Higher Education

Degree Offered

  • Doctor of Philosophy with a major in Higher Education

Nature of the Program

The Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education is designed to prepare graduates to become future faculty, researchers, and policy analysts in higher education. Students in the program benefit from a:

  • Higher Education Core designed to provide breadth across critical areas of HIED;
  • Specialization within HIED, which may include: Academic Affairs/Curriculum & Assessment, College Student Development, Administration, Organizations, and Policy, or an Individualized Specialization;
  • Cognate outside the Higher Education Administration Program to allow for in-depth study in a field related to student interests and research foci;
  • Research Core that emphasizes the importance of producing original research as well as the ability to critically evaluate published scholarship.


  1. Hybrid graduate program with online and face-to-face courses.
  2. Part-time or full-time enrollment options.
  3. Flexible program of study.
  4. Synchronous online courses.
  5. Courses taught by full-time faculty and professors.
  6. Graduate Assistant Positions Available.

Career Placement

  • Faculty positions;
  • Policy Research positions;
  • Senior administration positions at colleges, universities, community colleges, and other educational organizations.


The Higher Education Admissions Committee meets on a rolling basis to review all complete submitted applications. Once admitted, students will be assigned a faculty advisor, who will remain their advisor until the point at which they find an advisor to guide their research.

Admission into the Ph.D. is a competitive process based upon the academic strength of the applicants as well as the fit of applicants’ goals with the goals of the program and faculty. As such, applicants are strongly encouraged to research the nature of the program and the expertise of faculty within the program prior to submitting their applications in order to clearly demonstrate how their goals fit with the program and its faculty. Students are selected according to the overall strength of their application packets described below. Students may be denied admission if their goals are incongruent with the program goals or areas of specialization. Students may also be denied if faculty members have reached the maximum number of students they are able to advise effectively.

Applicants to the Ph.D. in HIED program must comply with the WVU requirements for admission to graduate studies, the requirements of the College of Education and Human Services, and those that the HIED program has specified. Admission is contingent on an assessment of complete official transcripts, including all higher education work attempted, and other evidence the faculty may deem necessary in order to judge students' prospective success within the graduate program.

All students accepted into the program will receive information about their assigned adviser and guidance on the development of a personalized program of study.

Admissions materials include:

  1. GRE/TOEFL:  Applicants for the Ph.D. in Higher Education must submit Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores as part of their application. Students must earn GRE scores at the 50th percentile for the verbal, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing sections. In addition to adequate scores on one of the above tests, international students must score a minimum of 550 on the paper version of the TOEFL or a minimum of 213 on the computer version of the TOEFL. Any test scores submitted for consideration must be no more than five years old.
  2. Personal resume/vita:   Applicants must provide a chronological history of their education and experience in a vita. The vita should offer evidence that the applicant has appropriate educational training and professional experiences that would support the goals and expectations of the program.
  3. Goals statement:  All applicants should submit a goal statement related to the program, including professional and research goals and interest in this specific program. This statement should be well written and clearly indicate how the applicant’s goals fit with the program. Goal statements should be no more than three pages.
  4. Writing sample:   All applicants must provide a writing sample with their application packets. The writing sample should provide clear evidence of the applicant’s academic writing ability as well as his or her ability to engage in research and/or scholarship.
  5. Three current letters of reference:  All applicants must provide three letters of reference that explicitly address the applicant’s potential as a doctoral student. References should be familiar with the applicant’s academic performance and potential in the WVU Higher Education doctoral program.


The admissions committee may also request an interview to seek additional information in order to judge potential for success in the program.


The purpose of residency is to provide doctoral students with intellectual experiences and scholarly engagement with faculty and peers in the HIED program and the Curriculum and Instruction/Literacy Studies Department. In order to achieve residency, students must engage in meaningful work with faculty within the Department beyond their coursework. This work may include collaborative research, grant writing, team teaching, or assisting in university service. Residency plans must be negotiated with and approved by the student’s adviser in consultation with the student’s program committee. The adviser and committee must receive evidence of plan completion.

Doctor of Philosophy

Major Requirements

A minimum GPA of 3.25 is required of all coursework.
Core Coursework
HIED 648 History of Higher Education3
HIED 650 Higher Education Administration3
HIED 651 College Student Development3
HIED 710 Leadership & Organizations3
HIED 750 Diversity Issues in Higher Education3
Specialization Coursework12
Select from one of the following specializations:
Curriculum and Academic Affairs
College Access, Transition, and Success
Administration, Organizations, and Policy
Individualized Studies
Research Coursework
Quantitative Methods 6
Statistical Methods 1
Statistical Methods 2
Statistical Methods 1
Statistical Methods 2
Qualitative Methods6
Qualitative Research Methods
Advanced Qualitative Research
Advanced Methods Course3
Mixing Research Methodologies
Survey Research Methods
Special Topics (Quantitative Data Management Education )
Special Topics (Quantitative Methods in Education)
College Student Research in Higher Education
Additional HIED Coursework12
Cognate Coursework12
Research/Teaching Practicum Coursework6
Teaching Practicum
Dissertation Coursework15
Total Hours87

Major Learning Outcomes

Higher Education

Upon completion of the Ph.D. program in Higher Education, graduates will be prepared to:

  • Create original research that advances the field of higher education;
  • Be reflective, ethical, and effectual professionals in higher education organizations;
  • Apply research and theory to higher education issues and policies;
  • Critically evaluate scholarship, policy, and practice in order to promote equity, access, and social justice.


HIED 648. History of American Higher Education. 3 Hours.

The administrative development of American higher education from 1636 to the present, including internal trends and external forces.

HIED 649. Contemporary Issues in Higher Education. 3 Hours.

The purpose of this course is to explore critical, contemporary challenges facing American higher education. The course explores issues of access, accountability, academic freedom, financial aid, state and federal government policy, changing legal structures, teaching and learning in a digital age, student issues, diversity, and the influence of business models and values on institutional strategy and practice.

HIED 650. Higher Education Administration. 3 Hours.

Key concepts of organization and administration within higher education institutions, concentrating primarily on the non-academic components of the institutions, from the president to first-level supervisor.

HIED 651. College Student Development. 3 Hours.

Review of research and literature on college student development from beginning freshmen through graduate school. Emphasis on different student subgroups.

HIED 652. Assessment in Higher Education. 3 Hours.

Critical analysis of contemporary assessment issues; develop sophisticated plans to evaluate the quality of student learning and growth in academic programs and student affairs.

HIED 653. College Students and Courts. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. A study of the major areas of higher education law from the perspective of the college student. A case study approach.

HIED 654. College Student Affairs. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. A study of the organization, administrative functioning components, issues, and models of college student services using a historical and topical approach.

HIED 655. Institutional Advancement. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Studies in fund raising, alumni relations, and foundation management.

HIED 656. Higher Education Budget and Planning. 3 Hours.

Covers knowledge of such areas as budgeting systems, budget preparation and administration, resource reduction and reallocation, and grants/contracts preparation and administration.

HIED 657. Community College Leadership. 3 Hours.

An analysis of the historical/philosophical development of community colleges in the US. A specific focus on developing a critical understanding of the administrative and leadership issues.

HIED 693A-M. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

HIED 695. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

HIED 710. Leadership and Organizations. 3 Hours.

This course provides an overview of the major theories that inform our understanding of higher education organizations and forms of leadership within those organizational contexts.

HIED 750. Diversity Issues in Higher Education. 3 Hours.

Diversity Issues in Higher Education is designed to facilitate understanding and appreciation for diversity within a higher education setting through the recognition of individual differences and their influence on the college experience by students, faculty, and administrators.

HIED 751. Academic Affairs Roles. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Management, leadership, and administrative roles of academic affairs offices in colleges and universities including academic personnel, program definition, research and teaching issues, and other functions of academic oversight.

HIED 752. Governance of Higher Education. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Formulation and implementation of state master plans and the roles of state governing bodies in public and private institutions.

HIED 753. Adult and Continuing Education. 3 Hours.

Principles, concepts, and processes involved in programming for adults in a community setting. Nature of adult learning, subject matter, and learning environment.

HIED 755. Higher Education Law. 3 Hours.

Critical legal issues of higher education, public and private, using a case study approach.

HIED 756. Higher Education Finance. 3 Hours.

Financial concerns in higher education with emphasis on taxation and legislative actions, sources of income, budgeting, and cost analysis.

HIED 759. Assessment Research in Higher Education. 3 Hours.

Students review an array of instruments designed to assess college students' perceptions, satisfaction, and learning. They will also critique these instruments to determine their quality.

HIED 760. Curriculum Development and Reform in Higher Education. 3 Hours.

Analyze curriculum development and implementation issues. Critique different curriculum designs in general education and major academic programs also.

HIED 762. College Student Research in Higher Education. 3 Hours.

Students will critique research articles pertaining to college student development and conduct research investigating a subpopulation's development.

HIED 763. International Higher Education. 3 Hours.

The purpose of the course is to expand understanding of higher education systems worldwide. Students will compare regional and nation-state systems in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Countries / regions to be studied may include the Arab World, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

HIED 790. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Supervised practice in college teaching of HIED. Note: This course is intended to insure that graduate assistants are adequately prepaired and supervised when they are given college teaching responsibility. It also provides a mechanism for students not on assistantships to gain teaching experience.

HIED 793A. Higher Education Internship. 1-6 Hours.

HIED 795. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

HIED 797. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis(698), problem report (698), research paper or equivalent scholarly project (698), or dissertation (798).

HIED 798. Dissertation. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Note: this is an optional course for programs that believe that this level of control and supervision is needed during the writing of students' reports (698), theses(698), or dissertations (798).