Florida State University

College of Education

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Ph.D. in Higher Education - Public Policy or Student Affairs

  • Ph D.
Program Emphasis: 
  • Administrative Leadership
  • Student Learning & Development


Linda Lyons
1114 West Call Street
1209 Stone Building
Tallahassee, FL 32306
(850) 644-6777

Program Statement

Established in 1957, the Florida State University Higher Education Program boasts a long tradition of excellence in preparing students for successful careers in higher education and in disseminating research on higher education policy issues at the national, state, and institutional level. Our mission is to draw upon and apply knowledge from the broad areas of organizational theory, student development, public policy, as well as teaching and learning to improve the quality of practice in college and universities.

The mission of the higher education program is to prepare leaders who contribute solutions to the challenges facing higher education and society. The program provides a student centered learning community; promotes a culture of critical inquiry; emphasizes the discovery, integration, and application of knowledge about higher education; fosters a caring, collaborative, and inclusive environment; and encourages educational transformation and change. 

Core Values
We value and attempt to create a learning community in which students develop a framework of knowledge that enables them to think critically, articulate values, and put their knowledge and skills to use.

We value and seek to develop collaborative relationships in which faculty, students, staff, and practicing professionals identify and share in the realization of mutually valuable learning outcomes.

We value and try to create an open community based upon democratic ideals in which freedom of expression is protected, civility is affirmed, and appreciation and understanding of individual differences are honored and respected. In this light, we value a caring community in which the well-being of each person is important, and a life-net supports every member.

Tracks - Public Policy or Student Affairs

A student's program of study is designed focus on one of two specializations: either the Student Affairs track or the Public Policy of Higher Education track. By choosing a specialization, a student will be able to combine elective and core courses with other learning experiences in order to pursue their unique educational and professional goals. In general, curricula are
designed to provide a knowledge base about the professional field and a theoretical framework to guide research and career development in higher education.

Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the doctoral degree, graduates will have mastered a comprehensive body of knowledge related to the field of higher education. Doctoral graduates will have demonstrated knowledge and competence in utilizing the analytic skills of disciplined inquiry and the leadership skills associated with the management and administration of postsecondary institutions. The graduate will have adopted a code of professional ethics and demonstrate knowledge and application of technologies used in administration, leadership, and research.

A Ph.D. student will demonstrate knowledge of theory and research through the composition of an integrated literature review of research, the development of testable research questions or hypotheses generated from deductive and inductive logic, and the elaboration of a research design that will meet rigorous methodological standards for theoretical and empirical research on a selected topic.

A Ph.D. student will demonstrate knowledge of theory and research. Ph.D students will gain expertise in their chosen specialization and expertise over the course of their studies. Using these specializations as a basis, they will learn how to develop testable research questions or hypotheses, construct corresponding literature reviews, and develop strengths in methodologies that will allow them to devise a policy-relevant original research study that meets the requirements of the students’ discipline of inquiry. Ultimately, students will graduate with the ability to conduct independent research of a quality required by the field’s major associations and academic publications.

Ph.D. Curriculum

The Ph.D. requires:

Minimum of 57 semester hours of coursework beyond the master’s degree, including:

9 hours of core courses
18 hours of track-specific courses
9 hours of discipline courses
21 hours of research core courses

Minimum of 24 hours of dissertation credit
Successful completion of Higher Education Program Scholarly Engagement benchmarks

Ph.D. Program of Study

Higher Education Core (9 hours)

EDH 5051      Higher Education in America (3) [1]

EDH 6635      Organization and Governance (3)

EDH 6936      Seminar in Student Development Theories (3)

EDH #TBD    Pro Seminar (0)


Specialization (Specified Track: Public Policy or Student Affairs) (18 hours)

Public Policy:

EDH 6505      Finance of Higher Education (3)

EDH 6401      Public Policy in Higher Education (3)

EDH 5005      Sociology of Higher Education (3) (or EDH 5630 Sociology of Education) (3)

EDF 5652       Policy Development (3)

EDH 5931      Politics of Higher Education (3)

EDF 5624       Economics of Education (3)


Student Affairs:

EDH 5931      Seminar on College Student Populations (3)

EDH 6040      Research on College Students (3)

EDH 6081      Leading Change in Higher Education (3) (Alternate Fall Terms)

EDH 6085      Social Justice in Higher Education (3) (Alternate Fall Terms)

Choose 1 Technology course:

EDH 5931      Technology in Student Affairs (course name subject to change)

EME 6414       Web 2.0 based learning and performance (3)

EME 5457       Intro to distance learning: Trends and issues (3)

Choose 1 of the following courses:

EDH 6067      International Perspectives in Higher Education (3) (Fall)

EDF 5519       History of Higher Education in America (3) (Alt. Spring Terms)

EDH 5005      Sociology of Higher Education (3) (or EDH 5630 Sociology of Education) (3)

EDH 6401      Public Policy in Higher Education (3)


Discipline Courses (9 hours) - work with major professor to select courses


Research Core (minimum 21 hours)

EDF 6486       Applied Research Methods in Educational Leadership & Policy (3)

EDF 5935       Introduction to Statistics for Education Research (3)

EDF 6475       Qualitative Methods of Education (3)

EDF 5935       Applied Regression (3)

Advanced Methods I (3)

Advanced Methods II (3)

EDA 6930       Literature Review (or EDH 6935 Prospectus Development) (3)


Dissertation (24 hours)

EDH 8964      Preliminary Examination (0) (Spring, Summer)

EDH 6980      Dissertation Hours (24)

EDH 9985      Dissertation Defense (0)


[1] Students who completed a graduate degree within five years or less of beginning doctoral study may take an advanced option available in place of EDH 5051 Higher Education in America such as History of Higher Education, History of Education, Women in Higher Education, or Black and Latino Education: History and Policy.

Meets ACPA Commission for Professional Preparation Standards: 
Meets CAS Standards: 

Number of Program Faculty

Full Time: 
Total Program Credit Hours: 
Average Time to Degree: 
4 years

Visitation Program



Entrance Exam: 
  • GRE
Assistantship Required: 
Assistantship Placement Assistance: 
  • Full time
  • Part time
Program Delivery: 
  • In-person
Course Schedule: 
  • Evening
Comprehensive Exam Required: