Successful leaders must work across different disciplines with ease, continually develop their leadership expertise to keep pace with the rapidly changing world, incorporate research and data-driven decision making in their work, and collaborate effectively with others. The Interdisciplinary Leadership doctorate prepares you to meet these challenges. Enhance your qualifications and hone your skills as an effective leader in education, nonprofit management, entrepreneurship or public safety. Take the step now to make your mark as a leader.


Outstanding Preparation

Learn the theories, principles, practices and applications of effective leadership. The doctoral program includes a comprehensive set of core courses in leadership, research, planning, communication, globalism and finance, as well as advanced study in one of four concentrations:

  • Superintendent (P-12)                       
  • Higher Education Administration                                             
  • Not-for-Profit/Social Entrepreneurship 

 All courses are offered online or in hybrid format.  

Unique Experience

The required culminating capstone project involves planning, implementation, completion, and oral defense of a comprehensive practicum project. The final project will involve theory-driven quantitative and/or qualitative research, in-depth case studies, sophisticated program evaluations, resolving existing problems, or extensive critical literature review and synthesis.   

Fully Qualified 

The program emphasizes the leadership and advocacy duties of educators, counselors, social service providers, not-for-profit managers and public servants. As a graduate, you will be skilled in organizational and social reform-oriented leadership, ethical practices, strategic planning, budgeting and finance, fundraising, globalization, environmental stability, community relations and social marketing, and in the design and implementation of qualitative and quantitative research.The Interdisciplinary Leadership doctorate program is fully accredited by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission. 

For more information, contact the Program Director, Dr. Marlon Cummings.   To view a fact sheet for the INLD program, click this link.

Meet the Program Faculty 

Program of Study

The Interdisciplinary Leadership Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) Program. The doctorate in Interdisciplinary Leadership emphasizes the preparation of advanced leaders who will address real-world problems and issues with sophisticated, multi-dimensional perspectives. This program focuses on sustainability of innovative practices and development of global competencies. A significant strength of the program is its experiential component, through which all graduates will integrate theory and practice.    

Program Requirements

  • Continuous Enrollment. Doctoral students must register for a minimum of 6 graduate credits per semester.  
  • Time Limit. Students must complete all coursework for the degree and capstone project within seven years after beginning the doctoral program. Students may appeal for an extension under extenuating circumstances.   
  • Credits. The doctorate requires a minimum of 60 credit hours. More hours may be taken in order for the student to specialize his/her studies, or more credits may be required in order to meet prerequisite requirements for the doctoral program. 
  • Qualifying Exam. Interdisciplinary Leadership doctoral students are required to complete a written Qualifying Exam before they are granted candidacy.   
  • Candidacy. Candidacy is conferred upon a student once the individual has completed all coursework required before the capstone project, passed the written Qualifying Exam.   
  • Capstone project. The capstone project synthesizes the knowledge and skills gained by the student. It consists of quantitative or qualitative inquiry into a topic of interest related to the primary area of study. A doctoral committee composed of four tenured or tenure track faculty members (two from the Concentration Area and two from outside of the Concentration Area) will review this project from its inception to its final defense. The student works with the chair of the doctoral committee in an advisory manner to select a topic of inquiry and complete the capstone project. 

Ed. D. Interdisciplinary Leadership (60 hours Total)  

Core Courses (18 credits plus Qualifying Exam)

  • LEAD 9101 Research, Data Analysis, and Decision Making  
  • LEAD 9102 Theories and Ethics of Leadership  
  • LEAD 9103 Finance and External Funding  
  • LEAD 9104 Strategic Planning/Collaboration/Sustainability  
  • LEAD 9105 Communication Strategies for Effective Orgs
  • LEAD 9106 Change, Diversity and Global Issues  
  • LEAD 9201 Qualifying Examination 

Capstone Project (9 hours)

  • LEAD 9991 Capstone Project Seminar 
  • LEAD 9998 and LEAD 9999 Capstone Project I and II (6 credits) 

Concentrations (33 hours)  

Not-for-Profit/Social Entrepreneurship Concentration   

  • NPSE 9101 Public Relations for Not-for-Profit Organizations
  • NPSE 9102 Public Pol. & Finance for Not-for-Profits – Foundation 
  • NPSE 9103 Government and Governmental Relations 
  • NPSE 9104 Applied Mgmt for Not-for-Profit Organizations 
  • NPSE 9105 Law for Not-for-Profit Organizations 
  • NPSE 9106 Issues and Trends for Not-for-Profits 
  • NPSE 9007 Special Topics in Not-for-Profits 
  • NPSE 9201 Public Pol & Finance for Not-for-Profits – Advanced 
  • NPSE 9202 Strategic Planning, Project Evaluation, & Sustainability 
  • NPSE 9203 Advanced Social Entrepreneurship 
  • NPSE 9204 Advanced Organizational Behavior
Superintendent Concentration
  • SUPT 8836 Administration of School Personnel  
  • SUPT 8838 Collective Bargaining 
  • SUPT 8842 The Politics of Education 
  • SUPT 8860 The Dynamics of School Climate 
  • SUPT 9101 School Finance for Superintendents 
  • SUPT 9102 Education for Diversity 
  • SUPT 9103 Advanced Curriculum/Instruction/Assessment 
  • SUPT 9104 Facilities and Sustainability 
  • SUPT 9330 Advanced School Law 
  • SUPT 9340 The Superintendency – Issues and Trends 
  • SUPT 9350 District Improvement Planning  

Higher Education Concentration

  • HEAD 9101 Leadership in Colleges and Universities 
  • HEAD 9102 Org, Governance, & Campus Culture in Higher Ed 
  • HEAD 9103 Strategic Planning in Higher Ed 
  • HEAD 9104 Political and Legal Issues in Higher Ed 
  • HEAD 9105 Theories of Teaching & Learning in Adult Ed 
  • HEAD 9106 Student Affairs in Higher Ed 
  • HEAD 9201 Accountability & Accreditation 
  • HEAD 9202 Business & Fiscal Mgmt Colleges and Universities 
  • HEAD 9203 Emerging Trends in Higher Ed 
  • HEAD 9001 Independent Study in Higher Ed 
  • HEAD 9002 Special Topics in Higher Ed 

All courses are 3 credits unless specified otherwise.

Course Descriptions

Core Courses:   

LEAD 9101 Research Literature, Data Analysis and Decision Making: Application of applied research design, methods and techniques. The course will provide the doctoral student with guidance in the design of scientific research, data collection,data analysis strategies, and alternative designs for research questions and culminating projects. The course will emphasize both quantitative and qualitative approaches to public inquiry and problem-solving.   

LEAD 9102 Theories and Ethics of Leadership: Examines the historical development of leadership theory and research, covering leadership in public (government and quasi-governmental) and private organizations, in Western and non-Western cultures, as well as a review of contemporary approaches to leadership.  Topics and simulations include group processes, verbal and non-verbal communication, critical self-assessment of leadership qualities, team building, interpersonal relations, conflict management and ethical practices.  

LEAD 9103 Finance and External Funding: Addresses issues of financial management at the federal, state and local government levels. Topics include: federal, state and local tax policy, not-for-profit finance, educational institutions finance, privatization, economic development, debt management, and the roles of rating agencies, investment bankers and investors. Emphasis is placed on identifying program/community needs, locating funding sources and programs, outlining a prospectus, writing a successful proposal; and discussing the reasons proposals fail.   

 LEAD 9104 Strategic Planning/Collaboration/Sustainability: This course focuses on the concepts of results-based strategic planning, critical inquiry, new assessment paradigms, collaboration and sustainability. The content will include authentic assessments of learning and processes, and broadening the base of responsibility for processes and results (outcomes). New knowledge about and use of information systems, integrating technology and high performance learning expectations, and the Chief Academic Officer’srole in the process will be addressed.

 LEAD 9105 Communication Strategies for Effective Orgs: Addresses the principles, knowledge, and skills related to effective interpersonal and public relations in educational, not-for-profit and public safety organizations. Emphasis is placed on communication theories and practices, interacting with various media venues, using various forms of technology, the social ecology of organizations, conflict and crisis management, community relations, strategic marketing, and legal and ethical considerations. 

 LEAD 9106 Change, Diversity and Global Issues: In this course, an in-depth exploration of opportunities and challenges posed by racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, linguistic, and other forms of cultural diversity in education will be addressed. Focus on research on the lived experiences and educational outcomes of students from diverse backgrounds and on the implications for policy, politics, organizational design and leadership practice.


Superintendency (P-12)   

 SUPT 8836 Administration of School Personnel: Provides a general understanding of personnel functions in education. Decision-making and problem-solving involving school personnel and supervision will be emphasized. Functions of recruitment, assignment, development, coordination, compensation, appraisal, negotiations, in-service education, motivation and dismissal are included. Prerequisite: EDAD 6621.

 SUPT 8838 Collective Negotiations: The development and establishment of collective bargaining with school district groups. Presentation of historical, sociological, and legal perspectives, as well as current issues in educational collective bargaining, roles of individuals in the bargaining process and effects in public sector. Participation in simulated collective bargaining exercises to prepare for negotiations, the use of table tactics and strategies, and dealing with impasse resolution and the impact on school budgets. Prerequisite: EDAD 6621.

SUPT 8842 The Politics of Education: Examines school systems as politically-influenced entities. Topics include the politics of school governance, strategies of lobbying and negotiation, policy development and implementation, and the use of power, influence and authority. Focuses on the relationship of these topics to system problems such as diminishing resources and dropping achievement. Students will apply political skills through role-playing and simulation. Prerequisite: Permission of dean of the College of Education.

SUPT 8860 The Dynamics of School Climate: Examines the dynamics of the relationship among school administration, the community, and the teachers‘ union and provides strategies for affecting productive working relations among these and other involved groups. The superintendent‘s role as mediator, negotiator, problem-solver, and strategist is treated as it relates to influencing the school atmosphere. Prerequisites: Experience as school administrator and permission of dean of the College of Education.

SUPT 9101 Finance for Superintendents: Emphasizes the role of chief operational manager of the District that the Superintendent might fill. District budgetary decisions will be examined focusing on the vision and mission of the District. Maximizing revenues and efficiently allocating expenditures based on student achievement. Coordinating external services including architectural and internal auditing.

SUPT 9102 Education for Diversity: Prioritizing the need to service the entire PK-12 educational community including, but not limited to, Special Education, bilingual, low-income and gifted education. Utilizing the concepts of Multiple and Emotional Intelligence to enhance student learning and to reduce any achievement gaps. Promote community outreach to ensure social justice for all students.

SUPT 9103 Curriculum/Assessment: Evaluate the District‘s system of assessment and its alignment to curriculum aimed at analyzing student growth at all levels PK-12. Supervising all resources that includes teaching and support staff. Planning for the utilization of technology to facilitate the creation of the District‘s instructional mission and vision.

SUPT 9104 Facilities and Sustainability: Analyzing the role and responsibility of the Superintendent in managing the building and grounds program. Prioritizing the assurance of the safety and security of all staff and students. Developing plans for facilities based on maximum student growth and enrollment projections. Understanding the principles of debt capacity to secure financing for capital projects.

SUPT 9330 Advanced School Law: Analyzes school district governance from the superintendent's perspective; primarily the role of the school board and policy development, federal and state governments, the instructional program, employee rights and responsibilities, student rights and responsibilities, tort liability, district records, contracts and discrimination issues. Preventive law will be emphasized.

SUPT 9340 The Superintendency - Issues and Trends: Analyzes the role and responsibilities of the superintendent with respect to the Illinois School Superintendent Standards, for example, facilitating a vision of educational excellence, learning environment and instructional program, management, collaboration with families and communities, and knowledge of laws, regulations and professional ethics.

SUPT 9350 District Improvement Planning: Emphasizes the alignment of all improvement planning to the district's mission and vision by using a collaborative process among district stakeholders; analyzes the five essentials needed to meet the Illinois Learning Standards and the Common Core Standards, i.e., leadership, parent-community ties, professional capacity, student-centered learning climate and instructional guidance.

Higher Education 

HEAD 9101 Leadership in Colleges and Universities: This course addresses the theories and practices of leadership as applied to two- and four- year institutions. Topics include organizational behavior, leadership styles, institutional culture, communications, group decision-making, problem solving, conflict resolution, organizational theory, and career planning and development. 

HEAD 9102 Organization, Governance, and Campus Culture in Higher Education: This course explores the diversity and distinct goals of two and four-year institutions of higher education. Institutional structures and cultures within the educational, cultural, social, economic and political structures are examined. The impact of governance structures on mission, vision, and purpose of institutions is discussed. Emphasis is placed on organizational development, improvement and reform.

HEAD 9103 Strategic Planning in Higher Education: This course provides an overview of the concept and processes associated with strategic planning in higher education. Emphasis is placed on the need for strategic planning and the dynamics of the university-based strategic planning process. Challenges and issues in planning are explored. Students will examine basic models of strategic planning and work through the steps of a strategic planning process.

HEAD 9104 Political and Legal Issues in Higher Education: This course provides in-depth analyses of the legal structure and political landscape of higher education including academic freedom, employment, collective bargaining, due process, student rights, campus security, accreditation issues, affirmative action, tort liability, and other political and legal issues. 

HEAD 9105 Theories of Teaching and Learning in Adult Education: Theories and conceptual frameworks for adult learning are examined and explored in this course. Topics such as adult learner motivation, nontraditional and traditional students, the impact of life stages on learning, learning modalities, best practices to support and enhance adult learning, social contexts for learning and recent trends are explored. 

HEAD 9106 Student Affairs in Higher Education: This course addresses student development theories as applied to various models for administering student services in community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. Current trends and issues in the management and maintenance of student affairs programs in higher education and research in student affairs administration are explored.

HEAD 9201 Accountability and Accreditation in Colleges and Universities: This course addresses the accountability and accreditation responsibilities in higher education. National and regional accrediting standards and their impact on the college and university are addressed. Discussion on the assessment of general education, the academic majors, affective student learning, retention, employment suitability and follow-up, and other aspects of accountability will be explored.

HEAD 9202 Business and Fiscal Management in Colleges and Universities: This course examines the fiscal and economic dimensions of higher education. Topics include: size and scale of higher education and its historical development; appropriations and taxing authority; tuition-setting; gifts, investments and endowment; ―functional‖ and ―natural‖ distributions of spending; dilemmas of cost control; capital projects, debt financing and debt capacity; fiscal and compliance audits; and the use of financial indices and ratios as measures of institutional financial health.

HEAD 9203 Emerging Trends in Higher Education: This course will examine the current trends in higher education in America and abroad. Focus will be placed on the need for different types of leadership, program design, and delivery models. The role of higher education in promoting educational attainment, civic engagement, sustainability, and globalization is explored. Contemporary policy issues are also addressed.

HEAD 9001 Independent Study in Higher Education or Elective: Projects as assigned. Prerequisite: special approval

HEAD 9002 Special Topics in Higher Education or Elective: These seminars involve specialty topics designed to enhance the knowledge, skills and abilities of Higher Education Administration concentration doctoral students. Possible topics may include: Globalization of the Curriculum, Cultural Pluralism, Diversity Issues, Sustainability and Resource Management, and Organizational Communications in Higher Education. Topics will change each semester.

Not-for-Profit/Social Entrepreneurship 

NPSE 9101 Public Relations for Not-for-Profit Organizations: Explores marketing and public relations theory and practice in the not-for-profit sector. The role of strategic communications campaigns in supporting mission attainment is examined. Public relations processes and marketing strategies that identify organizational strengths and communicate to a broad range of stakeholders are described. Methods for publicizing accomplishments and organizational goals through communication, media usage, and research practices are described.

NPSE 9102 Public Policy and Finance for Not-for-Profits – Foundation: Introduces useful financial practices for persons aiming for general management careers in not-for-profit organizations and who have little or no previous training or experience in accounting and finance. Topics include: financial decision-making techniques; capital budgeting and debt financing; endowment management; financial accounting and reporting principles for not-for-profits; and analysis of financial statements. 

NPSE 9103 Government and Governmental Relations: Examines the evolving topic of intergovernmental relations among federal, state, and local governments. The structure of American political institutions, the nature of complex policymaking, governance by networks, and the consequences of cooperation and competition between governments is explored. Challenges presented to administrators and policy-makers by the balance of shared powers between the layers and institutions of government are explored.

NPSE 9104 Applied Management for Not-for-Profit Organizations: Addresses the management and governance of nonprofit organizations. Topics include the legal establishment of not-for-profit organizations, industry analysis, strategic planning, crisis prevention policies and practices, design of volunteer programs, governance systems, management of the dynamics of staff and board, and ethics and stakeholder accountability. Specific theories and tools for leaders of not-for-profit organizations are explored.

NPSE 9105 Law for Not-for-Profit Organizations: Analyzes case studies to present the big picture of public law and public administration. Focus is placed on major stakeholders in the legal system, how the public and private law systems and processes diverge and come together, and how the public law system, its institutions and processes incorporate public administration. Specific sections include constitutional politics, the transformation of policy proposals into regulatory programs, and constitutional limits on government action and others.

NPSE 9106 Issues and Trends for Not-for-Profits: Explores political, environmental, social, and technological factors that influence contemporary not-for-profit organizations. Innovative strategies for managing, financing, and marketing not-for-profit organizations are emphasized. Methods for diagnosing evolving challenges and opportunities for not-for-profit organizations are studied. Theoretical, empirical, and practical sources for understanding modern not-for-profit organizations are analyzed.

NPSE 9007 Special Topics in Not-for-Profits: Experts in the field present selected topics covering new developments in the field of not-for-profit leadership. Includes discussion of the topics and the implications for theory and practice. Participants have an opportunity to discuss the new developments and, where appropriate, apply techniques and skills. Prerequisites: Vary depending on topic.

NPSE 9201 Public Policy and Finance for Not-for-Profits – Advanced: Analyzes budget structure and process, revenue structure and administration, and public capital acquisition and debt management. An applied focus and comparative analysis of alternative budget, revenue, and debt management are emphasized. Accumulation, management, and investment of public funds and the accounting for those transactions are covered. Fund accounting, cash forecasting, cash management practices and public funds investment strategies are addressed.

NPSE 9202 Strategic Planning: Sustainable Collaborations: Examines fundamental concepts and techniques used to create and evaluate strategic plans, how to use traditional sustainability factors when assessing organizational growth, and how to develop organizational collaborative initiatives. Revenue sharing, citizen participation, human resources, the role of politics in decision making, and organizational culture are explored. The interaction between organizations and the external environment is also examined.

NPSE 9203 Advanced Social Entrepreneurship: Explores the process of developing new ventures with dual missions of social benefit and financial return on investment. A framework for understanding issues facing new social ventures is provided through historical and contemporary theories. Strategies for finding solutions to societal problems and evaluating market opportunities for emerging social ventures are explored. Social entrepreneurship management and marketing strategies are also explored.

NPSE 9204 Advanced Organizational Behavior: Addresses behavior in organizations from a multi-level perspective by examining individual, group, organization, and other contextual factors. Topics include individual and organizational learning, macro and micro ethics and values, individual differences and behavior at work, group dynamics, problem solving and innovation, managing diversity, leadership and decision making, and organizational design and culture. Strategies for managing change in organizations are emphasized. 

Information Sessions

Interdisciplinary Leadership Ed.D Information Sessions

Governors State University ~ College of Education - Room G261


 Monday, September 23, 2019
 Monday, October 21, 2019
Monday, November 18, 2019  
Monday, February 24, 2020
Monday, March 23, 2020

Sample Agenda  

6:30pm – 6:40pm       Registration & Introductions

6:40pm – 7:10pm       Program Overview

 7:10pm – 7:30pm       Q&A with Program Faculty


                                                  Early admission deadline is January 31, 2020.

                             Early admission is required for graduate assistantship opportunities for Fall 2020.

                                                  Regular admission deadline is April 1, 2020.

To RSVP for this event, contact: Carla Johnson. Please include your desired concentration (Higher Education Administration, Not for Profit/Social Entrepreneurship, or Superintendency) in your RSVP email. 

INLD PowerPoint presentation can be accessed here.

Academic Advising

Governors State University provides professional Academic Advisors to serve the needs of all of its candidates. Your program's Academic Advisors are the ideal first contacts for:

  • Individuals considering application to this degree program.
  • Newly admitted candidates who need to develop a plan of study.
  • Continuing candidates who have questions or comments on program policies, procedures, and requirements.

The Academic Advisor for the Interdisciplinary Leadership Ed.D. program is Ms. Carla Johnson. She can be reached via email at or by phone at 708.235.3989. Her office is located in G378.

Application Materials

Admission requirements: 

  • Complete the GSU online application ( 
  • A statement of interest (click for the form).
  • A vitae or resume. 
  • Official transcript indicating a completed master’s degree from an accredited program. 3.0 GPA or higher is required.
  • Three letters of reference forms (recommended: two (2) academic and one (1) professional.  
  • GRE or MAT scores. GRE scores consist of a combined score of 300 or its equivalent, plus a score of 4.0 or better on the Analytical Writing section; to register, go to Only GRE scores from the past five (5) years will be accepted. GRE prep materials can be found online at: information can be found at
  • Interview with the admissions committee (not all applicants will be interviewed).  
  • For the Superintendent strand you must hold a valid Illinois Professional Educator License with a General Administrative/Principal endorsement and have two years experience in an administrative position.

Admissions process:

Deadline: For early admission, apply by January 31, 2019 for the Fall Cohort. 

Early admission is required for graduate assistantship opportunities for Fall 2019. 

Ms. Carla Johnson is the Academic Advisor in the College of Education. She can assist you with the application process and answer your questions about the admission process. Contact her at 708.235.3989, or via email

Please mail ALL application materials to:

Governors State University

College of Education - Room G378

1 University Parkway  

University Park, IL 60484-0975  

Attn: Carla Johnson 

Additional Information:

  • The Ed.D. Interdisciplinary Leadership Admissions Committee will review all completed applications. Based on this review, some applicants will be contacted to arrange an interview with the Admissions Committee (note: the Admissions Committee will not interview all applicants). 
  • Applicants will be notified of the Admissions Committee's final decision by the end of August. 
  • Information sessions will be held at GSU on a weekday in the evening. Please click on the "information sessions" tab for more information. If you plan to attend one of these sessions, send your RSVP to  
  • Please note also that students admitted into the Fall cohort must attend a mandatory program orientation. They are held in January and August - dates TBD. 
  • Appeals concerning admission decisions may be made only if it is contended that there has been a material procedural error in the Interdisciplinary Leadership Doctorate Program admission process. Appeals must be made by the applicant in writing to the College of Education, Division Chairperson, within 15 days after the date on the decision letter.