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Doctoral Degrees | Community College Leadership

Community College Leadership

Entrance Exam: Not Required
College of Education

The Education Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Community College Leadership is an executive format cohort program that equips graduates to lead transformational change in community colleges focused on improved student outcomes. The program is offered on-site in two North Carolina locations: the Charlotte area (starting in even years) and in the Raleigh area (starting in odd years). Providing a unique opportunity for working professionals to complete coursework in 27 months and the full doctorate degree in approximately three years, the program is structured to support professionals balancing work responsibilities with academic commitments.

Admitted doctoral students participate in a structured three-year program. Fall and spring semesters consist of two courses each, and two courses are completed each summer session. Additionally, a one-credit course is taught each term allowing students to begin the dissertation process early in the program. A tentative listing of selected course offerings is presented in the curriculum section below.

The two courses offered each semester will meet one week each summer (usually the 3rd week in May), and two extended-weekend meetings each fall and spring semester. Virtual synchronous and asynchronous course delivery is reserved for the first, third, and/or fifth weekends of each month.

For additional program information, you can visit the College of Education program website or email


  • Transcripts from all previous higher education institutions attended.
  • Completion of an NC State Graduate School application. Please click here for further instructions.
  • Statement of Purpose (300-400 words): A concise statement about your academic and professional (work) background, your career goals and your reasons for applying to this degree program. Please be specific in explaining how this program fits your educational and career objectives.
  • Personal Statement (500 word limit): How have your background and life experiences, including cultural, geographical, financial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue this degree? For example, if you grew up in a community where educational, cultural, or other opportunities were plentiful or especially lacking, you might discuss the impact this had on your development and interests. This should be a discussion of the journey that has led to your decision to see a graduate degree. Please do not repeat your Statement of Purpose.
  • Identify at least one thematic research area of interest from the following and explain why you have an interest in this area: completion and transfer, learning outcomes, labor market outcomes, equity, technology, and/or culture/organizational behavior.
  • Processing fee of $75 to the Graduate School.
  • Resume/Curriculum vitae.
  • Three references from a leader in an organization, or supervisor, peer and/or faculty member.
  • Online North Carolina Residency Form (if claiming North Carolina residency for tuition purposes).

Plan of Study

  • Program follows the principles of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) including a dissertation in practice.
  • Faculty with national reputations in adult, community college, higher and workforce education.
  • Integration of Aspen Institute competencies for successful community college leaders.
  • High-quality doctoral program from a research intensive university.
  • Dissertation research development that begins in the first semester and continues throughout coursework.
  • Program completion in three-and-a-half years.
  • Executive format to meet schedules of working professionals.
  • Meets on selected Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year (some blended courses).
  • Meeting schedule is provided a year in advance.
  • Combines theory, research and practice.
  • Focuses on student success, equity and data-driven decision-making.
  • NC State faculty commitment to mentor and individually supervise students.
  • Innovative support through a cohort learning model.
  • Peer cohort students who are top professionals.
  • Learning network among students, practitioners and the scholarly community.
  • Dedicated full-time faculty members and community college leaders teaching courses.
  • Executive Mentorship Program offered in supplement to coursework.

Some courses may meet for part of the time in a hybrid format through an Internet web presence or in variations of Friday/Saturday offerings, while a few courses will be offered completely online. (Note: there will be occasional modifications of course offerings to maximize involvement of select NC State faculty or to have appropriate classroom space and technology support).

Dissertation development will start during the first course. Each student will have identified (with the assistance of the doctoral cohort director and other faculty) the specific NC State faculty member who will guide the student in the development, research effort and defense of the dissertation research.

Various supports of the Program are coordinated by the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research. Additionally, this program follows the CPED principles for education doctorates.

Career Prospects

Informed, savvy leadership is needed to meet the rapidly changing demands on post-secondary education at technical, vocational and community college institutions. Choose the area of focus your higher education institution needs most as your topic of research such as administration, organization, workforce development or labor market outcomes. Deepen your knowledge and gain insight into the impact you can make in a leadership position.