The Doctoral Program

The Learning Design and Leadership concentration offers both Doctor of Education (EdD) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. All requirements and processes are the same with the exceptions noted below. While most classes and requirements can be completed fully online, the EdD is the only degree offered for online students. PhD students must be classified as on-campus students and pay the on-campus tuition rate and fees. PhD students must also complete a portion of their coursework on-campus.

See also the CoE Handbook for EdD and for PhD

EdD and PhD Program Planning Templates

Searching for Courses

Requirements Breakdown

4 Essential LDL Courses (both EdD and PhD)
  • 4 Essential LDL courses:
    • EPOL 481/EPS 431: New Learning
    • EPSY 408: Learning & Human Development with Educational Technologies*
    • EPOL 534/EPS 535: Assessment for Learning
    • ERAM 557*: Meaning Patterns (students who started prior to 2021 may count 583 as their fourth core course instead of ERAM 557) (ERAM 557 used to be EPOL 590 (specific meaning patterns section) and also EPOL 513)
PhD Only! Early Research Project
  • To be taken after you have completed at least four courses
  • You can choose whether to complete this as an Independent Study (4 credits) or not register
  • See the ERP page for more details
1 Core Research Methods Course (both EdD and PhD)
  • ERAM 550: Foundations of Educational Inquiry (formerly EPOL 550)
2 (EdD) or 3 (PhD) Research Method Electives
  • PhD Students Only! 3 Elective Research Methods
  • EdD Students Only! 1 Elective Research Methods course
  • EdD Students Only! Your second required research methods course is EPOL 588, taken during the exam-dissertation sequence
  • Refer to the College of Education’s Research Methods page for a list of approved courses
    • While ERAM 557 is a methods course, LDL students must choose a different research methods elective
2 Non-LDL Electives

See below for a description of what an LDL vs. Non-LDL elective refers to. PhD students must take a specific on-campus 16-week section of EPOL 500 for one of their electives.

2 Other Electives

These may be in or outside of LDL, but we recommend non-LDL electives

Exam-Dissertation Sequence Courses

The EDS is for both EdD and PhD students. Learn more on our Examination-Dissertation Sequence pages within this website. You may officially begin the EDS once all regular coursework has been completed, but note the tip below to look ahead at least one semester before planning to begin the sequence.

Because of the two additional research methods courses and the Early Research Project, PhD students will have at least 8 or 12 extra credits by the time they arrive at the Exam-Dissertation Sequence.

  • 2 Exam-Dissertation Research Seminars, building towards the dissertation and two qualifying exams:
    • EPOL 586 General Field Research Seminar (and examination)
    • EPOL 587 Special Field Research Seminar (and examination)
  • 1 EPOL 588 Methodology Research Seminar*
    • PhD students can not use this as one of the four required research methods course
    • PhD students must complete the requirements
    • PhD students can choose to register for EPOL 588 to earn credit towards the 64 credits
    • EdD students only! Counts towards the three research methods requirement
  • 1 EPOL 591: Preliminary Exam Thesis Seminar
  • 1 or 2 EPOL 599 Thesis Research
    • You may register for 1 or more credits at a time
    • You may register for these credits on a term or full semester basis; coordinate with Dr. Francis to request EPOL 599
    • EdD students can take up to 8 credits of EPOL 599 to count towards their 64 credits
    • You must be registered for EPOL 591 OR 599 during the term you complete your preliminary exam
    • You must be registered for EPOL 599 during the term you defend your final dissertation

LDL and Non-LDL Electives

LDL Elective: Any course taught by Dr. Mary Kalantzis or Dr. Bill Cope

Non-LDL Elective: Any course offered online by other programs in the College of Education or other colleges not taught by Dr. Mary Kalantzis or Dr. Bill Cope.

See Course Explorer for a list of all course options available in an upcoming term.


Getting Started with the LDL Doctoral Program

Getting Started with your Doctoral Program

Fill out the program planning template, attend an upcoming new student onboarding session, and create your CGScholar account so that you can join our peer community on CGScholar (CGScholar is the platform used to deliver our courses).


Former LDL or other UIUC College of Education Masters or Certificate Students

Former LDL Course Students Participants

Courses completed for a previous degree can not be counted or re-taken as a part of the Doctoral degree. You must choose different courses.

If you earned your Masters in the LDL concentration and/or have already taken one or more of the four essential courses, please contact the LDL concentration advisor to discuss an alternate program plan to meet the four essential LDL courses.


Differences Between the EdD and PhD

Differences between the EdD and PhD

The EdD and PhD programs both consist of a total of 64 credits (16 courses; 4 credit hours per course). The PhD has a few variances, as outlined below.

* The PhD requires EPOL 500, an on-campus 16-week course for PhD students

* The PhD requires an Early Research Project, to be completed after you have completed four courses; this can be taken for credit or no credit

* The EdD requires 2 research method electives (in addition to ERAM 550), one of which may be EPOL 588: Research Methods Seminar (a part of the Exam-Dissertation Sequence

* The PhD requires 3 research method electives (in addition to ERAM 550). EPOL 588 can not be counted towards these three research electives, but PhD students must complete the requirements associated with it (Chapter 3 of the dissertation).

*The PhD requires all steps in the Exam-Dissertation Sequence, but it is not necessary to register to receive credit for all steps.

Getting Started with the Exam-Dissertation Sequence (EDS)

Getting Started with the Exam-Dissertation Sequence

Check out the EDS Getting StartedEDS Process Resources, and EDS Pre-Work page at least a semester before you plan to begin the exam-dissertation sequence.


In This Section

Program Pathways

Non-Degree and Certificate of Specialization (Online only)

Graduate Certificate (CERT) (Online or On-Campus)

Technology Endorsement (Add-on) (Online or On-campus)

Masters of Education (EdM) (Online or On-campus)

Doctoral Program (EdD – Online or On-campus; PhD – On-campus only)

—–From Doctoral Coursework to the Dissertation

—–Early Research Project for the Doctor of Philosophy

See also: Courses and LDL Program FAQ