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The Doctoral Program: Mission, Objectives, and Admissions

Mission and Objectives of The Doctoral Program

Mission of EdD Program

This is an exceptionally innovative and extremely distinctive program of advanced, interdisciplinary and personalized studies, and it aims to prepare students for positions, careers, and/or community involvement in leadership and creative change through the use of innovative strategies of adult and higher learning.  WISR students are strongly motivated people, who find WISR’s learner-centered methods well-suited to their needs and purposes, and who are confident that WISR can help them to achieve a high level of expertise in action-research and in their chosen field(s)—in community leadership and education, and their particular areas of professional practice.

This program, like all of WISR’s educational programs, is suited for learners with many different types of future goals, including but not limited to:  changing careers, pursuing advancement in one’s existing career, becoming more capable and more meaningfully engaged in one’s existing job or career niche, or making contributions to others and to the larger community as an unpaid expert drawing on one’ professional knowledge, skill and talents.

For example, WISR EdD students may aim to promote and excel in the advanced education of professionals, adult continuing education, parent education, lay and community education, life coaching and relationship coaching, adult literacy, foreign language instruction, and global and international education; as instructors and faculty in colleges and universities, in working on curriculum development and reform in adult and higher education, the education of special populations with special needs, and the use of the internet, multimedia and mass media for education.  WISR’s EdD program is especially suited to students who are interested in the role of education in working toward social changes for justice, sustainability and multiculturalism, either inside and outside of established institutions of higher and adult learning.  Graduates of this program may aim to seek employment in non-profits, schools, businesses, colleges, professional associations and educational groups, nongovernmental organizations, or to start their own organizations or become self-employed.  WISR encourages people to apply whose purposes and interests re within the scope of our EdD program’s offerings, and who are aiming to develop distinctive career niches for themselves.

WISR Doctoral Alumnus, David Yamada, interviewed on MSNBC, because of his national reputation in addressing the growing problem of Workplace Bullying

WISR Doctoral Alumnus, David Yamada, interviewed on MSNBC, because of his national reputation in addressing the growing problem of Workplace Bullying

Learning Objectives for Students in the EdD Program

Major learning outcomes for students in this program include:

  • Mastery of subject matter in one’s chosen field(s) of specialization.
  • Familiarity with the theory and practice of some creative and productive uses of adult learning, professional education, community education and/or higher education, including the possible roles in supporting social changes aimed at supporting democracy, social justice and/or multiculturalism.
  • Expertise in creating new, innovative practices and in developing new knowledge—both in the student’s chosen field(s) of specialization, and in emerging new field of “adult/higher education and social change” which WISR has helped to develop in the past 40 years.
  • Successfully building bridges for oneself to the next important things that the student wishes to be involved in, and accomplish, in her or his life and career.
  • Ability to conduct major projects which can positively contribute to improved practices and knowledge in one’s field(s), using methods of action-research, especially, qualitative, participatory research.
  • Significant progress in WISR’s core meta-competencies and areas of learning: 1) Critical, Creative, Compassionate, Collaborative/Communal Thinking and Communication; 2) Becoming a Conscious, Intentional, Improvising Learner; 3) Community Leadership and Collaboration; 4) Experience, Competence, Talent, and Knowledge in One’s Chosen Area(s) of Specialization; 5) Participatory Action-Inquiry and Qualitative Research; 6) Awareness of Issues of Justice, Sustainability and Social Change; 7) Multicultural Perspective.


 Entering students must hold a Master’s degree from an accredited institution in a field related to WISR’s EdD program or the student’s planned area(s) of specialization, or at least 30 semester units of graduate study in such a field.

Students with graduate work (a Master’s or 30 semester units of completed studies) from unaccredited institutions may apply for special admission—by submitting evidence of the quality of their previous graduate study (e.g., copies of papers or a thesis, or recommendations from academicians who hold accredited doctoral degrees).  Such applicants may also submit professional or scholarly papers or projects that they have produced–which suggest that their previous graduate study was at the level expected of accredited programs. In some cases, such students may be admitted provisionally, and  be on probation for a six-month period, during which time they can demonstrate their preparedness for study in WISR’s EdD program.

In addition to transcripts of previous academic work, and an affidavit where they attest to the details of their high school graduation or passage of the GED, all applicants must submit a one-page application form, and a brief statement of their interests and reasons for wanting to study in WISR’s EdD program, including a discussion of why WISR’s learning methods are appropriate for them. They must also submit for review two letters of recommendations from academicians, professionals, or community leaders familiar with their accomplishments and abilities.  Quite importantly, all applicants must have an interview with WISR’s President or another faculty member in the EdD program—to determine if WISR’s EdD program will address the student’s needs and purposes, and if there is a good fit between the student’s desired approaches to learning and the “WISR way.”

Transfer of Credits

Entering students enrolling after March 1, 2018, may submit for faculty approval, up to 9 semester units of previous doctoral level work, for transfer. Such credit will be subject to the same process and criteria of review that was discussed above under “Admissions.”

Dr. Crystallee Crain, WISR Faculty, Roger Mason, Doctoral Student, and Dr. Torry Dickinson, WISR Faculty

Dr. Crystallee Crain, WISR Faculty, Roger Mason, Doctoral Student, and Dr. Torry Dickinson, WISR Faculty

Orientation to WISR

All entering EdD students must enroll in a three semester unit course on “Learning the WISR Way.”  In this course, students read articles about WISR’s approach to learning, including self-directed, learner-centered education; discuss these articles with WISR faculty; interview alumni and currently enrolled students to learn more about WISR’s approach to learning.

Description and Goals: “This is an introductory course, required of WISR students in all degree programs, which is designed to enable students to progress more effectively toward the successful completion of the degree program at WISR, so that students can get the most from their WISR education—in pursuing their learning passions and career interests, in developing the core meta-competencies valued at WISR, and in building bridges for themselves to the next significant things they wish to do in their lives.   Students read and study the methods of “Learning the WISR way”–studying the theories and strategies of WISR’s approach to transformative learning for professional and community leadership, as well as learning from stories and specific examples drawn from the experiences of other WISR students.

Also, students are introduced to methods of note-taking and writing in their own voice, as well as the use of professional conventions in formal writing and strategies of effective online research. In this course, students reflect on, discuss and write about what they are learning in the course, and the culminating papers are a reflective autobiographical essay, a preliminary educational plan and a self-assessment inventory of strengths, challenges, needs, and opportunities in the pursuit of their future goals and learning.”

In writing these papers, students must include a statement of how and why WISR’s self-paced, learner-centered methods are appropriate for them—with fewer hours in traditional, large classrooms, and more time spent for 6 or more hours per week in one-on-one mentoring sessions and small group seminar discussions.

Distance learners must include in their autobiographical statement, learning plan, and self-assessment, an analysis of how and why distance learning at WISR is feasible for them, and will result in their being able to meet their needs and accomplish their goals. 

These statements are to be discussed, reviewed and approved by at least one member of the WISR EdD faculty.

Finally, this course is also used to introduce and orient new students to 1) WISR’s career center and resources, and 2) WISR’s library resources, the library resources of other libraries and online databases which WISR will enable or help students to access.