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 welcomed the first doctoral cohort in Fall 2021 and currently hosts nearly 50 doctoral students. Our small program size creates an individualized learning opportunity for professional educators serving students across the educational continuum.

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

$400 per credit hour

The application process for the Ed.D. Fall 2023 Cohort has been extended until 11:59 PM on April 1, 2023!

For details, visit our Program Admissions page.

The application process for the Ed.D. Fall 2023 Cohort has been extended until 11:59 PM on April 1, 2023!

For details, visit our Program Admissions page.

Entering its second year, welcoming the first student residing outside the United States, and adding students from Texas and Oklahoma, SAU’s Doctor of Education in Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership grows to include 48 students from 6 states and 2 countries. Alongside 24 returning students who progressed into their second year of doctoral study, 24 students are enrolled in the new 2022 Cohort.

“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. 

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 2022)

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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