Educational Studies, Ph.D. (Educational Leadership & Higher Education)

Doctor of Philosophy Degree with a Specialization in Educational Leadership and Higher Education

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

  • Blended
  • 108
  • $357.00
  • $750.00

Why Pursue This Program

The blended Educational Studies Ph.D. with specialization in Educational Leadership & Higher Education program is designed to prepare students for a scholarly research position as faculty in education leadership and higher education or for positions that require knowledge of educational leadership and/or higher education and extensive research preparation.

Students choose the Educational Studies, Ph.D. (Educational Leadership & Higher Education) program to: 

  • Gain innovative approaches to today’s education programs.
  • Acquire insight in how to lead, enforce and research education policy and procedures at the college level. 
  • Develop a diverse learning community that engages in intense, graduate study of contemporary issues from multiple perspectives. 
  • Learn from internationally renowned faculty who craft rigorous opportunities for advanced study, mentor students and engage in funded research. 

The program provides students with constructive experiences that enhance their academic and professional success by: 

  • Demonstrating a commitment to the study of problems of practice and contributing to policy development and analysis. 
  • Providing mentored opportunities for teaching in higher education. 
  • Working with faculty who offer opportunities to participate in international research initiatives, overseas conferences and comparative travel-study. 
  • Assisting individuals to tailor a program of study to their scholarly and professional interests. 
  • Preparing students to conduct and share educational research. 
  • Encouraging and promoting academic writing for different audiences and stakeholders. 

Students complete coursework in areas related to higher education including:

  • Leadership, planning and finance
  • History and philosophy
  • Policy, law and politics
  • Higher education environments
  • Teaching, learning and student affairs
  • Community colleges

Note: A minimum of 45 semester hours must be completed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln after admission to this program. Six credit hours of coursework must be in-residence, on-campus, as approved by the student’s adviser. These are typically completed as one-week in-residence sessions during the summer. These courses focus on special topics of major interest and allow for extensive interaction with experts in the field.

Career Outlook: Educational administrators oversee student services, academics and curriculum in schools and colleges. Typically, postsecondary education administrators need a master’s degree because employers prefer to hire candidates that have experience with the job duties listed above. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for Postsecondary Education Administrators is growing at 10%, which is faster than average. The Bureau also reports that the demand for Postsecondary Teachers is expected to grow 15% by 2026, which is much faster than average.

Career paths of alums include: 

  • Principal
  • Superintendents
  • Student Affairs Professionals 
  • Admissions Counselors
  • Residence Life Coordinators
  • Academic Advisors
  • Directors
  • Faculty Members
  • Leaders in Community College, College and Universities
  • Researchers
  • Presidents
  • Deans
  • Vice Chancellors
  • Commissioners

More about the Educational Studies (Educational Leadership & Higher Education Specialization) program:

The University of Nebraska—Lincoln offers two nationally recognized Doctoral degrees in Educational Leadership and Higher Education, the Ph.D. and the Ed.D. The programs are offered to individuals interested in any level (P-20) of education. 

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 online schedule 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. 

What's it like to take a program online?

Quality learning experience

The University of Nebraska has offered distance education courses for more than 100 years so you can expect a quality, rigorous experience. Online courses are often highly interactive with faculty and students communicating through e-mail, discussion forums and chat groups. You’ll have direct access to world-class faculty – researchers who are experts in their fields or practitioners with real-world experience. Also, you’ll be part of a community of learners and can benefit from the perspectives of students from across the globe.


Online learning gives you the flexibility and freedom to attend your classes wherever is convenient to you. You can save time and money by being able to continue to work and by avoiding relocation or travel costs. You will be required to complete assignments in a certain timeframe, but in most instances, you can log in and complete coursework during the time of day that works best for you. You aren’t tied to a specific class time.

Service you expect from a leading University

Online learners at the University of Nebraska have access to the same student services available to on-campus students. An academic adviser will guide you along your journey, library services are available to help you excel in your program and career services are available when you are ready to take your next step. These are just a few of the services in place to help you succeed.

About Faculty

University of Nebraska online courses are taught by expert faculty who embody the qualities resulting from research experience and professional/field experience. Students learn from faculty with a variety of backgrounds, many of whom are published researchers in their fields. NU faculty who teach online do so in a way that optimizes learning within the online modality and because technology enables students to access education they may otherwise may not be able to pursue.