Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

    Jun 21, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Higher Education, PhD

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Degrees, Certificates, Teacher Certifications

The PhD program in higher education is designed for individuals primarily interested in the scholarly inquiry and/or teaching of higher education as a field of study. The PhD in higher education is particularly appropriate to the following careers:

  • academic and research positions in graduate instructional programs of higher education, higher education institutes and centers for the study of higher education;
  • applied and management research positions in institutions of higher learning, government agencies, consortia of higher education institutions and higher education professional associations; and
  • senior administrative positions in four-year colleges and universities where in-depth knowledge and understanding of the conceptual bases of higher education administration are required.

Admission requirements

Students seeking admission to the doctoral program in higher education should apply for either the EdD or PhD program depending on their academic preparation, prior experience and career goals. Both doctoral programs offered in higher education enable students to acquire knowledge about and evaluate major organizational, behavioral and learning theories applicable to higher education; to conduct applied and/or original research in the field of higher education; to become familiar with past, present and emerging patterns of organization and professional administrative practice in higher education; and to observe and participate in the actual practice of higher education administration and/or research. However, the two programs differ significantly in length and emphasis and in course work, research tool, minor field and dissertation requirements.

Admission to the program is selective. Students seeking admission to the doctoral program in higher education should submit the following items to the UNT Toulouse Graduate School:

  • UNT Toulouse Graduate School application form;
  • official transcripts from all college and universities attended; and
  • official GRE or GMAT scores no older than five years are optional.

The following materials must be submitted to the Higher Education Program Office:

  • three recommendation forms, including at least one from a faculty member with whom the student has studied or conducted research (please contact the Higher Education Program Office for recommendation form);
  • a curriculum vitae or resume;
  • an admission essay (i.e., statement of purpose); and
  • a sample of the applicant’s best recent written work in the form of a published article or book chapter, a research term paper, master’s thesis or a professional report for which the applicant is the sole or primary author.

In addition to the minimum requirements of the College of Education listed under the “Admission Requirements” heading in the appropriate section of this catalog, admission to the EdD and PhD doctoral programs in higher education is contingent upon the following:

  • an acceptable GPA (the successful candidate for admission will normally have an overall GPA of 3.6 or higher from a graduate degree program, based on a 4.0 grading system);
  • GRE or GMAT scores are optional;
  • the quality and relevance of the applicant’s prior undergraduate and graduate work;
  • the quality and relevance of the applicant’s prior work experience in higher education administration, teaching and/or research;
  • the clarity and fit of the applicant’s career objectives;
  • the strength of the professional/educational references;
  • the quality of the admission essay and writing sample; and
  • an interview with program faculty.

There is an application deadline for each semester. Contact the program office for deadline dates. After review of the complete application packet, eligible applicants will be invited to interview with the program faculty. For additional information, prospective students should contact the higher education program office at 940-565-2045 or e-mail

Degree requirements

The PhD with a major in higher education requires a minimum of 72 hours (66 if the internship requirement is waived) beyond the master’s degree or 102 hours (96 if the internship requirement is waived) beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Higher education doctoral core, 18 hours

Provides the student with a broad overview and integrated perspective of higher education as a field of study and academic enterprise:

Minor or cognate area, 12 hours

The student completes a minor of at least 12 semester hours from courses outside the program of higher education, or a cognate field of 12 semester hours in an area of specialization in higher education. The student must work with his or her major professor to select the minor or cognate area.

Higher education elective course requirements, 6 hours

Courses are to be selected from the program’s course inventory and should enable the student to gain either a broader exposure to the various specializations in higher education or an in-depth knowledge of one particular area of specialization.

Internship, 6 hours

An administrative, research and/or teaching internship of 6 semester hours is required of all doctoral students. Internship may be waived for students who have been employed in a full-time administrative position, or a teaching or research position in an institution, agency or association of higher education for at least one academic year, or the equivalent as determined by the higher education faculty. Internships consist of at least 120 clock hours of closely supervised administrative work per 3 semester hours of credit and culminate with a written report of the internship experience. Research internships require the close supervision of the student’s research project by a graduate faculty member of the university and culminate in a publishable or presentable research paper. Teaching internships consist of at least 40 hours of supervised teaching per 3 semester hours of credit and culminate with a portfolio documenting the experience.

College of Education research core, 6 hours

The College of Education requires that each doctoral student complete

Higher Education research requirement, 15 hours

Each PhD candidate must be competent in the modes of scholarly inquiry common to the major field of study. The higher education program requires PhD students to complete 6 hours of higher education program research core and 9 hours of advanced quantitative or qualitative research methodology beyond EPSY 6010  and EPSY 6020 .

Higher Education program research core, 6 hours

The higher education program research core consists of a series of two courses that must be taken in sequence and in consecutive semesters. This series is designed to help students strengthen their skills in conducting higher education research and in preparing for doctoral dissertation research. Prerequisites include the College of Education research core (EPSY 6010  and EPSY 6020 ) and 30 hours completed in the higher education program.

Advanced research methodology, 9 hours

PhD students are required to take at least 9 hours of advanced quantitative or qualitative research course work beyond EPSY 6010  and EPSY 6020 . Students must work with their major professor to select courses that will equip them for dissertation research.

Dissertation research requirement, minimum of 9 hours

The principal goal of the PhD dissertation is the demonstration of the student’s ability to conduct independent research. The research design must be congruent with the modes of inquiry used in conducting research on higher education and must be a report of independent research with a strong theoretical foundation. Moreover, the dissertation must be of publishable quality. No dissertation enrollment is permitted until the student passes the doctoral qualifying exam. Only 9 semester hours of dissertation credit are applied to the degree program, even though more dissertation hours may be accumulated. Please check university policy on the requirement of continuous enrollment.

Doctoral dissertation committee

Each PhD student must select a dissertation committee prior to taking the doctoral qualifying exam. The dissertation committee consists of a minimum of four graduate faculty members including a major professor. At least two members of the committee must be full-time Higher Education Program faculty. The major professor must be full-time higher education program faculty with full UNT Graduate Faculty status. The third member must be external to the higher education program. The fourth member can be either full-time higher education faculty, affiliate higher education faculty, or someone external to the program. Students who have a minor are encouraged to select the external member from the minor field. Students should consult with their major professor to form the dissertation committee. Please check the university and college dissertation committee policies for other requirements.

Additional information

Minimum grade requirement

All courses required and used toward the doctoral degree with a major in higher education must be passed with a grade of B or better.

Residency requirement

All doctoral students at UNT are required to complete the residency requirement prior to taking the doctoral qualifying exam. The residency requirement consists of two consecutive semesters at UNT with a minimum of 9 graduate hours in each term or three consecutive semesters with a minimum of 6 graduate hours in each term. The summer semester may be excluded for the purpose of determining consecutive semesters.

Doctoral qualifying exam

Students who have met the residency requirement and completed all course work on the degree plan (exclusive of dissertation) with a grade of B or better will be allowed to take the doctoral qualifying exam. Students who have met the residency requirement and are in the last 9 hours or less of course work (exclusive of dissertation) and will complete these hours in the current semester may take the doctoral qualifying exam in that semester with permission from the major professor. The higher education program doctoral qualifying exam includes written and oral components. Students who fail any part of the exam twice will be automatically dismissed from the program. Students who pass the doctoral qualifying exam are admitted to candidacy.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Degrees, Certificates, Teacher Certifications