Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership for Changing Populations (online)


Degrees offered




The online Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership for Changing Populations prepares effective leaders for increasingly diverse populations in higher education. The curriculum provides hands-on experience with education practice and policy with a focus on organizational management.


Changing Populations Course Courses

          EDU-608 Teaching the Digital Generation in the Globalized Age          
          EDU-697 Launguage and Intercultural Communication for Changing Populations (3)
          EDU-715 Educator as a Change Leader (3)
          EDU-772 Changing Populations in Historical Perspective (3)
          EDU-775 Democracy and Education: Three Philosophical Perspectives (3)

Higher Education Courses

          EDU-722 Education and Policy Analysis (3)
          EDU-802 Organization and Governance in Higher Education (3)
          EDU-803 Assessment, Evaluation, and Accreditation (3)
          EDU-804 Finance, Philanthropy, Budget, and the Strategic Planning Process in Higher Education (3)
          EDU-805 Curriculum Development for Changing Populations (3)

Research Core Courses

          EDU-695 Research Design (3)
          EDU-701 Methods of Quantitative Research (3)
          EDU-703 Methods of Qualitative Research (3)

Dissertation Courses

          EDU-705 Dissertation Seminar (3)
          EDU-706 Dissertation Methodology (3)
          EDU-801 Dissertation (6)

Comprehensive Examinations

Students complete written and oral comprehensive examinations demonstrating knowledge of the broad conceptual and procedural aspects of instruction for changing populations. The written portion of the exam requires students to write essay answers demonstrating proficiency in writing, critical thinking, and holistic perspectives, and to demonstrate their ability to articulate their perceived roles as agents of change in education.

Written and oral examinations must be passed in the following areas:

      • Language and learning
      • Philosophical perspectives
      • Changing populations

Written comprehensive examinations are administered in August and January. If a student fails any section of the examination, the student will have one opportunity to rewrite the failed section. Written examinations are read by two faculty members. In the event of divided scoring, a third faculty member will be asked to review the examination. After two failures of any section, the candidate may not continue in the Ph.D. Program. Written examinations are not returned to students.

Students sit for the oral examination when all sections of the written comprehensives have been passed. Oral examinations are scheduled within three weeks after the successful completion of the written tests. Two or three faculty reviewers conduct the session. In the oral examination, the candidate should be prepared to respond to questions that pursue issues raised in the written examinations, to discuss any other topic related to the Program of Study, or to explore how he/she plans to proceed with the dissertation. As a result of the oral examination, a candidate may be required to take additional course work in a specific area.

Grades assigned to comprehensive examinations are:

      • Pass with honor (PH)
      • Pass (P)
      • Fail (F)

Students are officially notified of the results by the Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost.

Students must complete the comprehensive exam requirement within two years of completing course work.


The Dissertation is the culmination of the student's doctoral studies. In this scholarly work of original and independent research, the student addresses a problem or issue relevant to education, conducts research that is quantitative, qualitative, or historical/philosophical (depending on the chosen subject), and develops a dissertation that adds to knowledge in the field.

Dissertation Proposal

The student is assisted in the process of preparing a dissertation proposal through the Dissertation Seminar(s). To be eligible to enroll in the Dissertation Seminar, the student must have successfullycompleted all required courses, passed the written and oral comprehensive examinations, and be Good Academic Standing at the University.

The following courses are offered regarding Dissertation research:

      • EDU-705 Dissertation Seminar (required for students engaging in qualitative or quantitative research) (3 credits)
      • EDU-706 Dissertation Seminar: Methodology (required for students engaging in qualitative or quantitative research) (3 credits)
      • EDU-707 Dissertation Seminar: Historical Methods (required for students engaging in historical or philosophical research) (3 credits)

These courses assist the student in developing a dissertation proposal. During this time, the student confers with the Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost to select a Dissertation Committee (a Chair and two readers) who are subsequently appointed by the Vice President.

After completing the Dissertation Seminar(s), students must enroll in EDU-800 Dissertation Continuation (1 credit) for each academic semester (Fall, Spring and Summer) until they graduate.

When the student completes the dissertation proposal and the Chair and two readers approve it, the student submits the proposal to the School of Education Ph.D. Committee to approve. Students are expected to submit a proposal to the School of Education Ph.D. Committee within two years of passing comprehensive examinations. If a student fails to submit a proposal within this timeline, he/she must appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost for an extension of time. 

Advancement to Candidacy

Once the School of Education Ph.D. Committee approves the dissertation proposal, the student is considered a Ph.D. Candidate. Once the Ph.D. Committee approves the proposal, students conducting research with human subjects also apply to the IRB for approval for their research.

Submission of the Dissertation

The candidate submits drafts of the dissertation to the dissertation advisor and readers for suggestions and review throughout the process of research and writing. When the candidate, advisors, and readers agree the dissertation is ready for final review by the School of Education Ph.D. Committee, the candidate submits required copies to the Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost. Due dates for submission of dissertations to the Dean are January 1 (for May graduation) and August 1 (for December graduation). If the dissertation is found to be satisfactory, the Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost schedules the dissertation defense. Manuscripts that do not follow the format expectations set forth in the Dissertation Handbook will not be accepted.

Dissertation Defense

The candidate defends the dissertation before a Committee formed by the Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost in consultation with the advisor, readers and the candidate. The Committee includes faculty from the School of Education. Where relevant to the student's research topic, the Committee may also include a faculty member from a complementary discipline. The dissertation defense must be successfully completed by these dates:

      • April 1 for May graduation
      • November 1 for December graduation

These are firm deadlines.

Dissertations are graded as follows:

      • Pass with distinction
      • Pass
      • Fail

Candidates are expected to defend their dissertation within two years of being admitted to candidacy. If a candidate fails to defend a dissertation within this timeline, he/she must appeal to the Vice President of Academic Affairs/Provost for an extension of time.