Qualifying Exams

Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Qualifying Exams

 The qualifying exam for Ed.D. students in the ELPA Department consists of three parts:

1. Research I – You will complete an exercise that is posted on the ELPA website that requires you to develop the research method that you plan to use for your dissertation. Complete the Quantitative section if you plan a quantitative dissertation, the Qualitative section if you plan a qualitative dissertation, and both sections if you plan a Mixed-Methods dissertation.

 *Answer all questions completely and post this section as a separate word file to the appropriate Dropbox in the Qualifying Exam D2L site.


2. Research II – This section requires a critique of a journal article. There are two articles posted here. Critique the quantitative journal article if you completed Research I using a Qualitative Method. If you completed Research I using a Quantitative Method critique the qualitative journal article. If you completed both the Qualitative and Qualitative parts of Research I because you are doing a Mixed-Methods dissertation, you may skip this section. Check with your Chair.

 *Number your answers the same as the question numbers in the journal article. Answer all questions completely and post this section as a separate word file to the appropriate Dropbox in the Qualifying Exam D2L site.


3. Foundations/Leadership – This section requires you to analyze a case study. There are two case studies posted here. One for PPSL students and one for SCOL/ADMN students. Select the appropriate case study based on your concentration. Address the issues and answer the corresponding guiding questions by applying relevant information from your course work.  Answer all questions completely and post this section as a separate word file to the appropriate Dropbox in the Qualifying Exam D2L site.

*Double space everything. Place all three files (three separate files) in the same Dropbox (the Dropbox will have your name as the title). 


Important Information 


Prior to the semester that you plan to take the qualifying exam, consult your chair to determine if you are ready to complete qualifying. After receiving permission from your chair, contact the ELPA Department's administrative assistant, Betty Ann Proffitt at   to sign up for the qualifying exam.

Students are encouraged to take Qualifying Exams after the completion of all required coursework. Therefore, students may be enrolled in dissertation hours during the semester of qualifying and oral exams. Students must be registered for a minimum of 3 semester hours for coursework, readings & research, or dissertation hours in the semester in which the examination is taken.


In order to sit for the qualifying exams ELPA students must have completed the five following requirements:


  1. ELPA 6581 (3 credit hour Internship course) except for ADMN endorsement
  2. Submitted and have approved residency portfolio
  3. Program of Study submitted and approved (signed)
  4. Currently enrolled in a minimum of 3 semester hours
  5. Completed ELPA 7813

Successful completion of Qualifying Exams leads to a departmental recommendation of the student for candidacy.


The written and oral portion of the qualifying examination is designed to determine the student's level of achievement prior to dissertation. Emphasis is placed on the student's ability to apply, synthesize, and evaluate knowledge in the areas of research, educational leadership, and educational foundations. Typically these exams are held on a pre-determined dates in the months of January, May, and August.


Students who are not successful on the qualifying exam are provided with a remediation plan, which would assist them in preparing for a re-examination in a future semester. Students who are unsuccessful in only one area of the exam will be re-examined (in both written and oral formats) in that specific area. Students who are unsuccessful in two or more areas (one or more for post Ed.S. students) must retake the complete examination at a regularly scheduled examination date in a subsequent semester. Failure on any portion of the second administration of the examination will disqualify the student from further participation in the doctoral program.


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