Dec 07, 2022  
Graduate Record 2022-2023 
    
Graduate Record 2022-2023

Higher Education


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Master of Education - Higher Education


The Master’s of Education in Higher Education is designed to prepare students for success in entry- and mid-career level professional positions within a variety of postsecondary education contexts. The program emphasizes the integration of theoretical foundations, principles of practice, and reflective professional experiences.

Students admitted into the Higher Education master’s program may focus in Higher Education Administration, Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education, or Intercollegiate Athletic Administration. Although coursework in the three areas may vary according to student’s individual plan, the objectives remain consistent throughout the program:

  • Theoretical Foundation: An integration and application of the theoretical foundations of higher education; this may include economic, political, sociology, psychology, leadership, and organizational theory.
  • Principles of Practice: Coursework that develops and refines core competencies for student affairs, general administration, and athletic administration work in colleges and universities and other postsecondary settings.
  • Reflective Professional Experience: Professional student affairs, general administration, and athletic internships that lead to successful work in the specialized functional areas of higher education; the experience includes development of a professional philosophy and career plan, and introduction to major professional and service organizations.

Total Number of Credits required

The M.Ed. in Higher Education requires the completion of 34 credit hours which may include 22 core credits.

Required courses may include:

Culminating Experience for the Master’s Degree

The Capstone for the M.Ed. is a cumulative experience that integrates prior theory and content into practice within a simulated university context.

Other specific program requirements

All full-time students in the program are encouraged to complete an administrative internship.

Doctor of Education - Higher Education


All Ed.D. programs in the School of Education and Human Development are designed to prepare scholar/practitioners to assume leadership or supervisory roles in their educational fields, or work as faculty members in higher education institutions. The primary purpose of the Ed.D. in Higher Education is to provide experienced and practicing educators with a broad and systematic understanding of higher education, a definitive knowledge of selected aspects of educational theory and practice, and an ability to apply research in an informed and critical manner to educational practice and problems.

Ed.D. students in Higher Education complete a program of study totaling 72 credits consisting of a minimum of 60 hours of coursework, including a required higher education core (12 credits), a minor in research methods (18 credits), a content minor organized around a theme or set of questions of the student’s choice (12 credits), and elective courses in higher education (12 credits). Students will choose their content minor with the advice and consent of their advisors. Courses for the content minor may be taken outside of the program and the School of Education and Human Development (EHD). Typical content minor areas include student affairs, higher education policy, the organization and governance of higher education, the economics of higher education, and the social foundations of higher education.

Students entering the doctoral program with a master’s degree can apply up to 24 hours of credit to their doctoral program, provided that the program area faculty judges that the courses are sufficiently comparable to substitute for courses offered in the doctoral program.

While Ed.D. students study on a part-time basis, high-level professional training and intellectual development require a concentrated experience that is possible only through sustained involvement in the academic and other activities of the Higher Education program and University. Participation in Higher Education program research and service projects, informal work with individual faculty members, and sustained interaction with other students all add substantially to the coursework. In short, to round out an advanced degree program, a student is expected to participate in and contribute to a rich academic community.

Core Courses (12 credits)

Higher Education Electives (minimum of 12 credits required distributed between 3 categories: Student Experience/Development; History & Philosophy; Governance, Policy, & Contexts)

Research Minor (minimum of 18 credits)

Content Minor (minimum of 12 credits)

Students may take their content minor courses outside the program and the School of Education and Human Development, or they may choose courses from other EHD programs. The minor is meant to supply the student with substantive knowledge of and a theoretical grounding in an area that might be the topic of the dissertation. Courses to be taken for minor credit must be negotiated with and approved by the student’s advisor.

Capstone (minimum of 12 credits )

EDLF 9991 - Ed.D. Research 1 to 12  (may be repeated for credit)

Preliminary Assessment

Upon completion of 12 credits, students will submit a portfolio that includes 3 previously submitted papers and a reflection on how their research to date informs their career path. The portfolio will be used to assess students’ progress and serve as a prerequisite for continued enrollment in the Ed.D. program.

Comprehensive Examination

All Ed.D. students are required to pass a written comprehensive examination prepared by the Higher Education faculty. The comprehensive exam will test students’ knowledge in a range of topics and will serve as a prerequisite for continuation to the Ed.D.

Doctor of Philosophy - Higher Education


The primary purpose of the Ph.D. degree in Higher Education is to develop scholars who are able to conduct original research and interpret and communicate the results of such research through writing, teaching, practice, and other means. Program graduates typically pursue faculty careers or become senior administrators in colleges and universities.

Ph.D. students in Higher Education complete a program of study that requires 72 credits to complete, including at least 60 hours of coursework (excluding dissertation credit). Acceptance of up to 24 hours of transfer credit from a student’s master’s degree program or from post-master’s work completed at another institution is determined on an individual basis by the student’s advisor and the program coordinator. The program coordinator may exempt students from required courses that they have already taken.

In addition to a required set of core courses in higher education (12 credits) and a minor in research methods (18 credits), the Ph.D. student is also required to complete elective coursework in higher education (9 credits). A content minor (12 credits), chosen with the advice and consent of the student’s advisor and organized around a theme or set of questions, is also required for the Ph.D. Courses for the content minor may be taken outside of the program and the Curry School.

Ph.D. students are required to complete ten hours of mentored research or teaching assistance per week each semester they are enrolled. Internship placements (paid, ten to twenty hours per week) can be arranged within the University of Virginia and at cooperating colleges and universities, other postsecondary agencies, or institutes. 

Core Courses (12 credits)

Higher Education Electives (minimum of 12 credits required distributed between 3 categories, minimum 1 course per category)

Student Experience/Student Development

History & Philosophy

Governance, Policy, & Contexts

Research Courses (18 credits)

Content Minor (minimum 12 credits)

Students may take their content minor courses outside the program and the School of Education and Human Development, or they may choose courses from other School of Education and Human Development programs. The minor is meant to supply the student with substantive knowledge of and a theoretical grounding in an area that might be the topic of the dissertation. Courses to be taken for minor credit must be negotiated with and approved by the student’s advisor.

Dissertation (minimum 12 credits)

Other Requirements

  • Qualifying paper/Comprehensive Examination - Completed during final semester of coursework

Culminating Experience

PhD students in Higher Education must successfully design, implement and defend the dissertation project in accordance with the School of Education and Human Development dissertation manual.