Catholic Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Informing, forming, and transforming leaders in Catholic education.

Offered In

San Francisco's Main Campus

Informing, Forming, and Transforming Leaders in Catholic Education

The University of San Francisco’s Institute for Catholic Educational Leadership (ICEL) is in its 36th year of service to the Church and the world. To date, ICEL has educated more than 1,000 rigorously trained, caring, and dedicated faith-filled women and men, religious and lay, from 32 countries and 45 states to serve in all levels of Catholic education.

The program leading to the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Catholic Educational Leadership (CEL) prepares its students for effective leadership in Catholic education.

The curriculum is designed to allow students the opportunity to explore additional areas of interest, such as Learning and Instruction, International and Multicultural Education, Organization and Leadership, and Technology.

Program Delivery

To meet the needs of working professionals, the program follows a schedule of alternate weekend classes that convene nine times a semester (Friday evenings and all day Saturdays). See our Teaching Weekend schedule.

The program is offered during three semesters of the academic year: Fall, Spring, and Summer. The summer semester, referred to as the SummerWest program, includes a wide variety of course offerings; the summer faculty are from many parts of the country and bring expertise in theory and practice in elementary and secondary Catholic schools.


The founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius Loyola, invested his considerable talent and energy into starting and improving educational institutions because he believed “We should be influencing those who will influence others.” SummerWest is a program of profound influence. We have been influencing Catholic educational practice, discussion, and research, both nationally and internationally, for over thirty years through our students, our faculty, our courses, our conferences, and our community. We invite you to contribute to the vision of St. Ignatius Loyola, to continue his legacy as an educator who influences those you serve, by participating in SummerWest.

Degree Plan

The doctoral program consists of 60 credits beyond the master’s degree and culminates in the completion of a doctoral dissertation. Students will complete 60 credits of doctoral coursework that satisfy the following requirements: General Education core (12 credits), Major Specialization in Catholic Educational Leadership core (21 credits), Elective courses (15 credits), and Dissertation core (12 credits).

Course Details

General Education Core | 12 credits

  • GEDU 706 - Applied Educational Statistics
  • GEDU 708 - Research Methods in Education
  • One Foundation course selected in consultation with the student's adviser
  • One Advanced Research course selected in consultation with the student's adviser

Visit the section on General Education in the catalog for more information on these requirements for doctoral students.

Major Specialization in Catholic Educational Leadership Core | 21 credits

  • CEL 740 - History and Principles of Catholic Education
  • CEL 741 - Private School Law
  • CEL 742 - Moral Development
  • CEL 744 - Curriculum and Instructional Leadership in Catholic Schools
  • CEL 750 - Catholic Leadership and Educational Administration
  • CEL 651 - Business and Finance for Catholic Schools
  • CEL 753 - Personnel Leadership in Schools

Electives | 15 credits

Elective courses may be drawn from other CEL courses not listed above, GEDU 725 - Skills for Schlolarly Writing, and any other graduate program in the School of Education with the approval of the student’s doctoral adviser. Students who have completed the Master of Arts degree through the Catholic Educational Leadership Program may pursue a 12-credit block minor in another program within the School of Education. Students should consult their adviser concerning the minor requirements.

Dissertation Development, Research and Writing | 12 credits

  • CEL 700 - Introduction to Doctoral Research: Catholic School Education
  • CEL 709 - Dissertation Proposal Seminar
  • CEL 790 - Dissertation Proposal Development
  • CEL 791 - Dissertation Research and Writing

Course descriptions are available in the catalog.