The Leading Edge

September 4, 2016

As the doors of the elevator opened, cameras flashed and microphones came flying at Dr. John Wilson. He was a publicly announced finalist interviewing for the job of superintendent of a large Texas school district, and the media was out in full force to find out who he was.

“It was like being on ‘60 Minutes,’” said Wilson (pictured), clinical professor of educational administration at Baylor School of Education.

Dealing with aggressive media outlets is an overlooked skill for school leaders, Wilson said. And it’s one of the skills students will acquire in the new Doctor of Education in K-12 Educational Leadership program at Baylor. The EdD program will launch in the summer of 2017.

Dr. John Wilson

Wilson served for two decades as superintendent in four districts and then worked as a consultant to districts, businesses and law firms. He came to Baylor in 2010 after previously teaching at seven universities, including Baylor, and is director of the new EdD program.

Baylor EdD at a Glance:

  • Designed for Working Educators
  • No GRE Required for Admission
  • Classes Begin June 2017
  • 3 years to Completion
  • 65 Total Credit Hours:
    • 48 Hours of Coursework
    • 11 Hours of Clinical Experience
    • 6 Hours of Dissertation-in-Practice
  • Includes Preparation for Texas Superintendent Certification

Baylor’s EdD is designed for working educators, with coursework concentrated on weekends and in the summer. The three-year program includes supervised fieldwork and six course hours of a dissertation-in-practice.


Wilson said the program blends theory and practice, focusing on key skills — effective persuasive communication, data-informed decision making, problem solving, conflict resolution, career development and mentoring.

Wilson said Baylor students will get personal one-on-one attention from professors and their field mentors.

“Mentors will be experienced educational leaders at the highest levels,” Wilson said, noting that Baylor intentionally emphasizes the mentorship connection.

“My experiences in leadership have all come because of mentors who believed in me,” Wilson said. “They gave me experiences that built my leadership skills, encouraged me to go beyond what I thought I could do, and picked me up when things didn’t go as well as I wanted them to.”

Dr. Jeff Turner, BSEd ’77, EdD ’95, who is retired as superintendent of Coppell ISD, said earning a doctoral degree gives an educational leader the chance to think big. “It encourages you to dream and to consider the big questions about the role of education, outside of the worries of everyday problems,” he said.

Turner said there is great value in the on-campus cohort model that Baylor provides. “The cohort model gives you a chance not only to read and study, but also to discuss — and even disagree — with colleagues,” he said. “The quality of talent that is attracted to Baylor enhances that experience.”

Through support from endowed funds, the cost of Baylor’s EdD program is substantially less than other nationally ranked, private, doctoral-granting institutions. Wilson said Baylor will offer an experience that students cannot find elsewhere. “The EdD program will remain small enough to be personal,” he said. “Baylor offers a caring, Christian environment, where we will prepare educators for these challenging positions of leadership.”

Qualified applicants may apply online now, and the deadline is Feb. 1, 2017. For more information and to apply, visit