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About the Higher Education Doctoral Program

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PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Our Philosophy: The Ph.D. in Higher Education is a 96-hour program that prepares graduates for a broad range of administrative and leadership positions in colleges and universities, including roles in academic affairs, student affairs, policy, planning, resource management, assessment, enrollment management, outreach and engagement, advancement, and equity, diversity, and inclusion, among others. 

Some graduates work for professional associations or as policy analysts for state and federal agencies. The program also prepares students for faculty positions in graduate programs in student affairs and higher education.

Social justice and scholarly rigor are essential to the philosophical foundations of the program and the curriculum. Together, the program and the curriculum prepare graduates to emphasize social justice in their research and practice. 

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WHAT YOU'LL STUDY

Graduates from the Higher Education Doctoral Program will acquire knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes in three specific areas:

  • Professional Practice,
  • Scholarship,
  • Professional Involvement, and Service

The Higher Education Doctoral Program curriculum consists of a minimum of 96 semester hours of graduate study in five areas, which includes the dissertation. The five areas are listed below, with a partial list of courses offered to meet the requirement; other courses offered at Virginia Tech may be used to meet the requirements. An asterisk (*) next to a course indicates that the course is required, as long as it is offered during the student’s time in coursework. If it is not offered, the faculty advisor will approve an appropriate substitution.

Please note that you will work with your faculty advisor to select appropriate courses to meet your personal academic needs.

  • Foundations
    • EDHE 6044: Governance and Policy in Education *
    • EDHE 6064: Higher Education in the United States *
    • EDHE 6084: Financial Administration in Higher Education *
    • EDHE 6094: University Leadership *
    • EDHE 6274: Higher Education Law *
    • EDHE 6304: Theories of Educational Organizations *
    • EDHE 6404: Designing Research Proposals in Education *
    • Advanced Theories of College Student Development * (Note: title and course number under review)
  • Concentration/Applied Studies (15 hours)
    • EDHE 5304: Introduction to Student Affairs Profession
    • EDHE 5314: Theories of College Student Development
    • EDHE 5334: The College Student & the College Environment
    • EDHE 5404: Staffing Practices in Education
    • EDHE 5984: Special Topics: Crisis Management in Higher Education
    • EDHE 6974: Independent Study **
    • EDHE 7714: Internship **
  • Cognate (9 hours)
  • Dissertation (30 required hours)
    • EDHE 7994: Research and Dissertation
  • Research/Measurement/Statistics
    • EDRE 6605: Quantitative Research Methods in Education I *
    • EDRE 6606: Quantitative Research Methods in Education II *
    • EDRE 6504: Qualitative Methods in Educational Research I *
    • EDRE 6524: Qualitative Methods in Educational Research II *
    • Note: beyond the core research courses, students will select at least two advanced courses, intended to strengthen their overall competence in research and evaluation theory and methods or to develop a specific skill required for dissertation research

** Note: Students consult with a faculty member to arrange Internships and Independent Studies

Since doctoral students matriculate with varying degrees of professional experience and master’s degrees from different institutions, each student’s program of doctoral study is individually designed and may include courses that are transferred in from the student’s master’s degree program.

The faculty advisor and student examine the student’s preparation and design a program of study that complements and enhances the student’s educational and professional experience and interests.

The Doctoral Program Guide provides detailed information on the curriculum, phases of doctoral studies and benchmarks along the way, and general expectations of students.

DISSERTATION

The Ph.D. in Higher Education is not awarded solely on the basis of coursework completion. To graduate, each student must also conduct an original research study culminating in the presentation and defense of a dissertation. The Ph.D. dissertation demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct original, rigorous research that contributes to the interdisciplinary field of higher education. Drawing on the knowledge and skills accumulated across their courses and relevant professional experiences, students develop a topic and design the study with input and approval from their dissertation chair and advisory committee.

Most students write their dissertations in the traditional five-chapter format (i.e., as a research paper with an introduction, literature review, methodology section, findings, and discussion and implications for practice, research, and policy).  Other options such as a journal article dissertation are available.  Students work with the dissertation chairs and committees to determine the best format for their dissertation.

Course Descriptions

History, philosophy, and goals of the student affairs profession in American higher education. Standards and contexts for student affairs, including scholarly literature related to students and student organizational culture, ethical principles, and professional and quality standards. Pre: Graduate standing.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

Theories of college student development. Foundational, integrative, and social identity theories, fundamental criticisms of well-known student development theories, identification of current student populations affected, and applying theories to student affairs practice and personal development. Pre: Graduate standing.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

Study of the characteristics and attitudes of traditional and nontraditional college students; effect of the college environment on students.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

Prerequisite(s):

Corequisite(s):

Study of human resource management in education. Emphasis on recruitment and selection, orientation, supervision, staff development, performance appraisal, and separation. Application of a human resource development perspective guides research and assessment of current and future practices. Pre: Graduate standing.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture, Online Lecture

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 19

Lecture Hour(s): 1 TO 19

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

Antecedents of public policy affecting education in the United States, and the relationships between policy making and implementation and educational administration.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

Diversity of institutions of higher learning is examined through variations in the respective goals and purposes of distinct types of institutions and examined through variations in the constituencies served by different types of institutions and their differential impact on students and faculty.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

Financing higher education. Emphasis on examination of the revenue source and patterns of funding and the roles of federal, state, and local governments in the fiscal support of higher education. Methods for the determination of institutional resource allocation, program and financial planning, and the internal allocation and effective use of resources.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

College and university leadership and administration. Focus on executive leadership, governance, development, research, outreach and engagement. Pre: Graduate standing.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture, Online Lecture

Study of educational organization theory and behavior. Emphasis will be given to understanding institutional structures and cultures in their educational, social, economic, and political contexts with a view toward organization improvement, development, and reform.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

Conceptualize and write elements of a research proposal suitable for a doctoral dissertation including topic selection, literature reviews, conceptual frameworks, research questions/hypotheses, and select research techniques appropriate for gathering data. Pre: EDRE 6605, EDRE 6606, and EDRE 6524.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture, Online Lecture

Prerequisite(s): EDRE 6605, EDRE 6606, EDRE 6524

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 19

Lecture Hour(s):

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Research

Planned program of advanced clinical practice in education through assignment under direct supervision of outstanding practitioner for periods of up to two semesters. (Maximum 24C).

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 24

Lecture Hour(s): 1 TO 24

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Lecture

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 19

Lecture Hour(s):

Level: Graduate

Instruction Type(s): Research

THE COHORT MODEL

The Ph.D. program operates on a modified cohort model. Full-time students who begin the program at the same time attend many of the same classes in the same sequence and pursue common plans of study. Part-time students enroll in courses at a pace and in a sequence determined by their enrollment status and in consultation with their advisor.

The benefits of a cohort model are many.  The cohort model is designed to facilitate social interaction, collaboration, and the formation of a supportive learning community. 

Students in cohorts learn from and help each other with the successful completion of coursework and professional networking. Students who participate in cohort models generally report a strong sense of belonging and are more likely to complete their programs of study in a timely manner.

While the cohort experience may differ for part- and full-time students, all benefit from connecting with colleagues within and beyond the Higher Education doctoral program. Many courses include peers in the M.A.Ed. program in Higher Education and Student Affairs, the Certificate program in Higher Education Administration, and students in other disciplines and fields.

NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FACULTY

Dr. Price smiles for the camera, relaxed and happy, wearing a blue plaid shirt which is open over a t shirt. He is poised and confident
Claire K. Robbins, Associate Professor and Doctoral Program Leader & Certificate Program Leader
David Alexander leans causally on a balustrade
Sharrika Adams, Assistant Professor of Practice, Master's Program Leader
Jodie L. Brinkmann, Assistant Professor of Practice and the Program Leader, smiles broadly at the camera. She wears a formal black dress with a pearl necklace
Chase Catalano, Assistant Professor
Dr. Cash poses formally with a beautiful smile, wearing a green blouse, a pearl necklace. Her brown hair is short and nicely styled
Tonisha Lane, Assistant Professor

AFFILIATED FACULTY

Emerita and Emeritus Faculty Members

Don G. Creamer, Professor Emeritus, Higher Education
Joan B. Hirt, Professor Emerita, Higher Education, School of Education
Patricia Hyer, Affiliated Faculty; Associate Provost Emerita, University Provost’s Office
Steven M. Janosik, Associate Professor Emeritus, Higher Education, School of Education
Edward F. D. Spencer, Affiliated Associate Professor; Vice President Emeritus for Student Affairs