About the Program

Doctoral Program Outcomes

Graduates of APU’s doctoral program in K-12 educational leadership are educators who make a difference—they are culturally aware, strengths-focused, outcomes-driven, and skilled in motivating diverse learners. The doctor of education program is designed to equip a broad range of educators seeking to expand and deepen their knowledge while enhancing their capacity to lead, inspire, and educate. Through the program, students become scholarly practitioners who are able to gather and generate information, examine it critically, communicate results effectively, and use conclusions appropriately to produce meaningful outcomes in schools, districts, and learning environments.

Marlene Bicondova, EdD ’19, Applies Restorative Justice

As the director of positive youth development for San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD), Marlene Bicondova applies restorative justice strategies to address complex challenges facing students in one of California’s largest districts. See how APU’s doctoral program enabled Bicondova to conduct her own research on restorative practices.

Program Format

The doctoral program is primarily face-to-face, with additional online components provided to enhance learning opportunities. Students attend intensive Saturday classes at the Azusa campus six times during both the fall and spring 16-week sessions and four times during the summer 8-week session. For a full schedule of class meetings times, please contact the program director.

Leadership, research, and dissertation milestone courses are integrated throughout the program to make explicit connections between theory and practice and to prepare students to carry out an independent research project culminating in completion of the dissertation.

The cohort-based model of the program ensures that students move through all classes and phases of the program together, creating a shared learning environment that facilitates the success of each doctoral student. Cohort members are encouraged to engage in in-depth conversations, build professional relationships, and provide support to one another as they work towards their degree.

Expert Faculty

Adding depth and relevance to APU’s community of educators, current K–12 administrators partner with faculty researchers in the doctoral program to prepare 21st century educational leaders.

Superintendent Initiative

The School of Education’s Superintendent Initiative grew out of a commitment to train effective educators who are ready to lead amid the changing environment of our nation’s K–12 schools. Former and current superintendents partner with APU faculty to enhance coursework with the best practices and innovations from K–12 education. These practitioner-scholars provide candidates an opportunity to learn from senior-level educational leaders active in the field. In class and during the dissertation process, students work alongside superintendents and other leading professionals, including:

  • Kent Bechler, PhD

    Associate Dean for External Partnerships
    Past Superintendent, Corona-Norco Unified School District
    2012 California Superintendent of the Year

  • Maureen E. Latham, EdD

    Superintendent in Residence
    Past Superintendent, Beaumont Unified School District

  • Gregory Plutko, Ed.D.

    Superintendent in Residence
    Superintendent, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District

  • Robert P. Taylor, Ed.D.

    Superintendent in Residence
    Superintendent, Walnut Valley Unified School District

Dissertation Process

Doctoral students benefit from a guided dissertation process embedded within coursework, facilitating completion of the program in three years. Faculty offer comprehensive support as students select an individual topic of study early in the program and go on to complete original research. Milestone courses are integrated at key intervals throughout the program, providing frequent opportunities for dissertation troubleshooting and refining through workshops, one-on-one and group supervision, peer consultations, and virtual learning resources.

Alumni Network

Earning your doctorate at Azusa Pacific automatically connects you to an established network of successful alumni who are leading the charge to shape the future of education. Graduates include:

  • Marlene Bicondova, EdD ’19

    Director, Positive Youth Development Department
    San Bernardino City Unified School District

  • Charla Capps, EdD ’18

    Director, Educational Services
    Corona Norco Unified School District

  • Dominic DiGrazia, EdD ’18

    Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources
    Glendora Unified School District

  • Petria Gonzales, EdD ’20

    Principal, John F. Kennedy Middle College High School
    Corona Norco Unified School District

  • Ryan Maine, EdD ’20

    Walnut High School
    Walnut Valley Unified School District

  • Robert Morales, EdD ’19

    Principal, Cesar E. Chavez Middle School
    San Bernardino City Unified School District

  • Tyisha Noise, EdD ’19

    Assistant Principal, Locke College Preparatory Academy
    Green Dot Public Schools

  • Julianne Reynoso, EdD ’19

    Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services
    Pasadena Unified School District

  • Sandra Rodriguez, EdD ’19

    Assistant Superintendent of Student Services
    San Bernardino City Unified School District

  • Sudha Venkatesan, EdD ’20

    Director, Secondary Education Department
    San Bernardino City Unified School District

  • Cynthia Woods, EdD ’20

    Chief Academic Officer, Riverside County of Education
    Member of California’s State Board of Education

Student Experiences

“Azusa Pacific’s doctoral program in educational leadership has positively influenced my decision making process as an educational leader. APU’s unique instructional format allows for healthy discussion among professors and colleagues alike, ultimately impacting the lives of the students and school communities we serve.”

David Pyle, EdD ’18
Nuview Union School District

“Through my experience in Azusa Pacific’s Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program, I have vastly increased my capacity as an educational administrator. Using research, critical thinking, and networking among students and faculty, I am able to more effectively analyze instructional programs in my district. As a result of my studies in APU’s program, which encourages a high level of engagement with research, I am energized to find and rediscover so many opportunities in K–12 educational leadership and practice.”

David Ostash, EdD ’17
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources
Sierra Sands Unified School District

“Azusa Pacific University and its doctoral program faculty prepare candidates for ethical leadership, equipping them to achieve excellence in scholarship and to sharpen their vision for success in 21st-century schooling.”

Michael L. Richards, Jr., MA ’06, Ed.D. ’14
Alternative Education Principal
San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools

“As a student in the doctoral program at APU, my ability to produce scholarly papers and research has improved. The program has also strengthened my knowledge of leadership theories and their application to the field of education.”

Lissette Lovett, MA ’10, EdD ’14
High School Administrator
San Bernardino City Unified School District

“Support from the diverse faculty in the EdD program was a great benefit to me, and I was able to draw from their experiences and strengths. The doctoral program equipped me with the skills I need to pursue a career in educational research.”

Bryan Bowens, EdD ’14
Computer Teacher, Project THINK
Middle School Algebra Teacher

Note: This information is current for the 2023-24 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.

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