PhD in Higher Education

PhD in Higher Education

 Visit the Graduate School page to apply today!

Fall Admission Application Deadline:  March 1 (ALL application materials must be received by this date for consideration)

Spring Admission Application Deadline: Oct 1 (ALL application materials must be received by this date for consideration)


The Ph.D. Program in Higher Education is designed to develop scholars and practitioners who will improve the outcomes of postsecondary education, as academic leaders, public policy experts, administrators, members of the professoriate, consultants, or training and development professionals. The program is a learning community characterized by scholarly rigor, strong connections to broader communities of practice, and a passion for contributing to the betterment of society through education. 

Our graduate programs are shaped by the following trends and issues:

  • A global economy demanding highly productive, creative, and adaptable workers
  • Demographic changes requiring attention to diversity and multicultural contexts
  • Social and family changes necessitating coordination and collaboration with a variety of organizations to meet educational needs
  • New technologies transforming social networks, instruction, and management tasks
  • Decentralized management and organizational systems requiring greater teamwork, human resource development, and accountability related to the mission of an institution or school
  • The expectations of the policy community and the public that all individuals can and should achieve success in school
  • Increased levels of scrutiny and accountability for all activities within the campus environment

Our curriculum shifts student's thinking and action:

  • From technical skills to interpersonal skills
  • From command and direction to consensus building and motivating
  • From resource allocation to being accountable for learning processes and outcomes
  • From campus managers to leaders and integrators of resources, programs, and services
  • From policy recipient to policy shaper and participant

In our Higher Education Administration programs, our faculty seek to:

  • Enhance professional competence and communication skills
  • Promote social justice
  • Meet the needs of diverse learners
  • Engage and encourage reflective practice
  • Maintain a constructivist emphasis in teaching and learning
  • Encourage partnerships and collegiality

Through the process of self-reflection, our educational community will value:

  • Continuous growth in professional practice and competence
  • Respect for the uniqueness of all individuals
  • Ethical advocacy on behalf of individuals or groups experiencing discrimination

To that end, we expect all graduates of our programs will be able to:

  • Advance Social Justice & Transformative Practice within the campus community
  • Promote Stakeholder Development (student, alumni, donor, faculty, staff, administrator, community, etc.)
  • Enhance the Organization and Administration of their university/college
  • Engage in Independent Assessment, Evaluation, and Research

Goals of the Higher Education Administration PhD Program

The PhD program in Higher Education Administration recognizes the breadth of prior experiences, the various career paths of our students, and the diversity of post-graduate opportunities students may pursue. Given this, there are five primary goals of the PhD program:

  • To provide students with grounding in the conceptual underpinnings of the practice of higher education.
  • To provide students with a broad appreciation and understanding of educational systems in social, historical, and normative perspectives as one basis for the exercise of educational leadership.
  • To expand students' theoretical understanding of administrative practice through study of one or more disciplines related to higher education administration.
  • To convey inquiry skills useful to the practice of higher education and to research in the field.
  • To provide opportunities to connect theoretical understanding to problems and contexts of practice through field-based experiences.

Program Admissions Requirements

  1. Applicants are required to have at least 1 year of post-master's, full-time professional work experience in a college/university setting, or closely related professional experience (such as a higher education association, policy association, state/federal agency focused on higher education, etc.) that would allow an applicant to understand the context and general environment of higher education.
  2. Official transcripts of all academic work completed at other regionally accredited institutions of higher education. Applicants are expected to have a GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale for the last two years of undergraduate work, and a GPA of 3.5 or better on all postgraduate study beyond the baccalaureate degree.
  3. Three (3) official recommendations from supervisors, faculty, or professionals who can comment on and attest to applicant's ability to engage in doctoral level work. Note that recommendations cannot come from family members.
  4. A written statement outlining the applicant's background and experience in higher education, specific career goals in higher education, and how achieving a PhD through Morgan State University's program will assist in accomplishing those career goals. Applicants should also discuss any research ideas about the dissertation, and how faculty might be able to support and nurture research ideas.
  5. A current resume or curriculum vita, documenting professional experiences.
  6. A sample of professional writing (such as a professional paper, grant proposal, publication, or research proposal abstracts). If applicant does not have a recent professional writing sample, applicants are asked to respond to the following questions in a 4-5 page essay: What do you see as three (3) major trends or issues facing higher education? What are the implications of these trends/issues for campuses (including students, faculty, staff, or other constituents)? 
  7. Personal interview with program faculty (at discretion of faculty).
  8. International students, whose native language is not English, must provide a TOEFL score of 550 or higher and demonstrate through the required written documentation and interview that they have the requisite verbal, written, and analytical skills needed to successfully complete the program.
  9. NOTE: As of October 2017 GRE/MAT tests are no longer required for admission into the PhD program.

All application materials must be sent directly to the Graduate School. Any materials sent to the department or the admission coordinator will not be placed in an applicant's file. It is the reponsibility of applicants to ensure that all materials are appropriately submitted. Applicants should not ask the department to follow-up on their behalf.

Residency Requirements

Part-time candidates for the PhD degree will satisfy residency requirements by completing 18 credit hours over a period of three consecutive semesters (not including summer). Full-time doctoral candidates must complete two consecutive semesters, carrying 9 credit hours each semester, to satisfy residency requirements. Upon completion of the course requirements and the comprehensive examination, the candidate must complete RDHE 998-Dissertation Seminar (6 credits) and then RDHE 979-Dissertation Guidance (3 credits) each semester until the dissertation has been successfully defended. All requirements for the PhD degree must be completed within a period of seven consecutive years. The granting of a leave of absence by the School of Graduate Studies does not automatically extend this time limit.

General Requirements (72 credits total) (as of August 2016) 

I. Required Core/Foundations Courses (27 credits)

There are 27 credits required of each student; these courses provide broad overviews of the key aspects of postsecondary education, from both contemporary and historical perspectives.

  • ASLP 600 Introduction to Doctoral Studies (3)
  • ASLF 601 Higher Education Finance (3)
  • RDHE 702 Historical Foundations of Higher Education (3)
  • RDHE 703 Multiculturalism and Diversity in Higher Education (3)
  • RDHE 704 Higher Education Policy Analysis (3)
  • RDHE 731 Governance and Administration in Higher Education (3)
  • RDHE 727 Legal Aspects of Higher Education (3)
  • RDHE 744 Politics of Higher Education (3)
  • RDHE 722 Organizational Theory in Higher Education (3)

II.  Research Courses (15 credits)

Since the PhD is a research degree, the research requirement consists of both introductory and advanced courses in quantitative and qualitative methods

Introductory Methods (6 credits)

  • EDSR 719 Quantitative Data Analysis I (Stats 1)(3)
  • EDSR 624 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods (3)

Advanced Methods (9 credits)

  • EDSR 622 Quantitative Research Methodology (3)
  • EDSR 819 Quantitative Data Analysis II (Stats 2) (3)
  • EDSR 818 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods (3)

III. Specialization/Concentration (18 credits)

The Specialization consists of a set of courses comprising an in-depth study in the concentration. The Specialization should be developed in consultation with an advisor and should provide depth and study in areas of interest to the student. Courses may be taken from outside the School of Education to complete the concentration with the permission of student's advisor. In addition, ASLP 691/791/891: Special Topics courses may be taken to fulfill the concentration electives. These Special Topics courses are offered regularly by program faculty. Recent Special Topics courses have included: Advanced Student Development Theory, Contemporary Issues in Student Affairs Administration, and Exploring and Understanding Organizational Culture (Advanced Topics in Organizational Theory), and Critical Race Theory in Educational Research. As part of the Specialization, students may be required to complete an internship as described below.

  • Specialization Electives (12-18 credits)
  • RDHE 885 Internship in Higher Education  (0-6 credits) --  The purpose of the internship is to allow graduate students the opportunity to explore different areas of professional interest, to develop additional skill sets, and to add to one's professional knowledge base within different higher educational settings. The faculty recognize that students will come into the PhD program with a wide variety of prior experiences. To this end, the following policy exists in relation to Internship expectations for Higher Education PhD students:
    • International students with limited or no work experience in US settings: 2 (two) Internships will be required, both counting towards the Specialization/Concentration requirements.
    • US students with less than 3 years full time professional work experience in higher education, or for those without a master's degree in higher education/student affairs: 2 (two) Internships will be required, both counting towards the Specialization/Concentration requirements.
    • Students with a master's degree in higher education/student affairs and with more than 3 years professional experience work experience in higher education, 1 (one) internship will be required counting towards the Specialization/Concentration requirements.
    • Students with more than 8 years of full-time professional work experience in higher education may request in writing that their internship requirement be waived. In lieu of the internship, students would be required to complete an additional course to fulfill Specialization/Concentration requirements.

IV. Dissertation Preparation/Capstone Methods Course (3 credits)

  • EDSR 889 Research Practicum (3)

V. Dissertation Courses (completed independently with dissertation chair) (9 credits minimum)

  • RDHE 998-Dissertation Seminar (6)
  • RDHE 997-Dissertation Guidance (students re-register for this course until the dissertation is defended) (3) 

For more information about the PhD Program, contact either:

Dr. Benjamin Welsh, Associate Professor & Program Coordinator
P: (443) 885-3748

Dr. Sean Robinson, Associate Professor & Admissions Coordinator

 Visit the Graduate School page to apply today!

Fall Admission Application Deadline: March 1 (ALL application materials must be received by this date for consideration)

Spring Admission Application Deadline: Oct 1 (ALL application materials must be received by this date for consdieration)