Educational Studies - Educational Leadership and Higher Education

Educational Studies - Educational Leadership and Higher EducationDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

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Program Length

4-5 years

Credits Required


*beyond the master’s is typical



GRE/Entrance Exam

Not Required

Application Process

Preparing Future Scholars in Academia

The Doctorate of Philosphy in Educational Studies provides academic preparation and professional development for those individuals interested in the study of educational leadership and higher education.


This program allows students to choose from three different areas to focus. Below are the three concentrations which are available. 

Higher Education
The Ph. D. in Educational Studies with a concentration in Higher Education allows students who are currently employed at a college or university the ability to advance their knowledge in the field so that they can become a scholar in the field.

Community Colleges
The Ph. D. in Educational Studies with a concentration in Community Colleges allows students who are currently employed at a community college the ability to advance their knowledge in the field so that they can become a scholar in the field. 

P-12 Educational Leadership
The Ph. D. in Educational Studies with a concentration in P-12 Educational Leadership allows students who are currently employed at a P-12 institution the ability to advance their knowledge in the field so that they can become a scholar in the field. Students interested in becoming a Superintendent should pursue an Ed.D. degree with a specialization in P-12 System Level School Leadership. The Ph.D. degree does not offer a Superintendent endorsement.

The program is described as an online program; however, all students are encouraged or required to travel to campus. The Ph.D. requires students to complete a minimum of 6 credit hours of on-campus research residency seminars. Normally, all doctoral students will be on campus to present the dissertation proposal and for the final defense of the dissertation study.

Courses are offered on the regular semester and summer session schedule of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Research residency seminars are offered during the summer in a hybrid fashion (time-intensive on-campus experiences followed by additional online content) to facilitate the on-campus residency requirement. Courses are announced in the UNL schedule available online and students register for courses using the University web-based enrollment and billing system.

New applicants should be aware that not all advisors can accept new students every year. We recommend that you contact the individual faculty members to learn about their scholarly interests and advising capacity in the course of preparing your application for admission. 

Our Unique Program


  • Students learn from faculty who conduct and share leading research on contemporary challenges and opportunities in higher education. These scholars have devoted their careers to teaching, researching, discovering, and sharing what works in higher education administration.
  • Students also learn from faculty with decades of combined experience as higher education administrators and leaders who have lived and breathed the work of directors, coordinators, and supervisors at a variety of higher education institutions.
  • Courses are taught by current UNL administrators and carefully selected external professors, bringing an extra dimension of real-world credibility and authenticity to the program.

Individual Attention, Support, & Hands-on Learning

  • Students apply administrative theory and current research to their unique work environments while building supportive relationships with faculty and colleagues. Students leave the program with an expanded network of support, connections, and perspective.
  • Multiple opportunities to grow through additional, no-cost learning opportunities such as the Women in Educational Leadership Conference (WELC), the Critical Issues Forum, and the Sybouts Student Research Symposium.

Access to Leading Higher Education Professionals

  • Experienced college and university administrators share expertise from the very beginning on current issues, such as enrollment, retention, access, campus culture and climate, law, student involvement, equity, and other key topics.

From Day One

  • With a thorough background in theory and experience with its application, our graduates are Day-One-Ready for student engagement and success, recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff, human and alumni relations, and other aspects of higher education administration.

Courses and Schedule

  • The University of Nebraska grants the Ph. D. degree only to students who have completed a minimum of 90 graduate semester hours. For this degree, EDAD requires 18 hours of doctoral level research and statistics courses in addition to the 90 graduate semester hour requirement. This degree requires completion of a minimum of 45 semester hours (excluding research and statistics courses) at UNL after admission for doctoral study, regardless of how many graduate hours you may have already acquired before admission. Students are required to complete a minimum of 6 credit hours of Research Residency Seminars as part of Electives or Research/Statistics.

Launching Your Journey

Program Curriculum

The Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Studies is a hybrid program primarily designed to serve the needs of those already employed at a college or university and who seek to advance their knowledge in the study of higher education or community colleges. 

The sequence of courses taken by a student is dependent upon if the student is enrolled part-time or full-time. For part-time students, it is expected that they take 2 courses per semester, including over the summer, for a total of 6 courses per year. Full-time students should take 3 courses per semester and 2 over the summer. Deviating from this sequence may delay program completion, as certain courses are offered at certain times and are subject to enrollment limits. Additionally, a student's specific sequence of courses is also dependent upon the concentration that they select to pursue. Students unable to follow the sequence as outlined should be in regular communication with their advisor.

Course Sequence for part-time students (Higher Education or Community Colleges concentration)

Course Sequence for part-time students (P-12 Educational Leadership concentration)

Course Sequence for full-time students (any concentration)

Frequently Asked Questions

 "The skills and knowledge gained from my time as a research assistant and graduate of the EDAD program not only cultivated me as a scholar and methodologist but has helped me thrive as an Assistant Professor at Mississippi State University. Many Huskers supported me along the way; however, I am most grateful for my chair, Dr. Deryl Hatch-Tocaimaza, and my entire dissertation committee, Drs. Yao, Freeman, Bondi, and Morales."

Kaleb L. Briscoe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Mississippi State University

 "My work as an administrator at a community college brought more questions than answers, so I knew that community colleges would be one of my research interests. As a working professional who lived in New York, I needed a hybrid program that had: a good reputation, accomplished scholars, and opportunities to engage in research. I found all in the Department of Educational Administration. "

Evagela Q. Oates, Ph.D., Adjunct Librarian, Westchester Community College

Application Process

The application deadline for Fall admission is January 15.

Graduate Admission Requirements
  • Application for Admission with $50 non-refundable application fee. Fee waiver requests will be accepted beginning December 1, 2021. See below.
  • One set of transcripts.
  • If the student’s native language is not English, verification of English proficiency is required.
  • If International: upload copies of all college- or university-level transcripts or mark sheets (records of courses and marks earned), with certificates, diplomas, and degrees plus certified English translations.
    • Official documents are required from all students who are admitted and enroll. Photocopies of certified records are not acceptable. International students enrolled in other U.S. institutions may have certified copies of all foreign records sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies by their current school’s registrar office.
  • If applicant is not a US citizen and expects an F or J visa: financial information.
  • Applicants must also fulfill any additional requirements the department specifies at the time of application.
    Major Admission Requirements
      • Personal Statement:
        • Describe what brought you to apply to this program, including your personal and professional goals. State an issue in higher education administration that is a concern of yours, and briefly discuss your knowledge of the issue.
      • Essay:
        • The Department of Educational Administration has committed to addressing access and equity in higher education. What does access and equity mean to you and how does that inform your current and/or future work in higher education? How do you believe this program will contribute to your understanding of access and equity in higher education?
      • Resume
      • Three recommendation letters


    Want to know more?

    Deryl Hatch-Tocaimaza Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Higher Education ED.D. & PH.D. Coordinator

    Full Deryl Hatch-Tocaimaza bio

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