Degree Requirements: Higher Education Ph.D.

 Doc students at the 2016 end-of-year banquet.

Doc students at the 2016 end-of-year banquet.

Graduate study in higher education prepares individuals for careers in administration and leadership in public and private two-year colleges, four-year institutions, and universities. Graduates work in a variety of service, research, and teaching programs in education agencies and organizations throughout the United States and abroad. Their careers offer the satisfaction of serving human needs and realizing valued societal goals. Graduate study in higher education can also improve opportunities for advancement and mobility as well as offer intrinsic rewards that stimulate productivity, enhance expertise, and renew motivation.

A student's program of study is designed focus on one of two specializations: either the Student Affairs track or the Public Policy of Higher Education track. By choosing a specialization, a student will be able to combine elective and core courses with other learning experiences in order to pursue their unique educational and professional goals.  In general, curricula are designed to provide a knowledge base about the professional field and a theoretical framework to guide research and career development in higher education. 

Student Affairs Specialization

A Student Affairs specialty emphasizes the individual, institutional, and sociocultural factors that contribute to student success in higher education. Working with faculty, students will apply theory and practice to drive cutting edge research on students, student development, and student affairs.

Public Policy Specialization

A Public Policy specialty provides education in major policy issues and responses; policy development, implementation, and evaluation; the politics and foundations of higher education; disciplinary approaches and rigorous methods. The goal of this specialization is to prepare graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to become leaders in the area public policy for higher education, as faculty, researchers and policy leaders.

Together, the two specializations share the common goal of addressing the need for better institutional performance in educating and graduating large numbers of students. Ultimately they serve the same purpose while adopting somewhat separate, yet overlapping, perspectives.

Ph.D. Requirements

  • Minimum of 57 semester hours of coursework beyond the master’s degree, including:
    • 9 hours of core courses
    • 18 hours of track-specific courses
    • 9 hours of disciplinary courses
    • 21 hours of research core courses
  • Minimum of 24 hours of dissertation credit
  • Successful completion of Higher Education Program Scholarly Engagement benchmarks

Ph.D. Program of Study

This information is based on the program of study listed in the 2017-2018 Higher Education Doctoral Handbooj. Degree requirements, course names, or course numbers may change. 

Higher Education Core (9 hrs)

  • EDH 5051 Higher Education in America (3)*
  • EDH 6635 Organization and Governance (3)
  • EDH 6936 Seminar in Student Development Theories (3)
  • Pro Seminar (0)

Specialization (Specified Track: Public Policy OR Student Affairs) (18 hours)

Public Policy

  • EDH 6505 Finance of Higher Education (3)
  • EDH 6401 Public Policy in Higher Education (3)
  • EDH 5005 Sociology of Higher Education (or EDH 5630 Sociology of Education) (3)
  • EDF 5652 Policy Development (3)
  • EDH 5931 Politics of Higher Education (3)
  • EDF 5624 Economics of Education (3)

Student Affairs

  • EDH 5931 Seminar on College Student Populations (3)
  • EDH 6040 Research on College Students (3)
  • EDH 6081 Leading Change in Higher Education (3) 
  • EDH 6085 Social Justice in Higher Education (3) 

Choose 1 Technology Course:

  • EDH 5931 Technology in Higher Education (3) 
  • EME 6414 Web 2.0-Based Learning and Performance (3)
  • EME 5457 Intro to Distance Learning: Trends and Issues (3)

Choose 1 of the Following Courses:

  • EDH 6067 International Perspectives in Higher Education (3)
  • EDF 5519 History of Higher Education in America (3) 
  • EDH 5089 Black and Latino Education: History and Policy

Discipline Courses (9 hours) - work with their major professor to identify courses outside of higher education

Research Core (minimum 21 hours)

  • EDF 6486 Applied Research Methods in Educational Leadership & Policy (3)
  • EDF 5935 Introduction to Quantitative Analysis for Education Policy (3)
  • EDF 6475 Qualitative Methods of Education Research (3)
  • EDF 5935 Applied Regression (3)
  • Advanced Methods I (3) (see below)
  • Advanced Methods II (3) (see below)
  • EDA 6930 Literature Review (or EDH 6935 Prospectus Development) (3)

Dissertation (24 hours)

  • EDH 8964 Preliminary Examination (0) 
  • EDH 6980 Dissertation Hours (24)
  • EDH 9985 Dissertation Defense (0)

Advanced Methods Course Recommendations:

  • EDF 5414 Introduction to Large Scale Datasets
  • EDF 5935 Special Topics: Quasi-Experimental Methods
  • EDF 6476 Advanced Qualitative Methods
  • EDF 6479 Qualitative Data Analysis


* Students who have completed a graduate degree within the five years preceding the beginning of doctoral studies may take an advanced course in place of EDH 5051 Higher Education in America. Replacement courses include History of Higher Education, History of Education, Women in Higher Education, and Black and Latino Education: History and Policy.