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Ph.D. in Higher Education

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Overview  |  Plan of Study Form  |  Typical Course Cycle

The Doctor of Philosophy is the degree most often desired for those who aspire to senior administrative roles in these institutions and those who wish to become faculty in Higher Education programs at American colleges and universities.  Possession of this degree also provides those who have earned it with entry into business, government, research, and other leadership positions. The Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in higher education is intended to prepare individuals for these administrative and faculty positions and to provide these students with the skills to carry out scholarly research, lead organizations, and create new knowledge. The curriculum contains elements that will, if completed successfully, provide research expertise, administrative skills, and experience, and the ability to serve the nation's colleges and universities and contribute to higher education elsewhere in the world.

Download the Ph.D. Handbook

Note: The Higher Education Ph.D. program starts in the summer semester with our two-week intensive Summer Institute.

The Ph.D. in Higher Education consists of 8 core courses, a minimum of 4 cognate courses in an area of concentration, 4 research methodlogy courses, dissertation seminar, and dissertation courses (minimum of 12 credits). Some courses have prerequesities, and additional courses may be required depending on a student's academic background (see below).


HIED 808 – Contemporary Issues in Higher Education
HIED 809 – Proseminar in Higher Education
HIED 825 – Higher Education Policy
HIED 893 – History of Higher Education in the United States
HIED 857 – Multicultural University
HIED 856 – Higher Education Finance & Planning


Students who enter the PhD program have diverse backgrounds, experiences, and goals.  For this reason they have the ability, through consultation with their advisor, to tailor the cognate courses chosen to fulfill their degree obligations towards these goals. Cognate courses may be taken in the following departments: Community College Leadership, Foundations, Higher Education, International Studies, and Sports Management. For a detailed list of electives – and course descriptions – visit the online graduate course catalog.

Select 4 from the following:

HIED 810 – Student Affairs Administration
HIED 812 – Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness
HIED 820 – Private Colleges and Universities
HIED 833 – Professional Helping Skills in Higher Education
HIED 843 – International Higher Education Administration
HIED 844 – Comparative Higher Education Systems
HIED 845 – Today’s College Student and Diversity
HIED 852 – Law of Higher Education
HIED 858 – Higher Education Leadership
HIED 862 – Development and Philanthropy
HIED 863 – Case Studies in Higher Education
HIED 864 – College and University Presidency
HIED 865 – Adult and Continuing Education
HIED 866 – The Modern Community College
HIED 870 – External and Internal Relations for Higher Education
HIED 871 – American Higher Education in a Global Context
HIED 894 – Organization and Administration in Higher Education
CCL 820 – Community College Leadership
CCL 824 – Community College Finance
CCL 830 – Community College Politics and Policy Development
COUN 807 – Adult and Student Development Theory
IS 741 – Globalization and Social Change
IS 713 – Global Political Economy
IS 760 – International Cultural Studies
SMGT 638 – Fiscal Planning and Management in Sport and Recreation
SMGT 646 – Sport Marketing
SMGT 650 – Ethics in Sport Management
SMGT 652 – Sport Facility Management
SMGT 653 – Sport Sponsorship/Event Planning
SMGT 660 – Legal Aspects of Sport
SMGT 675 – Management and Leadership in Sport


FOUN 813 – Advanced Program Evaluation and Assessment
FOUN 822 – Applied Linear Models or FOUN 823 – ANOVA
FOUN 812 – Advanced Research Design and Analysis
FOUN 814 – Qualitative Research
FOUN 881 – Dissertation Seminar

Select one advanced research course from the following:
FOUN 815 – Advanced Qualitative
FOUN 824 – Design and Analysis for Causal Inference in Educational Contexts
FOUN 825 – Applied Multilevel Modeling in Educational Research
FOUN 826 – Applied Structural Equation Modeling in Educational Research
FOUN 827 – Applied Logistic Regression
FOUN 840 – Advanced Educational Measurement and Assessment


HIED 899 – Dissertation (12 credits minimum)

Doctoral students with no prior coursework in educational research must enroll in:
FOUN 611 – Introduction to Research Methods in Education and/or
FOUN 722 – Introduction to Applied Statistics and Data Analysis


  • Students with no prior background in research must enroll in FOUN 611 and/or FOUN 722. The decision of which course(s) are needed will be made by the HIED graduate program coordinator.
  • Courses that were taken as part of the student's Master's program may be waived by the HIED graduate program coordinator.  If students are granted a waiver, they are still required to complete the same number of credits (33 credits of HIED classes, including approved electives from other departments, and 12 credits of FOUN classes).  The decision of which alternative classes to take is made in consultation with the academic advisor and must be approved by the HIED graduate program coordinator.
  • Students may transfer in up to 12 credits of courses taken at the Ph.D. level with approval from the HIED GPC.  Any course used to fulfill obligations for another degree program cannot be transferred into ODU.  
  • Students must register for HIED 889 - Dissertation for every semester after coursework is completed until graduation (12 credits minimum)
  • Students with fewer than three years of full-time professional experience in higher education must take HIED 868 - Internship in Higher Education twice, for a total of 6 credits