University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies Utilizes Scholar-Practitioner-LeaderSM Learning Model

University of Phoenix | December 21, 2021

The University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies offers practitioner doctorate degree programs in healthcare, education, and business, and supports a philosophy of lifelong career learning guided by its internally developed Scholar-Practitioner-LeaderSM learning model. The College has seen an approximately 10% increase in retention rates since January 2020. In the same time period, student sentiment scores with dissertation experience were 81% positive, mixed or neutral.

“The College of Doctoral Studies uses the SPL model to guide our curriculum and student experience. We serve working adults who are already practitioners in their fields, and the SPL model empowers our students by helping them think critically about how they can contribute in their workplace and to their career path.”

Hinrich Eylers, Ph.D., P.E., vice provost and dean of College of Doctoral Studies

While a more traditional Ph.D. degree program focuses on development of new primary knowledge, the College’s practitioner doctorate focuses on the practical application of that knowledge in one’s career and community of practice. The Scholar-Practitioner-LeaderSM framework combines classical cognitive conceptions of doctoral scholarship – including high rigor of inquiry, academic study, and practical application – with the affective domains of learning.

This learning model supports working adult students in the opportunity to develop a deeper awareness of who they are, how their learning is changing them, and to apply existing knowledge toward solving real-world problems in their field and community.

“The doctoral program at the University of Phoenix caught my attention due to the rigor of the curriculum and the Scholar, Leader, Practitioner Model which guides the learning journey, as well as the highly engaging online learning solution allowing me to work and learn anywhere at any time,” shares Susanne Thompson, Ed.D., who completed her doctor of education with the University. “Doctoral level research is a challenging endeavor. The College [of Doctoral Studies] scaffolds this process to ensure alignment with the best practices in scientific research while also making the process clear to ensure students can master scientific research and apply these practices to their work environment.”

Formerly known as School of Advanced Studies, the College of Doctoral Studies first developed the Scholar-Practitioner-LeaderSM model as part of its mission to develop a graduate mindset focused on career and community of practice. A successful graduate of College of Doctoral Studies programs and the Scholar-Practitioner-LeaderSM learning model is a scholar, a curious, reflective thinker; a practitioner in their field, capable of responding quickly to emerging opportunities and diagnosing and addressing immediate and local problems; and a leader, driving innovation and creating new products and processes, ultimately advancing their community of practice.

“Success is all about consistent practice and grit, and that practice is something our SPL [learning model] embraces with dedication,” shares Gina Rhodes, DHA, MBA. Rhodes completed her Doctor of Health Administration (DHA) at University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies. “It has taken grit and tenacity to survive the challenges of doctoral studies while working in the healthcare industry and developing the personal and academic potential of five children. Now as an empty nester, I have been able to make a positive impact in my community by helping to restructure a free-health care clinic. I am also a lifelong learner currently completing a doctoral level course on Strategic Formula and Strategic Thinking in Business.”

Additionally, the three College research centers extend the development available in the classroom by establishing an active, research-oriented forum for students and faculty, and provide an avenue for faculty and students to work collaboratively on practical, real world research. The three research centers are Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research, Center for Leadership Studies and Educational Research, and Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research.

About the College of Doctoral Studies
University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies focuses on today’s challenging business and organizational needs, from addressing critical social issues to developing solutions to accelerate community building and industry growth. The College’s research program puts students in the center of an effective ecosystem of experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. Through this program, students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.

About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. 


Microsoft’s mission to empower every student on the planet to achieve more is a commitment to do more to support students, and educators from K-Career to be ready to innovate and create in an increasingly digital world. Our focus extends to ensure we not only grow the number of students equipped with technology skills, but also do more to grow student diversity and fuel careers in technology.


Microsoft’s mission to empower every student on the planet to achieve more is a commitment to do more to support students, and educators from K-Career to be ready to innovate and create in an increasingly digital world. Our focus extends to ensure we not only grow the number of students equipped with technology skills, but also do more to grow student diversity and fuel careers in technology.

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