Skip to main content
For information on Biola University's coronavirus (COVID-19) response and updates, visit

Ed.D. in Educational Studies

Talbot School of Theology


The Ed.D. in Educational Studies is a degree program designed to equip the “leader-teacher” to give leadership in educational ministry settings and to teach in higher education settings.

This doctoral degree, established in 1984 and offered within Talbot School of Theology’s Department of Christian Education, involves two and a half years of coursework (33 credits), a candidacy exam (3 credits) and a dissertation. The program is designed to be able to be completed in three and a half to four years in the residential program and five to five and a half years in the hybrid-residential program.

Students come to the program already having completed a graduate degree and with significant ministry experience in the field of educational ministry. In general, doctoral students are established within a particular ministry organization and return following completion of the program. A few students are in transition in their career path. The curriculum particularly encourages critical thinking, integrative synthesis of Scripture and social science data, and original research.

Courses typically 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.

Format Options

The Ed.D. degree program is offered in the normal residential format or with a hybrid distance format. Both formats incorporate a cohort approach, in which students work through the core courses together, with some choice of elective options to fit their study interests. New groups of students begin the program every year in November and March.

Residential Program

Courses are offered on campus in fall (late August to mid-December) and spring (February through May) semesters. A normal full-time load is three courses, or nine credits of coursework. Residential students can also take elective hybrid courses offered in November and March. (Note: Students are counted as full-time at six credits per semester)

Elective Courses in the fall and spring semesters are usually offered as weekly on campus class sessions that permit face-to-face instruction. In early June, a one-week on campus elective module is also scheduled. A few electives are available as online courses.

If full-time, you can complete the necessary course work in two and a half years, including candidacy exam. The dissertation can be completed in another year and a half. This means the degree can take about four years to complete.

Hybrid Distance Program

For those who cannot locally access a doctoral program in education with Christian perspectives, we offer both of our doctoral degree programs in a special format. The use of blended online and residential coursework makes it possible for students to continue ministering with their current organizations while completing their Ed.D. in Educational Studies. Both the Ph.D. and Ed.D. blended programs utilize blended courses for one week in November and one week in March for four years. Coursework precedes and follows class sessions.

Elective courses in the fall and spring semesters are usually offered as weekly video-conference class sessions that permit face-to-face instruction. In early June, a one-week on campus elective module is also scheduled. A few electives are available as online courses.

You can complete the necessary course work and candidacy exam in four years. The dissertation can be completed in another one to one and a half years. This means the degree can be completed in as little as five years, if the dissertation proceeds according to schedule.

3.5–5.5 years
Standard Duration
This indicates the standard duration of this program. Completion time may vary depending on transferred coursework and preferred courseload.
Total Program Credits
Every program at Biola University features rigorous academics, biblically integrated curriculum and vocational preparation.
Biola University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Additional accreditations may apply to specific programs.

Program Requirements

The Ed.D. degree requires 36 credits of coursework, including 21 credits of core classes and a Candidacy Exam Capstone course, 15 credits of electives and up to 9 credits of dissertation. The student’s advisor assists in planning the schedule of courses and supervises the student’s progress in the program and the development of an elective program based on the two-year projected schedule of courses being offered. Up to 3 units 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 program director, students identify the 15-credit electives program they will complete, along with the remaining core courses, to meet the 36-credit minimum requirement. Once approved, this schedule serves as the projected course of study. A copy of the Program Proposal is placed in the student’s file. Modifications must have prior approval of the student's advisor.
  • 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 engaging work 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).

You may also be interested in

Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)

Talbot School of Theology

Ph.D. – Educational Studies

Talbot School of Theology