A cornerstone of strong communities are strong schools, and a cornerstone of strong schools are educational leaders who have the passion, commitment, and skills needed to promote educational equity and excellence among diverse groups of students. These are the educators CGU selects for our Urban Leadership (UL) program.

The School of Educational Studies’ UL program is specifically designed for experienced educators who want to assume leadership positions in California’s school districts, county offices of education, and community colleges. Alumni of the program have used their CGU experience to propel themselves into careers as superintendents, chief academic officers, community college presidents, and elected officials.

Because the UL program’s cohorts are comprised of working educators, the urban leadership seminars are intensely relevant as your fellow students articulate the trends and phenomena they are experiencing. Your faculty shape the dialogue by helping the group understand these issues in terms of organizational and change theory, historical context, and research. Out of this synergistic exchange comes a deep conceptual understanding and applicable insights to address current and yet-to-be-identified issues. This design model develops true scholar-practitioners.

Leading to a PhD, the UL program prepares you to be a school leader that deeply engages in problems of practice with an adaptive dynamical mindset. This type of perspective-taking develops your knowledge of theoretical frameworks and research skills needed to promote educational justice. In turn, you will accelerate your ability to work with diverse and multiple stakeholders, and foster strength and excellence in our schools and communities.

Program Highlights
  • Earn a PhD instead of an EdD.
  • Benefit from coursework that is custom-designed to meet the needs of educators wanting to promote educational equity and excellence through leadership positions in California’s school districts, county offices of education, and community colleges.
  • Enjoy a cohort structure that facilitates the development of a lifelong network of educational change agents working throughout California.
  • Take advantage of courses that are offered at times to meet the schedules of working professionals. UL cohort classes are held on select weekends (Friday evenings and Saturdays. Discounted rates are available at a local hotel for those who want to stay in the area). You will also have access to additional flexible courses designed to meet the needs of UL students.

Program at a Glance

72 units
(Up to 20 relevant units can be transferred in from an MA program)

4–6 years
Coursework is typically completed in 2-3 full academic years. Additional time is dedicated to completing program requirements, like the dissertation.

New cohorts start every two years in the fall. The next cohort starts in Fall 2023. Some students seek special permission to start earlier; these students start their program with elective courses.

PhD in Education


Featured Courses

Leading Through Sensemaking

Develops the skills to make decisions that improve outcomes for predisposed-to-failure populations of students by examining concepts such as GLOCAL approaches that have succeeded in bringing about sustainable change, as well as alternate theories of change that are currently missing in our approach to school reform.

Managing the Politics of Educational Organizations

Introduces current political events that affect funding, decision making, curricular requirements, mandates, and interest groups, focusing on leadership response abilities. Class will be led by experts in the field who have studied and engaged in the current political environment.

Current Issues Facing California’s Educational Leaders

Examines literature and articles focused on issues facing school leaders in California. The Friday evening Socratic dialogues are led by educational leaders who are currently working in the field.

Faculty & Research

  • Frances Marie Gipson profile image

    Frances Marie Gipson

    Clinical Professor of Education
    Director, Urban Leadership Program

    Research Interests

    Urban schooling; distributed leadership; social-emotional learning; culturally relevant and linguistically responsive education; systems theory; learning and achievement; talent and leadership development; P-20 school policy

  • Carl Cohn profile image

    Carl Cohn

    Senior Research Fellow
    Professor Emeritus

    Research Interests

    Education, Urban education, Education policy

  • Charles Kerchner profile image

    Charles Kerchner

    Senior Research Fellow
    Professor Emeritus

    Research Interests

    Institutional Change in Public Education

  • Tom Luschei profile image

    Tom Luschei

    Professor of Education

    Research Interests

    International and Comparative Education; Economics of Education; Teacher Quality, Teacher Policy, and Teacher Distribution; Education Policy across the Americas; Bilingual Education Policy and Practice

  • Susan J. Paik profile image

    Susan J. Paik

    Professor of Education

    Research Interests

    Educational productivity; talent and leader development; giftedness and creativity; learning and achievement; psychosocial and environmental factors; urban and international studies; underserved students; Asian Americans and education; family-school-community partnerships; research methods, design, and evaluation

  • Mary Simpson Poplin profile image

    Mary Simpson Poplin

    Senior Research Fellow
    Professor Emerita

    Research Interests

    Highly effective teachers in Los Angeles area; effective teaching methods; students, schools and poverty; differences between Judeo Christian and secular thought; Mother Teresa (worked with her in 1996)

  • DeLacy Ganley profile image

    DeLacy Ganley

    Dean, School of Educational Studies
    Professor of Education

    Research Interests

    Culturally relevant education; resiliency and achievement of marginalized populations; intersection of families, community, and school; language acquisition; social capital theory; systems theory

  • Gwen Garrison profile image

    Gwen Garrison

    Clinical Professor of Education
    Director of Educational Evaluation and Data Analysis

    Research Interests

    Organizational effectiveness; diversity & inclusion; research & evaluation process; data systems; data management; data visualization and storytelling

  • Deborah Faye Carter profile image

    Deborah Faye Carter

    Associate Professor of Higher Education

    Research Interests

    Higher education; transition to college; college student outcomes; access to college; race in education; mentoring, equity, and diverse learning environments in STEM

  • Dina C. Maramba profile image

    Dina C. Maramba

    Professor of Education

    Research Interests

    Equity and diversity issues in higher education; theory and practice in student affairs; college student development; access and retention; first-generation college students; Asian American and Pacific Islander populations; minority serving institutions

  • Eligio Martinez profile image

    Eligio Martinez

    Senior Research Fellow

    Research Interests

    P-20 education pipeline; college access and retention; community colleges; boys and men of color; middle school education; Chicana/o and Latina/o Students

  • Linda Perkins profile image

    Linda Perkins

    University Professor
    Director, Applied Gender Studies

    Research Interests

    Women and African-American higher education, history and contemporary issues on women in higher education, especially Black women, global gender issues.

  • David Drew profile image

    David Drew

    Professor of Education
    Joseph B. Platt Chair in the Management of Technology

    Research Interests

    STEM education, data science, model building, technology development and management

  • Torie Weiston-Serdan profile image

    Torie Weiston-Serdan

    Clinical Assistant Professor
    Director, MA in Community Engaged Education & Social Change

    Research Interests

    Critical mentoring; critical youth work; non-profits and social enterprises; diversity and equity; non-profits and philanthropy; youth-serving non-profits; culturally sustaining pedagogy; abolitionist teaching; Black Feminism in education; learning and teaching

  • Guan K. Saw profile image

    Guan K. Saw

    Associate Professor of Education

    Research Interests

    Educational inequality; diversity and inclusion; STEM education and workforce; college access and success; sociology of education; educational psychology; educational evaluation and policy analysis; quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods; health disparities

Where You Can Find Our Alumni

Request information about the Urban Leadership program

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Maryam Qureshi

Assistant Director of Admissions
T: 909-607-6374 (Direct)
T: 909-607-7811 (Central Admissions)
E: maryam.qureshi@cgu.edu