Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

100% online
3.5 years to complete program
Affordable - approximate cost to completion under $27,000

$450 per credit hour

The application process for the Ed.D. Fall 2023 Cohort is CLOSED. Fall 2023 classes begin August 23, 2023.
The application portal for the Ed.D. Fall 2024 Cohort is now open.

“The Ed.D. program at SAU has opened a lot of doors for me both personally and professionally. The faculty do an outstanding job of linking everyone together and creating opportunities for everybody to get to know each other.”

Aaron Duvall
SAU Doctoral Student
CTE Director, Responsive Education Solutions
Little Rock, AR

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. 

Program Focus Areas

  • Teacher Leadership
  • Superintendency Leadership
  • Higher Education & Community Leadership

Southern Arkansas University welcomes the 2023 Cohort into the Doctor of Education in Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership. The 15 new students span three states, all regions of Arkansas, and include teacher leaders, school administrators, higher education professionals, and community leaders. Each student has a unique story and contribution to education.

Capri Salaam, Arkansas’s 2023 Teacher of the Year, is among the new students. Hailing from North Little Rock, Ms. Salaam desires to “enhance my community leadership skills, research pressing issues in higher education, and conceptualize educational solutions for future generations of students.” She selected SAU’s program to join “the cohort of educational professionals with rich experience and diverse perspectives from all over the United States, and supportive faculty members who create a safe space within our academic community.”

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
SAU is among the most affordable universities in the nation.
Approximate cost to completion
($450 per credit hour for Fall 2023)
$ 50000

Program Contact

Angela Stanford, Ed.D., NBCT

Associate Professor of Education
Director, Ed.D. in Rural & Diverse Educational Leadership
870-235-4187 (office)
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100 E. University, Magnolia, Arkansas 71753-5000 Telephone: (870) 235-4000
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The Doctor of Education in Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership will equip graduates to improveeducational and community outcomes in the regions they serve. Many of these communities are ruraland have diverse populations. Because of the historical influence of Southern Arkansas University, SAUis well-prepared to offer this advanced academic program of study focused on understanding the uniqueopportunities, meeting the distinctive challenges, and solving difficult problems found in this region andsimilar regions across America. Graduates of SAU’s Ed.D. in Rural and Diverse Educational Leadershipwill be equipped to bring transformational change to the organizations and institutions they serve.

A cohort learning model in a doctoral program refers to an educational approach where a group of students, often called a cohort, progresses through the program together as a unified and supportive learning community. In this model, the students within the cohort take the same courses together and engage in collaborative projects and discussions. This shared experience allows them to develop a sense of camaraderie, build networks, and benefit from mutual support and encouragement.

The cohort learning model often incorporates a cohort advisor who guides and supports the group throughout the program. This advisor may provide academic guidance, assist with research projects, and help students navigate the program’s requirements. The cohort advisor fosters student collaboration, encourages peer-to-peer learning, and facilitates networking opportunities.

One of the key advantages of the cohort learning model is the opportunity for students to form strong relationships and create a supportive professional network that extends beyond the duration of the doctoral program. The cohort members can engage in discussions, share resources, and provide feedback on each other’s work, enhancing their learning experience and personal development.

Additionally, the cohort model fosters a sense of accountability and motivation. Since students progress through the program together, they often have shared deadlines and milestones, which encourages them to stay on track and complete their coursework in a timely manner. The collaborative nature of the cohort model also promotes a multidisciplinary approach, exposing students to diverse perspectives and enriching their academic experience.

Overall, a cohort learning model in a doctoral program offers a structured and supportive environment for students to engage in deep learning, build professional relationships, and develop skills necessary for their research and future careers.