Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership

The educational leadership doctoral program is…. 

  • Student-Directed In the Educational Leadership Doctoral program, you will join an online cohort from a broad range of professional fields and academic backgrounds. Together, you will develop the leadership skills, knowledge, and mindset to explore leadership and research concepts. Students undertake research that is of interest to them while practicing research and leadership concepts throughout the program. Courses accommodate full-time students, most of whom are working professionals as well. 
  • Action-Focused Our classes focus on frameworks for leadership and research that encourage students to explore ideas that are appropriate for their workplace or interests. By discussing, applying, and reviewing these frameworks, students delve into understanding various approaches to common leadership and research problems. 

Our Faculty & Staff

  • Subject-matter-experts who work in the field of study instruct the content courses. These professionals bring a timely and global view to content material.
  • Full-time Ph.D. research faculty who have experience in publishing and R1 research instruct our research courses.
  • Our Academic Writing Specialist instructs the dissertation writing courses to guide students through the proper academic style and tone.
Sara  Jimenez Soffa
Sara Jimenez Soffa
Director of Educational Leadership
School of Education

Sara Jimenez Soffa is the Director of Educational Leadership Programs, including the Ed.D. and Master's in Educational Leadership, and an Associate Professor of Education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Ripon College, a master’s degree in Instructional Design and Adult Education from Alverno College, and a Ph.D. from UW-Madison in Educational Leadership specializing in higher education administration. Sara is an accomplished researcher specializing in research design, data analysis, and outcomes-based assessment. Sara began her work in the doctoral program as the Coordinator for the Higher Education concentration of the program. As the Director of Research Sara has been responsible for developing and teaching the research sequence of the program, both in blended and online formats. Her research interests include exploring research self-efficacy in students navigating the doctoral experience, cultivating inclusive collegiate classrooms through the implementation of multicultural pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning, and exploring features of quality graduate programs that prepare leaders in all educational settings (PreK-20). Outside of the classroom, Sara lives in Madison with her husband Gerardo and three beautiful boys and is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running marathons and triathlons. She believes by modeling her commitment and enthusiasm for education, her boys will become lifelong learners as well.

Kirsten Brown
Kirsten Brown
Lecturer of Research Design and Methods
School of Education

Dr. Kirsten Brown’s research agenda engages topics of disability, educational access, and postsecondary outcomes. Dr. Brown is interested in neurodiversity and practices that support the retention and success of students with disabilities in postsecondary education. Selected publications include a co-authored book, Disability in Higher Education: A Social Justice Approach and articles in the Journal of College Student Development, Journal of Higher Education, Journal of Community College Research and Practice and Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability. Dr. Brown’s teaching background is in Higher Education Administration, Sociology, and Disability Studies; she teaches research methodology courses for the Ed.D. Program. Dr. Brown is active in several professional organizations and has presented nationally at ASHE, AHEAD, and ACPA. She holds an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Bowling Green State University.

Suzanne Otte
Suzanne Otte
Lecturer and Doctoral Research and Writing Center Director
School of Education

Suzanne brings over 20 years teaching experience that spans from 6th grade to post-secondary education and in diverse settings.  She teaches courses in both the Higher Education and Leadership Studies and Doctoral Completion concentrations and she serves as the writing specialist in the program, providing direct consultation and academic writing programming. Suzanne’s research interests focus on gender inclusive leadership, ethical leadership, and ethical leadership development.  She earned Ed.D. from Edgewood College.  

Brian Busler
K12 Leadership/Master of Arts/Licensing Coordinator

Brian S. Busler is a recently retired school superintendent from Oregon School District and has over thirty-five years of experience as an administrator.  He holds an undergraduate degree in Finance and a master’s degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  In 1992, he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.  His researched focused on strategic planning, decision-making and school culture.  He has taught graduate classes at Edgewood College and other universities for the past thirty years.  His public-school experiences include improving educational outcomes for all students, leading numerous school/community planning sessions, advancing equity work, leading school referenda and  construction projects, mentoring and training school administrators and a special interest of serving as a Schools of Hope mentor in his previous district.  In his free time, you can find him spending time with his wife and adult children, training on his bicycle and fly fishing in Wisconsin and Montana.

Angela Mihm-Nigro
Doctorate in Education Coordinator

Since 2011, in her role within the EdD program, Angela assists doctoral students with academic advising, the dissertation process and publication, along with program administration tasks including marketing, enrollment management, and assessment. Angela is enrolled with Cohort 19 in the Higher Education and Leadership Studies (HEALS) doctoral concentration and has her M.S. in Organizational Behavior from Benedictine University. Together with her husband, Angela is raising two boys with curious minds and open hearts in Sun Prairie.

Graduate Assistants

Diana Thundercloud
Diana Thundercloud

Diana Elena Moran Thundercloud is a graduate assistant for the Department of Educational Leadership. She is in the Early Completion Doctoral Program and plans to graduate May 2022. Her dissertation research is focused on the visual in curriculum history within the "context" of Critical Native Indigenous perspectives in Las Americas/Indian Country. Diana's research is focused through the lens of Critical Race Theory, Critical Indigenous Studies, and Post-Colonial work within Las Americas/Indian Country regarding Race, Gender, Culture/Language, Power, and Ideology (2019-2020). She has been honored to visit Chile, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia over the past few years to learn more about our Native Indigenous Relatives of the South and their homelands. She holds both a Superintendent and Director of Special Education educational administrative license through the Department of Public Instruction (Wisconsin). She is committed to working against racism and stands in solidarity within our African American, Afro-Latino/a, and Afro-Indigenous communities regarding education and equity at all levels globally. She is committed in supporting our undocumented, immigrant, asylum seeking, and migrant communities at all levels. (Proud mother of five adult children and a grandmother).

Kelli Coller
Kelli Coller

Hi there, My name is Kelli Coller and I am a Graduate Assistant in the EdD program. My Edgewood journey began in 2019 when I joined the Higher Education and Leadership Studies EdD cohort. As an assistant in the program, I have had the opportunity to engage with both faculty and students on a variety of projects from course design, to facilitation of virtual web events, to research. Outside of Edgewood College I also teach mathematics in the UW System both face to face and online and am heavily involved in my UW System work as well. I decided to join Edgewood to further myself and more importantly, learn how to grow as a leader so I can better serve others. I enjoy the journey of learning and the EdD program continues to inspire and challenge me to new levels of growth both personally and professionally. In my spare time I enjoy outdoor activities such as kayaking, camping, fishing, gardening and canning.

Dissertation Support Team

For over 19 years, the Ed.D. Program at Edgewood College has guided students to successful dissertation defense and degree completion. Our graduation rate is about 80%, well-above the national average. One element to helping students succeed lies in the dissertation support they receive. 

  • Each student is paired with a dissertation advisor during the Applied Research courses wherein the dissertation advisor, research faculty, and student work together to craft the research question(s) and align methodology.
  • The dissertation advisor and student continue to work together through dissertation defense, but along the way, other committee members join to offer support.
  • Each student receives a dissertation editor who is skilled in APA, grammar, and academic writing that will provide feedback to ensure readiness for the dissertation proposal and defense.
  • Students also receive fully formed dissertation committees, and extensive program support in scheduling proposal and defense meetings. 

Editors & Liaisons:

Bette Lang
Bette Lang
Advising Community Liaison

Bette Lang, liaison in the doctoral Educational Leadership Program, received her EdD from Marquette University in Education Policy and Leadership with a minor in Counseling. She brings 38 years of experience in K-12 education serving 12 years as a teacher and the remaining years in administrative roles including secondary assistant principal and principal, central office administrator, and superintendent in six districts in Wisconsin. She had served Edgewood College as an instructor for several years and continues to serve as an advisor along with liaison. Her research interests include leadership, socialization and role modeling, and curriculum and instruction in K-12 environments. She has co-published two books focused on leadership in K-12 settings. 

Elise Ahn
Elise Ahn
Dissertation Editor

Elise S. Ahn, PhD is the Director of the International Projects Office at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an adjunct lecturer at Edgewood College, where she teaches various courses in their Doctor of Education program and also provides support as a dissertation editor. She received her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA) in 2011 in Education Policy Studies with a concentration on Global Studies in Education and a methodological specialization in Program Evaluation. Her research interests focus on the intersection of space, structures, and scale in examining the effects of internationalization in education and language policy production processes. She co-edited Language Change in Central Asia, which was published in 2016, and is currently co-editing a special issue on English(es) in Central Asia for the World Englishes journal (forthcoming). For more information, please check out her website ( 

Kristina Navarro
Kristina Navarro
Advising Community Liaison

Kristina Navarro, Ph.D., CSCS began her tenure at Edgewood College in 2015 as an Adjunct Professor and Dissertation Liaison. She currently serves as the Director of Athletics and Recreation/Assistant Chancellor at UW-Platteville. Navarro earned a B.S. in sport management and business administration with a concentration in strength and conditioning from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2006. She went on to earn a master of arts in sport administration from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2009 and Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy analysis with a focus on higher, postsecondary and continuing education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012. Dr. Navarro’s research center on the nexus of intercollegiate athletics and higher education with a special interest in identity development and career development of underrepresented student subsets in higher education. Her recent book outline best practices for student development in higher education and athletics. A third-generation educator, Navarro grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. Outside of work, Navarro is an avid biker in both mountain and fat biking. She believes in helping graduate students to align their passion and purpose in higher education.

Kathryn Houseman
Kathryn Houseman
Dissertation Editor

Kathryn Houseman Doctoral Dissertation Editor-Dissertation Support Team Member School of Education Dr. Houseman brings years of classroom teaching experience from the elementary to graduate school level as well as experience in curriculum development and assessment. She has been editing doctoral dissertations for over ten years and remains committed to the researching, organizing, and writing of strong, logical, and clearly worded dissertations. Dr. Houseman graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a BS degree in Education with teaching concentrations of English and Social Studies and has received a MS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in Reading. In addition, she received a licensure certification in Educational Administration and Curriculum from Edgewood College. She also received a doctoral degree also from Edgewood College in Educational Leadership. Her professional interests include the development of literacy and discipline-area literacy strategies, professional development to support literary development, and curriculum development and assessment strategies. 

Katherine Flammang
Katherine Flammang
Advising Community Liaison

Worked with the School District of Beloit for 35 years as a teacher and administrator. As a teacher worked with students with learning disabilities in the K-9 classroom settings. Initially worked in the self contained programs then worked to help create the team taught regular/special Ed program at the middle school level. As an administrator was one of the Curriculum Program Directors in charge of concept-based curriculum development and professional development training. Received my Ed.D from Edgewood college as a member of Cohort V.

Lynea LaVoy
Lynea LaVoy
Advising Community Liason

Dr. Lynea LaVoy's experiences in the business sector has afforded her the versatility to be an effective leader in the focused areas of hospitality management, servant leadership, higher education, communications, and organizational effectiveness. She currently serves as Department Chair, Program Director and Instructor for Madison College's Hospitality Management program. Lynea dedicates herself to a student-first focused teaching and advising approach and was awarded the 2020 President's Award for Service, 2018 NISOD Excellence in Teaching Award as well as the 2017 Excellence in Teaching, National Society of Leadership and Success. Lynea holds her Doctoral Degree from Edgewood College as well as two Master's Degrees and an undergraduate degree. Lynea is dedicated to serving the community through her vast work with the Oregon Area Food Pantry. Lynea also recently started a podcast called Pineapple Sessions where she discusses and interviews industry leaders on topics such as hospitality, servant leadership, and education. Lynea's work in her role as Doctoral Liaison and Advisor for Edgewood College has allowed her to collaborate with and serve over 30 candidates working on their Higher Education pathways.

Mankah Mitchell
Mankah Mitchell
Advising Community Liaison/Editor

Mankah Zama Mitchell has worked with students as an editor and liaison in the Ed.D program since 2016. She earned her B.S. from Howard University, and her J.D./Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests include school law related topics, and she is an attorney for the Madison Metropolitan School District.

Muriel Simms
Muriel Simms
Dissertation Editor/Writing Coach

Dr. Muriel Simms is a lifelong resident of Madison, Wisconsin. She retired from the Madison Metropolitan School District in 2000 after 30 years of service. She taught masters-level courses at Edgewood College and is now on the doctoral faculty at Edgewood College. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English (1968), master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction (1975), her administrator licenses (1988), and her doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2002). Dr. Simms received many awards for her professional duties and community service, one of which was the Wisconsin Elementary Principal of the Year (1992) given by the Wisconsin Association of Elementary School Principals and the Wisconsin and National School Board Associations. Dr. Simms wrote three articles for peer reviewed journals: A Principal Tutors Four Low Achievers in a Third-Grade Mathematics Classroom” (Elementary School Journal, September, 1994), Impressions of Leadership Through a Native Woman’s Eyes (Urban Education, December, 2000), and Teacher Uses Action Research to Develop Culturally Conscious Curriculum Planners (Democracy & Education, November, 2013). She wrote the book Settlin’: Stories of Madison’s Early African American Families in 2018.

How to Apply

Application deadline - The priority application deadline for all 2020 Higher Education is August 1, 2020. Applications received after August 1 will be reviewed and accepted on a space-available basis.

  1. Complete and submit the Ed.D. application (Contact your admission counselor to find out how to apply for free.).
  2. Provide evidence of a master's degree from a United States regionally accredited or equivalent post-secondary institution with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for regular admission status. The cumulative grade point average is computed on the highest degree held at the time of application to the Edgewood College graduate program.
  3. Request that official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate academic credits received from any post-secondary institutions be sent directly to Edgewood College Graduate and Professional Studies.
  4. Provide two letters of recommendation. One of the letters must attest to the applicant's ability to be successful as a doctoral student. The second letter should give evidence of the applicant's ability to collaborate with colleagues and demonstrate strength in leadership. Letters should be mailed directly to Edgewood College Graduate and Professional Studies, 1000 Edgewood College Dr., Madison, WI 53711.
  5. Submit a letter of intent including a brief statement of the reason for pursuing the doctoral degree in educational leadership, and a brief discussion about how the program can help the applicant reach personal and professional goals.
  6. Provide a resume or curriculum vitae that includes but is not limited to the areas listed below:
    • Education: Major(s), schools attended, degrees obtained and dates of attendance
    • Professional positions held
    • Presentations made to organizations, groups and professional associations
    • Honors/ awards received
    • Memberships in professional and other organizations
    • Community Service: Name(s) of organizations, description of activities and positions held
  7. International Students may have additional admission requirements. Learn more.

Transfer Credits

Upon regular admission, an applicant may submit up to 18 semester hours of graduate credit from other United States regionally accredited (or equivalent) post-secondary institutions for consideration of transfer to Edgewood College for application to a degree program. Approval of the respective department is required. To be considered for application to a degree program, a course must have been taken within the past five years, must have a "B" or better grade for courses receiving a letter grade of "A" through "F" (if the grade is "P" the equivalency is determined by the appropriate school or department), must be relevant to the degree program to which it is being applied, and must not have been applied toward another degree. Grades from transfer courses are not computed in the Edgewood College GPA. Applicants should make known to the program director any course credit to be submitted for review for transfer upon application if those credits fall within the policy requirements.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Pursuing your doctorate in education (Ed.D.) is the next step for many educators looking to expand their career opportunities. An Ed.D. not only adds to your professional qualifications but it builds your network, deepens your understanding of research methods, and strengthens your academic writing.

Some students interested in a doctorate in education question the value of earning a Ph.D. vs. an Ed.D. This article in Inside Higher Ed provides a brief comparison of the strengths of each degree.

The Chronicle of Higher Education compiles information on the salaries paid to senior administrative positions. Learn more about the compensation you might expect for various positions at higher education institutions.

Tuition and Credits

[For k-12 concentration] In Fall 2021, tuition for the 24 credits of the superintendent/district leadership license is $589 per credit. If students elect to continue their studies for an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, they will take an additional 30 credits at the regular graduate tuition rate of $1032. The Board of Trustees sets the tuition annually, so a small increase each year is possible. In addition, doctoral students pay a $105 fee each term.

[For Higher Education Concentration]  Graduate tuition for the 2020-21 year (beginning Summer 2020) is $1032 per credit. The Board of Trustees sets the tuition annually so a small increase each year is possible. In addition, doctoral students pay a $105 fee each term. The total cost for the 54 credit program for tuition and fees at the rate today is approximately $56,000. Books and other instructional supplies would be in addition to this cost. The Edgewood Ed.D. program is designed to take students between three and three and a half years to complete, while the typical doctoral program takes five years, as a full-time student, to complete.

[For Doctoral Completion concentration]  Graduate tuition for the 2020-21 year (beginning Summer 2019) is $1032 per credit. The Board of Trustees sets the tuition annually so a small increase each year is possible. In addition, doctoral students pay a $105 fee each term. With steady enrollment and progress, students can complete the program in 18-24 months.

Completion Equals Success

Tuition is only one factor in choosing a program. Completion rates are another important element of doctoral programs. Edgewood College boasts an 85 percent completion rate, compared to 57 percent at other institutions.

Therefore, your chances of attending Edgewood College and completing your degree are much higher, making it a smart investment of both time and money.

Our individual attention to student support helps guide each student through meaningful, engaging coursework, research, and dissertation completion.

Financial Aid

Graduate students are eligible for financial aid in the form of Federal Stafford Loans. Learn more about Stafford Loans, including eligibility requirements and application instructions.

Alumni News

Our alumni are everywhere, accomplishing amazing things. The articles below are just a few examples of their latest activity.

Dr. Darian Senn-Carter

Bowie's newest councilman has a passion for education

Dr. Keith Cornille

Heartland hires Keith Cornille as next President

Dr. Carl Wesley

Center for Self-Sufficiency Hosts State Announcement for Over $1.5 Million in Training Grants

Dr. Kelli Chelberg

Four TCU Faculty Members Earn Degrees with College Fund’s Fellows Program

  • William_McCoy
    Thank you, Edgewood College, for helping me to attain the pinnacle of my educational aspirations. Thank you for preparing me for greater ministerial work in the vineyard of life. More importantly, thank you for enabling me to become an agent of change capable of positively affecting that which I would normally only complain about.
    William McCoy, Ed.D. '10, Director, Rutland Institute for Ethics, Clemson University