By Damon Markiewicz

Springfield College unveiled its online Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership, starting with the first cohort of students beginning in July 2023. The PhD in educational leadership prepares students to become equity-minded leaders and faculty, who can engage a social justice philosophy as educational leaders.

Designed for the working professional, this new academic program will dig into the history of the United States educational system, and analyze who it was developed for, and who it wasn’t developed for. In addition, topics will break down how societal inequities are really influencing educational inequities.

“In our doctoral program, we aim to develop a cohort of committed educational practitioners who are ready to center their work on dismantling inequity across our educational institutions,” said Kathleen Neville, EdD, program director of the PhD in educational leadership.

Throughout the program, students will learn to critically analyze and dismantle inequity within pre-kindergarten through higher education systems, collaborate with community partners to understand and help advance educational justice, create new knowledge through rigorous research, and promote teaching practice from an equity perspective.

“Each semester, cohort members will be able to use a critical theories lens to tackle an issue,” added Neville. “It will not be an entry level diversity, equity, and inclusion course, these PhD students will have had some experience in DEI work. These PhD students become the experts in these topics.”

Like the College mission of educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others, the new program will encompass that philosophy into building the next generation of innovative, change-oriented, and transformative educational leaders committed to advancing equity and justice in the U.S. education systems.

“Each year, we will look to develop a cohort of doctoral students that represent individuals throughout the U.S. educational systems,” Neville said. “The diversity of opinions, knowledge, and experiences that will emerge from educators within PK-12, higher education, and other educational arenas, will create a unique opportunity for us to understand and begin to address the inherent inequities woven throughout our society and educational structures.”

Students will complete coursework in nine areas, including leadership; equity, social justice, and inclusion; the historical context of the U.S. educational systems; and law, policy, and governance.

In addition, what makes this program unique is the built-in mentorship support that will be available to the PhD students.

“We will have a group of professionals that are part of the Friends of Educational Leadership initiative,” added Neville. “These are professionals who I truly admire, they will serve as mentors and support the cohort. They are participating and helping recruit. Every PhD student in their first year of study will have a mentor. These mentors are all about giving back. They are all about how education has to work together.”

The new program also has ties back to our Humanics philosophy, and the commitment to serve our communities.

“Our new PhD program in Educational Leadership is a natural fit for Springfield College,” said Mary Ann Coughlin, Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs. Coughlin concluded that “The program is grounded in the College’s long history of delivering quality Education programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level and the new program is grounded in our mission and our commitment to equity and inclusion.”

More information on our doctoral program can be found at