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Doctor of Education in Social Justice Leadership

Rooted in the Jesuit tradition at Santa Clara University, the mission of the Doctor of Education (EdD) in Social Justice Leadership program is to educate and prepare leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion. Our EdD graduates will be leaders who work across a broad spectrum of fields, from schools to universities and nonprofit entities whose focus is to promote the common good as they transform lives, schools, organizations, and communities.

We prepare leaders by cultivating the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to lead complex organizations. Our Jesuit tradition leads us to a set of core values, including “cura personalis” – or care for the whole person, developing men and women for others, centering our actions in social justice and equity, and engaging in a cycle of learning and collaboration, action, and reflection in our work.

The EdD in Social Justice Leadership equips graduates with the 21st-century knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to lead complex organizations with the goal of  building a more humane, just, and sustainable world.


Higher Education Leadership 
Focus is on inssues and complexities related to higher education, with particular attention to building and sustaining effective colleges and universities.

PreK-12 Leadership
Focus is on the specific issues and complexities related to PreK-12 schools.

Social Impact Leadership 
Focus is on the specific issues and complexities related to the communities served by social impact or community-based organizations. 

Santa Clara University’s EdD in Social Justice Leadership is a competitively priced, three-year structured program that supports leaders in their development and professional advancement to lead organizations of mission and purpose. Grounded in the Jesuit educational tradition of ‘cura personalis’ or attention to the whole person, our program is centered on deep mentoring and individualized professional growth. Courses are taught by an outstanding and committed team of teacher-scholars, who bring a combination of practical and research driven understanding of the challenges facing leaders in complex organizations. Graduates join a rich and diverse network of over 5,000 ECP alums in positions of leadership across the Bay Area and beyond.

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, our program is guided by: 

  • The innovative spirit of the Valley, with an emphasis on addressing complex social problems with creativity and commitment
  • A collaborative, inclusive model of leadership that assumes the most transformative ideas come from working together to solve our most pressing problems
  • A belief that our work is better when leaders from different fields come together—so you will form a cohort with aspiring leaders for PreK-12, higher education, and social impact organizations
  • An inquiry-oriented curriculum to assist students in addressing problems of practice in contexts where they work

The program is structured around four themes:

Foundations: Foundational courses provide a grounding for students in the work of the doctoral program and provide core theoretical concepts and frameworks for understanding leadership as a means for working towards social justice.

Leadership Development: Courses in the leadership development sequence focus on further cultivating the knowledge, skills, and dispositions leaders need to effectively lead mission and values-driven organizations. This will include developing their own capacity as a leader who listens and shows a high level of emotional intelligence, learning different theoretical frameworks to think through ethical dilemmas in leadership, as well as deep knowledge of how to lead teams, think strategically, offer a strong vision, and have the financial acumen to enact that vision.

Research and Inquiry as Leadership Tools. The research sequence is designed to support students in developing an ‘inquiry’ stance when it comes to leading organizations: Learning how to ask questions that can inform their work to gather, analyze, and make sense of data to inform decision making and actions. This sequence also includes support for a dissertation project in which students will explore in-depth a problem of practice in their own field.

Developing Expertise in an Area of Concentration. Students specialize in one of three areas: 

PreK-12 Education, Higher Education, or Social Impact organizations. Specialized coursework addressing contemporary issues and thinking relevant to leadership of public, private, and Catholic organizations including public or Catholic school systems; early childhood education; community college; public, private, and Catholic higher educational institutions, and a wide range of social impact organizations—from community and/or faith-based nonprofits to those in the social entrepreneurship sector.



  • Program starts in the Fall and there is one annual admissions cycle 
  • Three-year program assumes students are taking two courses each term (Fall/Winter/Spring quarters) during the academic year and complete courses during the Summer session (five weeks) as well
  • Coursework is predominantly in the evenings, with occasional Saturday or online courses
  • Applicants should already possess an M.A. or extensive graduate coursework; exceptions to this should be discussed with an admissions advisor
Year 1        

Presession - Foundation of Doctoral Studies (1 unit)

Servant Leadership for Mission & Values Driven Organizations (3 units)

Leadership for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (3 units)

Specialization Elective (3 units)

Moral and Ethical Basis of Leadership (3)

Specialization Elective (3)

Communities, Schools, & Critical Social Theory  (3)

Values-Based Leadership Development Plan  (1)

Specialization Elective (3)



Financial Leadership (3)

Specialization Elective (3)


Year 2 

Social Inquiry Methods & Research Collaborations I  (3)

Specialization Elective (3)



Social Inquiry Methods & Research Collaborations II (3)

Human Resource Development (3)  


Social Inquiry Methods & Research Collaborations III  (3)

Specialization Elective (3)


Dissertation Proposal I (3)

Dissertation Proposal II (3)

Year 3

Communities of Inquiry: Dissertation in Practice I (3)

Dissertation Research Supervision (3)

Specialization Elective (3)


Communities of Inquiry: Dissertation in Practice II (3)

Leadership Integration and Vision Statement (3)

Dissertation Research Supervision (3)

Communities of Inquiry: Dissertation in Practice III (3)

Dissertation Research Supervision (3)





  • Students must possess an MA in a related field*
  • 3 to 5 years of work experience
  • All academic transcripts, undergraduate and graduate, 
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation (1 academic, 1 workplace)
  • Curriculum vitae or resume detailing work experience
  • Personal Statement 
    • Explain how your personal and/or academic experiences have contributed to your desire to pursue a Doctorate in Social Justice Leadership at SCU. Also, include what you hope to gain as a result of completing this degree.

      Be sure to identify which of the three areas of specialization you will enroll in: 1) PreK-12 Leadership, 2) Social Impact Leadership 3) Higher Education Leadership.

      Limit 750-1000 words.

  • Interview with program faculty 
  • Application Fee: $50

*Students without an MA will be considered on a case by case basis, but will be generally
required to complete an additional year of course work unless they have extensive prior
graduate work (e.g., a teaching credential based on graduate coursework). 


International Applicants 

The Ed.D. program is not open to international applicants requiring an F-1 student visa. 


Doctor of Education in Social Justice Leadership 


Start Date

Application Deadline

Summer 2022

June 13, 2022 Jan 1, 2022
  • A minimum 3.5 GPA in their graduate coursework.
  • Transfer Units. As a “post-MA” degree program, students will not be able to transfer in “units” from prior coursework, but can petition to waive specific course requirements if they have taken very similar classes before, allowing them to enroll in more advanced coursework.
  • Fall Start Date
  • Application deadline: 01/01/2022. Admissions on a space-available basis after the deadline.
  • $681/per unit; 77 units total.  Tuition rate adjusts annually.
  • Student Association Fee: $40/quarter
  • Financial Aid Available


Pull quote illustration

Dr. Pedro Nava has a bachelor's degree from CSU Fresno (1996) and received a Masters degree in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University (2003). In 2012, Dr. Nava completed his doctoral studies at the University of California Los Angeles Graduate School of Education in Urban Schooling.  The focus of his research and teaching are in urban and rural schooling inequality, critical pedagogy and critical race theory, immigration and education, family-school-community engagement, and participatory action research.

Pedro Nava, PhD, Associate Professor of Education, Director of Educational Leadership

Applications are submitted online through the Graduate Office of Admissions, School of Education and Counseling Psychology, (