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Adult Learning and Leadership Doctoral Degrees

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Adult Learning and Leadership prepares students for careers as college or university faculty members or administrators. It is also useful in other educational or corporate settings where the application of adult learning principles and theories and research are important.

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Adult Learning and Leadership prepares students for administrative or faculty positions in higher education or corporate settings where applying theory to practice is paramount.

Challenging and insightful coursework along with opportunities to develop personal relationships with students and full-time faculty advisors create a pathway to future success as researchers or practitioners.

Delivery Options

* Residency Requirement

Doctoral courses are 8 to 14 weeks in length and may be completed from a distance via online coursework. However, doctoral students must complete two courses in residence on campus. These two courses will be offered in the summer months in an online and 1-week on-campus intensive format.

Conference Presentation Requirement: All students will present at a conference selected in consultation with their major professor.

Ph.D. Curriculum

The Ph.D. in Adult Learning and Leadership is comprised of 90 post-baccalaureate, graduate credit hours from five general areas: required core, 900-level coursework, research core, electives, and dissertation. With approval of the supervisory committee, up to 30 graduate credit hours from the master’s degree may be used to satisfy degree requirements. Students must pass dissertation proposal defense prior to becoming a candidate for the doctoral degree.

Master’s degree: 30 credits typically recognized from Master's degree

Required Academic Core (18 credits)

Students who do not have a master’s degree in adult learning and leadership (or equivalent) must take these foundation courses. These credit hours do not count as part of the 90 required credits for the degree.

EDACE 780 Introduction to Adult Learning and Leadership
(3 credits)

Course Description

This is a foundation course that acquaints the student with the diverse and evolving field of adult education. It provides a systematic base for further studies in adult learning and leadership. The broad purpose of this course is to have students explore the scope and significance of the field and its contributions to present-day learning in society. The student should leave this course with the beginning perspective of how adult education emerged, how it is presently changing, and how it interrelates with other fields and disciplines.

EDACE 790 Characteristics of the Adult Learner
(3 credits)

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to help the student gain increased knowledge about the characteristics of adults and how these impact learning. Students will be asked to develop a critical understanding of relevant theories, concepts, and research. Lastly, they will develop a better understanding of themselves as an adult learner.

EDACE 818 Critical and Social Issues in Adult Learning
(3 credits)

Course Description

This course is designed for adult learning and leadership students and college or university personnel in sociology and related fields dealing with adults. It is based on the premise that learning is affected by society, government, and economics. Included is an in-depth examination of the relationship between adult education and culture.

EDACE 830 Program Planning in Adult Learning and Leadership
(3 credits)

Course Description

This course includes an analysis of major approaches of program planning and development and discussion of assumptions related to successful program planning in several types of organizations. It outlines the importance of program planning and elements of a systematic planning process.

EDACE 847 Adult Learning and Motivation
(3 credits)

Course Description

This course will examine current adult learning and motivational concepts. Emphasis will be on gaining an understanding of how to create learning environments that enhance adult motivation to learn. Additionally, the practical application of learning theories in the classroom will be explored.

EDCEP 816 Research Methods in Education 
(3 credits)

Course Description

This course will focus upon the fundamental principles and methods of social science research. Additionally, it will provide an opportunity for students to become critical readers of research-based literature in adult education through developing an understanding of the key aspects of quantitative, qualitative, and action-based analytical methods and research traditions.

Required 900-level Doctoral Curriculum 
(Students must complete 4 of the following courses)
EDACE 880 Significant Literature of Adult Learning
(3 credits)

Course Description

A seminar studying the significant literature of adult learning and leadership from a current and historic perspective.

EDACE 916 Foundations of Adult Learning and Leadership
(3 credits)

Course Description

A study of adult learning and leadership historical perspectives, contemporary institutions and programs, teaching-learning process, administrative practices, and conceptual roles.

EDACE 937 Organization and Administration of Adult Learning and Leadership 
(3 credits)

Course Description

A critical study of organizational procedures and administrative practices as related to the implementation and maintenance of an effective program in adult learning and leadership.

EDACE 940 Adult Development Theory
(3 credits)

Course Description

Study all pertinent adult development theories.

EDACE 986 Scholarly Writing
(3 credits)

Course Description

This course enables students to develop the writing skills they need to become successful writers in their academic and post-academic careers. Course topics focus on students’ disciplines and include annotated bibliographies, critiques, and literature reviews.

EDACE 986 The Dissertation Process
(3 credits)

Course Description

Students analyze dissertations and write a draft of Chapter 1 for their dissertation proposal.

Required Research Courses
(15 credits minimum)
  • EDCEP 817: Statistical Methods in Education (3 credits)
  • EDCEP 917: Experimental Design in Educational Research (3 credits)
  • EDLEA 838: Qualitative Research in Education (3 credits)
  • EDLEA 938: Advanced Data Analysis in Qualitative Research Methods (3 credits)
  • EDLEA 948: Data Representation and Writing in Qualitative Research Methods (3 credits)
  • or other advanced quantitative/qualitative research courses

Elective Courses
  • Select electives appropriate to the area of emphasis that satisfy the minimum 90 credit hours for the program.
  • EDACE prefix, additional quantitative/qualitative research courses or other disciplines at K-State Colleges. 

Preliminary Exam

As students conclude their coursework, they will work with their major professor to write the dissertation proposal (first 3 chapters of the dissertation). Students must successfully defend the dissertation proposal in front of their committee.

Doctoral Research (12 credits minimum)

Internship: 12 credit hours (Ed.D. only)

View Ed.D. Curriculum

Ph.D./Ed.D. Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Applications are accepted throughout the year. However, applications are only reviewed twice during the academic year and failure to meet the deadlines below may delay full admission into the program.

Application Deadlines: March 1 for Fall; October 1 for Spring (All documents must be complete by deadlines)

View Ph.D./Ed.D. Admission Requirements

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Course Delivery:

Olathe, KS
Distance/Online *

Credit Hours:

90-94 (includes 30 hours from master's degree)

Tuition Information:

See the Cashiers and Student Accounts website for tuition and fee schedules.


Educational Leadership

Related Programs

M.S. in Adult Learning and Leadership

Graduate Certificates:
Leadership Dynamics
Adult Learning
Teaching English as a Second Language for Adult Learners
Social Justice Education
Qualitative Research

Additional Information

Program Booklet (PDF)
Ph.D. SLOs (PDF)
Ph.D. Alignment Matrix (PDF)
Ed.D. SLOs (PDF)
Ed.D. Alignment Matrix (PDF)