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Ed.D. in Educational Studies


At Talbot School of Theology, biblical wisdom is our doctoral programs’ central pursuit. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree equips the “Leader-Teacher” with skills in research assessment and application to educational concerns. The program provides the same training in conceptual thinking, theological integration and teaching as the Ph.D. program, but with more applied focus. This degree is intended for the needs of education leaders and some Christian higher education settings.

The Ed.D. degree, established in 1984, has a strong record of equipping educators for advanced positions of educational leadership, research and publishing. It involves 36 credits of coursework and 6–12 credits of dissertation that can be completed in two years of full-time study or three years of part-time study. The dissertation demonstrates a competency in literature review research and the contribution of theory to the practice of educational ministry.

Students come to the program already having completed a graduate degree and usually with significant experience in educational ministry, theological education or Christian higher education. In general, doctoral students are established within a particular ministry organization and pursue this degree to receive a robust biblical and theological foundation that richly enhances their educational practice. The curriculum particularly encourages critical thinking, integrative synthesis of Scripture and social science data, and original research.

Courses follow a graduate seminar format requiring student initiative for significant participation in class discussion. Small class sizes of six to 12 students permit such a dialogical format, an important element for promoting critical and integrative thinking.

    Program Format

    The Ed.D. degree program is a combination of one-week intensive residential core courses offered in November and March, and online and HyFlex courses offered in the fall and spring semesters. This flexible format allows students to either move to Southern California or remain in their places of ministry, and only come on campus to attend the intensive residential weeks.

    The program follows a cohort model, in which students work through the core courses together and select their elective courses in Christian higher education or practical theology. A new cohort begins every fall.

    Courses are offered on campus in fall (late August to mid-December) and spring (January through May) semesters. A normal full-time load is three courses, or nine credits of coursework. Please note that students are counted as full-time at six credits per semester.

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    Program Requirements

    What are the program requirements for an educational studies student?

    The Ed.D. degree requires 42–45 credits of coursework, including 15 credits of core classes and a 3-credit Candidacy Exam Capstone course, 18 credits of electives and up to 9 credits of dissertation. The program’s office assists with planning the schedule of courses and guides the student's progress in the program. Up to 3 credits of graduate coursework directly related to the specialization may be taken in other departments at Biola University or transferred in from other accredited graduate institutions.

    • Doctoral Program Proposal. During the first term of study and in consultation with the doctoral office, students identify the 18-credit electives program they will complete, along with the remaining core courses, to meet the minimum requirement. Once approved, this schedule serves as the projected course of study.
    • Candidacy Exam. During the final semester of coursework, the student also enrolls in the TTDE 8950 Candidacy Exam Capstone course. The student completes the candidacy exam before starting on the dissertation. The candidacy exam evaluates the student's attainment of program study objectives.
    • Advancement to Candidacy. Official candidacy for the doctorate signifies an advanced stage in the student’s progress and is characterized by self-directed research in the completion of a dissertation under the direction of a faculty dissertation advisor. In order to be admitted to candidacy, the student must have successfully passed the candidacy exam.
    • Dissertation. After passing the candidacy exam, the student will enroll in TTDE 8960 Dissertation (3 credits) for up to three semesters. A student must enroll for a minimum of two terms of TTDE 8960 and must be enrolled in 8960 or 8970 Dissertation Extension the semester of graduation. Ed.D. dissertation students are considered full-time for a maximum of three semesters of TTDE 8960 only. Doctoral students must submit a dissertation evidencing high attainment in scholarship. Detailed information may be found in the Dissertation Guidelines Handbook.
    • Final Dissertation Defense. The final examination is an oral defense of the dissertation before the student’s dissertation committee and other invited guests. Detailed information regarding the defense and final submission deadlines for graduation may be found in the Dissertation Guidelines Handbook.
    • Graduation Requirements. All students must present an acceptable dissertation, satisfactorily pass their candidacy exam, and complete all coursework with a minimum 3.25 GPA to qualify for graduation. Beyond completion of academic requirements, doctoral program faculty must also recommend that the student is eligible for conferral of the degree on the basis of evidence of Christian life and character established during his or her course of studies. All financial obligations must be settled. Attendance at commencement ceremonies is required when the degree is granted unless approval has been received from the dean to graduate in absentia (see the Doctoral Program Handbook for further details).

    Admissions & Deadlines

    As a Christian institution, Biola seeks to admit applicants whose backgrounds clearly demonstrate scholarly aptitude, a commitment to the historic Christian faith, personal character and integrity, and a positive service-oriented motivation toward their field of study. Biola does not discriminate on the basis of the applicant's race, color, sex, socio-economic status, disability, or national or ethnic origin.

    Education and GPA Requirements

    • You must have a master’s degree or educational equivalent from an accredited educational institution by the time you plan to start coursework at Biola, with a minimum grade point average of 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) in all previous graduate work.
      • Equivalence is defined as an earned master's degree of 36 semester credits of graduate study, including 18 credits of graduate Bible and theology.
      • If your formal educational preparation does not include all of the required prerequisite coursework, it must be completed prior to enrollment.

    Contact your graduate admissions counselor for recommendations on options for completing the needed prerequisite courses.

    English Proficiency Requirements

    • If English is not your first language, you are required to display your English proficiency before admittance into a Biola University graduate program. See “English Proficiency” in the application steps section below.

    Application Deadlines

    • General Deadline: March 1

    Visit Biola

    Explore our sunny Southern California campus in person or virtually. Learn more about your program of interest and the admissions process by scheduling an appointment with an admissions counselor.

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    Meet Your Admissions Counselor

    If you have more questions about the program, admissions process or Biola in general, schedule a phone call or send an email to your admissions counselor.

    Graduate Admissions Counselor

    Photo of Mike Klunder
    Mike Klunder

    Phone: (562) 906-4115
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    International Graduate Admissions Counselor

    The Office of International Admissions serves students who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

    Book a Phone or Virtual Appointment

    Application Steps

    1. Complete and submit the online application

    2. Submit a non-refundable $65 application fee

    3. Submit supplemental application materials through your online application portal:

    4. Official Transcripts

      • Submit all official transcripts from previous academic institutions.
        • Request official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
        • If enrolled at the time the application is filed, be sure to request transcripts of work finished to date and final transcripts upon completion of your course of study.
        • Transcripts will be considered official only when a) mailed directly from the institution to Biola, b) sent electronically through an approved vendor or c) physically delivered in an untampered envelope sealed by the institution. Final approval for admission is contingent on receiving an official transcript.
          • Mail transcripts to:
            Biola University Office of Graduate Admissions
            13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA 90639
      • Note for International Students: All international transcripts need U.S. grade equivalencies noted (i.e. GPA on a 4.0 scale). If your transcripts do not show U.S. grade equivalencies, you must have them evaluated by a credential evaluation agency like SpanTran (Biola Discount), World Education Services (WES) or Foundation for International Services (FIS). Be sure to choose "course by course report" and have SpanTran/WES/FIS send them directly to Biola University via online portal or post (13800 Biola Ave, La Mirada, CA 90639) in order to be considered official.

      Four Reference Letters

      • Three academic references — must be completed by faculty who had the applicant in at least two courses
      • Pastoral reference — must be completed by a mentor, teacher or pastor
      • Note: Additional instructions can be found in the online application.

      Three Essays

      • Formal academic paper: submit a sample of scholarly writing (with citations and bibliography), preferably related to education, of at least 10 pages
      • Vocational objectives statement
      • Personal biography
      • Note: The essay prompts can be found in the online application.

      English Proficiency (required for non-native English speakers)

      • Evidence of English proficiency is required for all students to support student success. Proficiency must be shown through one of the methods described below:
        • Minimum test score on a qualifying standardized test
          • TOEFL: minimum score of 100 iBT
          • IELTS: minimum score of 7.5
          • Duolingo: minimum score of 125
        • A degree (bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral) issued by an institution where English is the medium of instruction.
          • Official written communication from the institution (Registrar, Controller of Examinations Office, or Undergraduate College)
          • Official degree statements or transcripts may be accepted given English is stated as the medium of instruction
          • Official catalog verification
          • Note: For universities from non-Anglophone countries, further language assessment may be required.
        • Completion of the English Language Scholars (ELS) with passing status on the ELS's final exit exam, which must be approved by the ELS Director in collaboration with the academic program committee. An updated TOEFL or IELTS score may be used at the end of a term to test directly into the graduate program for the following term.
        • Qualify for English Language Scholars (ELS), which allows students who do not meet the minimum TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores to still enroll in their graduate degree program. Students would be taking academic English courses concurrently with the graduate degree program courses. 
          • Students eligible for ELS will be assessed by the ELS Director to determine the total number of academic English courses to take while enrolled in their graduate program courses. The following are the scores needed to qualify for ELS: TOEFL iBT 90 / IELTS 7.0 / Duolingo 110–124.
          • Note: Students must be admitted to the graduate program first to be considered for ELS.


      Additional Forms


      Things to Note

      • Track your application status at any time. You do not have to complete the application in one sitting. You can complete a portion and finish at a later time. Your information will be saved. When you apply, to guarantee confidentiality, you will be asked to create a user name and a password, and will receive a personalized identification number. Track your application status by logging in to the online application.
      • Official documents presented for admission or evaluation become part of the student’s academic file and normally cannot be returned or copied for distribution.
      • International students who will be studying on campus are required to apply for an F-1 student visa. For more information, visit

    Alumni Spotlight

    Read the testimonials to learn more about how Talbot's doctoral programs impacted the lives of our students.

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    Tuition and Financial Aid

    Biola is committed to help make your studies affordable — each school offers different scholarship, grant and loan opportunities to help finance your education.

    Cost Per Credit (2024‑25) $1,359
    Regular Coursework Based on fall and spring enrollment at 6 credits per term$8,154
    Dissertation Phase Based on fall and spring enrollment at 3 credits per term$4,077
    Total Program Tuition (Estimated) Based on total program credits and 2024‑25 cost per credit$61,155


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    Hybrid (On Campus and Online): This program includes a blend of course formats, including online and in person at Biola University's Southern California campus.

    Total Credits

    Every program at Biola University features rigorous academics, biblically integrated curriculum and vocational preparation.

    Cost per Credit

    This is the cost per credit; total tuition costs for each term will differ for part-time and full-time students.

    Standard Completion Time

    This indicates the standard duration of this program. Completion time may vary depending on transferred coursework and preferred courseload.


    Biola University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Additional accreditations may apply to specific programs.