Enroll in GMercyU's ABD completion program (EdD)

Online Accelerated Executive Doctorate of Education (ABD)

Prepare for an Advanced Career in Research, Policy Analysis, or School Administration - Online

You have the experience. You’ve completed the coursework in a doctoral program. But, you haven’t completed your dissertation. Now, you have a path to leave your ABD (All But Dissertation) status behind with Gwynedd Mercy University. Our innovative Accelerated Executive Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership ABD completion program offers qualified candidates with significant educational leadership the opportunity to finish developing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to earn your EdD. 

The GMercyU Difference

Our Online Accelerated ABD Doctorate Completion Program will help you lead in:

  • U.S. and international schools
  • School districts
  • Colleges and universities
  • Educational policy organizations
  • Government and nonprofit organizations that support education

In 18 months, our rigorous course of studies will build on your previous experience with the global outlook, research skills, policy analysis capabilities, and practical executive leadership abilities you need to lead and transform educational institutions to meet the needs of all learners. 

You can continue developing your dissertation in one of three areas of interest:

  • Leadership in PreK-12 Schools and School Districts (superintendent letter of eligibility courses available)
  • Leadership in Higher Education
  • Leadership in Special Education (special education supervisory certification available)

Most of your coursework for the Accelerated Executive EdD program takes place online. You will also perform field research, attend three residencies (two at our Gwynedd Valley campus and one international) and, depending on your interest area, complete practicum experiences. 

From the very beginning, you’ll be matched with a faculty advisor who will meet with you in regular dissertation advisement sessions. With GMercyU, there’s no reason to wait any longer—trade up from ABD to EdD and take your place among the next generation of education leaders.

What You Will Learn - Accelerated Executive Doctorate of Education ABD Completion Program

As a GMercyU graduate, you will be able to:

  • Articulate an educational organization’s mission, goals, and guiding principles that distinguish the organization from others
  • Understand the foundational base of organizational theory and demonstrate the ability to bridge theory and practice
  • Given scenarios of conflict, choose ethical courses of action, consistent with Gospel values
  • Synthesize and analyze data to reveal relations and causality and convert raw data into actionable information
  • View problems and challenges through the lens of a scientist , seeking evidence-based conclusions
  • Practice and model steward leadership in transforming organizations to better serve all constituents
  • Demonstrate facility in the application of technology to solve problems, analyze and synthesize data, and manage information

Personal Support for ABD Students from Day One

GMercyU faculty members understand the challenges of doctoral education. That’s why they’ve helped us develop a program specifically for ABD students like you. Right away, you’ll join a small cohort of classmates and be matched with a faculty advisor. Each semester, you’ll take supervised dissertation preparation courses that keep your research and writing on track. Day in and day out, you’ll have the support you need to pursue research that improves education for students and the educators who serve them. 

After graduation, you’ll join our extensive network of alumni. The colleagues, contacts, and friends you meet will inspire you to continue to discover the Next.

Admission Requirements – Doctorate of Education ABD Completion Program

To qualify for admission to our EdD in Educational Leadership, you must provide:

  • Proof of A.B.D. or Advanced to Doctoral Candidacy status from a regionally accredited institution
  • A portfolio of coursework, scholarship, and career evidence for the Prior Learning Assessment
  • Official graduate transcripts
  • A resume showing professional experience and academic scholarship
  • Three letters of reference from persons in leadership roles in your chosen area of concentration attesting that you have 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 (in person or via electronic means, if distance is a factor) 
  • Evidence that you have received a minimum score of 550 (written), 213 (computer), or 79 (internet) on the TOEFL examination if English is not your first language.

Applicants who cannot meet one or more of the above requirements are encouraged to contact the Program Director for a review of qualifications. After enrollment, you will also need to obtain a Child Abuse Clearance, Criminal Background Check, and Federal Criminal History .


You must complete at least 27 credit hours of coursework and practicum experience at Gwynedd Mercy University while completing your EdD with us. We will carry out a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) before your program begins and develop tailored coursework and practicum experiences that respect your previous experiences.

The credit value of your practicum may vary between 3-6 credits depending upon the breadth and depth of your prior learning. In all, your program will take no more than 18 months to complete.
Required courses for all ABD completion students include:

EDU 805 The Ethics of Educational Leadership and Policy
EDU 807 Advanced Statistical Analysis, Quantitative and Qualitative Research 
EDU 811, 812, 813, 814 Dissertation Advisement I, II, III and IV

In addition, you must take three courses in your concentration area:

Leadership in PreK—12 Schools and School Districts

EDU 821 The Superintendency
EDU 824 Transformational Leadership, Supervision and School Turn-Around
EDU 828 Practicum I 
EDU 829 Practicum II

If you wish to become eligible for a Superintendent Letter of Eligibility, the Pennsylvania Department of Education requires 360 hours of district office practicum.

You may also need to take the following prerequisites:

EDU 571 The Principalship
EDU 574 School Law and Policy Issues
EDU 576 Human Resources and Staff Development

Doctorate in Education: Leadership in Special Education

EDU 841 Designing Interventions and Assessing Outcomes
EDU 845 Foundations in Special Education Practice for School Leaders
EDU 848 Practicum I 
EDU 849 Practicum II

If you wish to obtain Certification as a Supervisor of Special Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education requires 360 hours of central office practicum experience.

Doctorate in Education: Leadership in Higher Education

EDU 831 Leadership and Administration of Higher Education
EDU 835 Future-Focused Trends and Innovation in Higher Education
EDU 838 Practicum in Higher Education Leadership

To review course descriptions, please refer to the graduate catalog (PDF).

Lead in 21st Century Education

Learn more about how you can complete your accelerated doctorate in education with our innovative online ABD completion program. Call 844-707-9064 or  send e-mail to accelerate@gmercyu.edu to contact an admissions counselor. You also can begin your application online now!  

Our Outstanding Faculty

Career Outcomes

What You Can Do With a Doctorate in Educational Leadership

The Accelerated Executive EdD program prepares you for the highest levels of education leadership. The exact nature of the roles you pursue will vary depending on your area of interest and previous experience, but job prospects should be good. 

For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 15% growth in the number of post-secondary education administrators needed over the 2012-2022 period. 

Job titles may include, but are not limited to:

  • Superintendent of schools
  • State board of education official
  • College dean or administrator
  • Education policy analyst