Innovative Doctoral Program Available in Palm Desert Through Brandman University

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Earning a doctorate degree at private, non-profit university takes only two years to complete and combines online and in-person coursework, allowing students to work full time while pursuing academic goals.

Brandman University, part of the Chapman University System, is offering busy working professionals a way to realize their academic dreams of earning a doctorate while working full time. The Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership (Ed.D), available at the Brandman Palm Desert campus, is currently enrolling prospective students. This unique interdisciplinary program combines online course work, monthly meetings with fellow students and advisers (cohorts), and three in-person group sessions (immersion), allowing busy working professionals to pursue an advanced graduate degree while working full time.

The Brandman Ed.D. program focuses on “Transformational Change” with classes starting on August 27; enrollment and scholarship applications are due April 1, 2013. The program is two years of course work with three annual immersion sessions in Irvine and monthly student cohort meetings in Palm Desert. Scholarship opportunities are available.

Dr. Sharon McGehee recently retired Desert Sands Unified School District Superintendent is the first Palm Desert Cohort Mentor with the students from the 2012 program. Dr. McGehee meets monthly with students to develop their leadership competencies. As a long time respected area educator, Dr. McGehee shares her experience and on-the-job knowledge with Brandman students creating an opportunity where they learn best practices from a leader in education and organizational leadership.

Dr. McGehee’s half day sessions support students, create conversations on course work and she helps with assignments. “I am a cheerleader for the ten students I work with. It’s important to have someone in your corner to say you can do this when you take on this type of program,” notes Dr. McGehee. “Brandman has done nice job as a statewide program keeping instructors and cohort managers in sync with lots of webinars. When students meet for their immersions, cohorts and instructor meet the day before so we understand and there is cohesion among all the students and campuses,” she adds.

The Ed.D program works perfectly for those looking for a blended mix of online and classroom learning resulting in an advanced degree that will make a difference in their careers and their lives. Melissa Pizano-Grunnet, a reading English language learner coach for Desert Sands Unified School District, started the program last fall. “When I heard about Brandman’s combination of online classes, monthly meetings with a cohort and periodically doing the immersion sessions worked perfectly for me right now,” says Pizano-Grunnet. “The business management aspects of the program are important for my career plans.”

Designed for busy professionals, this program uses the best of online learning and face-to-face support through local cohort meetings, three immersion sessions a year in Irvine, and synchronous online meetings and seminars. Topics include; Visionary Leadership, Diversity, Collaborative Relationships, Political Intelligence, Strategic Thinking and Creative and Sustained Innovation.

Each student takes part in a Transformational Change Project (TCP). Students integrate change theory into real world settings and are provided an opportunity for clinical practice where each student will design, implement, and assess a TCP, which will be put into operations in a real organization. “Working on my TCP is valuable for me now in my current position and in my future,” observes Pizano-Grunnet.

For the final project of the Ed.D. program, students have the option of doing the traditional dissertation or engaging in a thematic dissertation. The thematic dissertation is a supportive collaboration of faculty and other dissertation students who develop research plans around a current problem. Each student researches the problem from a different perspective. All members of the group share literature sources, provide feedback on research design and drafts, and help each other remain focused and moving forward. The faculty member will serve as Chair for the students’ dissertations; however, each student will write his/her own dissertation from their own point of view and experience.

“Brandman’s Palm Desert Campus is very pleased to offer this specialized graduate program, and we are extremely fortunate to have Dr. McGehee as the Cohort Mentor, “explains Cynthia Flores, Campus Director at Brandman Palm Desert Campus.

To learn more call: 1-800-581-4100. For additional information visit: or email: edd(at)brandman(dot)edu

About Brandman University
Brandman University is a private, non-profit institution accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). As part of the Chapman University System, Brandman blends a legacy of academic excellence with progressive, innovative curriculum and strong support services designed for working professionals. The university serves more than 12,000 students annually in 50+ undergraduate, graduate, credential, and certificate programs in arts and sciences, business, education and health, both offered online and through 26 campuses in California and Washington. Brandman’s online programs have been named among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, with undergraduate earning the No. 8 spot in the country and No. 1 in California. For more information visit

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