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  The Graduate School of Education 2019-2021 Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Programs Ph.D. Program in Higher Education  

Ph.D. Program in Higher Education

Degree Program Offered: Doctor of Philosophy

Director: Florence Hamrick (848-932-0844; email:

Please visit the website.

For a complete list of program faculty, please visit this page in this catalog.

The Ph.D. in higher education at Rutgers University offers focused study of the complexities of colleges and universities, their missions, contexts, challenges, and successes. This interdisciplinary degree program brings together distinguished higher education scholars representing the Graduate School of Education (GSE), the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (BSPPP), the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), the School of Communication and Information (SC&I), the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS), and the School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR). Affiliated faculty members are higher education experts in the fields of, for example: education, law, communication, organizational studies, public policy, and economics.


The Ph.D. in higher education program prepares higher education researchers who will take their scholarship, knowledge, and research skills into a range of higher education settings such as universities and colleges, state governing and coordinating boards, federal government, independent higher education organizations, consulting groups, not-for-profit organizations, and foundations.

Learning Outcomes and Curriculum

The Ph.D. in higher education curriculum is informed by the following learning outcomes. Graduates of the higher education Ph.D. program will:

  • conduct original, rigorous research and interpret and evaluate findings from other research studies;
  • be knowledgeable about higher education organizations, systems, governance, leadership, analysis and planning, research, assessment and evaluation, and communication;
  • understand current and developing trends and issues facing colleges and universities;
  • understand and effectively negotiate the complexities of higher education in terms of institutional type, control, contexts, stakeholders, and constituencies; and
  • provide leadership, insight, and expertise at the institutional or related higher education settings in which they work.

Ph.D. in higher education students will complete an approved program of study that includes, at minimum: the higher education core (18 credits), additional graduate coursework (15 credits), research core (15 credits), and independent research (24 credits). Students must pass qualifying examinations to advance to candidacy, and the dissertation must be approved by the candidate's faculty committee. No more than 24 credits of coursework outside of the School of Graduate Studies may be applied toward the 72 minimum credits required for the Ph.D. in higher education.

Students who are admitted to the Ph.D. program in higher education will be eligible to earn a master of arts (M.A.) degree while working toward the Ph.D. Only students admitted to the Ph.D. program will be eligible for the M.A. degree. Applications by prospective students seeking only an M.A. degree will be rejected without review.

Students will be eligible to receive an M.A. upon completion of 30 credits taken at Rutgers that are eligible to be counted toward the Ph.D. in higher education curriculum requirements. These credits will be accumulated while pursuing the requirements of the Ph.D. program in higher education and will adhere to the guidelines related to transfer of credits and other policies for M.A. degrees as described in the Ph.D. in Higher Education Handbook (click here for the 2019 handbook);
students should always check the Ph.D. in higher education website for the most recent handbook updates). The student must also successfully pass the M.A. comprehensive examination. The M.A. comprehensive examination may be administered as one component of the Ph.D. qualifying examination; a student who fails other parts of the qualifying examination but passes this part will have passed the comprehensive examination for the M.A.

The higher education program also offers graduate certificates in academic leadership and governance and organizational contexts of higher education. Each graduate certificate program entails successful completion of 12 credits of required coursework. Admitted Ph.D. students may complete one or more graduate certificates during the course of their Ph.D. study. Other individuals interested in earning a graduate certificate must apply for admission. Successful completion of a graduate certificate does not result in subsequent admission to the Ph.D. in higher education program.


The required qualifications for admission into the Ph.D. in higher education program are an earned baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, strong undergraduate GPA, and strong GRE scores. Applicants with a baccalaureate degree and little to no higher education experience may be admitted in cases of extraordinary academic promise and demonstrated commitment to research and scholarship in higher education.

The preferred qualifications for admission to the Ph.D. program are, in addition to the above, an earned master's degree in higher education or a closely related area; a strong graduate GPA; three-five years full-time, post-master's degree experience in higher education setting(s); and higher education research and/or assessment experience.

Prospective Ph.D. in higher education students may apply online at A completed application includes: Rutgers Application for Graduate Admission, official transcripts for all postsecondary coursework, GRE scores (within the last five years), personal statement, writing sample, and three letters of reference (at least two from full-time faculty members). Prior to admission, applicants must complete an individual interview with at least one higher education program faculty member.

For additional information, contact RU-info at 848-445-info (4636) or
Comments and corrections to: Campus Information Services.

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