Earning a doctorate degree is much different than earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Being a student in Olivet Nazarene University’s Doctor of Education in Ethical Leadership (EdD) program is much different than being a doctoral student at other universities. Just ask Kelly Brown, EdD, ONU’s EdD program director.
“We help our learners meet their deadlines and be successful as they earn their degree,” Dr. Brown says. “In the process, we also get to know them and build relationships with them. And our concurrent dissertation process means they aren’t on their own to finish their dissertation. They are actually writing their dissertation while taking courses.”
Distinctives of ONU’s program
That concurrent dissertation process is one of the most exciting distinctives in ONU’s program for Dr. Brown. She began advising learners in ONU’s Cohort 1 in 2008 and saw firsthand how this process encouraged learners’ confidence, motivation and success. Today, as program director, she also serves as the dissertation coordinator and a chair and a reader. In February 2023, ONU welcomed Cohort 32, one of the largest cohorts ever. These learners will start their dissertation process in October.
Another distinctive of ONU’s EdD program is that learners are not on their own to find their dissertation team. “One of my privileges is to come alongside each learner while they are deciding on their dissertation topic and methodology,” Dr. Brown says. “We assign each learner a dissertation team with both content and methodology experience specific to that learner.”
ONU’s faculty also sets this program apart from programs at other universities. “Our faculty members are, of course, experts in their field,” Dr. Brown says. “They are fully engaged and join learners on their EdD journey. We often hear from our learners that our professors also truly care about our learners, want our learners to succeed and will do all they can to help.”
Quality of ONU’s program
One of the beauties of ONU’s cohort model is bringing different people together to work toward a common goal. The relationships formed along the way often extend beyond graduation day. Dr. Brown continues to be pleased by the variety of learners who are enrolling in and completing ONU’s EdD program. Learners represent a variety of professional backgrounds, including teachers, law enforcement officers, military officers, business leaders, healthcare professionals, pastors and any more.
“Getting to know our learners is one of the best parts of this program for me,” Dr. Brown says. “I enjoy building relationships with them. When one is going through a difficult time, we lift that person up in prayer. When one is going through a blessing in life, we rejoice with that learner. Our cohorts often become like family. We help one another through life events.”
Self-doubt and frustration can also be part of the education process for learners in the program. The best guidance that Dr. Brown and the faculty give them during these times is to keep going, one step at a time. One chapter, one course, daily reading and writing toward each deadline is the way to go.
During this 32-month degree program, life happens to learners. Parents pass away. Jobs change. Families grow. And so much more. Learners in ONU’s EdD program are encouraged to take care of themselves and their needs during times of personal challenges.
“We encourage our students to reach out to their professors, their dissertation team and me,” she says. “We will talk it through with them and come up with a plan. Our goal is to give them some relief so they can finish what they’ve started. We let them know that we won’t lower our degree requirements for them, but we are certainly here to help them continue.”
Benefits of ONU’s program
Every graduation day, Dr. Brown has the privilege of hooding graduates, hugging them and telling them congratulations. “I’ve seen what they go through to get to that day,” she says. “Earning this degree changes them and sets them on a new course for their lives.”
Dr. Brown consistently receives calls and emails from employers who want to hire ONU graduates. This further underscores the excellent reputation of the program, which is known for being a rigorous, quality program that produces quality graduates.
“Earning the EdD degree at ONU is worth the determination and hard work it takes,” Dr. Brown says. “ONU provides learners with what they need and prays for them along the way. Learners have to make the commitment. We come alongside them and make the commitment to help them achieve their goal.”
Learn more about ONU’s Doctor of Education: Ethical Leadership degree program here.