Executive Doctoral Program

Executive Doctoral Program

The Executive Doctoral Program (leading to an EdD) of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary is approved by the New York State Board of Education. The program offers an exciting and unique opportunity for senior educators who wish to pursue advanced learning and training in educational leadership, pedagogy, curriculum development, and research.

The Executive Doctoral Program is designed to build on a candidate's expertise and expand on it. The program consists of course work, a qualifying paper, and a dissertation.

Admissions Requirements

• Applicants to the Executive Doctoral Program must have a minimum of five years of experience in either teaching or administration.

• Candidates for the Executive Doctoral Program should identify an area of interest and conduct a conversation with one or two professors about research interest before applying to the school. For those candidates who at this point cannot identify an area of research, an MA program might be suitable.

• Previous graduate-level work (i.e., a master's degree) is suggested but not required for candidates for the Executive Doctoral Program. However, candidates should be ready to complete prerequisites. These courses will be decided upon a meeting with the candidate's advisor, and will be decided on a case by case basis.

• An interview with the Admissions Committee and dean is required for all applicants for the Executive Doctoral Program.

An orientation phone conference with the dean is required of all participants in the last week of August.

Admissions Procedures

The Davidson School will accept and review applications for admission to the fourth cohort until January 5, 2015. Applications that are not completed by that date will not be reviewed. It is in the applicant's best interest to apply as early as possible. Students are accepted into the program only in the fall.

The application form is available at the Office of Admissions, William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, 3080 Broadway, New York, New York 10027-4649; you may also contact (212) 678-8022.

An applicant for admission as a degree candidate must submit the following:

  • A completed application form together with the $65 fee
  • An official transcript of academic records from all colleges and universities previously attended
  • Official scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which must be academic references
  • Two academic writing samples (see below) that reflect the candidate's writing and research skills

One of the most important skills a doctoral student must have is the ability to write clearly. Please submit two writing samples, as described below, that you feel represent your skills as a researcher and writer.

If you have earned an academic degree in the last 10 years, please submit two academic papers written for that degree.

If you have been out of school for more than 10 years, please see the list below for some examples of what you might want to submit. Please submit one from List A and one from List B, or two from List B. Both pieces should be substantial works, directed at an adult audience, and written by you within the last 10 years.

List A

  • Curriculum or teacher's guide
  • Other field-based work

List B

  • Published article
  • Original research paper with citations, on the topic of your choice, to be approved by the director of Admissions
  • Students accepted to the Executive Doctoral Program must possess a substantial, graduate-level knowledge in both education and Judaica. This can be demonstrated through a master's degree or other equivalent academic work. In some cases, students might need to take prerequisite courses. An interview, in person or by phone, with the Admissions Committee and dean is required.

Program Requirements

Length of Program
In the first semester, the candidate, with the assistance of the academic advisor, completes a program plan that details the student's projected course of study to satisfy requirements for the EdD. The Executive Doctoral Program requires the completion of 63 credits beyond the master's degree. The pace and length of the program is highly individualized after the first two years, during which students take two weekend courses and an online course in each semester. The additional courses participants will take, timing of the qualifying paper, and writing of the dissertation proposal will be decided upon consultation with the advisor.

Students have 5 to 6 years from the date of admission to complete the program, including writing the dissertation. Candidates engaged in the writing of the dissertation may apply to the dean, in writing, for an extension that ordinarily cannot exceed two years.

Students need to complete 63 credits toward the doctoral degree (EdD); however, the course of study varies, depending on the credits students might be able to transfer. The schedule of required courses for the first three years of the program is outlined below. Students have the possibility of earning additional credits at JTS over the school year and during the summers. Students should complete their course of study within the first five years of the program.

The first two years are cohort-based; however, by advisement, students supplement the cohort-based courses with additional courses during the summers and the following years.

Course of Study

Retreat for Cohort Two

A three-day, 3-credit retreat will occur at the end of the second year for the second cohort.

Dates: Sunday–Tuesday, November 17–19, 2013

Sunday: Berman Board Room
Monday and Tuesday: Berman Board Room II

Schedule of the Third Executive Doctoral Cohort 2013–2015

During the first two years, students enroll in two courses per semester. One of these courses consists of two seminars, which last two days and meet on Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:30 p.m. and Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Between seminar sessions, students use online-learning technology to continue their class work. The second course is taken online.

The Sunday–Monday seminars for the third cohort will take place at the following times on the following dates:

Sunday: 10:00 a.m.–6:30 p.m.

Monday: 8:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m.

Schedule of the Third Executive Doctoral Cohort 2013–2015



Fall 2013

Spring 2014

Seminar Style

Visions of Jewish Education

EDU 9547

Dr. Sarah Tauber

October 20–21, 2013    (K504)

December 8–9, 2013 (Seminar Room)


Practioner Research in Jewish Education

EDU 8620

Dr. Aryeh Davidson

January 26–27, 2014 (Seminar Room)

         March 9–10, 2014         (K504)

Online Learning

Empirical Research

EDU 8112D

Dr. Shira Epstein

The History of American Jewish Education

EDU 9039D

Dr. Jonathan Krasner












Fall 2014

Spring 2015

Seminar Style

Jewish Identity

EDU 8324

Dr. Aryeh Davidson

September 14–15, 2014

November 2–3, 2014

Executive Leadership for Nonprofit Organizations: Theory and Practice

EDU 8610

Dr. Susan Shevitz

January 25–26, 2015

March 15–16, 2015

Online Learning

Ethnographic Methods in Jewish Education

EDU 8548D

Dr . Abigail Uhrman

Doctoral Seminar 

EDU 9506D

Dr. Barry Holtz


If you wish to stay at JTS dormitories during the weekend seminars, please contact the Facilities Department at (212) 678-8095 to make any arrangements for your stay at JTS.

Retreat for Cohort Three

A three-day, 3-credit retreat will occur at the end of the second year for the third cohort.

Dates: October 12–14, 2015

Transfer Credit
A student may transfer credits for graduate-level courses taken at other institutions of higher learning with the permission of the academic advisor. They must submit an official transcript with complete course descriptions to The Davidson School Admissions Office, which will consult with the appropriate area of the faculty. Credits counted toward another academic degree will not be considered. No credit will be accepted for transfer from courses in which a grade lower than B was earned.

  • Students may transfer up to 15 appropriate, relevant graduate credits from any recognized academic institution of higher learning.
  • In addition, students may transfer up to 27 appropriate and relevant credits from Teachers College, Columbia University; American Jewish University; and Union Theological Seminary.

First-Year Review
The candidacy of all first-year doctoral students will be reviewed during their second semester. The doctoral committee and the dean will review the progress the student has made to date and assess the student's potential to complete the degree.

Program Plan Development

In developing the program plan, courses are selected in consultation with the academic advisor according to each student's level and individual needs.

  • Hebrew requirements will be assessed on a case-by-case basis with the academic advisor
  • Judaica (15 credits)—Students are required to take at least five advanced graduate-level courses in Judaica beyond the master's degree
  • Education (27 credits)—Students are required to take a total of 27 credits in education and related fields
  • Research Methods (12 credits)—Doctoral students are expected to attain competence in understanding and conducting research through the completion of three semester research cycles and one semester of a proposal writing class
  • Electives (9 credits)
  • Courses offered during Summer Sessions may be used to fulfill program requirements. For information and application forms, contact the Summer Sessions Office at (212) 678-8886.

See the EdD course grid (PDF).

Policy on Qualifying Papers
In light of the particular needs of the executive doctoral students, the faculty has developed the following policy in regard to the qualifying papers:

Executive doctoral students will focus their qualifying papers directly on areas related to their research interests, pointed toward their future dissertations.

With faculty advice, students will create two to four reading lists in the relevant research areas. The number of areas and the specific areas themselves will be determined under the guidance of the faculty committee. By relevant, we mean that students' lists should reflect their research interests and potentially, their dissertation topic. The qualifying papers are designed to assess the students' proficiency in understanding, analyzing, and critiquing research and theory.

Students will then write critical literature reviews for each of those areas and submit all the essays at one time to their faculty committee. The faculty committee will be determined by the faculty and dean. The committee need not be the same as the future dissertation committee, though there is no rule prohibiting that. The committee will evaluate the essays and, following that, a meeting of the candidate and the committee will be convened (in person, if possible or if not, by teleconference) in which the candidate and the committee will discuss the student's work.

These literature reviews should help advance the students' dissertations progress and be able to be incorporated, with revisions, into their dissertations.

See Instructions for Qualifying Paper for Executive Doctoral Students (PDF).

Upon approaching completion of the qualifying paper, the candidate:

  • Formally selects a dissertation advisor from among the faculty members of the Area of Jewish Education and requests approval from the dean;
  • Develops an appropriate dissertation topic and proposal with the guidance of the dissertation advisor;
  • Presents a preliminary version of the proposal; and
  • Presents the written proposal to the dissertation committee at a hearing that is scheduled after the dissertation advisor approves the written proposal.

The dissertation is written under the direct guidance of the candidate's dissertation advisor and a second member of the faculty, selected by the advisor and the student with the approval of the dean. The committee will consist of at least five members. In most cases, the dissertation committee includes the same individuals who were on the proposal hearing committee, but in certain cases changes in the makeup of the final dissertation committee can be made. The dissertation committee includes two "outside" readers—one from another institution and one from a different area (e.g., Talmud and Rabbinics, Jewish History, etc.) at JTS. The committee will be selected by the dean, the advisor, and the student.

Proposal Hearing
The proposal is presented to the dissertation committee. Doctoral students in the school may be invited as observers. Committee members must receive copies of the proposal at least two weeks before the committee hearing. After the hearing, the student will receive written notice as to whether the proposal is accepted or rejected, along with a summary of the issues that the committee suggests the student address. A copy of the letter must be filed with the dean. After the proposal has been vetted, two final copies are to be given to The Davidson School Office; one is to be kept in the student's file, and the other is to be kept in the communal proposal bank.

Scheduling the Hearing, Advanced Seminar, and Defense
After approval by the advisor and the second reader, a defense is scheduled through the Office of the Dean. A student must apply for permission to defend the dissertation during the registration period of the semester in which he or she plans to defend. Copies of the approved dissertation must be submitted to the Office of The Davidson School for distribution to the members of the committee at least four weeks before the defense.

The dissertation committee may approve the dissertation as submitted, accept it with minor or major revisions, or reject it. If major revisions are required, a subcommittee will be appointed by the dissertation committee chair, in consultation with the dean, to review the revised dissertation. Rejection of a dissertation automatically terminates the student's participation in the program.

After final approval by the dissertation committee or the subcommittee, the dissertation shall be prepared in final form for deposit at least six weeks before commencement. Guidelines for the preparation and deposit of doctoral dissertations are available in The Davidson School Office.

Special Registration Categories

Students who are not taking courses are required to register for one of the following categories until the resumption of course work, the completion of all other degree requirements, graduation, or official withdrawal from JTS.

Leave of Absence
Matriculated students in good standing who wish to discontinue studies for one or more semesters may register for a leave of absence. A student must obtain written permission from the dean of the school. That permission, along with completion of the registration process and payment of appropriate fees, must be completed for each semester of a student's leave of absence. Consult the individual school sections for limitations on leaves of absence.

Extended Residence

Students in the MA and DHL programs of The Graduate School and The Davidson School, or the MSM (who have already received the diploma of hazzan) and DSM programs of the College of Jewish Music who have finished all course work but have other requirements (such as examinations, theses, dissertations) to complete must register for this category.

Students in the PhD and EdD programs who have finished all course work but have not yet completed all comprehensive and language examinations must register for this category.

Matriculation and Facilities

Students in the PhD and EdD programs who have finished all course work and completed all other requirements except for the dissertation must register for this category.

Defense Semester

Students in the PhD and EdD programs who plan to defend their dissertations must register for this category.

Online Learning Continuous Registration

Online Learning students who are unable to take courses due to course availability issues must register as Continuous Registration to maintain their status as current students. Continuous registration for Online Learning students must be approved by a dean of The Davidson School.

Academic Standards


Regular attendance is expected. Instructors shall have the right to stipulate attendance requirements and penalties that may be incurred as a result of failure to comply with these requirements, provided that students are informed within the first two weeks of the semester.


The grading system is as follows: A, excellent; B, good; C, fair; D, poor; F, fail. No credit will be given for grades of C- or lower.

Once a grade has been received in the Office of the Registrar, it may be changed by the course instructor only upon written application from the instructor to the dean of the school. The dean's approval is required.

Full-time graduate students are permitted to take one course per year with a grade of Pass/Fail, with the permission of the area or program advisor.


The grade R signifies that the student has attended classes and completed all course work except for the final exam and/or paper. Students must notify the Office of the Registrar, in writing, by the date stipulated in the Academic Calendar of their intention to audit. Failure to do so will mean that the course is being taken for credit. No credit will be given for courses taken for the grade R; such courses will not count toward fulfilling the requirements for the degree. Students cannot audit online courses.


With the permission of their advisor, students may withdraw from a course by the date listed in the Academic Calendar. Students are responsible for tuition payment for courses withdrawn past the deadline. The letter W will appear on the transcript in such cases. Students who discontinue attendance in a course and who fail to withdraw formally within the designated period will receive the appropriate alternate letter grade. Fellowship money does not cover these courses.

The Davidson School's Academic Probation Policy

An EdD student who receives a grade lower than B will be placed on academic probation the following semester. To be restored to good standing, the student must register for the next semester and may neither receive a grade lower than B nor take an Incomplete (INC) during the semester of probation. Failure to meet this standard will constitute grounds for dismissal. The student shall have the right to appeal in accordance with the Student Disciplinary Procedures, available in the Office of the Registrar. No student will be permitted more than one semester of probation toward the degree.


A student who, for compelling reasons, finds it necessary to postpone the submission of required course work may petition for the grade of Incomplete (INC). The student must obtain a Request for Incomplete Form from the Office of the Registrar. This form must contain all information requested, including a description of the work to be completed and the due date, which cannot be later than the date specified in the Academic Calendar. The form must be signed by the student, instructor, and dean or academic advisor. The form must be returned to the Office of the Registrar. The last day to request an Incomplete and submit the form is indicated in the Academic Calendar.

All outstanding course work must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar by the date specified in the Academic Calendar. Generally, this date is six weeks from the end of the final examination period.

The Office of the Registrar shall record that work has been submitted and provide a written receipt to the student for the work received. The Office of the Registrar will transmit the completed work to the instructor. No work should be sent or given directly to the instructor by the student. The student is advised to retain a copy of all work submitted to the Office of the Registrar.

The grade of INC shall remain on the student's transcript until a grade has been submitted by the instructor.

If a student fails to submit the outstanding work to the Office of the Registrar by the specified due date, the grade of INC will be converted to the alternate letter grade previously submitted by the instructor. This alternate grade reflects the instructor's assessment of a student's performance, taking into account the fact that work is missing. Students should be aware that the missing work may have been counted as an F (or 0) in the computation of the final grade for the course.

In special circumstances, the dean has the authority to grant an extension for the submission of overdue work as long as it is agreeable to the instructor. This extension must be sent in writing by the dean to the Office of the Registrar.

Students may not request an INC for any course during the semester of their graduation.

Absence from Final Examinations

A student who, because of illness or personal emergency, cannot be present for a scheduled final examination must inform the Office of the Registrar as soon as possible to indicate the reasons for the absence. The Office of the Registrar will inform the instructor and the dean of the student's absence. The student must arrange with the instructor for a makeup examination if the student cannot be present for the regularly scheduled makeup examination day. The instructor will inform the Office of the Registrar of the arrangement and provide the office with the exam so that it can be given to the student.

Students may not request Incompletes in advance for an in-class final examination. The student must take the makeup examination as soon as possible, but no later than the date indicated in the Academic Calendar governing the completion of outstanding work.

Leave of Absence

Students who, for compelling reasons, are unable to take courses or continue with appropriate academic progress in a particular semester may request a leave of absence from the dean and must register for a leave of absence each semester until they resume their studies.

MA students may generally not be granted a leave of absence for more than one semester; doctoral students, for not more than two semesters. During the period of leave, a student may not take an examination, written or oral; be advised by the academic advisor; or submit any part of an essay or dissertation required for the completion of a degree.

Funding for the Executive Doctoral Program is available to North American residents only. Students in the Executive Doctoral Program receive a partial tuition fellowship for courses taken only at JTS (excluding fees, special tuition fees, health insurance, late fees, penalties, etc.), including additional JTS summer-school courses within the guidelines approved by the Office of the Dean. Grant money does not cover tuition for courses taken outside of JTS. If a student needs more time for courses, the fellowship may be renewed for a total of five years by advisement and with the Office of the Dean's permission, providing the student is in good standing (see Academic Standards).