UWT’s first doctorate degree offered in educational leadership

In June, UW Tacoma began offering the first doctoral degree outside of the Seattle campus in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.), a multidisciplinary program designed to face the unmet need for qualified instructors in the area.

The program offers three study options: P-12 Educator (with Superintendent Certification) Leadership, Nursing Educator Leadership, and Higher Education Leadership.“One of the things that kick-started this program is that there is not a current doctoral program in South Sound that works with health and education leadership. There’s an underrepresentation,” said Ed.D. Director Chris Knaus about how the degree path came to be.

Knaus also said that there was interest at the level of state legislature to develop “community related leadership,” in part because anyone interested in obtaining a similar doctorate degree would have to leave the South Puget Sound area to do so, creating a disconnect in the community.

The Ed.D. program focuses on those currently working in a health or education leadership capacity, such as faculty members for nursing training programs at community colleges or K-12 school principals, who want to “take it to the next level and be more effective at the work they’re doing,” Knaus said of the program’s intent. “It will help them think of leadership in a broader term and how to get the most success out of students.” The need for instructors in K-12 and nursing programs is a local issue that is hoped to be minimized by the Ed.D. program.

The UW website explains that this degree path will teach students to discover “ways to ensure high student achievement — instructional excellence — and designing methods for scaling that to a whole district or system.”

One of the first students to be accepted this summer was Lauren Hibbs, who wanted to be a part of the program since she first heard of its possible conception in 2008. Hibbs had a goal of completing the program with her mother-in-law, who passed away before that became a reality. Nonetheless, Hibbs is “extremely humbled” to be part of the program’s first group because it “carries great significance and I feel proud to be taking steps towards achieving this dream for my family.”

Hibbs explained that as a working mother, she needed an education that is “designed to integrate technology, include non-traditional class meeting times, and have the character and reputation of a world class institution; the UW Tacoma doctoral program embodies this essence.” Upon graduation, Hibbs hopes to spend her career making strides in Higher Education “access and assessment” and to one day become a Vice-President of Student Services.

The multidisciplinary aspect of the program will present the opportunity for “people from different backgrounds to come together” in a way that no other degree paths have. “Students in nursing, public health, social work, education, or communication” exemplify the variety of focuses among the people that will study educational leadership alongside each other, said Knaus.

Only admitting every two years and enrolling about thirty students, the next chance to apply is in 2015.