World Campus Online Doctor of Education Program

The College-wide online Doctor of Education degree (DEd) program is a 37+ credit inquiry-intensive, and practically oriented interdisciplinary degree program for professions in the education, counseling, and human services sectors. The DEd program offers a flexible degree option for students to engage in advanced research-oriented professional learning and practical application beyond the master’s degree in an asynchronous format, completed in about 3 years. It is ideal for students whose ability to enroll in existing residentially-based doctoral programs is limited. The program is crafted for professionals who aim to address practice-related problems within their specific career contexts. It provides students freedom to design an appropriate doctoral degree program centered on developing inquiry skills and interdisciplinary practices essential for understanding and applying research to new problems and situations. 

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Faculty Affiliates

Doctoral study at Penn State means learning from and working with distinguished faculty members from across all departments in the College of Education who play a pivotal role as instructors and advisers for students in the World Campus Education doctoral program. 

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Our Students

World Campus DEd students come from across the country and around the world. They represent a range of professions such as educators, administrators, clinicians, counselors, professors, coaches, activists, entrepreneurs, librarians, trainers, and instructional designers. They hold positions in corporate, governmental, military, non-profit, health care, district and higher education roles. Despite their varied backgrounds, the focal point of their study is rooted in the realms of teaching, leadership and learning.

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Student Handbook

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Summer Summit

As part of the program, students are required to spend 5 days in-residence on campus for at least one Summer Summit. Our first Summit will be held in 2024 from July 29-August 2. Topics and activities include research, proposal writing, cultural events and ICE CREAM!  

Learn about the Summer Summit

Frequently Asked Questions

  • The World Campus D.Ed. is an all-college degree. Candidates select options from coursework available across the departments in the college. Specializations exist within departments and extensive faculty expertise is available to students. Departments include Curriculum and Instruction; Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education; Educational Policy Studies; and Learning and Performance Systems. 
  • This degree does not lead to specific licensure or certification credentials. Some students may wish to pursue additional elective coursework that may lead to licensure or certification. 
  • * Please note that elective course availability may vary depending on factors such as enrollment demand, faculty availability, and scheduling constraints, and therefore, certain electives may not be offered in every academic term.

Illustrative Examples of Specialization Course Work

An adult educator may be interested in expanding their knowledge of family literacy and applying educational research to assess the efficacy of literature supporting families learning to teach children to read. After completing the M.Ed. equivalent in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education, this student may choose among the following electives:

  • EDPSY 421 Learning Processes in Relation to Educational Practices 
  • LL ED 502 Studies in Literature for Children 
  • LL ED 520 Literature for Adolescents 
  • LL ED 561 Cultural Pluralism in Children's and Adolescent Literature 
  • A ED 812 Diversity, Visual Culture, and Pedagogy 
  • A ED 811 New Media and Pedagogy 

A high school science department chair may be interested in developing knowledge and applying educational research to assess the effectiveness of uses of technologies to support students with special needs. After completing the M.Ed. equivalent in Curriculum and Instruction – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) education, and the doctoral core, this student may choose among the following electives:

  • SPLED 419 Assistive Technology for General Education Teachers 
  • SPLED 525 Teaching Learners with Disabilities in Inclusive Settings 
  • SPLED 802 Evidence-Based Assessment for Teaching Learners with Special Needs 
  • LDT 527 Designing Constructivist Learning Environments 
  • LDT 566 Computers as Learning Tools 

A director of talent development at an organization may want to know how best to serve the needs of employees and how to determine if such services are effective for employees and the organization. After completing a Master of Professional Studies in Human Relations and Employee Relations, an MBA, or equivalent, this student may choose among the following electives:

  • WF ED 572 Foundations of Organization Development 
  • WF ED 884 Appreciative Inquiry 
  • WF ED 881 Marketing Organization Development and Consulting 
  • WF ED 582 Assessing and feeding Back Data: Organizational Diagnosis 
  • WF ED 578 Process Consultation 
  • WF ED 585 Appraising Organization Development and Consulting 
  • WF ED 880 Facilitating Groups and Teams 

A director of academic support services at a community college may want to know how best to serve the needs of their students as well as how to determine if their services are effective for those students. After completing the M.Ed. equivalent in Higher Education, this student may choose among the following electives:

  • ADTED 505 The Teaching of Adults 
  • ADTED 560 Teaching Reading to College Students and Adults 
  • CI 501 Teaching as Inquiry 
  • EDLDR 530 Leadership for Inclusive Education 
  • LDT 527 Designing Constructivist Learning Environments 
  • SPLED 802 Evidence-Based Assessment for Teaching Learners with Special Needs 


*Please note-Transfer credits will not be reviewed or considered prior to admission to the program. 

The program’s structure is carefully crafted, as a result, the possibility of transferring in of credits is extremely limited — specifically, to a maximum of six elective credits total. While the door is open, the pathway is not a common one and is undertaken with careful consideration, aligning with the program’s efficient curriculum. We believe in upholding the program’s integrity while ensuring that the academic commitment remains cohesive and aligned with our objectives. Credits earned to complete a previous graduate degree, whether at Penn State or elsewhere, may not be applied to a second graduate degree program at Penn State. The student should distinguish carefully between the transferability of credit and its applicability in a particular degree program. Approval to apply any transfer credits toward a degree program must be granted by the Director of the DEd program in conjunction with the Associate Dean for Graduate Education and the Graduate School.  

Completion of a Capstone Experience is required for the DEd. The capstone project is framed around questions of equity, ethics, and/or social justice to bring about solutions to complex problems of practice. The capstone is an independent effort by the student that extends beyond their course work and will result in a formal written document. It is intended to support the student in gaining a better understanding of, and possibly provide solutions to, a local problem of practice in the student’s professional setting.


Students complete Capstone projects through the Capstone Experience course which may be repeated for credit. During this course, which begins at the conclusion of all coursework, students/now candidates, research and critically analyze the topic aligned with their career interests that was presented during the Comprehensive Examination. The course covers all phases of the research process from identifying problems of practice to reviewing literature, identifying study methods and analytical techniques, and scholarly writing of research papers. This experience will include support modules to benefit students as they complete their projects and degrees.  For additional information on the capstone, we advise you to further review the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate at the following link: