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Doctorate in Education Program Information

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We are pleased to offer you our new Accelerated Executive Doctorate in Educational Leadership. This page will provide you with admission, graduation, and residency requirements. Also included is the curriculum along with course descriptions, to help you better understand our program. The Program Director is Raymond Bandlow, Ph.D. and he can be reached at 877-499-6333 or

Unlike other universities, where almost 60% of doctoral students who complete all the coursework never earn the degree they worked so hard for (Council of Graduate Schools, 2010), at Gwynedd Mercy, our full-time professors and regular part-time faculty of leaders in the field help our students begin the dissertation during the first course, work with them to ensure that they meet benchmarks of progress throughout the program, and are committed to helping them bring the dissertation to approval by the end of the coursework.

In schools, school district offices, and in higher education, there are far too many bright, motivated educators who are A.B.D. (All But Dissertation).  Typically, they have completed their coursework and they passed comprehensive exams. But they are struggling with the final and most important rite of passage; the dissertation.  After coursework is finished, they feel disconnected from the university and from the faculty.  In some cases, their advisor changed jobs or retired.  In others, they found their topic to be unworkable or had to change it for some other reason and start over.  If not successful within the first few years, they tend to give up and never complete it.

We at Gwynedd Mercy University believe it would be unjust and unacceptable to offer a program where most students fail.  In response to the dismal completion rate we see at other universities, we’ve adopted a unique strategy for guiding students to dissertation completion and thus, to graduation-  Raymond Bandlow, Ph.D.

Meet the Faculty

Admission Requirements

About the Residencies

Graduation Requirements

Course Descriptions

            Course Descriptions: Foundation Courses

            Course Descriptions: Directed Study Dissertation Advisement Courses

            Course Descriptions: Leadership in PK-12 Schools and School Districts Concentration

            Course Descriptions: Leadership in Higher Education Concentration

            Course Descriptions: Leadership in Special Education Concentration

            Course Descriptions: Leadership in Educational Nonprofit Organization Concentration


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Admission Requirements

  • A master’s degree in a field related to the student’s preferred area of concentration from an accredited institution, or comparable accreditation, with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above. 
  • Official graduate and undergraduate transcripts.
  • Satisfactory achievement on the Graduate Record Examination or Miller Analogy Test (waived for applicants with a graduate GPA of 3.5 or greater).
  • A resume showing professional experience. A minimum of three years’ relevant experience is recommended.
  • Three letters of reference from persons in leadership roles in the applicant’s chosen area of concentration attesting that the applicant has the ability to engage in studies at the doctoral level and to conduct research.
  • A personal interview with a member of the graduate faculty representing the applicant’s preferred area of concentration. For applicants where distance is a factor, an electronic medium may be utilized for the interview.
  •  A written statement of professional goals and topic of research interest.
  • A 750-1500 word sample of the applicant’s writing abilities.
  • Evidence that non-U.S. applicants have received a minimum score of 550 (written), 213 (computer), or 79 (internet) on the TOEFL examination.

Applicants who cannot meet one or more of the above requirements are encouraged to contact the Program Director for a review of qualifications. Upon acceptance into the program, the doctoral student must obtain the following clearances: Child Abuse Clearance, Criminal Background Check, Federal Criminal History.

A maximum of six (6) credit hours may be transferred into the program provided that a) courses transferred are comparable to Gwynedd Mercy University course requirements and b) credits were earned in a doctoral program accredited as noted above. Students seeking an exception to this limitation may request a review by the Program Director and Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.


About the Residencies

The residencies are an integral part of the doctoral program.  They are designed to build community among students and faculty, instill in students the mission and identity of Gwynedd Mercy University, and provide a shared international experience.

Residency I is a weekend in mid-September for Cohort 1 and mid-February for Cohort II.  It will run from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, where students complete most of the first class.  This will be held at our main campus in Gwynedd Valley, PA. All meals will be provided but you are on your own for lodging (or staying at home).

Residency II is a full week, running from Sunday night through Friday afternoon, in the following summer.  This class will be held at our main campus in Gwynedd Valley, PA. Students will complete most of the class during that week.  All meals and lodging (staying in a dorm on campus) are included in the tuition.

Residency III is the most exciting.  This is a week in an international location (likely Limerick, Ireland for Cohort 1).  Taking place in late June or July of the third year, the cost of airfare, lodging, meals, program, and some cultural experiences are all included in tuition.  Our tentative plans are to participate in an international forum held in Limerick, with scholars from all over the world, at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Republic of Ireland.


Graduation Requirements: Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership

  1.  Successful completion of all coursework with a G.P.A. of no less than 3.5 in a 4 point scale.
  2. Successful completion of a comprehensive examination, to be administered after completion of all coursework except Dissertation Advisement III and Dissertation Advisement IV.
  3. Acceptance of a Dissertation by the student’s Dissertation Committee.


Course Descriptions


Course Descriptions: Foundation Courses

Educational Policy in Research and Practice in the U.S. - An analysis of the delivery of educational services in the U.S., including the role of the federal government, state departments of education, intermediate education units, local school districts, charter schools, and private schools, and the underlying influences that drive them.

Organizational Research and Theory Development - An in-depth examination of the research relating to organizational behavior, the development of theories of administration, and the applications of theory in educational institutions.

Statistical Analysis, Methods, and Research - An introduction to quantitative research methods, non-experimental designs, and the analysis of large-scale longitudinal datasets.  The logic of inferential statistics and the application of basic analytic techniques are explored as the basis for research related to education policy. Prior knowledge of statistics or quantitative methods is not required.                  

Cross-Cultural Perspectives and Educational Leadership - An analysis of the opportunities and challenges facing leaders in the diverse cultures of communities and school organizations.  Theories of leadership in cultural contexts reviewed.

The Ethics of Educational Leadership and Policy - An exploration of ethical frameworks, principles, and theories as they apply to the study and practice of leadership. Stewardship in educational governance is addressed from the perspective of ethical decision-making.

Equity, Equality, and Equal Opportunity - An analysis of access to educational opportunity through the lens of justice and ethics, and the balance and contradictions of equity and equality. Forecasting future trends in law and practice.

Advanced Statistical Analysis, Quantitative and Qualitative Research - An in-depth examination of research and measurement, analysis of experimental data, and qualitative designs.  Implications of mixed method research are considered.

Technology, Data, and Program Evaluation - Future-focused exploration of learning technology, gathering and using data to drive instructional improvement, and evaluation of educational programs.

Global Educational Policy and Practice - A review of global issues in education policy and practice with a focus on how schools are organized, what is taught, how achievement is measured, and the role of cultural context, with an emphasis on global competition.


Course Descriptions: Directed Study Dissertation Advisement Courses

Dissertation Advisement I - An introduction to the dissertation, defining the dissertation, research goals, research guiding questions, and testing models. Students will select a topic, construct a problem statement, speak to theories and gaps in theories, develop questions to be answered, and frame a model or theory to be tested or applied.

Dissertation Advisement II - An examination of the literature, research, and theoretical frameworks related to the topic, including organizing literature and research into relevant categories or sub-topics to support the study.

Dissertation Advisement III - Developing a comprehensive description of the research approach used for the study, including research-guiding questions, null hypotheses, research design, selection of subjects for study, data collection, and data analysis.

Dissertation Advisement IV - Compiling and analyzing data, review of participants or materials used, answering research guiding questions, reflecting on the results, constructing findings and conclusions, and noting implications for research and practice.

Dissertation Advisement V: Dissertation Continuation - Students who complete the program except for the dissertation shall enroll in a continuation course with access to university facilities, resources, and faculty.


Course Descriptions: Leadership in PK-12 Schools and School Districts Concentration

The Superintendency - An analysis of the role of the superintendent, including boardsmanship, instructional leadership, human resources management, financial stewardship, and community organizing.

School Boards and School District Governance - Considerations of school boardsmanship, internal and external governance, and structures in K-12 education. The course explores analysis the politics of school district governance and the leadership practices necessary to effectively lead in complex relationships.

Development and Management of Special Education - Analysis of the research and theory underlying educational programs for diverse learners, evaluation of effective practices, and a review of the relationship between special education programs and general education. Emphasis on leadership for creating and sustaining an inclusive environment for all children.

Transformational Leadership, Supervision, and School Turn-Around - The application of theory and experience to school and school district improvement, including effectively supervising instruction, managing internal and external influences, and changing the culture of schools. 

Labor Relations and Fiscal Management - Personnel administration, contract administration, collective bargaining, and fiscal management, including the economics of education.


Course Descriptions: Leadership in Higher Education Concentration

Leadership and Administration of Higher Education - An analysis of the organization structure and function of higher education, including an examination of academic administration, student services, financial planning, and institutional advancement.

Legal Issues in Higher Education - An analysis of legal principles and legislation framing higher education, focusing on regulation, personnel, property, programs, and finance.

Finance and Fiscal Policy in Higher Education - Accounting principles and policy, record-keeping, financial reporting, budgeting and planning models, and fiscal management.

Enrollment Management in Higher Education - An analysis of current practices and future trends in the recruitment and retention of students, with consideration of financial aid requirements and regulations.

Future-Focused Trends and Innovations in Higher Education - An exploration of research models for continuous improvement, transforming higher education, leadership for strategic change, and models for delivering academic programs and services.


Course Descriptions: Leadership in Special Education Concentration

Designing Interventions and Assessing Outcomes - A focus on special education processes, including the development of intervention programs and services.  Also addressed will be student screening, IEP development, monitoring progress, and assessing students and programs.

School Law and Policy in Special Education - Special education law, policy, and regulation are studied as the framework for providing services for all students, with particular consideration of current and predicted trends in law affecting children with disabilities.

Development and Management of Special Education - Analysis of the research and theory underlying educational programs for diverse learners, evaluation of effective practices, and a review of the relationship between special education programs and general education. Emphasis on leadership for creating and sustaining an inclusive environment for all children.

Neuroscience of Learning - A re-examination of programs and services for diverse learners from the viewpoint of cognitive neuroscience of learning. Viewing learning as essentially a process of neurological change, neurological research about learning offers practitioners and policy-makers insights and perspectives to change educational practice.

Future-Focused Trends and Innovations for Educating Diverse Learners - An examination of current and emerging trends and issues in special education within the K-12 setting. Students will pursue their research interests within a framework of developing trends in law and innovative practice.


Course Descriptions: Leadership in Educational Nonprofit Organization Concentration

Nonprofit Governance, Boardsmanship, and Building Capacity - Successful nonprofits develop effective boards and develop capacity in personnel. This course analyzes and distills current perspectives according to four different models; the Policy Governance model, the Entrepreneurial model, the Constituency model, and the Emergent Cellular model, evaluating the positive and negative features of each and exploring new ways of framing management in turbulent times.

Nonprofit Marketing, Public Policy, and Advocacy - As nonprofits play an increasingly vital role in the development and implementation of public policy to promote an informed, healthy, and strong democratic society, their impact is enhanced by promoting their mission and developing resources. This course analyzes nonprofit growth, development, and effectiveness in public policy-making through media and marketing.

Strategic Fund Development and Sustainability - In-depth analysis of organizational effectiveness, comprehensive strategic planning, visioning, capital and operational campaigning, and organization, tools and resources for fund-raising planning. Particular attention is paid to funding sustainability.                                                         

Legal Issues in Nonprofits and Public Policy - Established nonprofits and start-ups alike are challenged by profound legal issues and public policy trends.  This course explores and synthesizes the issues related to lobbying and political campaigning, tax and accounting compliance, personnel and volunteers, privacy and data security, and licensing and intellectual property.

Future-Focused Trends and Innovations in Educational Nonprofits - Examining continuous innovation in nonprofits from the perspective of power and politics, this course provides an analysis of power dynamics and fostering a culture of innovation. Builds a framework to guide future research into nonprofit innovation and explores practical tools for facilitating continuous evolution and innovation.


Meet the Faculty

Dr. Raymond Bandlow is Associate Professor, Gwynedd Mercy University, and Director, Educational Leadership.  He leads the Ed.D. program.  A former Superintendent of Schools in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois, he was Senior Project Manager for a National Academy of Sciences outreach initiative. (Ph.D., The University of Michigan)

Dr. John Batchelor directs field services for Gwynedd Mercy University. The former Director of Pupil Services for Colonial School District, he will serve as Dissertation Advisor.  (Ed.D., Temple University)

Dr. Danielle Budenz, Assistant Professor, Gwynedd Mercy University, is Director, School Counseling Program. Formerly Director of Student Services for the Manheim Central School District, she will teach in the PK-12 Schools and School Districts concentration and Foundation courses in research and global education. (Ed.D., Widener University)

Dr. Vincent Cotter is the former Superintendent of the Colonial School District.  He will teach in the PK-12 Schools and School Districts concentration. (Ed.D., Temple University)

Dr. Carol Etlen is Assistant Professor, Gwynedd Mercy University, and Director, Special Education Program. She is a former Special Education Supervisor for the Abington School District and Grant Reviewer for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  She will lead the Special Education area of concentration. (Ed.D., Arcadia University)

Dr. Marykay Feeley is Superintendent of the Lower Moreland Township School District.  She will teach Foundation courses and in the PK-12 Schools and School Districts concentration. 

Dr. Marianne Kaemmer is a former Principal in the Abington School District. She will teach in the area of human resources. (Ed.D., Lehigh University)

Dr. So Young Kang is a former Professor of Education at Westminster College who will teach Foundation courses in cross-cultural and global education. (Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Dr. Kate Kieres is Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Palisades School District.  She will teach Foundation classes and classes in the PK-12 Schools and School Districts concentration.  (Ed.D., Seton Hall University).

Dr. Concetta Lupo is a Principal and Director of Federal Programs for the Wissahickon School District.  She will teach statistical analysis and research in Foundations courses.  (Ed.D., Capella University)

Dr. Sandra Mangano is Dean, School of Education, Gwynedd Mercy University, and was Assistant Superintendent for the Radnor Township School District.  She will teach in the PK-12 Schools and School Districts concentration.  (Ed.D., Temple University)

Dr. Christopher Marchese is Superintendent of the Avon Grove School District. He will teach in the PK-12 Schools and School Districts concentration, particularly in the superintendency.  (Ed.D., Immaculata University)

Dr. Michael McKenna is a Principal in the Colonial School District.  He will teach in the ethics of leadership and research courses. (Ph.D., Temple University)

Dr. Honour Moore is Interim Dean, School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Gwynedd Mercy University, and former Associate Vice President for Holy Family University.  She will teach in the Higher Education concentration. (Ed.D., Nova Southeastern University)

Dr. Melissa Reed, Assistant Professor, Gwynedd Mercy University, is Director, Master Teacher Program.  She will teach foundation courses in cultural perspectives and transformational leadership.  (Ed.D., Walden University)

Dr. Maryjane Richmond is Assistant Superintendent for the Lower Moreland Township School District.  She will teach Foundation courses and in the PK-12 Schools and School Districts concentration.  (Ed.D., Immaculata University)

Dr. Monica Walsh, Assistant Professor, Gwynedd Mercy University, is a former Catholic school educator, and former Professional Developer for the Philadelphia Archdiocese.  She will teach in the field of instruction, curriculum, and assessment. (Ed.D., Neumann University)

Dr. David Weidner is a consultant in international education who has led programs for the United Kingdom’s Department of Education and the American Council on Education (ACE).  He will lead the Nonprofit Organization concentration and teach Foundation courses. (Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University)