Ohio University

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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:

  • On-Campus PhD. Program (full-time or part-time) to start in Fall 2022  --  The deadlines for applications for the academic program and GA positions are April 30, 2022. Ohio University employees interested in applying for this program must submit an application by March 15, 2022.
  • Executive Ph.D. Cohort Program  --   The application for the next cohort for Fall 2023 enrollment will start in October 2022 and end on March 15, 2023 (for OU employees) or July 1, 2023 (everyone else).
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, the executive program provides a rich alternative to our traditional on-campus 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 three 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. 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 [OHIO] Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration 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- VP of Enrollment Management and Student Services 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 in 2022 fall on a full-time basis, there are Graduate Assistantships positions still available. Please find the Updated List of GA Opportunities with Direct Application Links (Last update: April 13, 2022).

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 on a research topic of personal interest and selection.

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

Some research and administrative graduate appointments are available to full-time, on-campus doctoral students. Please inquire about availability at hesa@ohio.edu.


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

"I believe it is important to move past lip service when it comes to diversity and social justice issues. To affect change, we have to develop the intellectual tools and political savvy to understand and challenge structural inequality. My goal as an educator is to teach the knowledge and skills necessary to help students advocate for more equitable systems." Dr. Laura Harrison

"Diversity features centrally in my pedagogical approach and work with students. Through teaching and working with students, educational contexts often divide and stratify students. In my courses, I engage students in challenging conversations that are pertinent to working with the changing demography of college campuses." Dr. Dave Nguyen 

"A transparent, routine, rigorous reflection on my own positionality and privilege as a cis-gendered white woman is essential to understanding what dismantling oppressors means from the vantage point of a teacher, advisor, and researcher. My goal as a thought partner for lifelong learners of all backgrounds is to catalyze self-guided inquiry with a social justice orientation. Drawing from the work of scholars including Crenshaw, McCall, Said, and El-Tayeb, my writing focuses on critically-oriented questions at the nexus of migration, diversity, and internationalization in higher education." Dr. Lisa Unangst

"As an Asian woman faculty who came from a foreign country, I know I only can thrive in a campus culture that ensures diversity, inclusive and equity. This culture is what I am committed to nurturing and maintaining among all the students in my classes. The overarching theme of my higher education research is education equity, which is primarily examined from the financial and international perspectives. I also actively advocate for minority students and faculty through my service activities at the university and in the Athens County community." Dr. Lijing Yang

"College is a time of great opportunity for discovery about identity, culture, and community. As someone who has been around college campuses for over 40 years, I recognize that learning about diversity and social justice issues is not about a destination, but a journey filled with amazement, deep joy and profound personal challenge. My own experiences, often in the company of students, with rich classroom and out-of-class conversations to international adventures in small, rural communities in Africa and Latin America; and inner-city and poor rural communities in the United States, have opened minds to the stark challenges associated with structural inequalities. But my experiences with diversity have also helped me recognize the gifts and strengths of the individuals and communities that are often labeled deficient. As an educator, I believe my role is to expose students to people and ideas that help them love who they are; to learn about, acknowledge and celebrate the gifts of others; and to develop the tools and skills to shape local and global communities that honor everyone’s potential." Dr. Peter Mather

Admissions - Doctorate in Higher Education

Admissions offers are tendered typically for the fall term of each academic year. For fullest 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. For more information, please visit the Application page for Graduate Assistantships as well as the Updated List of GA Opportunities with Direct Application Links (Last update: April 13, 2022).

Due to delayed visa processing at U.S. embassies and consulates during the COVID-19 pandemic, we strongly recommend international students apply for the program and Graduate Assistantships as early as possible.

Required materials include:

  1. Completed application form
  2. 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 indicate whether you are applying to the Executive Ph.D. Cohort or On-Campus program.
  6. A personal interview with a faculty member in March (phone/video meeting) for March 15 applications and rolling monthly thereafter.
  7. A current résumé and cover letter

Curricular Requirements (min 60 credit hours)

  1. Higher Education Core Requirements - 24 Hours
    • EDHE 6885 History and Philosophy of American Higher Education
    • EDHE 6890 Legal Issues in Higher Education
    • EDHE 7210 Diversity in American Higher Education
    • EDHE 7790 Finance and Budgeting in Higher Education
    • EDHE 7850 Organization and Governance of Higher Education
    • EDHE 7860 Leadership and Change Management in Higher Education
    • EDHE 7880 Policy Perspectives in Higher Education
    • EDCP 7250 - Advanced College Student Development Theories and Research
  2. Electives - 6 Hours
    • Students will complete at least two (2) courses greater than 5000-level courses. Sample Electives include:
      • EDHE 7390 The American Community College
      • EDHE 7780 Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
      • EDHE 7830 Institutional Research and Planning in Higher Education
      • EDHE 8210 Critical Race Theory in Higher Education
      • EDHE 7820 Effective Curriculum Development and Teaching Practices in Higher Education
  3. Field Experience - 3 Hours
    • EDHE 7920 Practicum in Higher Education Administration and Leadership 
  4. Scholarly Tools - 16 Hours
    • EDRE 7200 Educational Statistics
    • EDRE 7500 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods in Education
    • EDRE 7330 Research Design in Education
    • EDHE 7890 Advanced Resources and Applications for Higher Education Problems
  5. Dissertation Hours - 12 Hours
    * or similar course as approved by the committee

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For further information, contact:

Higher Education and Student Affairs 
Patton Hall 432