Ed.D. Program: Design of Learning Environments Concentration

    Program Overview

    The Ed.D. concentration in Design of Learning Environments (DLE) prepares scholarly practitioners who utilize the science of instructional design to ensure that all students have access to and benefit from effective learning environments. Educators who want to be leaders and change agents in their professional context are encouraged to apply. DLE students come from various backgrounds and may include classroom teachers, school and district administrators, higher education professionals, educational software developers, human resource professionals, and educators in informal and out-of-school learning settings such as museums, libraries, science centers, and zoos. The program will challenge students to enhance their capacity to understand the critical features of their learning environment and to lead improvement efforts utilizing design-based research methods. It enables leaders to design and redesign high-quality programs that align with the mission of their school or organization and emphasizes the connection between theory, research, and practical application in real-world settings. 

    The Rutgers Ed.D. program is intended for working professionals and is designed to be summer intensive (9 credits per summer) and lighter in the fall and spring semesters (6 credits per semester). Students begin their doctoral education as part of a cohort and are encouraged to follow the recommended curriculum sequence to complete the program with their cohort in a little more than three years. Alternative sequences can be followed as needed. However, the cohort is a key element of the learning experience in this program.

    Program Goals as of 2022-2023
    (Last updated: 7/18/2022)


    Students will learn how to be change agents in educational settings by: 

    1. recognizing and valuing multiple perspectives on the social process of education, learners and learning, research inquiry and assessment, and leading for diversity, equity and inclusion; 
    2. using theory and research to frame, diagnose, and respond to problems of practice; 
    3. developing a professional knowledge base that integrates practical and research knowledge; 
    4. conducting research to inform and guide improvement of policy, programs, and practice; 
    5. identifying instances and patterns of discrimination and inequality and advocating for social justice; and 
    6. communicating and collaborating to build partnerships within and across communities. 


    Students will develop deep understanding of and expertise in the following: 

    1. Core: Four core or focus areas designed to be essential framing lenses for understanding problems of practice in education: a) Leadership, Organizations and Change (at the organizational, systems, and classroom levels); b) Social Contexts of Education (historical, economic, political, sociological, historical, and epistemological); c) Learners and Learning (K-12 and adult learning theory and practice); and d) Inquiry (research design and program evaluation). 
    2. Concentration: One of the five specialty areas of study/discipline to acquire content-specific and context-specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions: 1) Design of Learning Environments; 2) Educational Leadership; 3) Education, Culture, and Society; 4) Special Education; and 5) Teacher Leadership.
    3. Dissertation Research: Designing principles and inquiry focused on identifying and investigating a problem of practice using current literature and inquiry methodology.

    Communication/Community Building 

    Students will actively and purposefully:  

    1. participate in professional and scholarly communities through communication and collaboration (research, publications/presentations, professional development, and program evaluations and interventions); and 
    2. communicate and collaborate across various educational contexts to build partnerships within and across communities. 

    Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) 

    Students will understand the importance of the role of social justice in educational settings and promote educational equity by:  

    1. recognizing and valuing multiple perspectives (educational, cultural, personal, social, economic); 
    2. identifying instances and patterns of discrimination and inequality and advocating for social justice;  
    3. communicating and collaborating to build partnerships within and across communities; and  
    4. engaging in research that will positively influence the lives of students, families and communities. 

    Research/Professional Practice 

    Students will conduct original empirical research to inform their professional practice and address problems of practice that may guide improvement of and facilitate change in policy, programs, and practice. 


    Students will identify, evaluate, and use models and approaches that will be effective in the successful design and implementation of assessment within their educational contexts. 

    Professional Development/Self-Reflection 

    Students will capitalize on opportunities for continuous professional learning and development, including reflective self-inquiry, in order to become change leaders that can guide improvement of and make significant contributions to the chosen area of study/discipline. 



    Students will: 

    1. understand the process of design and how it applies specifically to the design of learning environments; 
    2. know the theoretical foundation and empirical support for common learning environment approaches or features; 
    3. engage in the process of designing learning environments; 
    4. understand how to conduct design-based research; and 
    5. design, evaluate, and revise existing learning environment designs enacted in real settings. 

     For more information about this program:

    Program Details

    Application Deadline

    Jan 15

    Entry Term(s)


    Program Level


    Program Type






  • What You’ll Learn

    Students who complete this 72-credit program will exit with an understanding of the process of design and how it applies specifically to the design of learning environments. Led by expert faculty, they will engage in design projects, review theoretical and empirical literature, and examine cycles of study and intervention in the student’s own professional context. In doing so, students will gain knowledge of the theoretical foundation and empirical support for common learning environments approaches and features, understand how to conduct design-based research, and come to be able to design, evaluate, and revise existing learning environment designs. 

    For more information about the courses in this program, please visit the course catalog and online schedule of classes.

  • Program Requirements

    This program typically takes just over 3 years to complete and requires:

    • 72 Graduate Course Credits
      • 9 Credits – Completed in the 1st Summer
      • 6 Credits – Completed in the 1st Fall
      • 6 Credits – Completed in the 1st Spring
      • 9 Credits – Completed in the 2nd Summer
      • 6 Credits – Completed in the 2nd Fall
      • 6 Credits – Completed in the 2nd Spring
      • 9 Credits – Completed in the 3rd Summer
      • 6 Credits – Completed in the 3rd Fall (Dissertation)
      • 6 Credits – Completed in the 3rd Spring (Dissertation) 
      • 9 Credits – Completed in the 4th Summer (Dissertation) 
    • Dissertation 
      • The Ed.D. Program culminates with a yearlong capstone/dissertation experience. The dissertation requires students to identify and investigate a problem of practice systematically using current literature, and inquiry methodology. Students are to write a final report that is presented publicly that may include a conference presentation, journal article or book chapter, or presentation to a local community. Students will have the option of working on their dissertation projects individually or in groups organized around key topics of interest.
  • Faculty
  • Careers and Outcomes

    Graduates of the Ed.D. program who pursued the Design of Learning Environments concentration are prepared to be change agents in the educational communities they serve. Educators working in traditional school settings who complete the program may go on to pursue roles including school superintendent, school principal, and other leadership roles at the school, district, or state level. The program may also position graduates for advanced roles in higher education, such as professor, provost, dean, or school executive. Other opportunities exist outside traditional school settings, including nonprofit, government, and corporate education-focused roles such as consultant, advisor, and chief learning officer. 

  • Admissions Requirements
    • Personal Statement
    • Current Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    • Academic Writing Sample
    • Official Undergraduate Transcripts
    • Official Graduate Transcripts
    • 1-2 Letters of Recommendation (optional)

    Click here for more information on the Ed.D. Program Admissions Requirements.

  • How to Apply
    1. Collect the materials required for admission
    2. Submit your application online at http://gradstudy.rutgers.edu/
    3. Submit supporting materials online
    4. Any supporting materials that cannot be submitted electronically should be mailed to Graduate Admissions’ New Brunswick office. Their mailing address can be found here: https://gradstudy.rutgers.edu/about/contact-us
  • Tuition & Financial Assistance


    For tuition and fees information please visit the tuition landing page.

    Financial Aid:

    While students are encouraged to apply for federal student aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), there are a number of other merit- and need-based support options, including loans and college work-study programs within and external to Rutgers. For more information, please visit the Office of Financial Aid website.

    Scholarships, Fellowships & Assistantships:

    Generous GSE alumni, friends, and community members have established and continue to donate to more than one dozen fellowships and scholarships to help deserving students reach their goals. These awards are granted on the basis of academic achievement and or financial need. While these awards are competitive, interested students are encouraged to apply for consideration and submit the required materials. Students must also submit a FAFSA application to be eligible.  

    To review all current awards and learn more about the donors that established them, please click here.

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