USC offers new doctoral program in education

Updated: 2013-12-18 13:34

By Ma Wenying (

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World-class scholars and scientists need the right context that can foster creativity and innovation, and the new doctoral program in education leadership at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education offers one that prepares leaders who can foster such a context, the chairman of the program said.

Dr. Mark Power Robison, chairman of the Global Executive Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program at USC Rossier School of Education, said the program prepares leaders to achieve large-scale improvements across educational systems through strategic use of policy, innovative practice and assessment. The program stresses the examination of educational solutions from around the world as participants work with their own local challenges.

Started in July 2012, the program has 29 students, 12 in the 2012 class and 17 in the 2013 class. They come from eight countries and regions, including Brazil, China and Singapore, and more than half (55%) are female.

Unlike traditional face-to-face program courses, the Ed.D. program is delivered in the online/hybrid format, which allows students to remain fully employed while pursuing their doctorate. Classes meet during a series of 1-2 week residential sessions in Los Angeles and Hong Kong over a 25-month period, totaling 10 weeks of intensive face-to-face class time, with extensive interaction between sessions accomplished through robust online communications.

What also makes it different from other doctoral programs is that candidates don't have to submit their GRE or TOEFL results during the application process. Robison said the program is targeted at senior leaders who have at least 10 or more years of leadership experience in education-related organizations. "We don't think that it's very useful for us to have somebody who is 35 or 45 years old and has been out of school for decades to attend GRE, which is a test designed for 22-year-olds who's just got out of college." He said the program doesn't want to create a barrier to senior education leaders, so they use other ways to assess the candidates' language skills. But there is no doubt that a high level of English proficiency is necessary for the program.

As one of the world's leading education schools, the Rossier School of Education started its first online program in 2009, which was also the first from a major research university. The fully online Masters of Arts in Teaching program doubled its enrollment in two years, from 50-100 students to 1,200-1,400 students. "What it's allowed us to do is to have a bigger impact in the United States and globally in terms of teacher training," Robison said. The online program opened up all sorts of options "for us in terms of what we teach, how we teach, and to whom we teach," he added.

Classes in education at USC began in the 1890s, the Department of Education was established in 1909, and the School of Education was established in 1918. The school was renamed in 1998 in recognition of alumni Barbara J. and Roger W. Rossier for their generosity and the importance of their vision for the future of education.