A Learning Community Exclusively for Central Texas Leaders

Abilene Christian University and Education Service Center Region 13 have partnered to offer a unique cohort in the fully online Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership (Ed.D.).

Abilene Christian University and Education Service Center Region 13 have partnered to offer a unique cohort in the fully online Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership (Ed.D.).

Main Content

ACU knows every student’s journey is unique and we believe everyone can be successful, given the right tools and support. Whether you are hoping to advance in your current field or change to an entirely new one, furthering your education is the first step towards that change. Supported by a faculty of Christian scholars, we prepare undergraduate and graduate students for service and leadership in both their personal and professional lives.

One of America’s Best Colleges

Newsweek 2023

ACU was named one of America’s Top Online Colleges for 2023 by Newsweek. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked ACU in the top 50 nationally in undergraduate teaching and research. Combine this educational excellence with the flexibility of an online format and it’s easy to understand why earning your degree from ACU Online makes sense.


Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership Cohort

Learn with your peers in ACU’s ESC Region 13 Ed.D. cohort.

Become a scholar-practitioner who directs progress and overhauls workplace culture by conducting and applying your own research. ACU’s online Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership equips you to serve others by providing you with opportunities to enhance your gifts and talents through reflective practice to find meaning and purpose in your work. 

up to $7,000 scholarship for ESC Region 13 educators

Program Description

Online Ed.D.Connect transactional and transformational leadership styles through ACU’s online Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program to make a difference in your Central Texas school and community. Strengthen and expand your skills through a research-based focus on important issues, while understanding how communication, connection, and diversity uplift and inform your organization’s culture and strategy. Tackle the latest challenges while pursuing the next level of your professional journey.

ACU’s program is organized around five core competencies: personal development, positive leadership development, collaboration and communication, organizational assessment, and organizational culture. Upon completing the Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program, you will know how to lead with purpose, while fostering growth in your vocation.

Program Format

Consisting of 60 credit hours, the online Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership is divided into three key parts. Foundational courses enhance your unique leadership skills (24 credit hours). A concentration translates these skills to your particular field to empower your staff (15 credit hours). And research courses prepare you to lead in your area of specialization (21 credit hours, including 12 focused on dissertation completion).

Or select from ACU’s other concentration areas to fit your career aspirations:

  • Positive Leadership
  • Learning with Emerging Technologies
  • Conflict Management
  • Higher Education

ACU’s and ESC Region 13’s exclusive online program for Central Texas educators offers rigorous learning at a pace that allows you to maintain work and personal commitments. Combining convenience and quality, our fully-online courses last for seven weeks and are offered in six sessions per year. Coursework for the Ed.D. can be completed in approximately three years.

Program Outcomes

As schools continue to face new challenges, the need for energetic, collaborative leaders interested in nurturing success through teamwork, culture, and inclusion continues to grow. Embrace the challenge and stand out with this unique opportunity to connect and collaborate with education leaders in Central Texas. This program enables you to:

  • positively influence organizations through the expression of your vocation;
  • create, interpret and administer practices that contribute to learning and personal growth in all organizational contexts;
  • build quality professional and personal relationships;
  • command a deep understanding of data analysis, methods for discovery of information, and processes to gather empirical evidence to effect positive organizational change;
  • apply organizational assessment strategies to their respective contexts; and
  • influence organizational culture through positive, encouraging leadership practices.

Program Cost


Abilene Christian University is offering a dedicated scholarship to educators in the ESC Region 13 who participate in this program. Enroll in our Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program this fall and you could receive up to a $7,000 scholarship.

Advanced Standing Available:

Additionally, if you have completed a Principal or Superintendent Certification, you may be eligible to reduce the cost of your degree by qualifying for “Advanced Standing” to automatically gain up to 15 credit hours toward your Ed.D. – a savings of $11,000. Other financial aid may apply. Please speak with an admissions advisor to learn more.*

*Total tuition may vary depending on a number of factors, including the number of dissertation hours required to complete the dissertation or other course fees.

ESC Region 13 Affiliate Faculty

Dr. Rich Elsasser

Dr. Rich Elsasser
Executive Director, ESC 13

Dr. Rich Elsasser is currently serving as Executive Director of Region 13 Education Service Center in Austin, Texas. Regional Service Centers were established in 1965 to support school district and charter school needs. There are 20 ESCs throughout the state helping the 5.5 million students in Texas. Region 13 serves nearly 400,000 students in 60 school districts, 18 charter schools and 19 private schools across 16 counties. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Rich has served as a Superintendent of Schools, a coordinator for superintendent and principal certification programs at Region 13, a middle school principal and a science teacher. Dr. Elsasser holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University, a master’s degree from Houston Baptist University, and a doctorate degree from Texas Tech University.

Dr. Millie Klein

Dr. Millie Klein
Chief Deputy Executive Director & Chief of Staff, ESC 13

Dr. Millie Klein has over 40 years of educational experience as a former teacher, principal; and the Associate Superintendent of both Administrative Services and Human Resources in two Texas school districts. She also served as Deputy Executive Director of Administrative and Instructional Services at ESC 20 and is an Adjunct Professor for Webster’s University’s San Antonio Campus in its MBA program. Dr. Klein holds a Bachelors in education from University of Missouri, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Texas at San Antonio, completed 36 post graduate hours in educational management at Trinity University and holds a doctorate in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University, College Station.

Dr. Rick Alvarado

Dr. Rick Alvarado
retired Executive Director, ESC 2

Dr. Richard Alvarado graduated from Texas A&M University Kingsville with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education followed by a Master of Science in Educational Administration.
After graduating, Richard began a career as a teacher at San Antonio ISD later serving as an elementary vice-principal and principal before serving as Assistant Superintendent in Curriculum and Instruction and as Interim Superintendent for Southside ISD. In 2001, Richard earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University-College Station. From 2013-2020, Richard served as the Executive Director at ESC Region 2. Richard also served as the Associate Director for ESC Region 20, and as a faculty member for the University of Phoenix-San Antonio Campus and Concordia University Texas-San Antonio Campus.

Dr. Greg Smith

Dr. Greg Smith
Executive Director of Fast Growth School Coalition

Dr. Greg Smith leads the Fast Growth School Coalition, a statewide voice that educates and advocates for investment in the state’s fastest-growing school districts to deliver the high-quality education Texas students and taxpayers deserve. He is also a faculty member for the Thompson Executive Leadership Institute at ESC Region 13 in Austin. Dr. Smith brings a wealth of hands-on experience in public education from classroom teacher to principal to superintendent. Before joining Fast Growth School Coalition in 2021, Dr. Smith served as Superintendent of Clear Creek ISD. Dr. Smith holds a Doctor of Philosophy, Education Administration from Texas A&M University in 2000, a Master of Science in Education Administration from the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 1984, and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Oakland University in 1981.

Dr. Celina Estrada Thomas
Hutto ISD Superintendent

Dr. Celina Estrada Thomas has dedicated her professional career to public school education. Her career spans 38 years in a variety of leadership roles with the most recent appointment as the superintendent for Hutto ISD in October 2017. Her professional experiences include serving as the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in Fredericksburg ISD; Director of Human Resources in Bastrop ISD; a middle and high school principal for 19 years; and teaching at the elementary and high school levels. She also worked as a Research Associate at the TEA and the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) in San Antonio, which was instrumental in assisting with the completion of her doctoral studies. Dr. Estrada Thomas holds a Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Pan American University (now University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). 


Did you know that Abilene Christian University is among the nation’s best universities? This year, U.S. News & World Report in its annual “Best Colleges” list ranked ACU as #2 in “Most Innovative” and #16 in “Best Regional Universities” in the West and #9 in “Learning Communities” nationally. Combine this educational excellence with the flexibility of an online format and it’s easy to understand why earning your degree from ACU Online makes sense. Whether you’re married and juggling work and kids, or a single professional meeting the demands of a growing career, ACU Online can fit into your busy life.