Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership

The doctoral program in Higher Education Leadership provides the highest professional degree available to students who aspire to leadership positions at the college or university level and across the P-20 spectrum. The degree includes a curriculum of a minimum of sixty hours of graduate credit with concentrations in Administration and Academic Support Programs. The doctoral degree is awarded on the basis of successful completion of coursework, assessment of professional dispositions, research competencies, and completion of a major research project resulting in the presentation and defense of a dissertation.

Graduates of the doctoral degree in Higher Education Leadership are able to apply administrative and student development theory in leading today’s institutions of higher education; set and assess goals for program and student performance; effectively and ethically use resources in support of institutional missions; plan and provide for academic programs’ curricula; apply student development theory to support student success; support and enhance diverse perspectives on learning and leading; interpret the relationships among federal, state, and local education agencies and the laws applicable to the administration of colleges and universities; design educational research; and interpret and utilize results for improvement.

The program offers two modalities of instruction: a) Face-to-face instruction for the Administration Concentration (Spring admission), and b) Fully online instruction for the Academic Support Programs concentration (Summer admission). General program advising for students occurs on a regular basis and students may request individual, in person, or remote advising meetings with the program director as needed.

Additional information: Reference the Program Landing Page for additional information, such as cost, delivery format, contact information, or to schedule a visit.

The Higher Education Leadership program follows a cohort model, which means that individuals are admitted to a specific group, called a cohort, and are required to take their coursework at the same time as the other individuals in the cohort for the duration of their enrollment in the program. When students enter a cohort, they specialize on either the Administration concentration (Spring entry; face-to-face) or the Academic Support Programs (Summer entry; online). This model provides students multiple support systems to utilize as they progress through the doctoral curriculum. In the event of emergencies that require individuals to drop out of the normal schedule, they may be required to join another cohort with a different schedule. 

Application Deadlines

New cohorts begin each Spring semester (face-to-face in Administration concentration) and Summer (fully online in Academic Support Programs concentration). To ensure full consideration for cohort admission, applicants should submit all required materials before the priority deadlines [October 1 (Face-to-face, Administration) or March 15 (Online; Academic Support Programs)].  A limited number of applicants for non-cohort-based admission may be considered in other semesters as space allows and at the discretion of the program director.  Only applicants who meet institutional deadlines for admission in those semesters will be considered.  

Applicants seeking admission to the doctoral program in Higher Education Leadership must submit the following directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions:

  1. Graduate Admission Application
  2. Application fee
  3. Official transcript from the baccalaureate degree granting institution
  4. Official transcript(s) showing receipt of a master's degree from an accredited institution
  5. Graduate GPA of 3.5 or higher is preferred
  6. Resume (with description of education, work history, leadership experiences, and contact information for at least 3 professional references)
  7. Personal statement. Not to exceed 1,800 words. Please, address the following:
    a) What are some highlights of your professional career?
    b) What are some experiences that highlight your leadership strengths?
    c) What are your professional goals?
    d) What reasons do you have for pursuing a doctoral degree?
    e)  Please address any performance or academic indicators that may be of concern to the admissions committee.

Note: Applicants selected after the initial screening will be invited for an interview and research presentation conducted in person or online for their respective admission cycle.

Applicants should hold a master's degree, and the student's graduate GPA should be 3.5 or higher. In addition, three years of full-time professional experience in an accredited college, university, school district, or educational setting is preferred.

The program requires a minimum of sixty hours of graduate credit, successful passing of a comprehensive examination, and completion of a dissertation.

After the completion of twelve to eighteen semester hours (two or three semesters) of doctoral level coursework in the program, each student will be considered for full admission to candidacy. A doctoral program committee will review his/her academic progress, interpersonal skills, dispositions, and motivation to determine whether the student should continue with the program. After full admission to the program, the student’s doctoral dissertation committee will be assigned by the Director of Doctoral Studies.

A comprehensive examination will be taken in the latter part of the program's curriculum. Students must be enrolled in coursework during the semester the comprehensive examination is taken. After successful completion of the comprehensive examination and proposal course, the student may defend the dissertation proposal.

Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership
Required Courses
EDER 7362Methods of Education Research3
EDER 7365Statistical Methods3
EDER 7374Advanced Statistical Methods 33
or EDER 7375 Advanced Qualitative Inquiry
or DVED 7336 Internship in Developmental Education
EDER 7372Qualitative Inquiry3
EDLD 7337Academic Writing & Research3
EDLD 7363Proposal Development3
HEDL 7110Doctoral Studies in Higher Education 13
HEDL 7332Organization and Administration of Higher Education 33
or EDLD 7371 Contemporary Issues in Higher Education Leadership & Admin
HEDL 7361Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 33
or DVED 7366 Outcome Assessment in Developmental Education
HEDL 7374The College Student 33
or DVED 7365 Student Noncognitive Development
HEDL 7377Leadership of Higher Education Institutions3
Concentration: Administration OR Academic Support Programs 18
Higher Education Policy and Governance
Diversity and Culture in Higher Education
History of American Higher Education Systems
Higher Education Finance
Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Legal Issues in Higher Education
Academic Support Programs
Teaching Strategies for Developmental Mathematics
Developmental Education and Postsecondary Students
Advanced Learning Theory in Developmental Education
Student Noncognitive Development
Designing Learning Environments in Developmental Education
Strategies for College Reading in Developmental Education
HEDL 8033Dissertation 29
Total Hours60

HEDL 7110 must be taken three times for a total of three hours.


 HEDL 8033 must be taken at least three times for a minimum total of nine hours. Once enrolled in this course, the student must enroll in it until graduation. 


Students must complete all courses in their respective concentrations to receive credit for that concentration.  The Administration concentration includes HEDL 7370, HEDL 7372, HEDL 7373, HEDL 7375, HEDL 7376, and HEDL 7378.  The Academic Support Programs concentration includes DVED 7360, DVED 7336, DVED 7364, DVED 7367, DVED 7365,CIED 7331, LITC 7336.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) marketable skills initiative is part of the state’s 60x30TX plan and was designed to help students articulate their skills to employers.  Marketable skills are those skills valued by employers and/or graduate programs that can be applied in a variety of work or education settings and may include interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skill areas.

The EdD in Higher Education Leadership is designed to provide graduates with the following marketable skills:

  • Lead higher education institutions in today's complex environments.
  • Produce and leverage research to inform educational practice.
  • Advance a critical consciousness of the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, student development theory, finance, law, and other topics.
  • Describe the roles, functions, and interrelationships among a college or university's major constituents.
  • Plan, evaluate, and assess student learning, program effectiveness, and performance in an ethical and legally defensible manner.
  • Utilize oral and written communication skills to support scholarly pursuits.
  • ​Apply knowledge and expertise in developmental education, student support, community college and university leadership, and student success.