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Is an EdD in Leadership Worth It? Graduates Share Their Stories

Sep 9, 2022
6 min Read
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Considering going back to graduate school

If you’re considering going back to school for a doctoral degree in leadership, you’re probably already well-established in your career. You may be a natural leader looking to deepen your knowledge and reach your professional and personal goals.

But committing to a terminal degree that takes years to complete is a big life decision. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only two percent of American adults over 25 have a terminal degree. You may be wondering, is a Doctor of Education (EdD) in leadership worth it?

Only you can decide if a doctorate is the right choice. But learning from your peers and people who have gone before can be extremely insightful, especially if you’re on the fence.

“This is a doctoral degree designed for scholar practitioners,” explains Dr. Leah Georges, associate professor and program director of the EdD in Interdisciplinary Leadership program at Creighton University. “Earning this designation can elevate your potential for leadership opportunities, and that growth begins on the first day of the program.”

To help you make an informed decision on whether or not an EdD in leadership is right for you, we’re giving you firsthand insight on what to expect from the program. You’ll also hear two graduate success stories that show how this degree can help empower leaders like you to achieve their personal and professional goals.

What is an EdD in leadership?

First, let’s discuss what you can expect to learn in an EdD in leadership program. This doctoral degree in interdisciplinary leadership is designed to hone the foundational skills and competencies that all aspiring leaders need to become agents of change.

“Our program is designed to be relevant right away,” Dr. Georges says. “You won’t have to wait until you graduate to benefit from the coursework – you’ll likely implement what you learn immediately in your place of work.”

Creighton’s program is made up of 60 credits of elective and research courses, plus a core curriculum. These classes include:

  • Leadership Styles and Reflective Practice
  • Leadership and Applied Ethics
  • Social Justice and Leadership
  • Administrative and Policy Leadership Issues
  • Systems Thinking and Leadership

Students must also complete a dissertation and are encouraged to tailor their topic to reflect their own unique interests. Making a positive impact, whether in your community or workplace, is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor.

Creighton’s online EdD in leadership scholars come from all over the world to create a rich learning environment where diverse perspectives and insights are freely shared. The opportunity to learn alongside a diverse group of leaders spanning all different backgrounds and industries is one of the most valuable aspects of this program, according to Dr. Georges.

“We live in a complex world and learning from people exactly like us doesn’t result in the kinds of relationships and solutions that are required in our complex society,” she says. “The Creighton program is intentionally designed to bring people from seemingly disparate fields and disciplines together to address some of our world’s most complicated problems.”

Upon completion of the EdD in Interdisciplinary Leadership Program, students will be able to:

  • Effectively apply leadership theories within complex and diverse organizations
  • Integrate critical thinking into all aspects of leadership
  • Practice ethical, value-based decision-making
  • Model professional communication in scholarly and professional studies
  • Engage in reflective practices as a means for professional and personal growth
  • Produce original scholarship by applying social science methodologies

Inspiring graduates who prove an EdD in leadership is worth it

The adaptability of knowledge and leadership skills gained from this research-based program has enabled Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership graduates to go on to successful careers in many industries, including education administration, business, health care, non-profits and government.

Keep reading to get a closer look at two notable success stories.

Carly Speranza: From enlisted leader to university professor of leadership

Dr. Carly Speranza was already highly skilled in the principles and practice of leadership before enrolling in a doctoral program, thanks to her military experience. She even taught classes on the subject at the University of Philadelphia but still felt she needed to learn more. “It was something that always fascinated me,” she recalls. “I was hooked.”

With five years of active-duty service left, Speranza was stationed in Omaha and happened upon Creighton’s online EdD in leadership degree. She realized the program was accommodating enough to work around upcoming deployments and would help her develop all the skills she wanted to master.

Dr. Speranza admits that people often ask why she decided to get a doctorate. After all, she had already been a military leader for 15 years. She explains that:

“I was a strong leader, but I didn’t have that background of theory and research. After the EdD program, I finally understand how things worked, how to make them better, how to initiate change more effectively and how to be a better mentor and coach.”

Dr. Speranza earned her doctorate in 2015 and is now living out her ideal second career as a professor. She teaches full-time at Marymount University in Washington, D.C. and is also a part-time faculty member where she was once a student: in Creighton’s EdD in Interdisciplinary Leadership.

“The EdD program was life changing,” she asserts. “If you’re looking for something that’s flexible, that’s going to grow your leadership and challenge you, then this is definitely the degree for you.”

Bill Stanczykiewicz: A lifelong learner turned full-time leader

For Creighton University alumnus Dr. Bill Stanczykiewicz, pursuing an EdD in Interdisciplinary Leadership was a natural culmination in his educational journey. A self-described “lifelong learner” with an undergraduate degree in journalism, Stanczykiewicz’s appetite for information and continual self-improvement meshed well with academic pursuits.

He gained valuable work experience and became well-established in his career before committing to the doctoral program. Dr. Stanczykiewicz was attracted to Creighton’s EdD in Interdisciplinary Leadership right away due to the flexible online nature of the program. He laments that many in academia still have the misperception that distance learning is somehow less legitimate than a traditional classroom experience.

“I teach in a tier one research university and we have both online and in-person classes. The rigor is equal in both,” he explains, adding that this was also true of the Creighton EdD in leadership program. “These were not easy courses by any means.”

He credits his professors for their high level of accessibility and engagement with online students. “Their expertise, knowledge and teaching skills were evident from first class to the last,” he says.

Since graduating from Creighton in 2020, Dr. Stanczykiewicz now teaches at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, in addition to leading executive education courses in the field. He is currently the senior assistant dean for external relations at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

“I’ve received promotions and gained responsibility in the college where I serve, and the doctoral degree has been a key avenue to make that possible,” he concludes.

Become the world-class leader you were born to be

These stories are just two examples of the far-reaching impact earning an EdD in leadership can have on your personal and professional goals. Regardless of what field you’re working in, if you’re looking to expand your professional network, advance your career and gain confidence as a leader, it could be the perfect fit.

“Our students come to us as good leaders. The active reflection, research and relationships built throughout the program only help amplify their innate abilities and transform them into inspiring leaders,” Dr. Georges explains. “Our nearly 500 alumni are creating lasting, meaningful change in the world.”

Start writing your success story today by following in their footsteps. Visit the Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership program page for more information.