Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy & Foundations

Program Overview

The Interdisciplinary Ph.D. (IPh.D.) degree in Educational Leadership, Policy and Foundations (ELPF) is administered through the UMKC School of Graduate Studies. Suggested compatible co-disciplines include: Curriculum and Instruction, Public Affairs and Administration, History, Economics, Political Science, the Social Science Consortium, and Sociology. Students with ELPF as the primary discipline must pass a comprehensive examination including both the primary discipline and the co-discipline areas. The student will be required to take and completed 12 hours of coursework that provides extensive preparation in research methodologies relevant to her/his professional goals and intended dissertation project.

Who Does The Program Benefit?

This doctorate-level program prepares individuals to serve in a number of educational settings and in a wide variety of capacities. Graduates go on to secure positions as leaders in schools and school districts, administrators in higher education institutions, and as university faculty teaching undergraduate and graduate students and conducting their own research.

What Does The Program Look Like?

When applying for the IPhD program, applicants must designate a primary discipline as well as a co-discipline, and applicants may designate as many as three co-disciplines. Within ELPF as a primary or co-discipline area, there are three areas of emphasis an applicant can choose from: 1) PK-12 Administration; 2) Higher Education Administration; and 3) Educational Foundations. In each of these, a commitment to the urban mission is central to the inquiry process. Students are encouraged to develop unique, individual programs of study and to design final research projects that allow maximum interaction between and among their selected disciplines of choice. Students work closely with a faculty advisor to create an educational experience that is distinctive and meets their individual goals.

Students with Educational Leadership, Policy and Foundations as a co-discipline will be required to take a minimum of 15 credit hours of core courses. The core curricula will vary, depending on whether students’ research is primarily in educational leadership or the social-philosophical foundations of education and on the types of educational setting upon which they wish to focus. Specific courses will be selected with the advice and consent of the student’s faculty advisor and supervisory committee. The supervisory committee may elect to accept coursework in an educational-specialist program or other post-master’s degree program as counting toward the 15-credit-hour requirement. Students seeking administrative certification for public school positions should check with their advisor to be sure they include all courses currently required in the states in which they wish to become certified. The amount of required coursework taken by students with Educational Leadership, Policy & Foundations as their primary discipline will depend upon their previous preparation in the discipline, previous research competencies, personal career goals, as well as their research interests.

Discipline-Specific Admission Requirements
Discipline-specific requirements below are in addition to the requirements listed in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Application Procedure and Minimum Criteria for Admission and Minimum Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Academic Regulations and Degree Requirements set forth by the School of Graduate Studies.

  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 , (or) a GPA of at least 3.5 for all graduate work
  • Three academic or professional letters of recommendation
  • Autobiographical sketch: a brief resume of academic and professional goals with personal, academic and career history as it relates to those goals. It should also include reasons for choosing ELPF as a field of study.
  • Evidence of graduate-level writing ability provided by writing samples, prior scholarly writing or the successful completion of an essay examination
  • Official GRE test scores- no substitutions for the GRE exam. No minimum score is required, must meet the GRE requirements for other chosen discipline(s).

An applicant may be contacted by divisional faculty for an interview. When evaluating applications, faculty take into account evidence of such factors as demonstrated leadership skills, commitment to education, communication and academic skills, a clear and important research agenda, cultural background, etc. In some cases, the division may ask that 12 hours of work at UMKC, including an education foundations course, be taken prior to full admission.

International Admission Criteria
International applicants will be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program on the basis of background, experience and educational attainments in her/his home country. Exceptions to the general criteria for admissions may be made for students whose potential for success in the doctoral program may not be reflected in the general criteria. Students admitted under alternate criteria will be notified of preparation and coursework deficiencies to be satisfied prior to full admission.

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Admissions Procedure (for primary disciplines requiring a co-discipline application selection)

All applicants are encouraged to review the requirements for the Primary and Co-discipline(s) by visiting the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. website. It is recommended that applicants talk to the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Discipline Coordinators in their areas of interest BEFORE applying to the program. Discipline Coordinators offer valuable program, academic and application information.

Please read through all steps below before beginning your application!

Step One (UMKC Web Application):

Complete the UMKC Web Application.

  • Select “Graduate and Professional” then “Apply to the School of Graduate Studies”
  • Choose the “online” application
  • Create a “new application” and an Application ID and Password.
  • Select “Graduate” and enter your application information.
  • Select your intended academic plan (major) as “Interdisciplinary Studies PhD”
  • Then select your “Primary Discipline” from the drop-down menu. A list of Participating Disciplines is available on the School of Graduate Studies website.
  • Next, you must select a “Co-discipline” from the drop-down menu.
  • Complete the rest of the online application and submit.

Step Two (Supplementary Application Materials):

Once the UMKC web application is complete, you will receive an email within 24 to 48 hours inviting you to log in to the Supplementary Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Application site. You will use the Username and Password you created for the UMKC web application to log in to iSAP. Supplemental materials for Interdisciplinary Ph.D. applicants must be uploaded as .PDFs in the Supplementary Application site. Once the requirements (shown below) are completed, you change your Application Status from “In Process” to “Complete” in the Supplementary Application site so that your application can be reviewed by the disciplines:

  • Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores (International applicants)
  • Official transcripts
  • Narrative statement / Statement of intent
  • Resume / Vita
  • Three letters of recommendation (The applicant provides referee contact information in the Supplementary Application site. The referee receives an email invitation to upload the reference letter into the site.)
  • Writing sample (not required of all disciplines, check applicable discipline requirements at IPhD Studies) Please note: the narrative statement is NOT the same as the writing sample.

Official transcripts should be sent directly to the UMKC Admissions Offices. Please check with the Admissions Office (domestic applicants) or the International Student Affairs Office (ISAO – international applicants) regarding the receipt of your official transcript(s). Your application cannot be reviewed until official transcripts have been received.

Test scores should be sent directly to UMKC from ETS-Institution code: 6872

Waiver requests for TOEFL/IELTS/GRE: Applicants must talk with the Interdisciplinary Ph.D Discipline Coordinators in their areas of interest BEFORE requesting a waiver for the official test score requirements. After talking with the Coordinators, a waiver request can be submitted in writing through the Supplementary Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Application site (iSAP). Choose “Uploads” from the left-hand menu, then “Add files” to upload your waiver request in a PDF format. Choose “Other” for the document type listed in the drop down menu, then click “Start” to add the TOEFL/IELTS/GRE waiver request to your application.

If you have questions regarding the application process, please contact the School of Graduate Studies at 816-235-1301 or

Additional Information

  1. The deadlines for applications to the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program vary by discipline. All application materials must be uploaded into the Supplementary Application site, and test scores and official transcripts must be received in Admission Offices by the earliest discipline deadline. (For example, if one discipline’s deadline is February 1st and the other March 15th, then application materials must be received by the February 1st deadline.)
  2. The timeline for applicants to expect admission decisions varies by discipline. Most admission decisions are made approximately four to six weeks after the latest deadline. (For example, if one discipline deadline is February 1st and the other March 15th, an admission decision should be received, approximately, by April 15th to April 30th.
  3. Applicants will be notified of admission decisions by mail. Newly admitted international applicants will receive necessary admission documentation by courier service from the International Student Affairs Office.
  4. Admission decisions cannot be provided over the telephone.

To review the 2015-2016 UMKC Catalog’s information for each discipline, visit: