Southern Arkansas University - the most affordable, fastest growing university in Arkansas

Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

In May of 2020, the Higher Learning Commission approved Southern Arkansas University to begin offering its first doctoral-level degree.

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

100% online
3.5 years to complete program
Affordable - approximate cost to completion under $25,000

$400 per credit hour for Fall 2021

“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.

SAU announces first doctoral program cohort

Hailing from every corner and 23 counties of Arkansas, plus Louisiana, Missouri, and Vermont, Southern Arkansas University announces the first cohort admitted into the Doctor of Education in Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership program. The 32-member cohort includes a wide range of educational practitioners from school superintendents, university leaders, college and university teaching faculty, building and district-level administrators, and highly experienced classroom teachers.

Incoming doctoral students are focused on the opportunities ahead. Christopher Cross, manager of the emerging Office of Multicultural Student Engagement at St. Charles Community College in St. Louis, MO, applied to the program because he “wants to be able to engage, explore, and learn more about rural and diverse leadership in higher education. I’m interested in learning how diverse leaders can impact small, rural communities across the country and provide a more global understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

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.
$ 50000
Approximate cost to completion
($400 per credit hour for Fall 2021)

Program Contact

Katherine Berry, Ed.D.
Associate Professor
Founding Program Director
College of Education
Senior Advisor for Advancement
870-235-4379 (office)
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100 E. University, Magnolia, Arkansas 71753-5000 Telephone: (870) 235-4000