Jul 14, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Educational Leadership Division

Chairperson: Jesse Sealey, Ed.D.
Adult and Higher Education Graduate Program Director: Vassa Grichko, Ph.D.
PK-12 Principal Graduate Program Director: David Swank, Ed.D.
School Superintendent Program Director: Dave Barker, Ed.D.
Ed. D. Program Director: Erin Lehmann, Ed.D.

Division of Educational Leadership
Delzell Education Center, Room 214
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
Phone: 605-677-5260




Mike Avoseh, Ph.D., University of Ibidan, Nigeria.

Associate Professor:

Gary Cheeseman, Ed.D., St. Mary’s University
Jesse Sealey, Ed.D., University of South Dakota

Affiliate Professor:

Katie Anderson, Ph.D., Walden University
David Olson, Ed.D., University of South Dakota
Bryant Jackson, Ed.D., University of South Dakota
Abi Van Regenmorter, Ed.D., University of South Dakota
Melissa Frein, Ed.D., University of South Dakota
Jennifer Schoffer Closson, Ed.D., University of Montana
Pamela Lange, Ed.D., University of South Dakota
Morgan VonHaden, Ed.D., Black Hills State University
Jessica Welsh, Ed.D., University of South Dakota

Assistant Professors:

Vassa Grichko, Ph.D., Texas A&M University
Erin Lehmann, Ed.D., University of South Dakota

Assistant Professors of Practice:

David Barker, Ed.D. University of Wyoming 
David Swank, Ed.D., University of South Dakota


Master of Arts


Adult and Higher Education 
Adult and Higher Education - LERN      
Curriculum Director    
Pre-Kindergarten-12 Principal   

Specialist in Education


Curriculum Director    
Director of Special Education    
Pre-Kindergarten-12 Principal    
School District Superintendent    

Doctor of Education


Adult and Higher Education    
Pre-Kindergarten-12 Leadership       


  1. Completed Graduate Application form found at: https://www.usd.edu/graduate-school/apply-now and a non-refundable application fee of $35.
  2. Official transcript(s) verifying receipt of an undergraduate degree and previous graduate credit (in English or with translation). Transcripts must be complete (e.g., if currently enrolled, work-in-progress coursework must be included, foreign transcripts must include a grading scale, and for countries that issue, copy of degree certificate/diploma i.e., India, Nepal, etc.). The USD Graduate School and/or academic units retain the right to require credential evaluations from organizations, such as Educational Credential Evaluators/World Education Services (ECE/WES), for a student if such an evaluation is deemed necessary.
  3. Baccalaureate degree must be from an institution with institutional accreditation for that degree. A minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 2.7 on conferred degree and/or graduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, based on a 4.0 scale, on all graduate coursework is required for full admission. Each graduate program may admit students on provisional status per university policy.
  4. Applicants with degrees from countries other than the United States who have obtained a high school diploma, undergraduate, or graduate degree from an institutionally accredited American college or university or from an accredited institution in the approved list  of English-speaking countries are not required to submit an approved English proficiency exam score. For all other applicants with degrees from other countries, a minimum score of 79 on the Internet-Based TOEFL (iBT), 550 on the Paper-Based TOEFL (PBT), 8.5 on the TOEFL Essentials, 6.0 on the IELTS Academic, 53 on the PTE, or 110 on Duolingo is required for graduate admission. 
  5. Applicants applying to the EdD are required to complete the Educational Leadership Writing Prompt. Applicants for the M.A. and Ed.S. programs are required to complete a statement of purpose.

 Additional Program Admission Requirements:

  1. Three (3) professional letters of recommendation are required.
  2. Resume required documenting teaching and/or administrative experience.
  3. Applicants enrolling in the masters, specialist, or doctoral PK-12 administration programs (Curriculum Director, Director of Special Education, Pre-Kindergarten-12 Principal, School District Superintendent, or Pre-Kindergarten-12 Educational Leadership) must have at least three (3) years of teaching experience in PK-12.
  4. It is required that applicants seeking certification as a Director of Special Education have a Special Education Teacher endorsement (e.g., resource room, self-contained class) and have three years of teaching experience in PK-12 with one year teaching experience in the area of special education (or a year of working with special needs students in the role of speech and language clinician, school psychologist or other support personnel who possess an elementary or secondary teaching certificate and endorsement in special education).

Top candidates for the Ed.D. programs may be selected for a second-round personal interview.

Subject to Division Chair and Graduate Dean approval, applicants who do not meet all of the criteria above may be admitted on a provisional basis.
***For information on Alternative Certification, please visit the South Dakota Department of Education website, https://doe.sd.gov/certification/AltCert.aspx.

The Division of Educational Leadership recommends that graduate students interested in principal licensure apply to the Educational Administration and Leadership - Pre-Kindergarten-12 Principal (M.A.) program. Those with a completed M.A. degree in another field should apply to the Educational Administration and Leadership - Pre-Kindergarten-12 Principal (Ed.S.).  If your M.A. degree is Prek-12 Principal we recommended that you seek one of the other Ed.S. specializations (Curriculum Director, Superintendent, or SPED Director). 

Application Deadline

  • Ed.D. Programs: March 1
    • Summer start
  • M.A. and Ed.S. Programs: Three weeks before the start of the semester
    • Summer 2024, Fall 2024, and Spring 2025 starts
  • M.A. and Ed.S. Programs: Four weeks before the start of the semester  

    • Summer 2025, Fall 2025, and Spring 2026 starts 

Student Learning Outcomes for Educational Administration and Leadership Degrees

The Division of Educational Leadership develops innovative scholar-practitioners and transformational leaders who use evidence-based research and critical thinking to solve complex problems of practice.

  1. Use inquiry to identify problems and explore solutions to complex problems.  
  2. Model inclusive leadership, including advocacy. 
  3. Acknowledge that every change is systemic change and lead people/institutions through the process.   
  4. Respect multiple perspectives.
  5. Build strong partnerships through communication, presence, and mutually beneficial endeavors.
  6. Inspire a shared mission and vision focused on the well-being and success of every member of the organization.