Question: What is the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED)? Does the CPED accredit EdD programs?

Answer: Established in 2007, the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate is a collection of colleges and schools of education who are attempting to reassess and improve the structure of EdD programs. Their membership currently includes over 100 institutions in the United States and Canada, all working together to redesign the Doctor of Education to better serve advanced practitioners in the field. The primary goal of CPED is to promote its three-part framework for EdD redesign, which includes “a new definition of the EdD, a set of guiding principles for program development, and a set of design-concepts that serve as program building blocks.” While member schools are expected to adhere to this framework and restructure their EdD programs accordingly, the CPED does not grant any type of accreditation to these institutions or their degree offerings.

The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate is comprised of a wide range of postsecondary institutions who are looking to develop and implement changes to their current EdD programs. Working together, these member schools have performed a critical examination of the doctorate in education and created a set of guiding principles intended to refocus the degree on rigorous practitioner preparation. Colleges that join the consortium agree to adopt and institute this framework, making changes to improve their EdD curriculum with support from the CPED community and membership resources, such as collaborative meetings and access to the peer-reviewed, open source journal, “Impacting Education: Journal for Transforming Professional Practice.”

In our exclusive interview with Dr. Nancy Hastings, Assistant Dean of the College of Education at the University of West Florida (UWF) and Chair of the Department of Instructional Design and Technology, she describes how one of the central missions of CPED is to nurture and advocate for the distinction between the EdD and the PhD in Education.

“An Ed.D. is for the practitioner—the person who is looking to be the leader in their organization. The chief learning officer or performance consultant, those are people who are going to stay in practice,” Dr. Hastings explains. As a result, the kind of research that an EdD student should complete is necessarily different from the kind typically associated with a PhD dissertation. “[Students of EdD programs are] not ever going to do another traditional dissertation type research study in their lives because that is not who they are,” she adds. “They are going to do action research in their settings, addressing actual problems of practice that are impacting their work… and that aligns with the CPED framework that is all about distinguishing Ed.D. research and Ph.D. research and recognizing that the Ed.D. is a professional doctorate. It’s not meant to be a research doctorate, or the stepchild of the Ph.D. It is equal yet different.”

CPED only accepts non-profit institutions with current accreditation from a U.S. regional accrediting body, who can demonstrate commitment to ongoing enhancement of EdD education and a willingness to implement the CPED Framework in their EdD program. Some examples of CPED members include Arizona State University, Boston College, the California State University System, Drexel University, Florida State University, Johns Hopkins University, Northeastern University, Seattle University, Southern New Hampshire University, Texas A&M University, and The Ohio State University.

To learn more about CPED’s mission and its framework for EdD improvement, continue reading below.

The CPED Framework for EdD Redesign

In effort to help improve EdD program content and outcomes, members of CPED developed a framework for EdD redesign that consists of three components. The first is a unified description of the degree that clearly outlines its goal of producing advanced practitioners in the field. According to CPED, “The professional doctorate in education prepares educators for the application of appropriate and specific practices, the generation of new knowledge, and for the stewardship of the profession.” This new definition serves as somewhat of a mission statement for the consortium, summarizing the general consensus of members’ stance on the EdD and serving as the overall objective for program development.

From there, CPED outlined six guiding principles for schools to follow as they reassess and redesign their EdD programs. These guidelines (found on the CPED website) stipulate that the professional doctorate in education:

  1. Is framed around questions of equity, ethics, and social justice to bring about solutions to complex problems of practice.
  2. Prepares leaders who can construct and apply knowledge to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals, families, organizations, and communities.
  3. Provides opportunities for candidates to develop and demonstrate collaboration and communication skills to work with diverse communities and to build partnerships.
  4. Provides field-based opportunities to analyze programs of practice and use multiple frames to develop meaningful solutions.
  5. Is grounded in and develops a professional knowledge base that integrates both practical and research knowledge, that links theory with systemic and systematic inquiry.
  6. Emphasizes the generation, transformation, and use of professional knowledge and practice.

Finally, CPED members came up with a set of seven design concepts based around these principles, each representing an integral factor in the preparation of educational leaders. These are fundamental ideas or elements to be used as building blocks when designing or reconstructing a program, as opposed to a rigid or prescriptive model that schools must adhere to, allowing each institution to apply them in a manner that best aligns with their individual program goals. With that in mind, the consortium believes an effective EdD program should be built upon or include the following concepts (which have been paraphrased from the CPED website):

  • Scholarly Practitioners – Professionals who employ practical skills and knowledge to address problems of practice, using practical research and applied theories as tools for change.
  • Signature Pedagogy – A pervasive set of practices used to prepare scholarly practitioners to think, perform, and act with integrity, which challenges assumptions, engages in action, and requires ongoing assessment and accountability.
  • Inquiry as Practice – The process of posing significant questions that focus on complex problems of practice and the ability to gather and analyze situations, literature, and data with a critical lens.
  • Laboratories of Practice – Settings where theory and practice inform and enrich each other, that address complex problems of practice where ideas can be implemented, measured, and analyzed for the impact made.
  • Mentoring and Advising – Instructional coaching guided by equity and justice, mutual respect, dynamic learning, cohort and individualized attention, rigorous practices, and integration.
  • Problem of Practice – Specific issues embedded in the work of a professional practitioner, the address of which has the potential to result in improved understanding, experience, and outcomes.
  • Dissertation in Practice – A scholarly endeavor that impacts a complex problem of practice.

Choosing an EdD Program

As mentioned above, CPED does not directly accredit EdD programs, and member schools may be in different phases of implementing the framework and its guidelines. In general, students should choose an EdD that provides the curriculum and structure needed to help them best achieve their academic and career goals, independent of whether the program comes from a CPED school. With that said, membership is definitely another factor one might consider when researching options for their doctorate.

If students are unclear about how a particular institution has implemented the framework or where they are in the process, it is best to reach out to a school representative for more information. This is a great opportunity to learn how a prospective EdD program has evolved over time and where the school sees that program going in the future. Pursuing an EdD is a significant time and financial commitment, therefore, students should be certain that the program they choose is the ideal match for their personal and professional needs both now and in years to come.