Soka University of America

Aliso Viejo, CA |
Joined in February 2015

About Us

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Experience a unique and extraordinary campus culture that assists in the progressive learning of its students!

Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Societal Change  

The mission of Soka University of America’s Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Societal Change program is to provide graduate-level students with the broad interdisciplinary knowledge, research skills, and practical experience for cutting-edge leadership in the all-inclusive world of education, locally, nationally, and internationally.

Program Description:

The MA Program in Educational Leadership and Societal Change seeks qualified applicants of both domestic and international origin, who possess varying kinds and degrees of post-baccalaureate work experience, including but not limited to classroom teaching experience, and who bring to the Program a diversity of racial, ethnic, and transcultural perspectives. Given the program’s stress on societal change and social justice issues not only here in the United States but internationally, we hope and expect some of our graduates to go into the development field as educational workers and ultimately as leaders directing their own programs. In 2014 the number of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) (these are countries listed by the United Nations as having the highest degree of poverty, human resource weakness, and economic vulnerability) was 48, over half of which, to underscore the intractability of their problems, have remained on the list since the 1970s. Education is a crying need in all of these countries and, of course, will be a critical factor in their transition out of LDC status. In so much as all of our courses boast a comparative and international dimension and tackle directly  issues of social justice and economic equity, yes, a student going through the program very well can and will develop the skills and knowledge they need to make a difference in education, wherever they go to work. Furthermore, the Program includes a non-credit bearing yet fully subsidized summer research internship between the first and second years to support field research leading to the MA thesis. We have students this year going to poverty-stricken areas in Uruguay, Cuba, and India, for example, to study educational systems.

Candidates will have a passion for humanistic organizational as well as societal change, desiring to work as educational leaders within their chosen workplace, profession, or career. Toward this end, they will be looking to develop a foundational knowledge, comparative and international, around the problems and challenges of effective educational leadership, while learning from experience and as practitioners the importance of advanced educational research in effecting lasting, democratic change. Although the Program does not provide licensure in any one particular field, prospective students seeking in addition to the MA an Administration Services Credential in their respective state or country are encouraged to apply.

The Program targets mature adult learners who are either looking for an MA program leading to the PhD or EdD degree in educational leadership or a related field, hope to enter (or re-enter) the teaching field as an administrator, or plan to seek work as educational leaders and consultants in one of a wide variety of non-school settings.

Pedagogical Method:

Regular semester-long courses – lecture, group work, discussion, library research, etc. These courses are taught in a more-or-less traditional graduate seminar format in which students read and discuss both common and individual readings, pursue a research project under the direction of a professor/mentor, and provide regular progress-reports to the class as a whole for commentary and input.

EDU 501 Educational Leadership and Societal Change: A Comparative Perspective and EDU 502 Ethnographies of School Administration are both taught in a three-week block period. Students take these courses exclusively; they meet for a required three hours per day in what is essentially a workshop/colloquium consisting of lecture, student presentation, writing-intensive group discussion, and case study development. EDU 512 Leadership and Societal Change: Invited Speakers Series also takes place in the block and is designed to expose students to former and current senior teachers, administrators, research scientists, and other individuals with a proven record of leadership in the reform of schools and society. Students work with a master change agent to develop their own reform models, testing these models against real problems and controversies in the world of education, especially as they affect the larger society.

EDU 520 MA Thesis – independent research combined with library and field research


This is a full-time program—i.e., students will be enrolled on a full-time basis (9 or more credits per semester).  It will take 2 years to complete the program, which requires 39 semester credits to graduate.

New students begin in each fall and do not join an existing cohort, since coursework is sequential. 


Affording College:

One of the unique features of our MA program is that, unlike the vast majority of MA programs in the United States, we offer merit-based scholarships and additional Soka grants up to the full cost of tuition. We believe that our accepted students, by virtue of their acceptance, are by definition meritorious. Subsequently, most students end up with full tuition scholarships.



Synthia J. Thomas

Graduate Admissions Counselor


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Issue Areas Include

  • Community Development
  • Education
  • Immigrants or Refugees
  • Philanthropy
  • Women


  • 1 University Dr.
    Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

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