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Rural and Diverse Education EdD Doctorate Program

Southern Arkansas University is now approved to begin offering its first doctoral-level degree according to a recent decision by its regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission.

SAU’s first cohort of doctoral students will be admitted for Fall 2021 to pursue the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership.

Admitting first class for Fall 2021
100% online
3.5 years to complete program

“To be the first university south of Little Rock to offer a doctorate through a College of Education is a responsibility we take very seriously. We are excited to be providing the opportunity for an advanced, terminal degree to equip our educational and community leaders for the future.”

Dr. Trey Berry
President, SAU

About the program

The launch of the Ed.D. in Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership comes at a critical time for Arkansas and for rural America. Educators and community leaders who serve rural and diverse communities face sharply changing demographics, reduced populations, and economic upheaval as industries relocate and rural manufacturing continues to decline. These challenges affect schools and students at every educational level from preschool to graduate school, as well as the community organizations that serve them.

The newly approved SAU Ed.D. program provides advanced training in research and practice for professionals holding or seeking leadership positions in rural schools, colleges and universities, and community and government agencies.

Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership Ed.D. Plan of Study

With a unique lens focused toward the needs of rural and diverse schools and communities, the curriculum is intended for those who serve, and will serve, in leadership roles in education-related professions. 

Together, learners will grow in understanding and application of theory, research and leadership practice across educational settings including K-12, community colleges, universities, and community organizations.


Foundational Courses24
Focus Area Courses15
Elective Courses06
Comprehensive Exam03
Total Credit Hours60
Foundation Courses
EDFN 7XX3Introduction to Doctoral Studies
EDFN 7XX3Doctoral Research Foundations
EDFN 7103Quantitative Research Methods
EDFN 7143Applied Data Analysis
EDFN 7183Qualitative Research Methods
EDFN 7123Educational Law and Accountability
EDFN 7163Ethical Leadership in Diverse and Rural Communities
EDFN 7193Organizational Development, Evaluation, and Theory
Total = 24 credit hours
Focus Courses
Educational Leadership Focus (K-12):
EDAS 7183Educational Leadership in Rural and Diverse Communities
EDAS 7113Strategic School Financing in Rural and Diverse Settings
EDAS 7123The Superintendency
EDAS 7173Administration and Assessment of Curricular Programs
EDAS 7143Management of Human Resources
Higher Education Administration/Community Focus:
HECL 7133Advanced Leadership and Development in Diverse and Rural Communities
HECL 7113Fiscal Management of Educational and Community Agencies
HECL 7153Inclusive Leadership: Leading Effectively Across Differences
HECL 7173Planning Programs for Adults Learners
HECL 7183Contemporary Issues in Leadership
Total = 15 credit hours
Required 6 hours – Select 2 from 6000/7000 Level Courses
AGRI 6063Advanced Leadership for Agricultural Professionals
COUN 6853Student Affairs Theory and Practice
COUN 6873Organization and Administration of Student Affairs Services
HALE 6443The College Student
HALE 6393  Post-Secondary Teaching
HALE 6423Special Problems in Adult Education
HALE 6453  The Community College
ID 6063  Issues and Trends in Instructional Design and Technology
KINE 6323  Sport Administration
PA 6033  Rural Politics
PA 6043Legal Issues in Public Administration
PA 6263Program Evaluation
SPED 6013Administration and Supervision of Special Education Programs
Total = 6 credit hours
Comprehensive Exam
EDFN 7XX3Comprehensive Exams
Total = 3 credit hours
DIS 7903Advanced Research Methods and Design
DIS 7993Dissertation
DIS 7993Dissertation
DIS 7993Dissertation
Total = 12 credit hours

Frequently Asked Questions

When will full program details be available?

On September 1, 2020, SAU will update the website with up to date program information. 

When will the Ed.D begin accepting applications?

The program will begin receiving online applications on November 1, 2020. The deadline for applications is February 1, 2021.

How many students will be in the first Ed.D. cohort?

Cohort size will likely be between 18-22 students. Cohort members will have shared learning experiences throughout the program. 

Will SAU System Faculty/Staff Tuition Waivers be accepted for this program?

Tuition waivers will not be accepted for SAU System employees, their spouse, or their dependent children.

SAU is among the universities in the nation.
$ 100
Average savings per semester compared to graduate tuition in neighboring states

Program Contact

Katherine Simms Berry, Ed.D.
Southern Arkansas University
Interim Director, Ed.D. Program
College of Education
Director, SAU+VISTA
Advancement & Student Affairs
870-235-4379 (office)
Request more information
Southern Arkansas University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. All Rights Reserved.
100 E. University, Magnolia, Arkansas 71753-5000 Telephone: (870) 235-4000