Adult Learning and Leadership EdD

Doctor of Education in Adult Learning and Leadership


Lifelong learning for adults is an increasingly important educational specialization in the 21st century. Rapid changes are transforming society and making it critical for adults to continue to learn across the lifespan. Much of that learning takes place in classrooms, but a lot of learning also occurs informally through interaction in groups, communities, organizations, and social networks.

The Adult Learning & Leadership program, at the Ed.D. level, is designed for professionals who already have experience in helping adults learn inside and outside the classroom, and who want to further hone their leadership abilities at more senior levels in organizations, consulting groups, or institutions of learning. The intellectual framework of the program examines the relationship of adult learning to organizational, management and leadership issues. The program prepares scholar-practitioners who examine practice in light of theory, and vice-versa, in ways that enable them to lead, assess, and plan strategically for adult learning programs and interventions. Students master research skills that support their leadership in helping individuals to learn more effectively, and in helping organizations to learn from and with those adults.

With advisor approval, up to 45 graduate credits from an accredited graduate program/institution with a grade of B or better can be transferred from outside of TC and that some credits taken at TC in other programs can also be applied (no need to transfer) -- within College guidelines and if they can satisfy program plan requirements.

Certification Guide

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Admissions Information

Doctor of Education

  • Points/Credits: 90
  • Entry Terms: Fall Only

Application Deadlines

  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer/Fall (Priority): January 5
  • Summer/Fall (Final): January 5

Supplemental Application Requirements/Comments

Requirements from the TC Catalog

View Full Catalog Listing

The Adult Learning & Leadership program, at the Ed.D. level, is designed for professionals who wish to develop their skills  in helping adults learn inside and outside the classroom, and hone their leadership abilities. The intellectual framework of the program examines the relationship of adult learning to organizational, management and leadership issues. The program prepares scholar-practitioners who examine practice in light of theory, and vice-versa, in ways that enable them to lead, assess, and plan strategically for adult learning programs and interventions. Students master research skills that support their leadership in helping individuals to learn more effectively, and in helping organizations to learn from and with those adults.

The EdD program has three required foundations courses. In addition, students make choices in consultation with their advisor about courses to take in the areas of adult development, adult learning theory and applications, program development and evaluation, systems learning, leadership, strategy and management, human resource development, group dynamics, organizational behavior, technology, conflict resolution, and research. At least one course is to be taken (or can be transferred from prior accredited graduate study) in each of these twelve areas. Many of these courses are offered by the ADUL Program or the O&L Department; other courses can be taken elsewhere in Teachers College or Columbia University.

Required Coursework:

Foundations (9 credits)—required:

  • ORLD 4050 Introduction to adult and continuing ed (3)

  • ORLD 4053 Facilitating adult learning (3)

  • ORLD 5057 Adult learning & ed: Theory & practice (3)

Adult Development (6)—choose from the following:

  • ORLD 4051 How adults learn (3)

  • ORLD 5070 Leadership for adult development (3)

  • HUDK 4024 Developmental psychology: Adult learning and the lifespan (3)

  • HUDK 5023 Cognitive development (3)

  • HUDK 5027 Moral development (3)

  • HUDK 5028 Spiritual development across the lifespan (3)

Adult Learning Theory and Applications (12-14 credits)—choose from the following:

  • ORLD 4060 Coaching from an adult learning perspective (3)

  • ORLD 4091 Somatics: Mind/body approach to leadership development (3)

  • ORLD 4815 Developing critical thinkers (1)

  • ORLD 4827 Fostering transformative learning (2-3)

  • ORLD 4828 Imagination, authenticity, and individuation in transformative learning (2-3)

  • ORLD 4844 Helping adults learn (1)

  • ORLD 4850 Discussion as a way of teaching (1)

  • ORLD 4855 Learning as a way of leading (1)

  • ORLD 5057 Adult learning and education: Theory and practice (3)

  • ORLD 5815 Critical theory and adult learning (1)

Program Development and Evaluation (3 credits)—choose from the following:

  • ORLD 5053 Developing and managing adult learning programs (3)

  • ORL 5522 Evaluation methods I (3)

Systems Learning (3 credits)—choose from the following:

  • ORLD 5823 Building 21st century organizational capability with cultural intelligence (CQ) (3)

  • ORLD 5550 Research on organizational learning (3)

  • ORLD 5061 The learning organization (3)

  • ORLJ 4800 Conflict and complexity: A dynamical system approach to addressing protracted conflict (3)

Leadership (3 credits)—choose from the following:

  • ORLD 5023 Leadership and self-development (3)

  • ORLD 5540 Social entrepreneurship & leadership (3)

  • ORLD 5821 Leveraging emotional intelligence (EQ) to enhance organizational effectiveness (3)

Strategy and Management (3 credits)—choose from the following:

  • ORLD 4085 Management & leadership skills in practice (3)

  • ORLD 5054 Strategy development as a learning process in organizations (3)

  • ORLD 6054 Learning to think strategically (3)

Human Resource Development (3 credits)—choose from the following:

  • ORLD 5055 Staff development and training (3)

  • ORLD 5062 Human resource development in organizations (3)

  • ORLD 5073 Action learning design and coaching (3)

Group Dynamics (3 credits)—choose from the following:

  • ORLD 5822 Building productive relationships with social intelligence (SQ) (3)

  • ORL 5362 Group dynamics: A systems perspective (3)

Organizational Behavior (3 credits)—choose from the following:

  • ORLD 5822 Building productive relationships with social intelligence (SQ) (3)

  • ORLA 4010 Introduction to organizational analysis in education (3)

  • ORLJ 4005 Organizational psychology (3) (Note: This is a prerequisite for many ORLJ courses)

  • ORLJ 5045 Organizational dynamics and theory (3)

Technology (3 credits)—choose from the following:

  • ORLD 5050 Mobile learning design for professional growth (3)

  • ORLD 5060 Learning and technology in organizations (3)

  • MSTU 4039 Video games in education (3)

  • MSTU 4083 Instructional design of educational technology (3)

Conflict Resolution (minimum of 3 points):

  • ORLJ 5148 Managing conflicts in organizations (3)

  • ORLJ 5340 Adaptive negotiation & conflict resolution (3)

Research Requirements

Ed.D. (Minimum 18 points):

At the Ed.D. level, coursework must include a research design course, a data collection course (either qualitative or quantitative), a data analysis course (either qualitative or quantitative), and a dissertation seminar. These courses include, but are not limited to, those listed below. Ed.D. Candidates must take ORLD 7500 (1 point) in the semester in which they defend their dissertation proposals. Ed.D. candidates must also enroll in ORLD 8900 (or a 3-point Teachers College course) during fall and spring semester, after passing the certification examination.

  • HUDM 4120 Basic concepts in statistics (3)

  • HUDM 4122 Probability and statistical inference (3)

  • ORLD 4800 Workshop: Critical literature reviews (2)

  • ORLD 5550 Research on organizational learning (3)

  • ORL 6500 Qualitative research methods in organizations: Design and data collection (3)

  • ORL 6501 Qualitative research methods in organizations: Data analysis and reporting (3)

  • ORLD 7500 Dissertation seminar in adult education (1-3)

  • ORLD 7900 Directed dissertation research (3)

Elective Courses

Electives include, but may not be limited to, courses in conflict resolution, policy and evaluation, technology for learning, and management/information systems. These are tailored to the student’s career goals and can be taken in the Department or elsewhere in Teachers College or Columbia University. Electives can include transfer courses. Students are required to take a minimum of 6 points total at Teachers College outside of our immediate program area to satisfy the Teachers College breadth requirement.

Final Project

Ed.D. (Dissertation)

Students in the Ed.D. program are also required to pass a certification examination, write a qualifying paper, and successfully defend their dissertations. Dissertations frequently focus on topics of interest to the candidates and the organizations they lead or aspire to lead.

Please see the most recent Program of Study Advisement Guide (located on the Adult Learning and Leadership program website as a PDF file) for actual core sequence requirements.

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