Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration

Note: This page provides details on getting a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration. For master's degree information, please see our Master's in Higher Education Administration page.

Earning a doctoral degree in any field is a huge undertaking. A PhD or EdD in Higher Education Administration requires great dedication and focus. Most of the individuals that obtain a higher education degree seek a career in the educational field. These individuals may teach or lead at higher levels, such as college or university. They may also become administrators. Additionally, educators may choose to move on to teaching at a higher level in public or private schools. Some may choose to go into educational research with their degree. The goal of a PhD or EdD in Higher Education Administration is to prepare graduates to become leaders in whichever field they choose.

Choosing an Online PhD in Higher Education Administration Program

Choosing the right college or university may be one of the most difficult decisions graduate students are faced with. When looking into online doctoral programs for higher education administration, it is crucial to know that the institution you choose is accredited, nationally recognized, and reputable. Use the following to help you make an informed decision:

Is the Program Accredited?

First and foremost, find out if the online school is accredited. When a school or program is accredited, you will feel comfortable in knowing that the school will deliver a high caliber of education. The accreditation process is similar to that of peer review. A Doctoral Degree in Higher Education Administration can become accredited once a peer review process is successfully completed by an official organization or agency representing the field. Upon request, online colleges and universities often proudly share their accreditation status. To learn more about accreditation, you can visit:

How Long Has the Program Been Offered?

Longevity is often a good marker of an online program's success. Do keep in mind that online learning is a relatively new form of education. However, be cautious of schools that have not been around long enough to receive full accreditation. If a school is not accredited, your degree will not be valid - no matter how long the program has been around.

What Technologies Will Be Used to Facilitate Online Learning?

Online doctoral programs in higher education administration facilitate instruction via web-based classrooms. These online learning platforms allow students to access multimedia lectures, view assignments, communicate with peers, and more. Each school uses a different online learning platform. It may be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the program at hand before signing on.

What Resources Will I Have Access To?

Many online schools provide student services such as online resources. Online resources may come in the form of research catalogs, scholarly journals, technology assistance, mentors, and other online tools. Support is important, so be sure the school provides an ample amount.

What Skills and Topics Are Covered?

Find out if the program's curriculum is right for you. In other words, assess whether your career goals are in line with the doctoral program's. Reputable online programs will be able to provide an organized curriculum upon request - presented in the form of measurable program goals and outcomes.

Do You Have Job Placement Information for Students Who Recently Graduated from the Program?

Alumni can act as great career mentors and counselors. Find out what recent graduates from an online higher education administration program have done with their doctoral degree. The success of recent graduates can give you some insight into the legitimacy and effectiveness of an online program.

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Is an Online Degree Right for You?

Earning a PhD or EdD in Higher Education Administration requires a lot of time and dedication. Many people who entertain the idea of getting a doctorate are already working full time. This can make it difficult to fit in classes. Online courses may be the answer for those who are too busy for the traditional brick and mortar classroom. Below we will explore some aspects of online education to help you decide if it's right for you.

Flexible Schedule

As an influx of students choose online doctoral programs, it seems one of the biggest appeals is flexibility. Doctoral candidates may be older and have family and work responsibilities. These huge responsibilities limit their time and ability to attend traditional classes on a college campus. Online schooling gives students the opportunity to study and complete doctoral assignments whenever it fits into their schedule.

Opportunity and Accessibility

Online doctoral programs in higher education administration have created new opportunities for different types of students. Online programs allow students to attend programs regardless of their geographic location, scheduling restrictions, or physical ability. Two basic things are needed for an online education - a computer and internet connection.


Often times, those who thrive in online courses are self-starters. In other words, students who are able to remain organized, plan studies, and stay on top of their assignments will find easier success in online doctoral programs. Online higher education administration courses are definitely rigorous, so staying on top of assignments is a must.

Tuition and Costs

Earning a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration can be costly no matter what form the education comes in, online or in the classroom. Some financial assistance can be gained through the use of FAFSA, which allows students to qualify for loans and grants. When considering the overall cost for a PhD or EdD, online schools can end up costing less. Take the following costs into consideration:

  • With online programs, there are absolutely no costs associated with parking passes, transportation, gas, car maintenance, or on-campus meals.
  • Online schooling omits costs related to relocating or living on campus.
  • Online students have the ability to maintain a typical work day schedule, since they do not need to attend physical classes. With that said, students are able to continue making a living with their current job.

Doctoral Program Course Topics

Course topics for an Doctorate in Higher Education Administration will vary depending on the school. However, graduate students can expect to see the likes of the following:

Student Development and the Study of College Impact

This class helps students understand teaching at the higher education level and how such levels impact students in that environment.

History of Higher Education

In order to help inform the future of the field, this class focuses on higher education and its overall history throughout the years.

Gender and Higher Education

This class focuses on gender differences in higher education. Though gender differences should not exist, they do, even in higher education courses. The why and how to address such issues are addressed in this course.

Higher Education and Society

Higher education affects everyone involved, even the surrounding community. Society also has a viewpoint on higher education and this is addressed within the class.

Multicultural Issues in American Higher Education

Just as gender issues exist in the realm of higher education administration, so do multicultural issues. This course will focus on these issues and how to deal with them in the academic environment.

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What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration?

The following are some career pathways that may be made possible with a PhD or EdD in Higher Education Administration: college professor, university or college admissions administrator, researcher, professional public speaker, academic dean, academic advisor, and college registrar.

Professional Associations

To help stay connected and grow within the field of higher education administration, it may be a good idea to join a professional association, such as the American Association of University Administrators. The AAUA has a mission to develop and advance the standards for the profession of higher education administration. The association works to promote the professional development of those involved in higher education administration.