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

Program Overview

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. 

Admissions and Requirements

To be accepted to this program, you must have:

  1. A Master's degree

    Must be from an accredited university

  2. 3 GPA or above on a 4.0 scale

  3. Taken the GRE

  4. Taken the TOEFL or IELTS

    (Only required if English is not your native language)

  5. A written personal statement

  6. 3 letters of recommendation

  7. Official transcripts from all previous schools

  8. Three samples of writing or research

  9. Personal vita or resume

NOTE: This program is authorized, exempt, or not subject to state regulatory compliance and may enroll students from all 50 states

To apply to this program:

  1. Complete and submit the online application for Graduate Studies
  2. Pay $50 application fees
  3. Complete and submit separate application to the Department of Educational Administration
  4. Apply and be admitted to the department

Courses You’ll Take

Course Information

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln grants the PhD degree to students who have completed a minimum of 90 graduate semester hours after attaining their bachelor's degrees if the following requirements are met. This minimum assumes the student has taken one research course as part of a master's program, plus an additional 15 credit hours of research and statistics courses. Including research and statistics course requirements, the total credit hour requirement is 108 graduate semester hours. The specialization in Educational Leadership and Higher Education requires completion of a minimum of 45 semester hours taken at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln after admission to this program. Four common courses are required of all masters students. If doctoral students have not completed these courses, or equivalents, they are also required in the doctoral program. Courses Master's degree (assumes one research course) - 33 credit hours (may be transferred in) Research statistics courses (if not already completed, not included in the 90 hours) - 15 credit hours (may be transferred in) Dissertation - 15-18 credit hours Educational Administration master's core (if not already completed, not included in the 90 hours) - 0-12 credit hours (may be transferred in) EDAD 830 Administrative Theory in Educational Organizations EDAD 833 Educational Finance or EDAD 922 Finance in Higher Education EDAD 837 Law or EDAD 925 Law and Higher Education EDAD 981 Introduction to Research in Educational Administration Common doctoral course (EDAD 966 Leadership in Educational Organizations) - 3 credit hours Electives - 27-42 credit hours

Core Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
EDAD 993Introduction to Doctoral Studies in Educational Administration0
Workshop seminar topics are determined with the student’s adviser. This is a required, non-credit course.
EDAD 925Law and Higher Education3
Examination of legal principles applicable to postsecondary education institutions. Overview of the legal system, postsecondary education institutions as legal entities, authority for governance and administration, faculty rights and responsibilities, student rights and responsibilities, institutional and personal liability, and other selected issues.
EDAD 830Administrative Theory3
Introduction to classic and contemporary administrative theory as applied to educational organizations. The theoretical nature of the course content is relevant to those with an interest in a broad variety of educational institutions. General organizational theory, organizational models, historical schools of administrative theory, authority, power, motivation, and leadership. Frequently students are involved in studying problems of practice as a means of testing theory.
EDAD 837Education Law1 - 4
Evolution, principles, and practice of education law in relation to local, state, and national units of organization. Education law of Nebraska.
EDAD 833Educational Finance3
Critical analysis of the political and economic elements impacting K-12 school finance. Content and activities address both building and district level concerns with an emphasis on principles, programs, and trends in school finance.
EDAD 800Foundation of Research & Methods of Inquiry in Educational Administration3
A written report is required. Investigation and analysis of current problems in education administration and supervision.
EDAD 966Seminar in Educational Administration1 - 3
Prereq: PermissionEducation administration problems with an analysis of research and literature pertaining to these problems.
EDAD 922Finance in Postsecondary Education3
Federal and state government funding, institutional planning, technological and community influences, human resources finance, budgeting, and sources of financial support as they relate to postsecondary education institutions and agencies.

Elective Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
EDAD 926The American Professoriate: An Administrative Perspective3
Contemporary faculty issues in postsecondary education institutions from the perspective of college administrators. Current status of faculty, assigning faculty workloads and monitoring performance levels, evaluating faculty performance, structuring development activities, and special topics.
EDAD 921Administrative Issues in Postsecondary Education3
Introduction to contemporary issues in the administration of postsecondary education with a focus on the scholarly literature, a comparative analysis of administration in types of institutions, leadership and planning, institutional and environmental issues, and selected topics.
EDAD 910The Higher Education Environment3
Universities are adaptive, living systems interacting with their environment. Equips participants with the skills required to analyze and assess the environment of higher education institutions. Environment concepts, components and structures are studied together with analysis techniques and methodological approaches to future study.
EDAD 980Seminar in College Student Development2 - 3
EDAD, EDPS 977. (2-3 cr per sem, max 6) Current knowledge, theories, and practices, and related issues in the area of college student development. Special field experiences and research projects are available to students for additional credit.
EDAD 923The Community College3
Designed particularly for those interested in upper secondary and college levels. Junior college movement; relationship of movement to provisions for an adequate educational program; functions of the junior college; legal status and basis for extension of junior college; problems of organization, administration, and curriculum.
EDAD 907Issues in Educational Politics and Policies3
Analyze and evaluate policy processes involved in making choices; develop understanding, apply and evaluate knowledge about key political concepts and theories to the analysis of educational policy issues; analyze and evaluate issues as points of political conflict between institutional structures with competing interests; understand people as the actors in roles they occupy in the political system.
EDAD 912BCommunity College Leadership3
A course designed to enable the administrators to become knowledgeable of recent trends and issues in school management, finance, or other concerns affecting the administration of the public schools.
EDAD 935Workforce, Economic, & Community Development3
Workforce, economic, and community development represents a central mission of the community college. Community colleges provide an important means for educating citizens and preparing skilled workers to maintain the civic vitality and economic growth of their communities. EDAD 890 develops the knowledge base and capabilities needed by community college leaders to advance the workforce, economic, and community development mission of the community college. This course explores the workforce, economic and community development role of the community college within the broader context of recent economic, social, and technological changes in communities, society, and the economy and examines the how this role is integrated with, and distinct from, other community college missions. Drawing on both sound theory and best practices, course topics include the strategy, structure, funding, policy, and programs of the community college related to workforce, economic, and community development. Using both conventional and applied/experiential learning activities, students will explore leadership issues related to planning, managing, budgeting, and evaluating the effectiveness of workforce, economic, and community development programs in the community college.
EDAD 892Special Topics in Education3
(CYAF 892; EDPS 892; EDUC 892; SPED 892; TTEAC 892) Prereq: EDPS 859 or parallel; EDPS 859 or equivalent Aspects of education not covered elsewhere in the curriculum.
EDAD 934Teaching and Learning in the Community College3
This course is planned for individuals who hold or aspire to leadership positions in community colleges that focus on or support instructional programs and others who seek to learn more about this particular aspect of America’s comprehensive community colleges. The primary purpose of the course is to develop a comprehensive understanding of five aspects of the community college:Its curricular missions (general education, transfer education, career education, remedial/developmental education, community education);Its faculty and student population;Issues concerning program and curriculum development;Human resources aspects related to instructional programs (full- and part-time faculty ratios, hiring qualified adjunct faculty, faculty development programs);Issues concerning the evaluation of programs and the assessment of student outcomes.

Tuition & Fees

Nebraska Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours


Out of State Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours

Jiangang Xia, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Jiangang Xia worked seven years as a high school math teacher in Guangzhou, China and as an evaluation specialist at Dallas Independent School District, Texas. His research and teaching interests focus on P-12 leadership/organization theory, policy analysis and program evaluation, while his expertise lies in quantitative methods and large-scale data analysis. Through collaboration, Xia has published 4 journal articles and 3 book chapters and presented more than 10 research papers in national conferences in the area of K-12 educational leadership.

Application Deadlines
  • Fall SemesterJan 15