and Human Development website. Candidates who do not receive degrees in the session for which their applications have been approved must renew their applications at the beginning of the session in which candidacy for the degree is desired.

    The student’s completed Record of Progress, along with an official transcript of all applicable course work from the University of Virginia or elsewhere, must accompany this application for final review by the Office of Admission and Student Affairs of the School of Education and Human Development. Degree applicants must be registered for dissertation credit in the semester in which the degree is to be awarded. 

  • Funding Opportunities

    A typical funding package includes (a) a minimum of $18,000 for 9 months in a combination of wages and stipends, (b) tuition and all mandatory fees, and (c) funds to cover student health insurance costs.

  • Typical Length of Study

    Students typically study for 4 years before receiving their PhD.

    Full or Part Time:

    All PhD students in Administration & Supervision are full time.

  • Sample Jobs After Graduation

    Graduates of the Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership pursue academic or research positions in universities, think tanks, and non-profit organizations. Some assume leadership positions in private and public K-12 schools and school systems.

  • Public Professional Licensure Disclosures

    As a member of the State Authorizations Reciprocity Agreement, the University of Virginia (UVA) is authorized to provide curriculum in a distance learning environment to students located in all states in the United States except for California. (34 CFR 668.43(a)(6)& 34 CFR 668.72(n)).

    Upon completion of the Ph.D. in Administration and Supervision program at the UVA School of Education and Human Development, graduates may be eligible for initial professional licensure in another U.S. state by applying to the licensing board or agency in that state. Please visit the University’s state authorization web pages to make an informed decision regarding which states’ educational requirements for initial licensure are met by this program. (668.43(a)(5) (v)(A) - (C))

    Enrolled students who change their current (or mailing) address to a state other than Virginia should update this information immediately in the Student Information System as it may impact their ability to complete internship, practicum, or clinical hours, use Title IV funds, or meet licensure or certification requirements in the new state. (34 CFR 668.402).

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at