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Doctorate in Higher Education

Program Code: PH6276

Ohio University is the only institution in southeastern Ohio that offers a doctoral program in Higher Education. Its faculty includes internationally recognized scholars who can deliver up-to-date knowledge about Higher Education with the academic rigor that is demanded in Ph.D. studies.

Graduates of the program serve in faculty and cabinet-level administrative positions in colleges and universities. In addition, this degree serves a limited number of students who wish to develop research skills about Higher Education, regardless of their career ambitions.

All students learn about the history and contexts of Higher Education, leadership, organizational needs, the learning environment, and research concepts and methods.

The Athens curriculum offers greater flexibility for the selection of courses than the weekend program, which must be highly structured to meet the needs of the executive cohort.

The Higher Education and Student Affairs program is accepting applications for:

  • Executive Ph.D. Cohort Program - Fall 2023 Cohort is currently full and no longer accepting applications.
    • IMPORTANT UPDATE: If you miss the Fall 2023 cohort opportunity, the next available cohort will begin Fall 2025 per our two year cycle.
  • On-Campus PhD. Program (full-time or part-time) to start in Fall 2023 
    • Ohio University employees interested in applying for this program must submit an application by March 15, 2023.
Cohort photo 2

Executive Program

Ohio University has offered the only doctoral program in higher education and student affairs in southeast Ohio for fifty years. The weekend executive program provides a rich alternative to our traditional on-campus Athens program, which is distinctive in its own right for the varied curriculum and opportunities to collaborate with faculty and engage in research projects. The executive program is well known for innovative programming. Since 1982, this weekend program has enriched the skills and knowledge of students while they have continued to work as full-time administrators and faculty in colleges and universities throughout Ohio and adjacent states. Leaders from 22 different Ohio colleges and universities have enrolled in our last four weekend groups, and many of them have joined the roster of presidents, provosts, vice presidents, other key administrators, and faculty who now serve more than 100 universities and colleges in 29 states, and in 16 nations.

Over the course of a 15-week semester, students are expected to meet for 5 and 7 weekends face-to-face (Classes can occur on Fridays and Saturdays). One of the strengths of the weekend executive program has been the development of communities of scholars who meet regularly during the course of their studies. Each cohort continues the tradition of building upon the experience, knowledge, and strengths of students by providing rich face-to-face and technology-mediated interactions.

"I chose the Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration [at Ohio University] for several reasons. The curriculum provides a comprehensive foundation while also challenging us to think beyond our own experiences, and [OHIO] makes it easy for working students by taking care of course scheduling, registration, and other processes. But for me, it is the strength of a cohort program that sold me. Knowing that you have a built-in support system of fellow students that you can lean on is invaluable." 

- Rebecca Butler, Executive Vice President at Columbus State Community College


On-Campus Program

The conventional Ph.D. program is offered through weekday and evening classes on the Athens campus of Ohio University. The conventional program may be pursued on a part-time or full-time basis.

For students who apply for admission for fall semester 2023 on a full-time basis, there are Graduate Assistantships positions that you may apply for within Ohio University. The list of available graduate assistantships will be made available by April 2023 on the Ohio University Jobs website under the "student jobs" tab. 

In addition to the required coursework, students must successfully complete comprehensive examinations administered at or near the completion of coursework. After successful completion of comprehensive examinations, students must author and defend a dissertation proposal and completed dissertation research on a higher education based topic of personal interest and selection.

The nature of doctoral studies is demanding and intensive, requiring close mentoring by individual faculty.

Select research and administrative graduate appointments are available to full-time, on-campus doctoral students annually. Please inquire about availability of these types of appointments at


Program Learning Objectives

At the end of the program, students will be able to: 

  1. comprehend relevant historical, organizational, governance, financial, diversity, policy, student development theories, and other contemporary issues concerning higher education;  
  2. critically analyze and evaluate relevant higher education policy and conceptual and theoretical literature;  
  3. apply the necessary knowledge, theories, and methods to design and conduct original research; and 
  4. integrate theory and practice through the completion of a practicum experience.  

Faculty Diversity Statement

Admissions - Doctorate in Higher Education

Admissions offers are tendered typically for the fall term of appropriate academic year. For full consideration, application materials should be received in the Ohio University Graduate Studies office by March 15 (for the on-campus program) or July 1 (for the executive program) preceding the Fall term of interest. Again, OHIO employees must apply by March 15 for either program.

If you are interested in applying for a Graduate Assistant (GA) position as a full-time on-campus PhD student, please complete the academic application as well as GA applications (two separate processes) by April 30, 2022.

Information regarding available graduate assistantship opportunities for the 2023 academic year can be found at  Select STUDENT under the position type to see the list of available assistantships.

Due to delayed visa processing at U.S. embassies and consulates globally, we strongly recommend international students apply for the program and Graduate Assistantships as early as possible.

Required materials include:

  1. Completed application form
  2. GOOD NEWS! The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is NOT required
  3. Official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended for bachelor's and master's education
  4. 3 letters of recommendation that describe the academic skills and professional potential of the applicant
  5. An autobiographic essay (2-3 pages, double-spaced) will be used to assess the applicant’s writing skills, career commitment, leadership potential, and professional goals. At the top of your essay, please identify yourself and indicate whether you are applying to the Executive Ph.D. Cohort or On-Campus program.
  6. A personal interview with a faculty member to be scheduled in March 2023 (phone/virtual meeting) for March 15 applications and rolling monthly thereafter.
  7. A current résumé/CV and cover letter

If you would like to know more about transferring credits from another institution before applying to our program, please read through the Graduate College Transfer Credit Limits for Master's and Doctoral Degrees.

Curricular Requirements (min 60 credit hours)

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For further information, contact:

Higher Education and Student Affairs 
Patton Hall 432