Part-Time Executive Doctoral Degree

The William Davidson School’s Executive Doctoral Program (EdD) offers a unique opportunity for senior educators who wish to pursue advanced learning and training in educational leadership, pedagogy, curriculum development, and research. 

The Executive Doctoral Program, approved by the New York State Board of Education, is designed to build on a candidate’s expertise and expand on it. The program consists of coursework, a qualifying paper, and a dissertation.

Admissions Requirements

  • Applicants to the Executive Doctoral Program must have a minimum of five years of experience in either teaching or administration.
  • Candidates for the Executive Doctoral Program should identify an area of interest and conduct a conversation with one or two professors about their research interest before applying. Those candidates who, at this point, cannot identify an area of research might find an MA program more suitable. 
  • Previous graduate-level work (e.g., a master’s degree) is suggested but not required for candidates for the Executive Doctoral Program. However, candidates should be ready to complete prerequisites. These courses will be decided upon at a meeting with the candidate’s advisor, and will be decided on a case-by-case basis. 
  • An interview with the Admissions Committee and dean is required for all applicants for the Executive Doctoral Program. 

An orientation phone conference with the dean is required of all students. 


Funding for the Executive Doctoral Program is available to North American residents only. Students in the Executive Doctoral Program receive a generous partial tuition fellowship for courses taken only at JTS (excluding fees, special tuition fees, health insurance, late fees, penalties, etc.), including additional JTS Summer Sessions courses within the guidelines approved by the Office of the Dean. Grant money does not cover tuition for courses taken outside of JTS. If a student needs more time for courses, the fellowship may be renewed for a total of five years by advisement and with the Office of the Dean’s permission, provided the student is in good academic standing (see Academic Standards).

Admissions Procedures

The William Davidson School will not be accepting applications for Fall 2023 admission to the Executive Doctoral program.

It is in the applicant’s best interest to apply as early as possible. Students are accepted into the program only in the fall.

An applicant for admission as a degree candidate must submit the following:

  • A completed application form, together with the $65 fee
  • An official transcript of academic records from all colleges and universities previously attended
  • Official scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT)
  • Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which must be academic references
  • Two academic writing samples that reflect the candidate’s writing and research skills

One of the most important skills a doctoral student must have is the ability to write clearly. Please submit two writing samples that you feel represent your skills as a researcher and writer.

If you have earned an academic degree in the last 10 years, please submit two academic papers written for that degree.

If you have been out of school for more than 10 years, please see the list below for some examples of what you might want to submit. Please submit one from List A and one from List B, or two from List B. Both pieces should be substantial works, directed at an adult audience, and written by you within the last 10 years.

List A

  • Curriculum or teacher’s guide
  • Other field-based work

List B

  • Published article
  • Original research paper with citations, on the topic of your choice, to be approved by the director of admissions

Program Requirements


In the first semester, the candidate, with the assistance of the academic advisor, will complete a program plan that details the student’s projected course of study to satisfy requirements for the EdD. The Executive Doctoral Program requires the completion of 63 credits. The pace and length of the program is highly individualized after the first three years, during which students take two weekend courses and an online course each semester. The additional courses students take, timing of the qualifying paper, writing of the dissertation proposal, the research, and the writing of the dissertation will be decided in consultation with the advisor.

The length of the program depends on how many credits students can transfer from previous graduate coursework and how many credits they still need to take. But in general, students have seven years from the date of admission to complete the program, including writing the dissertation. To ensure that students graduate on time, they should adhere to the following timeline: Students will complete their qualification paper by the end of the third year. Students are expected to complete their proposal by the following semester, the fall semester of the fourth year, and present the proposal by the spring of that year. Students have two years from the time they present their proposal to complete the research, write the dissertation, and present the dissertation.


Students need to complete 63 credits toward the doctoral degree (EdD); however, the course of study varies, depending on the credits students might be able to transfer in. All students are required to complete 27 credits (9 courses) of cohort-based coursework during the first two and a half years of the program. Additionally, students need to take two to three courses specific to their research interests beyond the cohort coursework. The first three years are cohort-based; students then supplement the cohort-based courses with additional courses during the summers and the academic year, by advisement.


A student may transfer credits for relevant graduate-level courses taken at other academic institutions of higher learning with the permission of the academic advisor. They must submit an official transcript with complete course descriptions to The William Davidson School Admissions Office, which will consult with the appropriate area of the faculty. Credits counted toward another academic degree will be considered. No credit will be accepted for transfer from courses in which a grade lower than B was earned.

Course of Study

During the first two years, students enroll in two courses per semester. During the third year, students take one course with their cohort in the fall. Additional courses to complete coursework should be taken following a meeting with the student’s academic advisor.


If students wish to stay at JTS dormitories during the weekend seminars, they need to contact (212) 678-8095 to make arrangements. 

Consortium Agreement 

All matriculated students in The William Davidson School may take courses offered through the consortium agreement with Teachers College Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. Students must receive approval from their advisor, and register for these classes by filling up the consortium registration form and submitting to the registrar at JTS. 

First-Year Review

The candidacy of all first-year doctoral students will be reviewed during their second semester. The doctoral committee and the dean will review the progress the student has made to date and assess the student’s potential to complete the degree. 

Program Plan Development

In developing the program plan, courses are selected in consultation with the academic advisor according to each student’s level and individual needs.

  • Hebrew requirements will be assessed on a case-by-case basis with the academic advisor.
  • Judaica (15 credits): Students are required to take at least five advanced graduate-level courses in Judaica beyond the master’s degree.
  • Education (27 credits): Students are required to take a total of 27 credits in education and related fields.
  • Research Methods (12 credits): Doctoral students are expected to attain competence in understanding and conducting research through the completion of three semester research cycles and one semester of a proposal writing class.
  • Electives (9 credits)
  • Courses offered during Summer Sessions may be used to fulfill program requirements. For information and application forms, contact the Summer Sessions Office at (212) 678-8886.

Guidelines for Qualifying Paper for Executive Doctoral Program Students

Upon approaching completion of coursework, students may commence work on the Qualifying Paper (QP).

1) What is the Qualifying Paper?

The Qualifying Paper (QP) is a document of approximately 40 pages (double-spaced, 12 pt.) exclusive of references and appendices, which presents critical literature reviews of scholarship pertaining to the topic area you intend to research. Papers must be written in APA format. The point of writing a QP is to develop the expertise you need to do dissertation research on your own. The qualifying process should give you the analytic tools you need to become an independent researcher and writer. The QP is not about substantive materials alone, but about your relationship to extant literature in your fields of interest. Developing the QP should entail intense conversations with faculty and others about the works you think you need to read and understand for your work.

For students, the Qualifying Paper:

  • Demonstrates students’ academic writing and analytic abilities
  • Gives students practice crafting a large piece of research-based writing
  • Builds students’ confidence as they approach the dissertation
  • Lets students explore a research topic and its viability prior to their ultimate investment in a Dissertation topic
  • Raises further questions for the dissertation and provides a knowledge base to build on for the dissertation
  • Shows faculty where students may need help as they approach the dissertation

2) The QP should consist of:

A. A clear statement and description of the topic questions (see below) including: what experiences, scholarship, personal interests led you to focus on this topic, the significance of this topic for Jewish education as well as other areas of study, identification of bodies of literature requiring examination in order to answer these questions?

B. Explication and analysis of theoretical and conceptual frameworks that inform extant research of this topic.

C. Reviews of the literature in areas relating to your topic. The review should map existing literature, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the literature (theoretical, procedural and methodological). Identify where there are gaps, and draw conclusions about the state of the literature. Refer to the article Scholars Before Researchers (Boote, D. & Belle, P., 2005) for an essay on reviewing literature. The criteria for evaluating a literature review are described in Table 1 and will assist the QP committee in assessing your work.

Selecting a topic and developing questions

In consultation with the program advisor, the student formulates a research topic based on interest and its potential suitability as a dissertation topic. (For example, “The benefits and challenges of professional development mentoring for Jewish studies teachers at the high school level.”) The student then generates a set of questions (approximately 3-4) emerging from the topic which will frame reviews of literature. (For example: Does the research literature on mentoring with general studies high school teachers inform mentoring in Jewish day school settings? What is known about the effectiveness of professional development programs in Jewish schools?)

In the process of developing questions, students will also generate a bibliography of the relevant literature to be reviewed.

The questions and accompanying bibliography will then be submitted to the QP committee for review.

3) Writing Time

Typically the student takes one semester, but no more than two semesters, to complete the QP.

4) QP Evaluation and Oral Presentation

The QP is evaluated by the QP committee or presented as part of a cohort seminar and discussed with the student at an oral presentation of the QP findings.


The proposal is presented to the dissertation committee. Committee members must receive copies of the proposal at least two weeks before the committee hearing. After the hearing, the student will receive written notice as to whether the proposal is accepted or rejected, along with a summary of the issues that the committee suggests the student address.  

A copy of the letter must be filed with the dean. After the proposal has been vetted, two final copies are to be given to The William Davidson School Office; one is to be kept in the student’s file, and the other is to be kept in the communal proposal bank. 

Upon approaching completion of the qualifying paper, the candidate:

  • Formally selects a dissertation advisor from among the faculty members in the area of Jewish Education and requests approval from the dean;
  • Develops an appropriate dissertation topic and proposal with the guidance of the dissertation advisor;
  • Presents a preliminary version of the proposal; and
  • Presents the written proposal to the dissertation committee at a hearing that is scheduled after the dissertation advisor approves the written proposal.



The dissertation is written under the direct guidance of the candidate’s dissertation advisor and a second member of the faculty, selected by the advisor and the student with the approval of the dean. The committee will consist of at least five members. In most cases, the dissertation committee includes the same individuals who were on the proposal-hearing committee, but in certain cases changes in the makeup of the final dissertation committee can be made. The dissertation committee includes two outside readers—one from another institution and one from a different area (e.g., Talmud and rabbinics, Jewish history, etc.) at JTS. The student, the dean, and the advisor will select the committee. 


After approval by the advisor and the second reader, a defense is scheduled through the Office of the Dean. A student must apply for permission to defend the dissertation during the registration period of the semester in which he or she plans to defend. Copies of the approved dissertation must be submitted to the Office of The William Davidson School for distribution to the members of the committee at least four weeks before the defense. 

The dissertation committee may approve the dissertation as submitted, accept it with minor or major revisions, or reject it. If major revisions are required, a subcommittee will be appointed by the dissertation committee chair, in consultation with the dean, to review the revised dissertation. Rejection of a dissertation automatically terminates the student’s participation in the program. 

After final approval by the dissertation committee or the subcommittee, the dissertation shall be prepared in final form for deposit at least six weeks before commencement. Guidelines for the preparation and deposit of doctoral dissertations are available in The William Davidson School Office.  

Special Registration Categories

Once students complete their course work, they must register for special registration categories.

Learn more about special registration categories