Doctorate for Innovators and Creators

Our Doctorate in Education, Leadership and Innovation program offers a unique and transformative experience for practitioners interested in the study and practice of learning, leadership, and change. Our students focus on a system and innovation perspective to make real and lasting changes in our learning system.


Benerd College empowers passionate leaders in cultivating a hub of innovation and learning in California's Sacramento Valley. We provide a dynamic, intimate, humanistic, and student-centered approach to teaching and learning. 

Our programs are designed for working professionals wanting to foster true innovation through learning and education.


The program focuses on fostering innovation and creativity in Leadership & Innovation. We purposefully recruit students from throughout the learning system: K12 education, higher education, non-profit and advocacy organizations, government, the military, and corporations.  The curriculum is focused on inquiry and practice for learning, leadership, and change.

Priority Admission
Jan 15

Application Deadline
May 31

Located in Sacramento

Hybrid course format*

56-unit course length

*in-person and online

Why Pablo Ortega Chose Leadership & Innovation

Regina Lane
EdD Candidate, Cohort 3
Regina Lane

"Originally when I was considering a doctoral program, I was looking to transform into a leader with a greater purpose. At Benerd, I found exceptional opportunities leading to new possibilities beyond my imagination. One of the most unique things that I experienced in the EdD Program was selecting the Social Entrepreneurship Path, which pushed me to my greatest potential landing me first place in the 3-Minute Thesis Competition, designing a Mental Health Mobile Application and accepting the invitation of a prized professor to participate in the recent 9th Social Business Day Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, while launching a startup business as a direct  impact of my current research."

Year 1, Fall

  • EDUC 360  Trends, Issues, and Dynamics of Change
  • EDUC 352  Applied Inquiry I

Year 1, Spring

  • EDUC 372  Program and Organization Evaluation (entire semester)
  • EDUC 380  Leading Innovation (Term A)
  • EDUC 215  Creativity and Ideation (Term B)

Year 1, Summer

2 courses over 10 weeks

Year 2, Fall

  • EDUC 368  Leading Complex Organizations
  • EDUC 322  Qualitative Methods for Action-Oriented Research

Year 2, Spring

  • EDUC 202  Statistical Thinking (Term A)
  • EDUC 325  Quantitative Research Design & Methods (Term B)
  • EDUC 287  Social Entrepreneurship

Year 2, Summer

  • EDUC 356  Applied Inquiry III (Begin work with Dissertation Chair)
  • EDUC 366  Marketing and Storytelling for Social Impact

2 courses over 10 weeks

Year 3, Fall

  • EDUC 364  Policy Analysis, Creation and Navigation
  • EDUC 358  Applied Inquiry IV

Year 3, Spring

  • EDUC 288 Design Thinking and Lean Startup for Social Impact
  • EDUC 359  Dissertation Learning Community (Meetings and collaborative writing support spans through graduation, after the course ends)

Year 3, Summer

Year 4, Fall

  • EDUC 399 Doctoral Dissertation 
  • Defend Dissertation 

Year 4, Spring (Only if needed)

  • EDUC 399 Doctoral Dissertation 
  • Defend Dissertation (Graduation Ceremony)

Total Units Required for Graduation: 56
Course sequence subject to change.

Applied Inquiry Coursework

An important feature of the Pacific program is the Applied Inquiry coursework. Through a series of four courses, you complete a large percentage of your dissertation work during your regular courses. Our students begin working toward completing their dissertation proposal in the first semester. The entire draft proposal is targeted for completion in the first semester of Year 3.

Supportive Community

A distinctive element of our program is the structured individual and group support that continues through graduation.  Traditionally, the dissertation writing process is an isolated, individual endeavor.  While our dissertations consist of individual research, we have unique cohort support structures in place that help you to move through the process with others.  Students continue meeting as a group until they defend their dissertation.  

Action Oriented Project Based Dissertation

Our faculty work with each student in deciding which type of dissertation is most appropriate to address a "problem of practice," with the ultimate goal of producing innovative and creative solutions using one of several methodologies including Action Research, Design Thinking, Program Evaluation, and Case Study.

Take the Next Step

We take a hands on approach with our students. This means we want to get to know you throughout your discovery and application process. Help us connect with you by taking the next step.

As Benerd College’s graduate programs are hybrid, distance learning opportunities, University of the Pacific cannot issue Forms I-20 or DS-2019 for prospective students seeking sponsorship via F or J visas.  Should you have any follow-up questions, please contact the Office of International Programs and Services at


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Benerd College Leadership Programs

3200 Fifth Ave., Sacramento, CA 95817

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