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Doctoral Degree in Agricultural and Extension Education

The Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at NC State offers a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in Agricultural and Extension Education. The rigorous research-based program is designed for students who want to pursue careers in higher education or administrative positions in educational settings or government.

Our doctoral students excel in their fields and exceed high expectations of:

  • Mastery of knowledge in the field – At the doctoral level, students must understand and know the major constructs, facts, principles, and theories of the field, and be able to apply this knowledge in real-world settings.
  • Superior quality of work – Doctoral work is expected to be perceptive and in-depth.
  • Original research – Students must demonstrate their ability to conduct original research and that they have deep knowledge and understanding of the research process, statistics, and research in the field.

Program Length

We have customized the doctoral program to meet each student’s career goals. While there are some common components, your graduate committee will consult with you to determine the required courses and hours to complete the program.

  • Hours: Eighteen hours from the master’s program can be counted toward the doctoral program unless you immediately “rollover” from the NC State master’s program into the doctoral program. In those situations, up to 36 hours completed in the master’s program can count toward the doctoral degree.
  • Time Limit: Students have 10 years to complete the doctoral program (starting with the first course counted in the program). Once admitted, students must maintain continuous enrollment in at least one course every semester. You may request a leave of absence for up to two semesters.

Departmental Assistantships

A limited number of departmental research/teaching assistantships are available on a competitive basis. Applications for open positions are due in February for the following academic year. Other financial options are available from the Office of Financial Aid and on a competitive basis from the Graduate School.

Female doctoral student

Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation


At the completion of the coursework, and no later than four years after the start of the doctoral program, students must complete a comprehensive examination (written and oral) to continue in the program. If you fail this exam, the doctoral program is terminated.

The written exam is 16 hours – four hours a day, for four days. This exam covers the student’s factual knowledge and the ability to apply this knowledge.

  • Part 1 (4 hours) – is over general knowledge (e.g., history and philosophy) in agricultural and extension education.
  • Part 2 (4 hours) – concentrates on coursework and knowledge in the student’s specialization (e.g., the practice of agricultural education, the practice of extension education, the practice of international development, etc.)  
  • Part 3 (4 hours) – concentrates on research and statistics.
  • Part 4 (4 hours) – is over the minor field of study.

There is a two-hour oral exam over the written exam. This component allows students to clarify information from the written exam and gives the graduate committee a clear view of the depth and breadth of the student’s knowledge. The written exam must be passed unconditionally before scheduling the oral exam with the Graduate School.


The final requirement of the doctoral program is to make an original contribution to the field of agricultural and extension education through research. Requirements of the dissertation include:

  • Identify a major problem or question in the field of agricultural and extension education
  • Design a research study to address this problem
  • Conduct the research
  • Report the results – the topic of the dissertation must be in the area of agricultural and extension education
  • The dissertation must be of superior quality that can be published in professional journals

A complete dissertation is about 150-200 pages. The student’s graduate committee will provide guidance and support for the project. Upon completion, the student will defend the dissertation before their graduate committee.