Interview with Andrea Lee, Ed.D. - Program Coordinator for the Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Austin Peay State University

About Andrea Lee, Ed.D.: Andrea Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Western Carolina University, a Master’s in Education from Fort Hays State University, and Master’s degrees in Public Administration and History. She has an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. Prior to working at Austin Peay State University, she lived in South Korea for 11 years and taught at a few universities there.

In her capacity as Ed.D. Program Coordinator, Dr. Lee oversees admissions, provides counseling to students, offers mentorship, conducts dissertation reviews, and serves on dissertation committees. Her research interests span intercultural communication, applied linguistics, refugee education, and international education. Additionally, she teaches principal preparation courses in the Master’s in Educational Leadership program and courses on qualitative research, organizational development, and research design at the doctoral level.

Note: Austin Peay State University is currently in the process of re-evaluating the curriculum of the Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, which may result in changes to the program. For the most up-to-date information, please contact Dr. Andrea Lee. This interview will be updated once the curriculum changes are finalized and approved by the university.

Interview Questions

[] Could you please provide an overview of Austin Peay State University’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership? How is this program structured, and what key learning outcomes can students expect? How does the curriculum optimally prepare students to take on leadership roles in schools and other organizations?

[Dr. Andrea Lee] The APSU Ed.D. program consists of a combination of core courses, concentration courses, research courses, and dissertation courses. Students take four leadership theory and practice courses, three organizational analysis courses, two educational policy courses, and four data-driven decision making courses. The program is 3 years. Some students take a little longer and are on an extended plan to complete their standard coursework and/or the dissertation. The program must be completed in 6 years.

Students typically take two 16-week courses each spring and fall and three 5.5-week courses each summer, allowing for a manageable workload for working professionals. We currently have an online cohort and a hybrid cohort to provide more flexibility to students. The Ed.D. program is designed to accommodate the needs of working professionals.

We also offer a lot of flexibility in terms of concentrations. Students can choose from five concentrations: K-12 Leadership, Higher Education Administration, Socioscientific Studies, Literacy Studies, and Nurse Educator. Each concentration offers specialized courses to align with the chosen area of focus.

  1. The higher education administration concentration is tailored for individuals working in or aspiring to work in higher education settings. Courses focus on higher education administration, law, and finance.
  2. The K-12 leadership concentration goes beyond traditional administrative roles to include academic coaches and mentors. Courses address topics such as leadership challenges, technology in education, and developing effective professional learning for educators.
  3. Tailored for nursing professionals, the nurse educator concentration emphasizes curriculum planning, clinical practice evaluation, and advanced clinical competencies. This concentration prepares nurses for teaching roles.
  4. The socioscientific studies concentration is geared toward leadership and scholarly work and spans K-12, higher education, and various settings. Courses delve into the historical and modern challenges of science education, leadership strategies in navigating socioscientific complexities, and leading integrated STEM instruction.
  5. The literacy studies concentration covers major theories and practical applications and focuses on K-12, higher education, and community-based programs. Courses provide an overview of literacy education, critical literacy practices, and trends and issues in literacy, including program evaluations and methodologies.

The program equips students with in-depth leadership knowledge, organizational analysis skills, and proficiency in policy analysis and data-driven decision-making. Moreover, the program focuses on the development of research skills to help students use research to make informed data-driven decisions in their educational settings. The program prepares students for leadership roles by enhancing capacity, positioning for organizational responsibility, promoting professional development, valuing diversity, and encouraging contributions to the educational profession.

[] Austin Peay State University’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is offered fully online. Could you please elaborate on the online learning technologies that this program uses to deliver course materials and facilitate interactions between students and faculty?

[Dr. Andrea Lee] Our learning management system is D2L. Courses are typically divided into modules with learning activities and assessments. Each course typically has three to four online synchronous sessions that are offered on Zoom. These synchronous sessions are during the weekdays after 4:30pm CT. Courses are predominantly asynchronous.

[] Austin Peay State University’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership requires students to pass a comprehensive examination. Could you elaborate on this requirement?

[Dr. Andrea Lee] The comprehensive exam is based on content from the core courses in the program. To optimally prepare for the examination, students should review their core course textbooks, readings, and notes. Presently, our students have approximately 4 months to complete the comprehensive exam, which includes several essay questions.

We want the students to genuinely reflect on their courses and ensure mastery of the student learning objectives covered in the core courses. We also want to refrain from having our students confined to a classroom for several hours to complete the exam, which can be a lot of pressure. Students must sign an honor statement and indicate that they have not gotten help from anyone or generative AI while working on the exam.

[] Students of Austin Peay State University’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership must complete a dissertation. What are the primary research approaches and methodologies that APSU recommends students implement in their dissertation process? Also, how do faculty support and guide students during their completion of the dissertation?

[Dr. Andrea Lee] We do not recommend any specific research approaches and methodologies to implement in the dissertation process. Discretion is given to the chair and committee. Faculty support and guide students through regular check-ins and meetings.

Our students have a dissertation chair whom they select in Year 2 of the program right before taking the research design course in which students start building a prospectus. They work alongside their chair and professor in this course to create a prospectus for their dissertation. The doctoral coordinator often works with the students to help them select a chair. Students also need one other Ed.D. faculty member on the committee as well as an external committee member. A fourth member is optional.

[] What role does mentorship play in Austin Peay State University’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership? How can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems while in the program?

[Dr. Andrea Lee] Students are assigned an advisor when they begin the Ed.D. program. The advisor provides guidance to students and helps with course registration. In Year 2 of the program, students begin working with a dissertation chair. The dissertation chair becomes the official advisor at that point. Chairs serve as mentors to our Ed.D. students to help students develop a clear understanding of goals and expectations in the program, especially in terms of dissertation policies and procedures. They strive to have regular communication with students.

Most communication for online students happens through Zoom meetings or telephone calls. We also have some alumni working as mentors who check in with mentees at least once a month. Additionally, several of our alumni are serving on dissertation committees. Furthermore, we aim to have at least two cross-cohort networking events each year where we bring together Ed.D. faculty, dissertation committee members, students in all cohorts, and alumni to share experiences and get advice on research and the dissertation journey.

Our students also have access to the university writing center, career counseling, and library services. We also have a librarian who is specifically assigned to education students.

[] For students interested in Austin Peay State University’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, what advice do you have in terms of submitting a competitive application?

[Dr. Andrea Lee] We ask students to ensure that they follow the directions carefully on the application site. The ideal student for the program has a mature attitude, a growth mindset, a professional background in education, and is committed to putting in the time, effort, and persistence needed to complete an Ed.D. degree.

When our Ed.D. program started in 2018, many of our students were working in K-12 schools. Since then, we have expanded and now have a growing interest among higher education administrators, staff, and faculty. Additionally, some of our students work for healthcare institutions and private educational organizations. We have provided specific directions on our application page, but unfortunately, not all of the applicants read this information. For example, their problem of practice may lack citations, or the applicants may not have followed the word count requirement.

Applicants may also be missing specific documents. If we need to frequently remind applicants about the missing documents or timelines, we may be concerned about the applicant’s ability to succeed in the program. Although we have a rolling admission system, we encourage early submissions of applications.

[] What makes Austin Peay State University’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership unique and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students who want to enter leadership roles in academic settings, as well as other organizational contexts?

[Dr. Andrea Lee] The APSU Ed.D. program stands out as a strong option due to our flexible format. We also have a very low tuition rate in the state of Tennessee and the nation for a doctoral degree. We offer an online option for those who want to study remotely, and we offer a hybrid option for local students who prefer face-to-face interaction. Our flexibility allows students to pursue their doctoral studies while actively engaged in their current roles, making it a practical choice for those seeking to balance work and education.

We also offer five concentrations, which gives our students options to choose an area that is most suited to their career interests. This customization ensures that graduates are well-prepared for leadership roles in their chosen fields. We also aim to provide virtual and in-person networking opportunities through online Q&A events with alumni and cross-cohort networking events that are held off and on campus.

Thank you, Dr. Andrea Lee, for your excellent insight into Austin Peay State University’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership!