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Doctor of Education in Administration and Leadership (Ed.D)

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SNU Doctor of Education in Administration and Leadership Student

Program Overview

Learn how you can be a leader in your organization with SNU’s EdD in Administration and Leadership. This doctoral program with an embedded dissertation challenges students to become qualified leaders who contribute to their fields of study and inspire meaningful change. From the first class, you will be paired with a dissertation chair who will serve as your mentor throughout the program, which most students complete in less than 32 months.

Courses are designed so you can study alongside other professionals as you attend classes online or Wednesday evenings from 6 to 10 p.m. These classes are taught by experts in each subject ensuring the instruction you receive will help propel your career and understanding of each topic to the next level. Apply today to begin your journey toward a terminal degree.

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week course format
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start dates per year
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Graduate in as few as
32 months
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total credit hours
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per credit hour
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Learn one night a week on campus or 100% online

How it Works

  • The embedded dissertation allows you to perform research while completing coursework
  • Classes take place online or one evening a week, allowing busy adults to earn a doctorate without sacrificing the things that matter most
  • Focus on one course at a time before moving on to the next to ensure true mastery
  • A dissertation chair is paired with you from the beginning of the program to ensure your success as a student and researcher
  • Instructors with vast amounts of industry experience guide students through courses.
  • Textbooks can be delivered directly to your door at the beginning of each class with a textbook subscription service.


Engage in meaningful coursework that will propel you toward the completion of your dissertation and graduation with your doctoral degree. Upon finishing this degree program, you will be prepared to affect meaningful change as a leader wherever you go.


Credit hours: 3This course will focus on Biblical and worldview perspectives in the area of leading shareholders, citizens, and the workplace of the student and in companionship with the SNU mission.  The practices, standards, and styles of leadership will be introduced and examined with a variety of teaching methods and experiences. Understanding the critical intersection of leadership and servanthood will help frame each student’s philosophy as a visionary leader.


Credit hours: 3 Foundations of Research will introduce learners to the structure and format of a dissertation and will focus on the foundational components of a dissertation to include topic selection, problem statement, theory/theoretical framework, purpose statement, research questions/hypotheses, qualitative and quantitative approaches, and research design. Learners will also continue building a collection of research through critiquing, analyzing, and synthesizing peer-reviewed literature relevant to their research interest area. Learners will work collaboratively to create a dissertation problem statement that is well-supported and grounded in the existing literature.  


Credit hours: 3 In today’s highly competitive and dynamic organizational environment, it is essential for leaders of all disciplines to be able to effectively deal with the wide range of organizational challenges with which they are presented. The ability to respond to the need for change is one of the hallmarks of contemporary organizations and students will examine the full spectrum of organization development tools and methods that can be implemented to increase organizational effectiveness.This course examines the major components of organizational development including the history of organization development and education reform initiatives, theories and process models, organizational culture, action research, and leading change initiatives.


Credit hours: 3 The Literature Review course will develop strong research, critical thinking, and writing skills to better equip students in their completion of the literature review section of their dissertation. The course focuses on understanding the purpose of the literature review and the fundamental skills needed to complete it such as developing search strategies, synthesizing sources, and constructing paragraphs. Learners will be required to apply writing, research, and critical thinking skills in writing components of the literature review and will also have a working draft of the Literature Review of their dissertation when the course is complete.


Credit hours: 3 This course explores advanced research strategies and the development of designs and methods supporting research in leadership. Exposure to rich research traditions in the field of leadership and both knowledge and skills to begin doctoral research will be introduced. Students will achieve the skills necessary to search for, retrieve, and analyze information and data from a variety of sources. Students will also begin the development of the scholarly writing needed to successfully complete their dissertation research.


Credit hours: 3 This course will present the relationship of theory and implementation to leadership practices.  Based on research, students will develop vision and mission statements that relate to the structure and functions of organizations. Learners will complete a project developing mission and vision statements for an approved organization, including the collaboration of stakeholders and documentation and reflection of the process.


Credit hours: 3 This course explores and analyzes the traditions, philosophies, and techniques of qualitative research. Students will experience participant observation, interviewing, and document analysis.  Students will practice qualitative techniques and engage in initial data analysis related to their dissertation research.


Credit hours: 3 This course introduces students to quantitative methodology. Students will learn about descriptive and inferential statistics through exposure to parametric and non-parametric design models. Learners will obtain the skills to utilize their newly acquired methodology knowledge to critically analyze existing quantitative research.


Credit hours: 3 Concentrating on the understanding and development of one’s self and others, this course will build on the interpersonal and collaborative leadership skills previously accomplished by participants. It will facilitate the discovery of a diverse range of human practices as they relate to personal and organizational relationships in a variety of areas including constructing a team’s collective goals, creating role definitions within a team, managing conflict, team collaboration, and productive professional relationships. Learners will analyze these relationships through research and philosophical positions and will examine connections in historical and contemporary contexts. Students will be exposed to knowledge of empowering leaders to create productive and effective decision-making skills in the workforce.  


Credit hours: 3 This course will present the critical importance of strategic planning for the purpose of implementing the goals of the organization. Strategic planning models will be introduced and discussed. Practical skills will be presented for building short and long term strategies based on current theories in strategic planning as well as best practices in multiple environments. The students will develop skills and knowledge on how to prepare the workplace for phases of implementing strategies for effective and progressive change. 


Credit hours: 3 This course will develop an understanding of how to inspire, motivate, and rally around a shared and corporate vision.  Students will explore innovative strategies and the implementation of those concepts with other colleagues in the workplace.  An emphasis will be placed on creating purposeful goals for the organization and visionary sustainability.


Credit hours: 3 This course will develop an intercultural understanding for the effective leader, by examining the different cultural aspects and diverse influences on leadership and ethics.  This course will examine the interaction of internal/external diverse intersections of identities and cultures on the leader and explores the ways in which a leader’s identity and cultural experiences and values inform ethical decision-making and how different ethical and cultural systems address and define moral issues that arise in organizations.  Ethical issues and practices will be analyzed as they relate to the decisions and styles of the leader and the growth of a leader is becoming culturally responsive


Credit hours: 3 The focus of this course is multi-faceted. Learners will analyze, critique, discuss, and develop learner-centered, curriculum-based instruction that utilizes technology in authentic and meaningful ways for those in leadership roles. Students will complete in-depth investigations of specific learning tools and present their findings concerning the uses of the tool. Scholars will explore the latest research into how technology can most effectively facilitate their leadership.  Learners will also investigate technology-related issues such as integration models, safety and health, copyright, evaluation of web resources, assessment, and assistive technologies.


Credit hours: 3 This course will provide an analysis of State and Federal regulations, guidelines and court decisions related to education, business, and public service organizations.  Students will examine the impact of these processes and policies and project trends and applications for governance and policy-making based on theory and observation.


Credit hours: 3 More than ever in the past, the ability to lead effectively, respectfully, and sensitively across cultures has become crucial. This course offers its learners opportunities to examine global systems and traditions along with comparing and contrasting cross-cultural communications, famous international leaders’ models, and proven global leadership methods.  Additionally, the learners in this course will develop and assess innovative and effective leadership approaches that foster global awareness and education.


Credit hours: 12Doctoral students will be enrolled in dissertation credits each term. These will be determined by program mapping courses starting with the first term of the program. The dissertation is embedded within each term. Students must maintain a minimum of 2 dissertation hours each term until their dissertation is successfully defended. The Dissertation Proposal Meeting will occur between Term One and Term Two. The result will be a program of study agreed upon by both the learner and the learner’s Dissertation Committee members.

Upcoming Start Dates


Friday, January 10, 2025
Friday, January 10, 2025

Meet our SNU Faculty

Dr. Stephoni Case

Program Director

Dr. Stephoni Case has served as Director of the Master’s in Educational Leadership and the Director of the Doctor of Education in Administration and Leadership at SNU since 2014 and 2018. Her commitment to building strong education leaders runs deep, and she has experienced growth and professional success with learners in the Master’s program. Dr. Case also led the way to launch the Doctor of Education in Administration and Leadership (DEAL) in the Spring of 2019. With the help of an incredible group of leaders in higher education, she welcomed more than 100 students into their doctoral journey in the program’s first year.

Outside of the classroom Dr. Case is an active member in the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and National Education Finance Association (NEFA). Her research agenda includes study of the intersections of religiosity and decision making, as well as culture and school finance.

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Dr. Case brings a variety of experience to our students serving as:

- Assistant Professor in English at SNU from 1992 - 2009

- Program Director and Instructor for The Center for School Business Management at Oklahoma State University from 2010 - 2014

-  SNU Professor and Program Director for Master's in Educational Leadership (MAEL) (since 2014- to present)

- Program Director for Doctor of Education in Administration and Leadership (DEAL) (since 2018 -to present)

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Dr. Gayle Kearns-Buie

Education and Leadership 

Dr. Kearns-Buie was appointed to her latest position as Dissertation Director for Southern Nazarene University on September 1, 2019. Her educational journey began in 1973 as a Securities Officer for the Federal Reserve Bank and continued as a high school teacher for 12 years, a career and technology administrator for 6 years and as a higher education faculty and administrator for more than 30 years. The majority of Dr. Kearns higher education career was at the University of Central Oklahoma where she served as faculty, chairperson, Academic Dean and Chief Academic Officer of the Academy of Contemporary Music. Her last 5 years have afforded her the opportunity to work in the faith-based world as a Dean and Dissertation Director. 

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The highlight of Dr. Kearns is working with students, especially doctoral candidates. The position as Dissertation with the new Doctorate in Education and Administration Leadership (DEAL) has been such a dream come true as she completes her journey in higher education. Every journey was amazing, but this is definitely the ultimate position in higher education.  

Kearns earned her Bachelor of Science in Business and Master of Science in Business from the University of Oklahoma. She earned her doctorate in Adult Education from Oklahoma State University. 

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Dr. Shawn Pendley

Education and Leadership 

Shawn Pendley graduated from The University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a PhD in the History of Education (Intellectual History). His previous professional experience includes academic manuscript editor, high school English teacher, summer college instructor for Upward Bound/TRIO at Oklahoma City Community College, and Assistant Professor of English Literature and Chair of Humanities and Sciences at Southwestern Christian University. He has served as the Academic Chair of the Oklahoma Educational Studies Association, Session Chair for the AERA 2017 Annual Meeting, and has served in a number of ways for the Society of Philosophers and Historians of Education (SOPHE). He was a major contributor to The Encyclopedia of the Social and Cultural Foundations of Education (2008) and edited Susan Laird’s seminal intellectual biography of Mary Wollstonecraft titled, Mary Wollstonecraft: Philosophical Mother of Coeducation (2008). He is currently a member of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church. 

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He designed the Organizational History and Development module and has taught several other courses here at SNU for the DEAL program. His passion is helping doctoral students conceptualize their research, and he views his work as a form of mentorship. The purpose of the DEAL program is to build a community of scholar-leaders, and communities are built up from personal relationships.

Dr. Pendley’s research interests include education in classical antiquity, first century epistolary pedagogy, supporting and retaining doctoral students, and late acquisition of critical reading and writing skills among adult learners.

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Dr. Shawna Richardson

Education and Leadership

Shawna Richardson graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2014 with a doctorate degree in Education Administration. Following graduation, she assisted doctoral students in the development of their dissertations and dissertation proposals. She edited manuscripts for content, organization, APA style, and structure to ensure that each student was effectively prepared for their dissertation proposal hearing or dissertation defense. She taught courses at OSU as an adjunct professor in 2016 and then accepted a full-time position as a Visiting Assistant Professor from 2016-2017. She has taught masters and doctoral courses in education administration and research, served on dissertation committees, collaborated with colleagues on written manuscripts for education journals and presentations at national conferences, and most recently, contributed as a coauthor in the development of a dissertation proposal manual.

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 In her role at Southern Nazarene University, she has the opportunity to work with the doctoral program to assist learners in the development and COMPLETION of their doctoral degrees!

Her research interests include teacher retention and attrition, school and organizational culture, and supporting and retaining doctoral students.

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Dr. Kent Shellenberger

Education and Leadership

Kent Shellenberger, Ed.D, is a career educator with 45 years of professional experiences in common and higher education. He currently serves as an instructor in the traditional and graduate SNU programs. Dr. Shellenberger’s professional involvement includes:  active state involvement as the elected member of the American Association of School Administrators’ governing board and Oklahoma Federal Relations Representative; member of the State Superintendent Advisory Council; Legislative Liaison for United Suburban Schools Association; Cooperative Council of School Administrators (CCOSA) Innovative Leadership Academy and a governor appointed board member of the Oklahoma Educational Quality and Accountability Commission (OEQA) and the Specials Needs’ Task Force Legislative Committee.

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Dr. Shellenberger’s dissertation was “PRINCIPALS’ AND TEACHERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF LEADER SUCCESSION IN SELECTED PUBLIC SCHOOLS.” He has been a presenter at the First Year Superintendent’s Academy and breakout facilitator of OSSBA/CCOSA annual convention. He also authored quarterly articles for Better Schools while president of CCOSA, OASA and Federal Relations Representative. Dr. Shellenberger was recognized as Oklahoma State Superintendent of the Year and is a member of the Oklahoma Educator’s Hall of Fame. 

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  • "With my busy schedule as a superintendent and rural location, the online format along with the dissertation advisor to guide me through the process will be a positive support system. I look forward to working with the faculty there to accomplish my personal and professional goals."
    Mike M
    Current DEAL Student
  • "There is no better-organized program, no faculty more vested in student success, and no place where people support one another in a more Christ-like manner. SNU is the best choice!"
    Lisa P.
    Doctorate of Education in Administration and Leadership Graduate
  • "I become better by learning and immersing myself with other learners, and that is what SNU does better than any other university is we learn from amazing professors and masters in their field, but we also have an amazing group of students in my cohort"
    Robbyn G.
    Doctorate of Education in Administration and Leadership Graduate

    Admission Steps 

    Enrolling at SNU is a simple process. With rolling start dates, there’s no need to wait months at a time to begin your educational journey. Once you have earned your master’s degree or 33 graduate hours in an equivalent program from an accredited university with a GPA of 3.25, take the following steps.

    Step 1. Ensure you meet program requirements as follows.

    • Completion of a master’s degree or 33 graduate credit hours in an equivalent program from an accredited university.
    • GPA of 3.25 from prior graduate coursework 
    • For non-native English speakers, either an overall band score of 7.0 or higher on the IELTS or minimum sub-scores for each element of the TOEFL iBT are:
      Speaking: 22
      Reading: 20
      Listening: 15
      Writing: 20

    Step 2. Completed Graduate Application  

    Step 3.  Send official transcripts from graduate degree conferred to SNU at or ATTN: PGS Admissions, Southern Nazarene University, 6729 NW 39th Expressway, Bethany, OK 73008.

    Step 4. Gather the following application materials,

    Step 5. Submit application materials by email to the SNU School of education by email ( or mail ATTN: PGS Admissions, 6729 NW 39th Expressway, Bethany, OK 73008.

    Step 6. Upon request, you may need to interview the program director and two advisory council members who determine the applicant's purposeful intent and commitment.






    Online classes are specially
    designed for professional &
    graduate studies.
    Phone: +1 (405) 491-6332

    Bethany Campus

    6729 NW 39th Expressway,
    Bethany, Oklahoma 73008

    Tulsa Campus

    8210 E. Regal Ct.
    Tulsa, Oklahoma 74133
    Phone: +1 (918) 664-4100

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