Earn a doctoral degree in higher education as preparation for an academic or administrative career

Loyola's PhD in higher education is an interdisciplinary program that encourage students to connect theory to practice while supporting scholarship on equity and social justice in various postsecondary contexts.

Our commitment to you

Upon graduation with a PhD in higher education from Loyola University, Chicago you will possess knowledge, skills, and professional values necessary to lead as a scholar or lead administrator in higher education, applying advanced and extensive knowledge of equity and social justice.


You will understand the history, foundations, critical issues, and applications of higher education theory and practice. Additionally, you will build a strong foundation in critical social theory, curriculum and pedagogy, student affairs theory, critical issues, and socially-just practices in higher education.


You will gain scholarly frames for understanding various higher education contexts, critically evaluate research (i.e., designs, data analysis, and data interpretation) and apply critical inquiry and research skills to successfully complete your dissertation research.

Professional Values

Ph.D. graduates of Loyola's higher education program are committed to advancing social justice through research, practice, and scholarship.

Program Faculty

Our dedicated Higher Education Faculty are experts in their fields who will support students throughout each stage of the program.


The PhD in higher education degree requires 60 semester hours of coursework and a dissertation.

Program Length

The time toward completion of a doctoral degree varies with each student. A full-time student can complete their coursework in two to three years; the remaining years are spent conducting an original research study and writing the dissertation.

Continuous Enrollment
PhD students in Higher Education are required to maintain continuous enrollment during their program of studies. This means that during each semester of each academic year (excluding Summer Sessions), each student must enroll in at least one course. A formal leave of absence may be granted upon request and the approval of the School of Education’s Assistant Dean of Student Academic Services.

Degree Requirements

Core Courses (15 semester hours) 

  • ELPS 427: American Higher Education
  • ELPS 430: Curriculum in Higher Education
  • ELPS 431: Evaluation in Higher Education
  • ELPS 459: Organization and Governance in Higher Education
  • ELPS 429: Critical Social Theories*
  • RMTD 520: Research Seminar I in Higher Education

Elective Courses (9 semester hours)

Select examples:

  • ELPS 429: Higher Education Policy
  • ELPS 429: Advanced Student Development Theory
  • ELPS 429: Women in Higher Education
  • ELPS 429: Critical Race Theory in Education
  • ELPS 432: Multiculturalism for Social Justice
  • ELPS 434: American College Student
  • ELPS 435: Enrollment Management in Higher Education
  • ELPS 453: Legal Aspects of Higher Education
  • ELPS 454: Budgeting and Finance in Higher Education

Research Courses (12 semester hours)

  • RMTD 420: Educational Research I: Building a Body of Evidence Using Qualitative Methods
  • RMTD 421: Educational Research II: Building a Body of Evidence Using Quantitative Methods
    A basic understanding of introductory statistics is required for RMTD 421.
  • In addition to the six hours in the educational research core, students select one advanced research methods course to support their dissertation research and one additional elective.

Minor Courses (12 semester hours) 

  • OPTION A: The completion of four graduate-level courses in a single field of study outside the School of Education (e.g., history, sociology, anthropology, management).
  • OPTION B: The completion of four graduate-level courses in one area in the School of Education (e.g., counseling, foundations of education). Coursework in higher education administration cannot be used to fulfill this requirement.
  • OPTION C: An intellectually defensible minor developed in conjunction with a student's advisor, consisting of two courses, each from options A and B (e.g., a minor in educational history, drawing on appropriate course work in history and educational leadership and policy studies).

Elective Courses (12 semester hours)
Previously completed graduate coursework may be considered for transfer to complete the minimum 60 semester hour program requirement. Students may also select graduate courses from other academic departments or programs at Loyola to fulfill this requirement.

Dissertation and Defense

Admissions Requirements

Interested in applying? Check out the PhD Higher Education application requirements.


Tuition, Financial Aid and Scholarships

The School of Education and Loyola's Financial Aid Office are committed to helping students secure the necessary financial resources to make their education at Loyola affordable. You can learn more on the Financial Assistance page.


How long does it take to finish the program?

The time toward completion of a doctoral degree varies with each student. A full-time student can complete their coursework in two to three years; the remaining years are spent conducting an original research study and writing the dissertation.

What are the career paths for those who earn a PhD in higher education?

Our alumni include university professors, directors of cultural centers, policy analysts, community-based organization managers, student affairs administrators at all levels (including executive positions), consultants, and other education-related careers.

Can I visit the campus or sit in on a class?

During COVID-19, we are not hosting class visits. Check back for updates as the situation changes.

Is there funding available for my doctoral studies?

We aim to support full-time doctoral students with graduate assistantships, which generally include a combination of tuition remission and a stipend.

Who will be my advisor/dissertation chair?

The advisee-advisor match is initially determined upon admittance to the program, however, we, as a faculty, work to ensure that this process is as organic as possible. Therefore, changes may occur as you develop your scholarly identity within the program.

Can I make an appointment to talk to someone about the program?

Absolutely! Feel free to contact contact us at gradinfo@luc.edu to get started.