PhD in Higher Education Administratation

PhD in Higher Education Administration

 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 and administrators, public policy experts, researchers, faculty members, and consultants. The program is a learning community characterized by scholarly rigor, strong connections to broader professional communities of practice, and a passion for contributing to the betterment of society through education. 

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 interdisciplinary study of 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 Knowledge Areas

The PhD program is aligned with the core foundational knowledge and competency areas for students graduating from doctoral programs in higher education including:

  • An understanding of the socio-cultural-historical nature of higher education in the United States
  • Issues of equity, access, diversity, and inclusion within educational sectors, and the role of social justice oriented education, leadership, and research in serving diverse stakeholders
  • Governance and organizational structures of colleges and universities
  • Policy, politics, ethics, and legal issues within higher education
  • Issues confronting various stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, and administrators
  • Assessment, evaluation, and research methodologies and practices

In our Higher Education & Student Affairs 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

Our educational community values:

  • Using the process of critical self-reflection for 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 & inclusion practices within their 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 and collaborative assessment, evaluation, and research

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 an undergraduate 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. Applicants with a graduate GPA of less than 3.5, but above 3.0 will be considered along with other materials that show academic promise for success.
  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 related to 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 initial research ideas about the dissertation, and how faculty might be able to support and nurture those research ideas. Applicants are not required to identitfy a faculty "sponsor" or primary research advisor before being admitted; but if an applicant wishes to work with particular faculty that should be mentioned. 
  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. Applicants whose native language is not English must recongnize that the program does not teach English Language skills; it is expected that international applicants have mastery and proficiency in both written and spoken English at a level that would allow them to fully participate in and contribute to the PhD prorgam.
  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.

General Requirements (72 credits total) 

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 an area of the student's choosing. The Specialization should be developed in consultation with an advisor and should provide both breadth and depth of 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), Gender & Sexuality in Higher Education, Faculty Free Speech and the First Amendment, 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 3-5 years professional experience work experience in higher education, 1 (one) internship will be required counting towards the Specialization/Concentration requirements.
    • Students with more than 5 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 additional courses 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) 

VI. Comprehensive Portfolio Evaluation
A central purpose of the Portfolio in the Higher Education Administration PhD program is to document the student’s academic growth and professional development in the field of Higher Education. A comprehensive account of a doctoral student's experiences and ongoing progress toward one’s academic and professional goals, the portfolio is well-organized, coherent, and selective, facilitating evaluation by the student’s Faculty. The portfolio represents the scope and depth of a student's professional goals, and academic accomplishments in coursework, independent study, research experiences, internships, and other advanced learning activities. It also provides a vehicle for self-reflection and personal growth. The evaluation process includes two (2) presentations by the student to their faculty over the course of their program, the first approximately half-way through, the second in their last semester of coursework.

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 997-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.

Program Faculty

Dr. Chad Kee, Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Sean Robinson, Associate Professor

Dr. Ben Welsh, Associate Professor

Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Rhonda Battle, Assistant Director, MSU Center for Academic Success & Achievement 

Dr. Bryan Coker, Vice President of Student Affairs, Goucher College

Dr. Wilbur Hicks, Lecturer, Community College Leadership

Dr. Michael Parsons, Lecturer, Community College Leadership

For more information about the PhD Program, contact either:

Dr. Benjamin Welsh, Associate Professor & Program Coordinator

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)