in person

Urban Leadership

PhD in Education

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 with 5+ years of teaching experience 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

    required units

  • PhD in Education

    degree awarded

  • In Person


  • Fall

    program start

  • 4-6 years | full time*

    estimated completion time

Request info Apply now

Carina Navarro

Assistant Director of Admissions


Where You Can Find Our Alumni


  • Frances Gipson

    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

  • Portrait of Carl Cohn

    Carl Cohn

    Senior Research Fellow
    Professor Emeritus

    Research Interests

    Education, Urban education, Education policy

  • flame logo graphic

    Charles Kerchner

    Senior Research Fellow
    Professor Emeritus

    Research Interests

    Institutional Change in Public Education

  • Portrait of Thomas Luschei

    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

  • Portrait of Susan Paik

    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

  • Portrait of Mary Poplin

    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)

  • Portrait of Delacy Ganley

    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

    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

  • Portrait of Deborah Faye Carter

    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

  • Portrait of Dina Maramba

    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

    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

  • Portrait of Linda Perkins

    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

    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

    Clinical Assistant Professor

    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 Saw

    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

Application Guidelines

Requirements Summary

Item Description
Application Fee $80
Official Transcripts Yes
Letters of Recommendation 3
Statement of Purpose Yes
Resume Yes
Standardized Test Scores Optional
Other Requirements English proficiency exam

Key Dates and Deadlines

CGU operates on a priority deadline cycle. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit complete applications by the priority dates in order to assure maximum consideration for both admission and fellowships.

Once the priority deadlines have passed, the University will continue to review applications for qualified candidates on a competitive, space-available basis. The final deadlines listed are the last date the University can accept an application in order to allow sufficient time to complete the admissions, financial aid, and other enrollment processes.

Fall 2025
Priority Deadline – February 1, 2025
Final Deadline (International) – July 5, 2025
Final Deadline (Domestic) – August 1, 2025
Classes begin – August 26, 2025

Review General Guidelines

Cost & Aid

Program 72 units
Tuition per unit* $2,020

*Based on 2023-2024 tuition rates.


$245 Student Fee
$150 Technology Fee
International Student Services Fee*: $661 fall semester, $776 spring semester
**Applies to all international students (F-1 visa only) who are registered in coursework, doctoral study, or continuous registration. The fee is assessed each fall and spring semester for annual ISO accident and sickness plans and administrative fees. Subject to change.

For estimates of room & board, books, etc., please download CGU’s Cost of Attendance 2022-2023 .

Review General Costs

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