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Doctorate in Leadership and Adult Learning in Organizations Adult Learning (EdD)

A Degree for Tomorrow’s Leaders

 The Doctorate in Leadership and Adult Learning in Organizations program is designed to equip adult learners from various professional fields with the essential theories, concepts, and instructional strategies necessary to educate and train adults. Doctoral students will acquire knowledge in adult learning theory, learn to develop programs for working adults, and master leadership and managerial skills that address the dynamic changes impacting the current adult workforce. 

Program Advantages

 As one of our doctoral students, you will participate in a real-world graduate program that explores effective methods to train, educate, and lead adults to maximize their potential in their professional lives. A signature feature of the doctoral program is the opportunity to learn and engage with scholar-practitioners in the adult learning field and collaborate with peers concerning the pressing issues facing adult learners. Keeping pace with evolving student needs, our program features a 16-week Applied Dissertation Project rather than a traditional dissertation. 

150 years of academic excellence

100% Online

8-Week Terms Designed for Working Professionals


Not Required for Program Acceptance

Live Interactions

Interact with instructors in real-time (optional)

Admission Requirements

Completed application + official transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited university or college


This degree is comprised of 48 credit-hours. 

Courses you may take

ALE 710 - Adult Learning: Theory and Practice - 3.00

Understanding adult learning begins with considering its historical and theoretical roots, and current and past methods. This course focuses on the theoretical and philosophical foundations, approaches, assumptions, lived experiences, theories, and applications that has given voice to adult learning as a vibrant field of study and its efficacy in diverse adult educational and professional settings. Learners will apply the vast literature on adult learning theory and practice to real-world scenarios in various workforce and educational settings.

ALE 730 - Adult Learning Methods - 3.00

Adults learn best from leaders, managers, educators, and trainers who possess a clear understanding of the learning needs and professional objectives of adult learners. In this course, learners will explore the theoretical underpinnings, real-world approaches, modalities, instructional design, learning environments, assessment, and evaluation necessary in adult learning situations. Learners will also examine their philosophical orientations and teaching/learning styles to better understand the role they have as instructors of adults.

ALE 760 - Developing Adult Learning Programs - 3.00

Leaders and managers in education, industry, military, business, health and social sectors, and non-profit organizations improve organizations by implementing training that consists of critical elements in adult education: learner needs, learner readiness, educational setting, modality, capacity for self-direction, real-world application, and human resource development. In this course, learners will explore how to incorporate these elements when planning programs in disparate professional settings. Prerequisite: ALE710 and ALE730

ALE 770 - Leadership for Adult Learning - 3.00

Effective leadership skills are crucial for 21st century organizations. Today’s leaders and managers must possess leadership competencies that address the unique learning needs of adult learners and inspire them toward further self-direction in their own leadership and professional development. In this course, learners explore the specific leadership skills necessary to lead and inspire adult learners to advance organizational change, promote diversity, implement collaborative thinking, and explore ethical considerations.

ALE 775 - Improvement of Adult Instruction and Training - 3.00

Effective adult trainers and educators promote and embrace the essential adult education concept and practice of lifelong learning. The pursuit of excellence in adult instruction and training should be a personal and professional goal. In this course, learners will use self-directed learning approaches to explore how they look to their own continual learning and development through emerging adult learning methods and practices. Prerequisite: ALE760 & ALE770

ALE 780 - Adults as Critical Thinkers - 3.00

Critical thinking has rightly emerged as a crucial skill and disposition for the adult professional. The lateral coordination of organizations and teams, the realities of the global economy, and the need for ethical leadership, has reinforced the call for adults to become expert critical thinkers. In this course, learners will explore the theories, definitions, and skills of critical thinking. Learners will explore the effective ways critical thinking promotes positive adult learning situations and enhances adults’ listening, problem-solving, dialogic, and question-asking skills. Prerequisite: ALE760 & ALE770

ALE 785 - Adult Program Evaluation - 3.00

An essential component of any adult education program is its assessment and evaluation. The evaluative process of an adult educational or training program includes the content, instruction, setting, and agreed upon outcomes. Moreover, educators and trainers of adults must be able to assess and evaluate the preparation, execution, and results of the programs, professional development, or training sessions. With adult learning theory and practice as the source and guide, learners will attain knowledge of the key elements that are involved in effective and authentic adult program evaluation. Prerequisite: ALE760 & ALE770

ALE 790 - Adult Learning and the Digital Age - 3.00

Both adult educators and learners must recognize the ubiquitous nature of technology and its importance in adult learning. This course focuses on the ways adult educators and learners leverage current and emerging technologies in educational and working environments. Learners will explore how information and communication technologies (ICTs) enhance key adult learning concepts, to include self-directed learning, learner autonomy, and motivation. Prerequisite: ALE760 & ALE770

ALE 795 - Research in Adult Learning - 6.00

In this course, learners will work with their professor on the process of the capstone project for the EdD in Adult Learning. As an action research project, learners will identify a problem or challenge in their organization, place of work, or career area. Techniques for researching peer-reviewed research in an APA formatted paper that details background of the organization, the emerging or current problem or challenge, literature/research/data behind the problem or challenge, the solution and deliverable, follow-up, and evaluation of the deliverable will be covered. Prerequisite:RSH720, RSH740, and ALE790

ALE 798 - Applied Doctoral Project - 6.00

The Applied Doctoral Project (ADP) for the EdD in Adult Learning is a real-world, action research project. Learners would identify a problem or challenge in their place of work or career field. The intent is for the project to interact with real-world challenges in the workplace. Through this educational experience, learners become scholar-practitioners committed to discovering solutions and recommendations to challenges in work environments. The ADP would consist of three parts: a research paper, personal reflection, and presentation. The ADP would be completed by the end of ALE 798 or ALE 799. Prerequisite: ALE795

ALE 799 - Applied Doctoral Project Continuation - 1.00

A continuation of ALE 798. ALE 799 is a repeatable course. Waived if student has met program requirements by the end of ALE 798 Prerequisite:ALE798

EDU 710 - Aspects of Leadership - 3.00

As the world constantly changes, the expectations of leaders continue to increase. The effectiveness of a leader requires a high level of ability to work with others and respond to change. With the number of issues leaders continually face, the ability to create a vision of leadership and organize others into collective efforts to respond to the changing needs of society is a must. This course assumes that each individual has leadership potential and that leadership qualities can be developed through a series of experiences and reflections. Class activities will create opportunities to evaluate and assess leadership roles and practices along with documenting leadership experiences. Success in this course requires demonstrated mastery of theoretical concepts, capacity for collaborative work and the thoughtful integration of theory and practice.

EDU 750 - Organizational Learning & System Change - 3.00

This course focuses on systems thinking, personal and organizational behaviors, and leadership approaches to the change process. Students will demonstrate ethical thinking and action in organizational settings by re-conceptualizing leadership roles and organizational structures. Students will learn concepts and theories and be able to apply them to their educational organizations. The design is to use case studies, experiential exercises, dialogue and group activities to interact with the pedagogy and concepts learned during the course.

RSH 720 - Quantitative Analysis II - 3.00

This course will provide the educational practitioner with the support and further training to the quantitative skills needed for scientific research and data analysis. The course will include a review of basic statistical concepts as well as an introduction to the following statistical methodologies: Correlation, Regression, t-Test, ANOVA, Repeated Measures, Non-parametric test, Factor Analysis, and Categorical Data (Chi-Square). Series of practice problems, discussion, and weekly assessments from the textbook will take the students one step further on various experimental design and statistical test and data analysis. This course is designed with the dissertation in mind to provide foundation of knowledge and skill if a student chooses to do a quantitative analysis for his/her final dissertation. Prerequisite: Graduate Level Introductory Research and Introductory Statistics Course

RSH 740 or EDU 740 - Exploration of Qualitative Research - 3.00

This course will introduce leaders to concepts and strategies of qualitative research in preparation for conducting independent research. The course is designed for students to critically understand and develop a qualitative research design as it applies to a variety of research questions. Course topics will include the framing of research questions, identifying data and data sources, and using theory in the design and analysis process. Prerequisite: Graduate Level Introductory Research and Introductory Statistics Course or This course will introduce educational leaders to concepts and strategies in qualitative research in preparation for conducting independent research. Students will discuss future trends, issues, and problems in academic educational systems. Students will critically understand and develop a qualitative research design as it applies to an educational issue. Course topics will include the framing of research questions, identifying data and data sources, and using theory in the design process. Prerequisite: Graduate Level Introductory Research and Introductory Statistics Course



The following must be submitted before consideration for admission:

  • Completed application
  • Official transcripts, showing a masters degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited university or college.
  • Professional vita.

Your digital classroom. Available anywhere.

William Woods online graduate education programs are available to students across the country. In Missouri, our students come from Fulton, Columbia, Jefferson City, St. Louis, Kansas City, Moberly, Springfield, Ozark, Cape Girardeau, Rolla and many more locations. Beyond Missouri, our online graduates hail from California, Illinois, Kansas, Washington, Arkansas and other states.

Our graduate education programs are available online and are ranked among the best online programs in Missouri by US News and World Report.

Admissions Information

Learn more about online admissions requirements, deadlines, tuition and financial aid available to you.

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