Executive Doctoral Program

The William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education's Executive Doctoral Program (EdD) offers a 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, approved by the New York State Board of Education, 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 their research interest before applying. For those candidates who, at this point, cannot identify an area of research, an MA program might be suitable.

• Previous graduate-level work (e.g. 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.

Funding for the Executive Doctoral Program is available to North American residents only. Students in the Executive Doctoral Program receive a generous partial tuition fellowship for courses taken only at JTS (excluding fees, special tuition fees, health insurance, late fees, penalties, etc.), including additional JTS Summer Sessions 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).

See Academic Standards for The Davidson School

Admissions Procedures

The Davidson School will accept and review applications for admission to the fifth cohort until January 5, 2017. 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.

Apply online.

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 and Timeline
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 each semester. The additional courses participants take, timing of the qualifying paper, writing of the dissertation proposal, the research, and the writing of the dissertation will be decided in consultation with the advisor.

The length of the program depends on how many credits students take, but in general, students have seven years from the date of admission to complete the program, including writing the dissertation. To ensure that participants graduate in time, participants should plan to complete their qualification paper by the end of the semester following the semester in which they took their last course. Participants are expected to complete their proposal by the following semester, usually the fall semester of the fourth or the fifth year and present the proposal by the spring of that year. Participants should allocate two years following the proposal defense for research and the writing of 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.

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.

Course of Study
Retreat for Cohort Three

A three-day, 3-credit retreat will occur at the end of the second year for the third cohort.
November 1-3, 2015 (Berman Board Room)
November 1-2: 9:00 a.m.-Noon and 1:00-4:00 p.m.
November 3: 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Schedule of the Fourth Executive Doctoral Cohort 2015-2017

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.



Fall 2015

Spring 2016

Seminar Style

Visions of Jewish Education

EDU 9547

October 11-12, 2015 (Berman Board Room) 

December 13-14, 2015 (Berman Board Room)

Dr. Barry Holtz

Practitioner Research in Jewish Education

EDU 8548

January 31-February 1, 2016 (K504 Segal Seminar Room)

March 6-7, 2016 (K504 Segal Seminar Room)

Dr. Meredith Katz  

Online Learning

Empirical Research

EDU 8112D

Dr. Shira Epstein 

The History of American Jewish Education

EDU 9039D

Dr. Jonathan Krasner




Fall 2016

Spring 2017

Seminar Style

Jewish Identity

EDU 8324

September 11-12, 2016

November 6-7, 2016

Executive Leadership for Nonprofit Organizations: Theory and Practice

EDU 8610

January 22-23, 2017

March 14-15, 2017

Online Learning

Ethnographic Methods in Jewish Education

EDU 8548D

Doctoral Seminar 

EDU 9506D

Fall Retreat: November 2-4, 2018 


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

Consortium Agreement 

All matriculated students in The Davidson School may take courses offered through the consortium agreement with Teachers College Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. Students must receive approval from their advisor, and register for these classes through JTS by filling out the JTS Consortium Registration Form and following these instructions

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. 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)

Proposal Hearing

The proposal is presented to the dissertation committee. 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.

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

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 student, the dean, and the advisor will select the committee.

See Guidelines for Dissertation Proposals (PDF)

See Preparing Your Manuscript for Submission (Including Supplemental Files) (PDF) and How to File Your Dissertation with the Library (PDF) 

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

Once students complete their course work, they must register for Special Registration Categories

See Academic Standards for The Davidson School.