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20 Best Doctor of Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) and Administration Graduate Schools

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at GradSchoolCenter.com, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: March 12, 2024, Reading time: 43 minutes

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Earning a Doctor of Education Leadership and Administration (EAL) degree isn’t just about bragging rights, although there’s a certain sense of pride. Instead, educators who pursue it want to take on leadership and administrative roles in schools, colleges and universities, and other settings. 

The roles vary in scope, too, depending on the specific degree earned (i.e., EdD or Ph.D.), previous work experience, and specific settings. These can range from teacher leaders, division chairs, and principals to superintendents, central office administrators, and policymakers. Note that most, if not all, general EAL programs are non-licensure tracks. 

But is it worth the cost of time, commitment, and money? The typical program requires between 60 and 66 credits, with tuition per credit ranging from $350 to $750 and up. Additional costs include orientation, conferences, textbooks, and the costs of traveling between work, home, and campus. 

Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Admin Grad Schools - fact

While it isn’t for everyone, a doctorate in educational leadership can be well worth the cost if you enjoy its benefits! If you’re looking for career advancement, increased compensation, and greater influence, then you must consider earning it. Since it’s among the most recognized and respected credentials in the education industry, you will qualify for more opportunities in the public and private sectors. 

With your leadership position, you will exert greater influence toward positive change in the industry and its stakeholders. Your original research may become a catalyst for change, perhaps even have direct applications to the principles and practices of education. Indeed, the opportunity to become a thought leader is irresistible for many educators pursuing this doctorate! 

To summarize, Doctor of Educational Leadership and Administration degrees are designed to help professionals develop the skills to lead and manage institutions of higher education or other educational organizations. The program focuses on principles for organizational leadership, public policy and legal issues within the education system, and advanced theories of curriculum and instruction.

Colleges and universities may offer either educational administration or educational leadership doctoral programs, but it may mean the same thing. While it’s quite common for these terms to be used interchangeably, these aren’t the same per see. 

Quick audio summary:

Check out this informative YouTube video about Educational Leadership at the elementary and secondary school levels:

METHODOLOGY

The programs listed here are mostly on-campus programs with a few hybrid programs (i.e., on-campus residency requirements and online courses). Each program was chosen based on the following criteria: 

20 BEST DOCTOR OF EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND ADMINISTRATION GRADUATE SCHOOLS

Vanderbilt University 

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

EdD Educational Leadership and Policy Curriculum (K-12)

Vandy, a private research university, is a top-ranked national university that’s as well-known for its academic standing as its non-academic aspects. Vandy is also cited for being among the best campuses in terms of physical beauty, quality of life, and smart and happy students in the US! The Peabody College of Education, where the EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy Curriculum (K-12) program is administered, is also in the country’s top five education schools.

Standout Features: 

Candidates come from diverse backgrounds in education, from K-12 settings to non-profits, foundations, and government agencies involved in education. This is an on-campus program that considers candidates without a K-12 background!  Students become equals in the classroom. 

Kiss Vanderbilt’s statue on your first on-campus visit at night, and you may well get lucky! Watch out for the squirrels! Vanderbilt also has a national arboretum designation for its abundance of plants and trees. 

George Washington University

George Washington University

Washington, DC

Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration

GWU, a private research university with a federal charter, has abundant internship and research opportunities that make it among the best for post-graduate students. No wonder then that its Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration program attracts both practitioners and researchers! Plus, it’s among the most politically active universities in the country, meaning academic freedom is valued here. 

Standout Features: 

The admission process isn’t just selective with a limited number of students accepted per cohort, but it’s also a rigorous program designed for future education leaders. Principals, deans, and program directors are among the job titles that its graduates assume after completion. 

Students, however, benefit from a convenient schedule designed for working professionals. Faculty members provide support services, too, for academic success, and their extensive credentials make them among the best in the field. 

GWU makes the student experience memorable with its residence halls, which are described as having palace-like amenities. Not only is it among the world’s wealthiest universities, but it has also produced millionaires and billionaires! 

Fordham University 

Fordham University

New York City, New York

EdD GSE Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy

Fordham University, a private research university with a strong Jesuit tradition, is cited for being a Hidden Ivy because of its academic excellence and renown at par with the Ivy League schools. Candidates to its EdD GSE Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy have large shoes to fill, indeed! Students are among the smartest, too, based on their average SAT scores, while many of its alumni are notable leaders in business, politics, and education. 

Standout Features: 

Students complete four practicum experiences, known as Laboratories of Practice (LoP), during their first two years. The LoPs are in professional learning; policies for improvement, transforming schools, districts, and communities; learning, change, and organizational learning. 

During their third year, students complete the Dissertation of Practice. This is a culminating experience that demonstrates the student’s competence in conducting a scholarly inquiry. 

Aside from Donald Trump, who stayed for two years, Fordham’s alumni read like a Who’s Who of the country’s best people! Alan Alda, Vince Lombardi, and Denzel Washington are among its famous alumni. Edgar Allan Poe may not have been an alumnus, but he may have been inspired to write “The Bells” when the University Church’s bells would ring 11 times at 11 a.m. on Sunday mornings. 

Florida State University 

Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

Ph.D. in Educational Leadership/Administration 

FSU, a top-tier public research university, is among the oldest members of the State University System of Florida. Such is its intensive focus on research that it’s home to the Large Hadron Collider, High-Performance Materials Institute, and other research institutions! Even the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program has its fair share of breakthrough research in educational subjects. 

Standout Features: 

Students master theoretical knowledge and their professional applications in educational leadership and administration through a series of research-intensive courses. Both basic and applied research as these apply to leadership are emphasized, too. The program is also designed according to the Florida Principal Leadership Standards. 

FSU’s diverse graduate programs include an acting program, so if it doesn’t work out in the education sector for you… There’s Hollywood! Entertainment options are aplenty at FSU, too, with a bowling alley, a movie theater, and club sports on campus. 

University of New Orleans 

University of New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana

Ph.D. in Educational Administration

UNO, an R2 public research university, is a popular choice among graduate and post-graduate students because of its conviction in the importance of research in the development of society and its individuals. This philosophy is strongly implemented in its Ph.D. in Educational Administration program, where research courses are emphasized. 

Standout Features: 

The selective program emphasizes educational administration in urban settings and the development of transformative education using reflective practice. Students train in the best methodologies of inquiry into current and emerging issues in educational administration. 

When it was opened in 1958, UNO was the pioneering public university in terms of racial integration. Racial equality has since then been a goal among university officials, students, and stakeholders. 

The University of Texas at El Paso 

The University of Texas El Paso

El Paso, Texas

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Administration

UTEP, an R1 public research university and a University of Texas member, takes pride in its large Mexican-American student body and is second only to its sister university at Rio Grande Valley. Such a majority Hispanic population is also reflected in its doctoral programs, including its well-recognized Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Administration program. 

Standout Features: 

Students learn about the unique issues that affect educational leadership and administration in the U.S.-Mexico border region. With UTEP hosting a robust Hispanic community, its program also emphasizes possible solutions through research and applications. Students must be sensitive and aware of these issues’ cultural, social, and linguistic contexts and their possible solutions. 

UTEP has such a strong Bhutan feel that many of its buildings are in the Dzong architectural style! It has also published the world’s largest published book – and, not surprisingly, it’s about Bhutan! The UTEP community even celebrates Bhutan Days. 

Harvard University

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

EdD in Leadership

Harvard University, an Ivy League and private research university isn’t just the oldest university in the United States but also its most prestigious. Such is its world-renowned that its alumni are sought-after by top corporations and organizations worldwide! This is true for the alumni of its Ed.L.D. program, which harnesses the talents and skills of leaders with diverse backgrounds toward effective change in the education system. 

Standout Features: 

Harvard emphasizes the transformation of visionary ideas into practical applications in the real world. Students must adopt a multidisciplinary approach to thrive in the program and make significant contributions to education in the process. Capstone projects also reflect the interdisciplinary approach, with past capstones tackling educational equality and entrepreneurial education issues. 

Harvard Library is the world’s largest academic library, not to mention that its Widener Library is the country’s second-largest library. Students have plenty of traditional and digital sources for their research, a fact that its doctorate population appreciates. Scholarship opportunities also abound due to Harvard’s multi-billion-dollar endowment, the largest in the world too.  

Mississippi State University 

Mississippi State University

Mississippi State, Mississippi

EdD in Educational Leadership

MSU’s status as an R1 public land-grant research university is bolstered by its multimillion-dollar research and development budget, the largest in The Magnolia State. Students in its doctoral programs benefit from the said budget in their action research activities, too. The EdD in Educational Leadership program is among its exceptional post-graduate programs for scholar-practitioners. 

Standout Features: 

Students prepare for leadership positions in the P-12 sector through a combination of extensive academic coursework and action research. Critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical thinking skills are a must for success in a competitive program. 

Interested individuals can participate in one of MSU’s several summer orientation sessions to become acquainted with the university and its facilities, programs, and people. MSU offers excellent value for the money, too, thanks to its affordable tuition, exceptional job placement rate, and higher average starting salaries for its graduates. 

University of Delaware 

University of Delaware

Newark, Delaware

EdD in Educational Leadership

UDel, a public research university and the largest in The Diamond State, is known for its academic excellence and its active community engagement and service on the institutional level. Every Blue Hen is encouraged to share their knowledge, skills, and expertise in addressing the challenges in their communities, too. This applies to post-graduate students in its respected EdD in Educational Leadership program, which welcomes practitioners from schools, colleges, universities, and districts. 

Due to the post-graduate degree being considered the pinnacle of scholarly attainment, students are encouraged to become transformative leaders in their fields. Learners are expected to tackle complex issues and provide viable solutions in and out of the classroom and well after their graduation.  

Standout Features: 

The program’s rigorous academic standards were developed following the Educational Leadership Program Standards. Students who want to earn the School District Personnel and Assistant Superintendent/Superintendent certificates complete the 6-credit K-12 School Leadership Internship component. However, the program doesn’t qualify students for the principal and assistant principal certificates. 

President Joe Biden isn’t just a famous alumnus – he’s actively involved in UDel’s community, too! He has launched the Biden Institute, among other activities here. But he’s not the only famous alumni either – three of its original class of ten were signers of the Declaration of Independence. 

Washington State University

Washington State University

Pullman, Washington

EdD (Educational Leadership) K-12 Administration 

Wazzu’s academic track record is among the best in The Evergreen State and the US, thanks in part to its status as one of the oldest land-grant universities. The Cougars also benefit from Wazzu’s R1 status, meaning that it has very high research activities, particularly in agriculture, veterinary medicine, and animal health. But that doesn’t mean that other fields of study suffer in the process, and the EdD in Educational Leadership is proof of it. 

Standout Features: 

This is a statewide program that welcomes practitioners and scholars from all levels in educational institutions. The curriculum is a blend of scholarly emphasis and practical applications that, in turn, encourage students to find solutions for current and emerging issues. Each student must submit a dissertation that addresses a specific contemporary issue in K-12 schools through the lens of educational leadership. 

Wazzu has more than 560 study abroad programs on all seven continents and comprises more than 70 countries – yes, even in Antarctica! However, students do not need to venture far to find educational and entertainment options. Wazzu’s Pullman campus has more than 260 student organizations, several student centers, and numerous intercollegiate sports. 

Seton Hall University 

Seton Hall University

South Orange, New Jersey

Doctorate in Education K-12 School Administration

SHU, a private Roman Catholic university, is the country’s oldest diocesan university that, through its 165-year run, has developed a reputation for academic excellence in diverse fields of study. The Doctorate in Education K-12 School Administration program is among its respected programs that welcome aspiring and current administrators in the K-12 and higher education settings. 

Standout Features: 

Faculty members are notable experts in their field and actively engaged in their schools and communities. Their extensive professional experiences are imparted to their students, while students can also share their own experiences. Interdepartmental collaborations are encouraged, too. 

SHU has small class sizes – about a 1:14 faculty-to-student ratio – so personalized education comes naturally. Internship opportunities for post-graduate students abound. 

SHU has a vibrant student body that has an abundance of educational and entertainment options available on campus! There are more than 20 Greek letter organizations, acapella groups, and sports clubs. SHU students and alumni are known as Pirates now, with former nicknames being Villagers and White & Blue. 

University of Florida 

University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

Ph.D. in Educational Leadership 

Among the country’s public research universities, UF actively encourages cross-disciplinary collaborations in research – and its $942 million in 2020 research expenditures are proof of it! Students in the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program will benefit from the research-centric curriculum and gain the skills vital for success in post-secondary research. Faculty members also emphasize the importance of research in policy analysis, an area that Ph.D. holders also venture into. 

Standout Features: 

Candidates must pass the scholarly paper requirement before being considered for admission. This is a 21-page, maximum paper that demonstrates the candidate’s current writing ability and potential for success in the post-graduate program. The topic must cover K-12 or higher education teaching and learning, including leadership issues and citations. 

Students are expected to develop their writing skills and higher faculty skills as they progress through the program. 

Only GRE scores are accepted. 

UF’s seal is also the State of Florida’s seal, emphasizing its crucial role in the state. Gatorade, the famous sports drink, was developed by Robert Cade as a hydration drink for the Gators football team. Both UF and the Gatorade Trust continue to benefit – financially – from the invention. 

Arcadia University

Arcadia University

Glenside, Pennsylvania

EdD in Educational Leadership 

Arcadia University,  a private university with an international perspective, boasts a 76-acre campus with a National Historic Landmark, the Grey Towers Castle. Students from anywhere in the world enroll at Arcadia for its international thrusts, such as its international peace and conflict resolution program. Such diversity is also reflected in its respected EdD in Educational Leadership program, designed for scholars and practitioners involved in any education sector. 

Standout Features: 

Students acquire advanced skills in doctoral-level research through a combination of didactic coursework and a completed dissertation. The main thrust is for students to become effective scholar-practitioners dedicated to advancing educational leadership at all levels of education. Educational diversity and inclusiveness are emphasized alongside social responsiveness and globalism. 

Arcadia’s campus is dotted with the flags of countries worldwide, making it easier for students to locate each other! Just mention the flag of the country where you’re nearest to, and voila! Students also use Haber Green as a hangout spot and enjoy the various entertainment options, from the Haunted Castle to the Knight Madness. 

Southeastern Louisiana University 

Southeastern Louisiana University

Hammond, Louisiana

EdD in Educational Leadership

Southeastern, a public university, is the third-largest university in The Pelican State and its programs reflect the depth and breadth of its mission. The EdD in Educational Leadership produces leaders with the skill sets to advance educational improvements and promote positive change. 

Standout Features: 

Southeastern offers graduate assistantships or fellowships to students with a six-credit-hour course load every semester. Continuous enrollment – fall, spring, and summer terms – is required, as is the residency requirement. Students must meet the degree requirements within six calendar years from the date of admission. 

Fanfare is a month-long event that attracts artists from all over the country and the world. Established in October 1986, it also has an educational outreach component. 

Kean University Of New Jersey 

Kean University Of New Jersey

Union, New Jersey

EdD in Educational Leadership

While Kean has a long history, its university status is only in its 24th year! Today, it’s among the largest universities in The Garden State, with five undergraduate colleges and a graduate college. Research is also dear to the university’s heart, and it’s evident in the numerous research centers on its campus. 

Among its research-heavy programs is the EdD in Educational Leadership program, which has an intensive dissertation requirement. Students develop their leadership skills in a conducive environment with accessible student support services. 

Standout Features: 

Students must complete and get approval for their dissertation and complete an extensive internship in an educational setting of their choice. Their comprehensive and rigorous training is based on interdisciplinary coursework that combines academics and hands-on experiences. Graduates can seek state certification either as a school or district administrator. 

Kean has a campus in Wenzhou, China, and it’s called Wenzhou-Kean University. The English-speaking campus boasts a 500-acre land area. 

Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit

Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

EdD in Educational Leadership

Duquesne may have started 143 years ago as a small school with just six teachers and 40 students, but it has become a respected R2 private research university. Within its 49-acre Pittsburgh campus are ten colleges that host a 9,300-strong student body, most from Pennsylvania while others are from abroad. Many are enrolled in the university’s robust EdD in Educational Leadership program, which encourages sharing experiences and insights. 

Standout Features: 

Post-graduate students can apply for assistantships and financial aid packages, including federal aid. The program is offered at the dedicated Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership, with classes conducted by full-time faculty. The curriculum is designed for relevance and responsiveness to the ever-evolving issues in educational administration and leadership. 

Duquesne is the only institution of higher education with affiliations to The Congregation of the Holy Spirit. The Spiritans are a male-only religious congregation within the Roman Catholic Church. 

University of St. Francis 

University of St. Francis

Joliet, Illinois

EdD in Educational Leadership

USF, a private Catholic university, has a 3,900-strong student body in its 70+ programs, including the EdD in Educational Leadership program. Practitioners and scholars with diverse academic and professional backgrounds consider it the best in Illinois due to its academic rigor, research focus, and experiential learning emphasis. 

Standout Features: 

Students choose from two concentrations: 

Every classroom at USF is equipped with multimedia capabilities, and the university offers enhanced virtual support, including access to high-speed Wi-Fi all over the campus. There’s a Career Success Center, too, which offers a wide range of career services from advising to internship fairs.

St. Cloud State University 

St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud, Minnesota

EdD in Educational Administration and Leadership

SCSU, a public university, is one of the foremost universities in Minnesota’s state colleges and universities system with its 16,000-strong student body. Its Higher Learning Commission accreditation offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, including the EdD in Educational Administration and Leadership. 

Standout Features: 

Student assistants enjoy financial benefits, such as tuition reimbursement and a yearly stipend. These benefits can be enjoyed by on-campus and off-campus post-graduate students, too, and can be as high as $9,000+ of yearly stipend or $15,000. 

The student body in this program consists of more than half in the 40 years and above age bracket. Most of them, about 61%, are women. More than a quarter of them are students of color. Regardless of age, race, and gender, students benefit from the expertise of accomplished faculty members. 

“Mainstreet” is the annual event conducted at the start of the academic year where students and student organizations, faculty and non-teaching staff, and campus services showcase their programs. Students have over 250 student organizations and Grek letter fraternities to choose from. 

Lewis & Clark College 

Lewis & Clark College

Portland, Oregon

EdD in Leadership 

Lewis & Clark College is known for its active engagement in community development and social justice, a college-wide principle underlined by its robust liberal arts tradition. The EdD in Leadership program, offered in its Graduate School of Education and Counseling, is also influenced by the abiding principle. Scholars and practitioners agree that this college is one of Oregon’s best in imparting transformational leadership skills to students. 

The program offers two concentrations. First, the PK-12 Concentration is targeted toward professionals who want to improve education at the P-12 level. Students can complete the degree requirements in about three years with weekend and evening classes; summer classes in July are also the norm. 

Second, the Higher Education Student Affairs (HESA) Concentration is a rigorous program that challenges students and even takes them out of their comfort zones. Students challenge not only themselves but the assumptions regarding higher education and its principles and practices. Preferred candidates are either professionals seeking career advancement through a terminal degree or individuals with a master’s degree whose experiences are in student affairs, P-12 education, and volunteer work. 

Standout Features: 

Aside from community involvement and social equity themes, there’s a strong emphasis on applied research and knowledge directly impacting education. 

Lewis & Clark was originally intended to cater to the Presbyterian community in Willamette Valley. Through the years, it has evolved to become a liberal arts institution also known for its use of wind power in powering all of its electricity needs. According to Money magazine and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the college is also considered a more selective institution that provides the best value education.

Georgia Southern University 

Georgia Southern University

Statesboro, Georgia

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership

GSU’s status as a respected public research university may not be widely known, but it’s certainly on our list of the best-hidden gems! Academic excellence, active community engagement, and a comprehensive array of degree programs are its hallmark attributes. The EdD in Educational Leadership is also known for these attributes and, thus, it’s a popular program among education professionals looking for career advancement and positive impact. 

Students choose from two concentrations. First, the P-12 Administration track accepts applicants with a master’s degree and an L-5 certification into its 36-credit Tier I program. Note that completion doesn’t result in an L-6 certification or an ED.S. degree. The Tier II phase has a series of core courses totaling 30 credits, while the Tier III phase has a 9-credit dissertation course. 

Second, the Higher Education Administration or Teacher Leadership track doesn’t require leadership certificates for candidates. 

Students must choose a concentration since the admission and degree requirements will depend on their specific choice. All candidates, however, have to submit a writing sample and undergo an interview as part of the admission process. 

Standout Features: 

Students prepare for leadership positions in diverse settings through intensive coursework and applied research in the form of a dissertation. Skills in decision-making, problem-solving, and other aspects of leadership are developed in the course of the program for this reason. 

GSU’s Statesboro campus has a menagerie of animals in the Lamar Q Ball Jr. Raptor Center and the Center for Wildlife Education. Aside from the bald eagle mascot, these centers have a wide assortment of birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. GSU also manages the 1,400-acre Effingham Wetlands. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What Is Educational Leadership? 

Educational Leadership refers to the decisions and actions directly impacting the educational processes in the K-12 sector, even in colleges and universities. Their practitioners may be involved in management decisions, such as teacher hiring, budget preparations, and school-wide policy-setting. However, their main role is in the advancement of education through the application of their leadership skills. 

Programs in educational leadership focus on these areas: 

What Is Educational Administration?

Educational Administration refers to the principles and practices necessary for the management of resources in educational settings. The resources include human resources, such as teachers and non-teaching staff, and quantifiable and non-quantifiable assets like cash, property, and goodwill.

Professional and personal networks, community involvement, and communication processes are considered assets and, thus, must be managed well. 

The typical curriculum includes courses on: 

Students learn the nuts and bolts, so to speak, of what makes an educational institution tick and what will make it better. 

What are their similarities and differences? 

Educational Leadership and Administration programs require students to complete capstone projects, thesis research, and internships or practicums. Every program is different. Some colleges may only require a dissertation and not an internship. 

These programs may also take between three and four years to complete on full-time enrollment, longer if on a part-time basis. Note that many universities have a six-year cap for completion of all academic requirements. 

While each program has its unique requirements, particularly in the specific graduate GPA and GRE scores, these programs share these common aspects: 

Selective colleges and universities also conduct an interview or a series of interviews to determine each candidate’s suitability and commitment to the program. 

Of course, every program has a unique curriculum. There’s also the fact that the curriculum for an educational leadership program will have a different emphasis from an educational administration program.

Think of it this way: Educational administration involves a more scientific approach emphasizing standardization and measurement. Educational leadership is more of an art focusing on creating ideas, inspiring people, and seeing the future. 

What roles can you assume in the future with a doctorate in these programs?

The specific roles that you can assume will depend on the type of doctorate earned. Educational Administration graduates are more suitable for the professor, principal, assistant principal, and district supervisor roles. Educational Leadership graduates will find positions as chief learning officers, college presidents, and academic deans as their forte. 

What’s the best fit for me? 

Ask yourself these questions to determine the best fit for your current needs and future aspirations!

Be sure to consider the courses and their descriptions, learning outcomes, and graduate outcomes before making your choice in a post-graduate program. The tuition fee and other financial costs will likely be your first consideration but take into account the dissertation and internship requirements, too. These will have not only financial commitments but also demand significant time and effort. 

What are the advantages of earning a Doctor of Educational Leadership and Administration degree?

Key Takeaways

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