Earn a doctoral degree in higher education as preparation for a career in student affairs or administration

Loyola's PhD in higher education is an interdisciplinary program that will enable you to connect theory to practice, while bringing equity to fruition on college campuses.

Our commitment to you

Upon graduation with a PhD in higher education from Loyola, you will possess the following knowledge, skills, and professional values necessary to work in higher education administration and apply an advanced and extensive knowledge of equity and diversity on college campuses.


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


You'll critically evaluate research (i.e., designs, data analysis, and data interpretation), and apply critical inquiry and research skills to successfully complete your dissertation research. You'll also have the opportunity to present at educational conferences and prepare manuscripts for publication.

Professional Values

Graduates of Loyola's higher education program are committed to advancing social justice through education. You'll become a scholar-practitioner who is an agent of change on your campus.


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 years; the remaining years are spent conducting an original research study and writing the dissertation.

Degree Requirements

Core Courses (15 semester hours) 
Students must earn a B- or better in these core courses to fulfill the degree requirements. Students may only repeat a core course once. If a grade of B- is not earned, the student will be dismissed from the program. Note: Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 to remain in good standing.

  • 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 505: Seminar in Leadership Theory

Elective Courses (9 semester hours)

  • ELPS 429: Critical Social Theory
  • ELPS 429: Higher Education Policy
  • ELPS 429: Advanced Student Development Theory
  • ELPS 429: Women in Higher 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


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 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?

Yes! We welcome your visit to campus, which can include a class visit. Contact our enrollment advisor, Brittney Marshall, at bmarshall@luc.edu to arrange a visit.

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 our enrollment advisor, Brittney Marshall, at bmarshall@luc.edu to get started.