LEAD Frequently Asked Questions

Program Overview 

Who is LEAD for?

LEAD is designed for practicing leaders who are interested in leading complex educational systems, such as school districts, institutes of higher learning, mission-aligned nonprofit organizations, and community-based organizations. Interested students usually include principals, policy or advocacy leads, nonprofit directors, higher education administrators or others whose work necessarily intersects with the public education system.

Does LEAD use a cohort model?

LEAD admits cohorts of 10-12 students every other year. Students take multiple courses with their cohort as a whole, particularly over summers and during the first academic year. However, starting in Year 2, there is significant room for students to explore different interest areas through elective coursework, field visits, and the focus of their dissertation research.

What sorts of research do doctoral candidates engage in?

With the support of their advisors, LEADers identify promising areas of research either within the traditional public school system (PreK-16+) or in the systems, nonprofits, government agencies and/or communities with which it intersects. Given LEAD’s focus, each research project approaches a core equity issue from a system leadership perspective, positing leading itself as a practice of freedom: transgressing systemic oppression toward belonging, liberation, and democracy.

What do graduates go on to do?

Our program prepares students for a career in complex system leadership. The majority of graduates are likely to pursue Cabinet-level or superintendent positions within school districts, while others may instead choose a career in nonprofit leadership, policy, advocacy, global educational ventures, higher education administration, or other mission-aligned roles.

Can I clear my administrative credential through LEAD?

No. LEAD does not have a partnership with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) and does not offer any credential. Our sibling program, the Leadership Support Program, offers a comprehensive, equity-centered induction program for those seeking to clear their administrative credential. The two programs are independent and cannot be combined into one.

Program Structure

Is the program in person, online or hybrid?

LEAD is a predominantly in-person program that incorporates hybrid components. There are significant portions of the program that require students to be on campus, including the summer intensive (4 weeks, 4 days/week) and the 20 annual all-day weekend sessions (14 Saturdays and 6 Fridays each year). Some, but not all, weekday courses are available online or asynchronously.

Is it a full-time or part-time program? How long does it take to complete?

LEAD is considered a full-time program, but operates on non-traditional hours (summers, weekday afternoons/evenings and weekends). This means that students take a full load of classes each semester and over summer session in order to complete their studies AND research within three years’ time. 

Can students work full-time during LEAD?

Yes! LEAD is designed for working professionals, with all coursework occurring outside of classic “school hours.” That said, the program is fast-paced and rigorous and will take a significant commitment of time and energy in order to complete successfully.

How much does LEAD cost?

Tuition is set by the Regents of the University of California. The most recent information can be found here. LEAD does have some protected funding that can help offset costs, and many students may be eligible for a variety of additional fellowships, scholarships, fee reduction programs, and/or grants.


Are you hosting any more info sessions?

When new information sessions are available, registration is available at our website, bse.berkeley.edu/lead.

Is a Master’s a firm requirement? What type of Master’s is expected?

Due to the highly accelerated nature of LEAD, a Master’s is required by the time of enrollment. Master’s degrees in education, educational leadership, and/or related fields such as school psychology or social work are the most common. That said, there is no subject requirement for the Master’s degree.

Is the GRE required?

No, it is not. GRE scores will not be considered if submitted.

Who should I ask to write my recommendation letters?

We recognize that many applicants completed their last degree years ago. As such, we do not require any academic letters of recommendation. Instead, please solicit letters of recommendations from individuals who can speak to your holistic potential as a system leader for social change. Rather than feel limited to former employers or professors, applicants are encouraged to outreach to those in their networks who could offer meaningful testimony about their capacity for leadership.

Why are so few students admitted?

We admit no more than 12 applicants per cohort so that we can confidently provide the levels of individualized support needed for highly talented and passionate doctoral candidates to complete a rigorous research-based program within three years’ time.

More Questions

What if I still have questions?

Email us at bse-lead@berkeley.edu.

We’re happy to answer specific questions by email or set up time to talk one-on-one. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.