The purpose of this phenomenological study was two-fold: (a) to explore and describe the perceived impact of Pepperdine University's Educational Leadership Academy (ELA) on 2003-2006 ELA graduates' career advancement, career enhancement, and personal growth; and (b) to obtain ELA graduates' suggestions for ELA program improvement to better prepare graduates for career advancement, career enhancement, and personal growth. This study used a qualitative phenomenological methodology design for data collection and analysis. Audio-recorded semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 30 individuals who graduated from the ELA program from 2003-2006. Ten key interview questions were asked to examine the career advancement, career enhancement, and personal growth of ELA graduates as well as to explore program strengths and solicit ideas for program improvement. The findings from this study indicated that ELA graduates: (a) enrolled in ELA to earn their degree and credential, to advance their careers, and increase their career mobility; (b) advanced to new leadership and or new administrative positions; (c) perceived ELA's greatest career advancement impact was advancement to new leadership/administrative positions and increased knowledge, skills, and experience; (d) perceived ELA's greatest career enhancement impact was a greater understanding and appreciation of the role of educational administration and enhanced confidence in professional skills; (e) perceived ELA's greatest personal growth impact were the development and or enhancement of professional skills, confidence, professional growth and goals, and a greater understanding and appreciation for the role of educational administration; (f) perceived program curriculum and professors as program strengths; and (g) suggested focusing on daily logistics of educational administration and further career support as areas of ELA program improvement. It was concluded that: (a) the ELA program had a strong positive impact on ELA graduates; (b) career advancement was a priority motivator for enrolling in the ELA program; (c) ELA graduates perceive career enhancement, career advancement, and personal growth to be nearly synonymous; and (d) overall, ELA graduates were highly satisfied with the ELA curriculum. A recommendation offered to improve the curriculum related to increasing opportunities for management/operational learning and experience. A recommendation related to career advancement was to provide students and graduates with additional career support.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Pepperdine University -- Graduate students; Leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Purrington, Linda;