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UP Introduces Doctorate of Education for Professionals, First of its Kind in SA

The University of Pretoria’s (UP) Faculty of Education has introduced a Doctorate of Education (DEd) in Educational Leadership and Management, oriented towards professional rather than academic engagement at National Qualifications Framework level 10.

It is the first professional degree in this field offered at a South African university, and proposes an alternative route to a doctorate from an appropriate research-based or master’s degree.

The programme is designed around the development of high-level performance and innovation in a professional context, and enhances the possibility of a career as a highly qualified, skilled education leader at any level in the education enterprise. The new qualification was inspired by the faculty’s aim to be responsive to the professional leadership and management needs of the educational community.

Applications have opened for the first batch of students for 2025, and close on 31 August 2024. Page 2 of 3 The development and accreditation process was initiated in 2018 in collaboration with South African and international experts, comprising Professors Andre du Plessis and Johan Beckmann of UP’s Department of Education Management and Policy Studies; Prof Jukka Alava, former director of the Institute for Educational Leadership in Finland; Prof Brian Perkins of the College of Education at Columbia University in the US; Prof Derick de Jongh, Director of UP’s Albert Luthuli Institute for Responsible Leadership; retired independent education academic Prof Mokubung Nkomo; and Prof Stella Nkomo, a strategic professor in the Department of Human Resource Management at UP.

“A traditional PhD constitutes a research thesis of 360 credits, but the professional DEd differs in that it has a course component of four modules of 30 credits each and a research component of 240 credits,” Prof Du Plessis explained.

“Emphasis will be placed on bridging the gaps between theory and practice and/or the gaps between policy and practice by asking ‘how’ questions rather than ‘why’ and ‘what’ questions. Therefore, in their research,students will be required to focus on the practical application of ideas by acting on them to test them in human experiences, and/or to test and evaluate theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application.

“There will also be an emphasis on innovation to provide better education for all learners, to address inequality, promote social cohesion, and improve leadership and management practice.”

UP asserts that this programme is the first of its kind because the Higher Education Qualifications SubFramework has adapted several qualifications that previously used the designations of research-oriented degrees and introduced a professional stream to postgraduate programmes through the introduction of the postgraduate diploma (level 8), and professional master’s and professional doctorate degrees at levels 9 and 10 respectively.

The proposed qualification will benefit educational professionals from within and outside the country, and contribute to the transformation of South African education.

The graduates of this programme will be highly employable in a wide variety of educational settings, as educational leaders, managers, administrators, consultants, teachers, leadership educators, researchers and educational planners. The programme The programme takes a minimum of two years to complete.

During the first year of study, students will be expected to complete four modules of 30 credits each. The four modules are Global Mega-trends and their Impact on Education (GME 900); Opportunities, Challenges and Adversity in Education (OCA 900); Transformation and Change for Nation Building through and in Education (TCN 900); and Leadership and Management of Learning Organisations (LBL 900).

The research component has 240 credits consisting of the Research Plan (NMQ 900) and the Research Report (thesis) (NMQ 901). The Research Plan must be defended in the first year. During the second year, students commence with their research project and writing up their research report (thesis). The professional Ed programme follows an evidence-based, enquiry-led approach to instruction. This means that students will be required to be actively engaged in research endeavours, and develop research skills and competencies commensurate to what is expected at doctorate level. Students will be expected to attend four five-day contact sessions in the first year.

Admission requirements:

• Relevant MEd (or equivalent) degree

• A weighted average of at least 60% for the research component of the relevant master’s degree • Past or current employment in a leadership and management position in the education sector is highly recommended.

Closing date for applications for 2025 is 31 August 2024. For enquiries, email Prof André du Plessis at

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