Penn State’s new online doctoral program in education has officially started, as the inaugural group of candidates began their studies in the fall 2023 semester. 

The Doctor of Education (D.Ed.) is a professional doctoral program that aims to prepare those who want to work in leadership roles that shape the future of education and human services. The 29 students bring diverse backgrounds and experiences in higher education, K–12 education, international education, nonprofits, the military, and law. 

The Doctor of Education is offered online through Penn State World Campus by the Penn State College of Education, which has been a leader in teaching and training educators for 100 years.  

Today, the college has more than 250 professors in its four academic departments of curriculum and instruction; education policy studies; educational psychology, counseling, and special education; and learning and performance systems. 

“The faculty of the College of Education are excited to work with such a diverse group of candidates who are highly accomplished in their fields,” said Joe Polizzi, associate teaching professor of education and the faculty director of the program. “We look forward to helping the candidates grow their knowledge and research skills to apply toward world-changing work in their careers." 

Course work in the online D.Ed. program consists of 37 credits, including a capstone, or culminating experience, in lieu of a dissertation. 

Accomplished individuals in their fields 

J. Allen Walker, the chief information officer at a historically Black university in Florida, is one of the candidates in the inaugural class. He oversees the software, hardware, and technology services that students and employees use daily. 

He said he hopes to bridge the tech equity gap that underserved and underrepresented individuals experience and that he chose the online doctoral program through Penn State because of the prestige of its College of Education. 

“I knew that I would get an exceptional education from world-class faculty and would be able to hold my head high, knowing that I learned from and attended the best of the best,” Walker said. “I know that through the academic rigor, mentorship, and leadership of the faculty and staff, and the camaraderie developed with my classmates on this journey, I will be able to leave an indelible impact on my community and a legacy that is befitting of a graduate of The Penn State University.” 

Another candidate, Chelsea Miller, enrolled in the program to continue advancing her knowledge as an educator after she finished a master’s degree in workforce education from Penn State in 2022.  

Miller was previously a dental hygienist before starting a dental assisting program at a career and technology school in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In her job, she works with students for three semesters over three years, teaching them about the dental field. In their senior year, she helps them find co-op jobs. After she graduates, she hopes to become an administrator at a career and technology school. 

“I would have never imagined being where I am professionally just a few years ago,” Miller said. “I am really looking forward to starting this journey with my Penn State family.” 

Curriculum of the Doctor of Education 

In their first semester, the doctoral candidates will take their first foundational course and electives, meet their peers, and learn about the resources available to them. 

In future semesters, candidates will continue their course work, take a comprehensive exam, and begin work on their capstone project.  

They will be required to attend at least one summer summit at the College of Education on the University Park campus. The first one is being planned for the summer of 2024, and activities will include workshops and opportunities for professional development and networking with their peers and faculty from the college. 

Students can customize their degrees by taking electives offered by the College of Education from its master’s degree programs in education: adult education; curriculum and instruction; educational leadership; higher education; learning, design, and technology; organization development and change; and special education. 

The program’s faculty advisory committee will pair students with a member of the college’s graduate faculty based on their interests. The pairing will include an assessment by the committee to ensure a personalized one-on-one experience to aid the candidates in their capstone projects. 

A comprehensive portfolio of graduate education programs online 

The doctoral program is one of 22 education degrees and certificates offered online through Penn State World Campus. 

The offerings include master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction; educational leadership; higher education; learning, design, and technology; lifelong learning and adult education; organization development and change; and special education, as well as a variety of graduate certificates. 

Learn more about the new Doctor of Education that is offered online through Penn State World Campus.