Educational Studies - Educational Leadership and Higher Education

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

Program Length

4-5 years

Credits Required


*beyond the master’s is typical



GRE/Entrance Exam

Not Required

Application Process

Learning the research interests and expertise areas of potential faculty advisors, particularly at the doctoral level, is an important consideration for prospective students. We encourage prospective applicants to learn about faculty advisors via the links below and through the “Meet our Team” link on the “About EDAD” tab.” Based on capacity, the following faculty members serve as advisors in this program:

Preparing Future Scholars in Academia

The Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Studies with a specialization in Educational Leadership and Higher Education, provides academic preparation and professional development for those individuals interested in the study of educational leadership and higher education.

The Ph.D. program is a blended program. Students complete the majority of their coursework online and are required to complete at least two summer research seminars offered in a blended format (some online work with 1 week on campus). The Ph.D. requires students to complete a minimum of 6 credit hours of an on-campus summer research seminars.


This program allows students to choose from three different areas to focus. Below are the three concentrations which are available. Click on a concentration to learn more information.

Courses are offered on the regular semester and summer session schedule of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Summer research seminars are offered during the summer in a blended fashion (time-intensive on-campus experiences complemented by additional online content) to facilitate the on-campus research seminar 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 Ph.D. degree in Educational Studies through the Educational Administration department requires a total of 63 credit hours post-admission, comprising 24 credit hours of core and concentration courses, 6 credit hours of electives, and 18 credit hours of research and methodology coursework, plus 15 credit hours of dissertation writing. The program is designed to be completed in as few as 5 years, depending on a students' dissertation project. Students are expected to take two courses per academic term (6 total per year) and advance to candidacy in their third year. Students who pursue full-time study may be able to complete sooner than this and, especially if they reside locally, may be able to avail themselves of even more professional development opportunities in the pursuit of a scholarly research career. Admitted students benefit from the formation of a doctoral supervisory committee at the outset of their studies, providing a community of peers and faculty members to pursue shared scholarly endeavors and to support each student's successful completion.

Application Process

The application deadline for Fall admission is January 15.

Graduate Admission Requirements
  • Application for Admission with $50 non-refundable application fee.
  • 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- Your statement should address the following three areas (2-3 pages):
      •  1. How does a doctoral degree figure into your career trajectory and goals as an educator?

         2. How will your doctoral studies contribute to the vision of this department and in relation to the scholarship/expertise of faculty members with whom you would like to work?

         3. What is your plan and strategy to complete your degree in a timely manner? (For instance, online coursework, occasional and/or required on-campus residency requirements, development of research and writing skills.)

    • Essay (maximum 4 pages):
      • Describe what you see as one pressing educational challenge or opportunity, why this challenge/opportunity is important to address, and how you might address it through your doctoral studies and/or dissertation work. (Explain how your scholarly inquiry regarding this challenge could add to the research literature.)
    • Resume
    • Three recommendation letters
    • Writing Samples: Upload two academic/scholarly writing samples. Applicants typically submit papers written for other courses or academic programs that give the admissions committee a sense of the applicant's academic writing skill and background.


     "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. "

    Evangela Q. Oates, Ph.D., Associate University Librarian for Student Success, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

     "My UNL Ph.D. has opened doors allowing me to have the career I always wanted; being an education professor at a university. I have accomplished other things in my career, but my work at UNL is the achievement of which I am most proud. You don't enroll in EDAD for a degree that checks a box; you do it to make a substantive contribution to your field and create a profound change in yourself."

    Mark Thompson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Secondary Education, Nebraska Wesleyan University

    Frequently Asked Questions

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    Deryl Hatch-Tocaimaza Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Higher Education

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