12:52 PM

First Ed.D Cohort Graduates

First EdD cohort stands on the stairs of STEM Building.After three years of rigorous research and coursework, the 24 members of the Ed.D in Ethical Leadership’s first cohort will walk together across the stage at graduation with their dissertations defended and under their belts.

“The people are what make the program,” Maria Younger, program manager, said. “Within a student’s three-year commitment to the University, students, faculty, dissertation committee members, and colleagues continually work together. The merging of this powerful group comes to its culmination at the dissertation defense and then, graduation. Furthermore, students come from so many employment backgrounds, higher education, non-profits, medical education, religious education and K-12 schools. This variety allows for rich and real discussion and research."

Designing the Program

“From the beginning, the Ed.D program was designed to be student-centric,” Dr. Ray Garcia, professor and director of the Ed.D program, said. "Through marketing analysis, we found most students would be mid-career, with family and working full-time. So, unlike other traditional programs, UST developed an accelerated, robust, academic program ensuring completion in three years, including dissertation.”

In addition, numerous other aspects of the program were tailored with students in mind. For example, tuition, textbooks and fees are bundled creating an affordable payment plan. And, students enjoy the cohort model undergirded by a potent support system.

“This setup is made for professionals to walk in and not have to think about the little stuff,” Younger said. “So when they hear what tuition includes, they’re very appreciative of the structure because it makes it easier for them.”

Benefits of the Non-traditional Model

“We expect students to finish with a scholarly product using a three-pronged approach; early introduction of the dissertation requirements, faculty advisement, and benchmarks, affording a clear path for completion,” Garcia said.

Return on Investment

As a result, the prevailing aspect of the program is its focus on students. This incredible care yielded the additional benefit of allowing each cohort to forge incredible bonds on their journeys to earn their degrees.

“I look back on when we all started that very first day of class and think about how, as a cohort, we all went through different changes in our lives together, and at the same time we developed as researchers,” Dr. Kimberly Pursch,’19, assistant superintendent of Stewardship – Catholic Schools Office, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, said. “In three years, which doesn’t sound like a lot of time, there’s just been so much. We’ve all become true professionals and it’s because of the support and the resources that we were provided with through the Ed.D program.”