Doctoral Program in Educational Theory and Practice
leading to the Doctor of Education (EdD) degree

 EdD Degree Requirements | Plan of Study
Comprehensive Examination
 Portfolio and Paper Preparation/Assessment
 Admission to Candidacy for a Doctoral Degree 
 Dissertation | Edgar W. Couper Lecture Series

The doctoral program in Educational Theory and Practice is designed for experienced educators seeking to integrate theory, knowledge, research and practice to increase understanding and improve teaching and learning in early childhood, elementary, secondary and postsecondary educational settings and related fields.

Four major themes guide this program for advanced study:

  1. Reflective professional practice (i.e., critical analysis of actions, goals and ethics);
  2. Instructional leadership (i.e., the understandings, skills and dispositions needed for the democratic transformation of schools and related settings);
  3. Inclusive and multicultural education (i.e., the understandings, skills and dispositions needed to promote sensitivity to and affirmation of cultural and other differences among students, teachers, staff and parents); and
  4. Social analysis (i.e. the critical assessment of the dominant paradigms, institutional patterns and power inequities that shape education).

This program admits only a small number of students each year, thus providing the opportunity for close relations not only among students but also between students and faculty.

Dr. Marla Mallette and Dr. Candace Mulcahy are program co-coordinators for the doctoral program. Please send an e-mail to  regarding your interest in this program.

The program's primary emphasis is on providing a “broadening” experience, rather than the more narrow emphases of many other doctoral programs. The required core courses, the electives requirement and a cohort of students that includes those with varying backgrounds and experiences promotes this broader emphasis. The intent is to foster constructive and important conversations across professional areas and research interests.

At the same time, the program encourages specialized study focused within this broadened perspective. Assignments for core courses, a flexible electives requirement, independent study, graduate assistantships (for full-time students) and dissertation research all provide opportunities to address more specialized scholarly interests.


EdD Degree Requirements

The coursework requirements for the EdD program include seven mandatory core courses and five electives, for a minimum of 48 credit-hours; a B average must be maintained. Efforts to build greater flexibility and opportunities for specialization into the research sequence are ongoing. Additional coursework (beyond 48 credits) may be determined in consultation with, and with the approval of, the student's program adviser.

Education Core Courses

Courses are four credits. EDUC 620 is offered each fall. Other courses are generally offered every two years.

EDUC 601. Contemporary Philosophical and Social Issues in Education
EDUC 602. Curriculum Theories, Designs and Evaluation
EDUC 603. Theories of Learning and Instructional Design
EDUC 604. Integrative Doctoral Seminar on Reflective Practice

Research Courses

EDUC 620. The Research Process in Education
EDUC 621. Seminar on Quantitative Research (prerequisite: EDUC 620)
EDUC 622. Seminar on Qualitative Research (prerequisite: EDUC 620)

Elective Courses

Students are required to complete a minimum of 20 credits of elective courses. In consultation with the student’s adviser, these requirements may be fulfilled by any combination in the Graduate School of Education (at the doctoral level, i.e., courses numbered 600 and above) and/or in other departments at the University (at the graduate level, i.e., courses numbered 500 and above). 

Education Course Description

For descriptions of doctoral courses in the Graduate School of Education, see Course Descriptions.

Plan of Study

The following link provides students and advisors with a form to guide students through the requirements for the Doctoral Program in Educational Theory and Practice (EdD):

Plan of Study Form for the Doctoral Program in Educational Theory and Practice (EdD)

Comprehensive Examination: Portfolio and Critical Reflection Paper

The comprehensive examination for the EdD program includes a portfolio of work, a critical reflection paper and an oral review. The main purpose is to assess a student's knowledge of educational theory and practice and her or his ability to undertake advanced-level dissertation work. While traditional comprehensive examinations (i.e., a take-home or sit-down exam) have their strengths, we believe that our approach is more in keeping with the needs of reflective practitioners and will provide the opportunity for an enhanced learning experience for the student.


Portfolio and Paper Preparation

In consultation with the program adviser, the student will choose two other faculty members to serve on his or her comprehensive examination assessment committee.

In consultation with the program adviser, the student will prepare:

  • a portfolio of his or her work while in the doctoral program at Binghamton University and
  • a critical reflection paper.

The portfolio and paper should be submitted together for formal assessment during or after the final semester of coursework.

Items included in the portfolio should represent the best evidence of the student's knowledge of relevant educational, social and philosophical thought and ability to engage in appropriate forms of scholarly discourse and practice. Items included should also demonstrate ways in which the student has critiqued and conducted educational research, engaged in critical reflection on practice and participated in collaborative leadership roles.

To address these areas, the student should submit an updated curriculum vitae and selected work since entering the program that demonstrates breadth and depth of learning. A précis and table of contents and several course papers must be included. Other examples of selected work can be conference papers, research reviews, published articles and chapters, grant proposals, curriculum development, computer software, media production and critical reactions to scholarly seminars, presentations and colloquia. Several high-quality products representing the student's best work are preferred over many submissions of lower quality. In addition, the portfolio can include written verification of significant work that did not result in a product.

The accompanying critical reflection paper, which should be approximately 12-18 double-spaced pages in length, should include a coherent vision of educational theory and practice, consideration of intellectual growth during the program and an integration of the portfolio with the student's own professional practice. Students may defend their dissertation prospectus at that time.


Portfolio and Paper Assessment

The portfolio and paper can be submitted for formal assessment up to two times without prior approval of the vice provost for graduate studies and teaching. The GSE recommends that submissions should be made between September 1 and November 15 or between February 1 and May 15. In addition, informal assessments can be carried out by the program adviser prior to formal submission.

The formal assessment will be conducted by an assessment committee of three Binghamton University faculty: the student's GSE program adviser and two other faculty members chosen by the student in consultation with the program adviser. The GSE program adviser will be responsible for distributing assessment forms to other members of the committee and setting the date for the oral review in consultation with the student.

Within four weeks of the student's submission of their completed portfolio, a formal review will be scheduled. The student will provide a formal presentation and the assessment committee will conduct an oral review of the portfolio and paper with the student. Subsequent to the review, the program adviser will fill out a summary evaluation form, solicit the signatures of committee members and provide a copy to the student. Written comments by individual committee members may also be provided to the student.

The assessment committee can take one of three actions:

  1. Pass
  2. Require a second oral review requiring resubmission of written materials with revisions and/or responses to specific questions posed by the committee
  3. Fail

If the student's portfolio and paper need to be formally assessed more than once, they should be submitted to the same committee. If problems arise, the program coordinator will help the committee and the student to resolve them.


Admission to Candidacy for a Doctoral Degree

Admission to candidacy occurs when the student has completed all coursework and successfully passed the comprehensive examination. Upon verification by the program adviser of the completion of these requirements, the school submits the Recommendation for Admission to Candidacy for Doctoral Degree form to the Graduate School.

Students are expected to complete the requirements for their doctoral degree within five years of being formally admitted to candidacy for the degree. A student may petition for an extension of the time limit by submitting a request to the director of graduate studies in his or her program unit. The director of graduate studies, if he/she endorses the request, then forwards it to the Graduate School for final action by the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School.
Click here to download the 5 year limit extension petition form. 


Dissertation Committee

Upon admission to candidacy for a doctoral degree, the student should negotiate a dissertation committee consisting of three faculty members. The first member selected should be the dissertation adviser. In consultation with the dissertation adviser, the student chooses two other committee members. The adviser must be a GSE faculty member and the other members of the committee may be as well. Additional members can also be from other departments on campus or from other doctoral-granting universities. The student should work closely with this committee during the time spent on the dissertation.

Dissertation Prospectus

The prospectus functions to identify the topic and type of inquiry to be undertaken in the dissertation and to formalize the approval of the project by the dissertation committee. The student should work closely with the dissertation adviser and the rest of the committee on the fulfillment of this requirement.

Students should consult the Graduate School Student Handbook for information about dissertation prospectus procedures and a style manual (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago) for information about a professional writing style. Students are urged to consult sources specifically related to the research design and methodology they have chosen as a guide for writing the prospectus. The size and scope of the prospectus are negotiated with the dissertation adviser and committee. A suggested set of elements for the prospectus are:

  • Descriptive title
  • Abstract
  • Question or problem of study
  • Rationale for study
  • Relationship to relevant literature
  • Methodology (including human subjects permission application, if appropriate)
  • Bibliography (references for the prospectus and a tentative list of references to be consulted for the study)

The prospectus should be submitted within six months of the student's admission to candidacy. If a student does not submit his or her prospectus within six months, the student should consult with their advisor and determine a timeline for completion. It is best to submit the prospectus between September 1 and May 15 for formal consideration by the dissertation committee.



A student's doctoral dissertation must represent original and significant scholarly inquiry. It is expected that the student will arrange to meet regularly with her or his dissertation adviser and several times with the entire dissertation committee during the process of researching and writing the dissertation. In addition, doctoral dissertations should conform to the "Guidelines for Preparing a Thesis or Dissertation" found in the Graduate School Student Handbook or at

Declaration of Candidacy for a Graduate Degree

The student must submit a Declaration of Candidacy for a Graduate Degree form to the Graduate School Office by the required deadline in the semester the dissertation will be completed.

Dissertation Defense

Members of the dissertation committee serve on the examination (dissertation defense) committee. The dissertation adviser typically serves as examination chair. The vice provost for graduate studies and teaching adds an outside examiner from elsewhere on campus to represent the faculty of the Graduate School. The GSE recommends that the student should submit the dissertation to the committee at least two months before the final oral defense. For specific information on the dissertation defense process, consult the Graduate School Student Handbook.


Edgar W. Couper Lecture Series

The Edgar W. Couper Endowment Fund for Educational Excellence provides Couper Fellowships annually to one or more full-time students in GSE's doctoral program in Educational Theory and Practice and supports the annual Couper Lecture.

The fellowships and the lecture honor the late Edgar W. Couper, a successful businessman, recognized community leader and pioneer of New York public higher education. Mr. Couper was chairman of the "Committee of 100" which was responsible for the founding in 1950 of what is now Binghamton University, the State University of New York. He was a member of the New York State Board of Regents from 1951 to 1968, and served as its Chancellor from 1961 to 1968.

Following his death at age 88 in 1988, Mr. Couper's family and friends chose to honor him for his educational vision and leadership by establishing the Edgar W. Couper Endowment Fund for Educational Excellence at Binghamton University. Please browse the Couper Archives for information about current and past presenters.


Last Updated: 7/22/16