Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry
The Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary doctoral program steeped in social justice designed to develop your skills as a critical leader, researcher, and advocate. Our curriculum is built on deep-dive, content-rich courses focused on equity and inclusion issues in education and research. Your time in our program not only will prepare you to be a critical consumer of research, but a producer of research—research designed to make a difference to individuals, families, and communities.
Armed with these tools and knowledge, you will be prepared to help move the needle on important educational and societal issues across a range of venues and in a range of roles:
- Inside and outside educational organizations
- Nongovernmental organizations and think-tanks
- Work in the public sphere
- Community advocacy
- Social justice-committed, focused leadership
Classes meet four weekends per semester during the spring, fall, and summer semesters. A majority of candidates are part-time students with full-time jobs. Students have eight years to complete the degree.
Point of Pride
The Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry (LEI) Ph.D. program reliably enrolls the highest number of Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Diversifying Faculty in Higher Education (DFI) fellows at Illinois State University. DFI offers a prestigious, competitive fellowship that provides both financial support and mentorship to underrepresented doctoral students whose aim is to become faculty members at Illinois’ higher education institutions.
Discover what life as an Illinois State graduate student is like.
University Admission Requirements
A student applying to a doctoral program must:
- have earned a master's degree or equivalent from a college or university that is accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association, or do so within one academic year in a discipline appropriate to the specific doctoral program or its equivalent
- have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a scale in which an A is a 4.0) for the last 60 hours of undergraduate work (approximately the junior and senior years)
- have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a scale in which an A is a 4.0) for all graduate-level coursework
- present unofficial transcripts from each college or university other than Illinois State at which graduate, undergraduate, or non-degree credit was earned. The unofficial transcript should be easily readable and clearly indicate degree(s) awarded, courses and course grades for each term. If accepted, official transcripts can be emailed from the university to GraduateAdmissions@IllinoisState.edu or mailed in a sealed envelope to: Illinois State University, Graduate School, 209 Hovey Hall, Campus Box 4040, Normal, IL 61790-4040.
International students can learn more about specific application requirements by visiting International Admissions. International students must have a TOEFL score of at least 79 iBT; the minimum acceptable IELTS score is 6.5 band.
Additional Program Admission Requirements
To be considered for this program, you must meet the following requirements.
Resume and Professional Experience
Submit an up-to-date résumé that lists at least two years of work and educational experience.
Review the goals of the Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry program and upload an essay that addresses the following topics.
Personal Qualities – What qualities do you possess and what experiences have you had that demonstrate your commitment to working toward a more socially just world?
Addressing Challenges - Think about a problematic situation you have faced related to one of the goals of the Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry Ph.D. program. Write a brief description of the problem and then provide a possible interpretation and/or resolution of the problem from two different perspectives.
Goals - How do your professional and academic goals relate to the stated goals, curriculum, and focus of the Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry Ph.D. program? Why have you selected our specific program?
Knowledge and Experience - In what areas would you like to gain more experience or knowledge? Tell us about how you anticipate the Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry Ph.D. program can help you gain the knowledge and experience to address those needs.
Dedication and Resolve - Tell us about what personal qualities and experiences you possess that demonstrate you have the ability, support system, and commitment to complete a program of doctoral study and required independent research.
Submit a sample of academic/research writing you’ve completed. Examples might include your master’s thesis, a research or response paper you completed in your master’s program, or some piece of writing you’ve completed during your professional career that speaks to LEI program goals.
Alternatively, you are welcome to create a writing sample to submit for our consideration.
Letters of Recommendation
Submit two letters of reference. Provide your referees with the Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry Ph.D. program goals and ask your referees to speak to your accomplishments and/or potential in these areas. When you access the online application system, you will be asked to submit referees’ contact information.
At least one letter should come from an academic source. The second letter may come from a supervisor/administrator. Additional letters may be included.
All letters should address Leadership, Equity, and Inquiry Ph.D. program goals.
- Fall Term — March 15, rolling admission after if space permits with coordinator approval
The University provides graduate assistantships as a means of financial support. They are intended as a way to facilitate a student's progress to degree while providing important professional development.
To be eligible for an assistantship a student must, generally,
- be admitted unconditionally as a degree-seeking student into a graduate academic program, or have a minimum of 120 undergraduate hours if in an integrated degree program
- be in good-standing
- be enrolled full-time (typically at least 9 credit hours during the fall or spring semesters, or at least 6 hours during the summer session).
Graduate assistants receive
- monthly wages paid in the form of either a stipend or an hourly wage
- a waiver for 100% of tuition during a semester of appointment
- a waiver for up to 12 credit hours of tuition for the summer term immediately following a fall or spring appointment
See Student Accounts for information on tuition and fees. Funding for graduate students is available from several different sources. Students who have been admitted from contiguous states including Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin will receive in-state tuition.